Mesa Boogie Mark III Head
Mesa Boogie Mark III Head

Mark III Head, Tube Guitar Amp Head from Mesa Boogie in the Mark III series.

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jkessel 05/03/2012

Mesa Boogie Mark III Head : jkessel's user review

« Best amp I've ever played!!! »

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I've been dying for a Mesa Mark III for about 6 years now. Been close to having one but having sellers back out, want too much for the condition, and not having funds held me back many times. I sold a few things so had spare cash so I finally decided to buy one of these. $650, 1989 Blue stripe, fully loaded with graphic EQ, reverb, simul class, custom tolex, and fully functional condition. No scratchy pots or sliders or anything. The amp says it's 100 watts and 60 watts in half power mode but all over the internet I'm seeing 85 watts, 75 watts and a few others. 3 channels, rhythm one (clean), rhythm two (crunch), lead (high gain).


Mesa's are well known for not being easy to dial in a good tone. To some that's a problem and makes them look elsewhere. To me it says it's a picky amp and wants to sound good, if you can't set it up it won't sound good. But once you find the right settings it's amazing. The manual is great, explains each control in depth and gives recommended settings after each. The only downside is all 3 channels share the same EQ controls so for some people it's hard to get a nice clean, rhythm 2, and lead tone that's footswitchable. I happen to like all 3 channels with the same settings so it works for me, but it being a downside to most people is the only reason I gave it a 9 instead of 10.


This of course is the best part. After 6 years of dreaming, watching countless videos, audio clips, pics... I finally got to experience the amp for myself. I bought it sight unseen without ever hearing one in person before. I was certain it was exactly what I wanted and I was totally right. It's common for people wanting Early MetallicA and Dream theatre tone to buy Mark III's as a cheaper alternative to the coveted Mesa mark IIC+. They're well known as the holy grail of mesa amps, and many amps all together. I didn't buy one to try and copy MetallicA. Although it nails the Master of Puppets and And Justice For All tone it can do so much more. It's the tightest amp I've ever played. Even with the gain cranked to 10 it's still articulate and smooth sounding. Many high gain amps have more gain than you could ever use and once it gets past a certain level it turns to mush. Not with this, I don't have the gain dimed but it's nice to know if I did I can still get very nice not mushy tone.
This amp is the most aggressive mesa ever made, it's like a chainsaw, cuts and rips but also has a gracefulness to it. It's like the lead channel has 2 modes, and it switches automatically. Of course it doesn't really, but it seems like it. On rhythms it's very heavy, crushing, and aggressive. Very thick and stands out, you can't NOT listen to this amp. But when you play leads it smooths out and gets very creamy. Santana was known for using Mesa Mark amps and he has some of the bluesiest leads ever. The reaction between the guitar and the amp is just amazing.
The cleans are very sparkly, almost fender-ish. The best example is MetallicA's cleans. They used a mix of the Mesa and a Roland JC120, but this can nail it perfectly. Listen to the song "One", intro to "And Justice For All", and intro to "Enter Sandman".
Another great thing is this has a 3rd channel, the Mesa Mark III was the first 3 channel amp. In between the rhythm 1 (clean) and the lead channel, rhythm 2 has more of a crunch to it. It's the biggest complaint by people but personally I like it quite a bit. It's by no means a high gain channel so it's not good for metal but for blues and classic rock it's great. Or put a boost in front of it and basically get a second, but different sounding, lead channel.


Overall I'm super happy with this amp, totally worth the 6 year wait. I've bought, sold, and traded gear for quite a few years always trying out new things hoping to find the one thing that's perfect. I may have found that. Since I bought it I've lost almost all desire to even try different amps. It just does everything I wanted, but better, and even more than I wanted. It's like it was designed for me personally. I'd recommend it for anyone playing any style cause it really is that versatile.