This would be my second Mesa Mark IV, first being "A", my current being "B". The main difference I find between the two is a very slight darker tone and slight more gain. There are about 18 knobs on the front, some are push/pull, there are more on the back, as well as an EQ on the face. It can be a very daunting task, each turn can vastly change the tone and sound you receive out of the amp.
As I said above it is difficult to get your perfect tone, because there are so many knobs and the EQ, you can just about get any sound you want out of it. I find myself spinning knobs around multiple times when I'm playing just to try different things out, not because it sounds bad, because I'm looking to see "What else can I get out of this thing".
Now here's where I'm gonna rain down on this review, the sound/tone of this Amp is phenomenal to say the least. I mainly play metal such as In Flames, or Black Dahlia Murder even ranging to Megadeth and power metal. There used to be a misconception this amp cannot handle that type of music, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's very easy to get the typical heavy metal (Rectifier) sound by doing a typical "V" shape and mess around with the lead channel settings for a minute or two. You can crank up the mids, reverse the EQ and get a ballsy/pissed off Marshall. You may get discouraged turning knobs and not quite getting what you want, but you cannot be afraid to change the EQ, that will let you change and master your tone on this amplifier.
The clean channel is really something to be admired. The R1 (Clean) Channel shares one or two knobs with R2 Channel, Mids and Bass I believe. This does not interfere with the sound or function of each channel. You can still dial in spacious cleans, alongside with the built in spring reverb.
The Lead Channel is one of the favored channels, I admit to using this channel about 90% of the time. It will range from grunge, rock, thrash all the way to heavier death metal. It can get tight for something technical, or get real loose and have a grunge/industrial type of rock sound. Alongside with the EQ it makes it very easy to have multiple tones ready just by clicking EQ on and off.
Overall I believe this is a top notch amp that any serious player should have the opportunity to own or at least try out. I sold mine in a rash spur of "gear flipper mode" or "Gear Acquisition Syndrome" right before they discontinued and regretted it for a long time. The prices these go for now-a-days are really worth it and hold up to more modern amps being put out. This amp won't leave my rig, and I'm sure a lot of people who own it feel that way. If you have the available cash, and the opportunity you should really consider buying one.
If you would like to hear some actual applications of this amp in professional studio recordings, here is a list of Artists and Bands that have used Mesa Mark IVs exclusively or at least in one album: Lamb of God, Neurosis, The Offspring, John Petrucci, Orpheus, Nevermore, Maco Sfogli, Liquid Tension Experiment, Chevelle, Faith No More, Metallica, Sevendust, Anberlin.
Mesa Boogie Mark IV head up for review. This model is a rackmount version, that I obviously have mounted in a rack case. I use this head in conjunction with a TC Electronic G-System and together they make a great rig. Amp features series and parallel effects loop as well as external latch switching, which works perfect with the Gsystem. Amp delivers 85 LOUD watts! I usually keep on half-power mode and i still have PLENTY of volume on tap even playing with a very loud drummer. The head has 3 great channels, everything is footswitchable including the effects loop, reverb, and graphic EQ.
I find the amp very easy to get GOOD sounds, but harder to get GREAT sounds...if that makes any sense?? However when tone greatness is achieved, WOW is it worth it! The manual walks you through everything you would need to know, and if you ever need more help there are plenty of users all over various forums that know alot of this amp.
I use this amp with a variety of guitars including a PRS CE-22, and a G&L Legacy. I own many more guitars but those are my workhorses. The amp responds and reacts well to both. I can get crystal clear stratty bell-like tones, to fat dark jazz tones, low-medium gain tones to scooped out metal mayhem. Amp is very versatile in terms of tonal options, the graphic EQ really plays a big role in tone shaping. The amp also has different modes as far as class a, class AB, simulclass(which I believe is how im using the amp currently). This amp combined with the TC Electronic Gsystem is just a killer setup and ultra versatile. Ive been gigging with this setup for over 5 years and yet to change my powertubes.
Great amp, this model is currently out of production but has been taken over by the Mark V series which sounds wonderful as well. If anything ever happened to this head I would probably seek out the new mark V model just for a little change and ease of knowing if anything happened again I would be able to get a replacement pretty easily.
Mesa’s Mark IV is well known for its feature laden front and back panels, including
- 85 watt simul-class power section, running either 4 6L6s and 2 EL-34s and 2 6L6s
- 5 12AX7s running the preamp
- Full and tweed power settings
- Pentode and triode power amp settings
- Simul-class and Class A power amp settings
- Shared EQ for R1 and R2, with individual gain, treble, presence, and master
- Individual EQ for Lead, with mid gain and harmonics voicing switches
- Footswitchable/assignable graphic EQ and reverb, with one reverb level
- Series effects loop with stereo outs for driving another power amp in a stereo setup
- External switching jacks for all functions
The Mark IV surely is one reason why some label Mesa amplifiers as ‘hard to dial in.’ At first glace, the layout is not very intuitive, and numerous switches and even push pull pots add to the complexity of the amplifier. All these features were designed for a purpose though, and allow the Mark IV to be a VERY, VERY versatile and tweak-able amplifier. After spending some time with it, and learning the tonal response of the features, there are few sounds this amplifier is not capable of. The GEQ allows even further tonal shaping, and using it over each channel can allow up to 6 unique sounds at your command.
The Mark series has defined a tone of its own in the high gain realm, and for good reason. R1 produces a very ‘fender-like’ clean sound, and when dialed properly, produces amazing results. The compromise comes between R1 and R2- dialing in the ideal clean sound may not allow one to use R2 to its full extent. After getting more familiar with the amp, however, I had no trouble dialing in a great clean on R1 and good crunch on R2. The lead channel defines the Boogie solo tone used by so many. It has plenty of mids, which has many users applying the GEQ for a warmer and sharper tone. Between the amps controls and GEQ options, one can dial anything from a warm, singing lead tone, all the way to CRAZY tight high gain rhythm tones.
Though tough to dial at first, spending more time with a Mark IV allows one to dial a vast variety of tones. It’s ability to produce very high gain tones, along with its legendary lead, makes it a real pleasure to play. Many players struggling with the ‘sluggish’ response of Mesa’s rectifier series find a very welcoming home with the tight tracking of the Mark IV.
The Mesa/Boogie Mark IV is the evolution of the III. It features three mostly independent channels, a 5 band EQ, pentode/triode switch, Simul-class voicing, reverb, an effects loop, a line out, satellite out and a few other features that you can find on Mesa's website. There are two versions of this amp which I'll outline below.
Mesa did an amazing job with this amplifier. They included pretty much every feature from the old amps and then some. If you've ever dialed in a Mark amplifier before, it's all the same. However, if you've never tried one of these amps, please read the manual. They are not meant to be dialed in normally. The manual outlines every feature, how all the knobs work, how they interact, etc. I only rated it down because R1 and R2 share a few controls.
Sound wise, this amp is somewhat like the IIC+ but also a bit different. For one, there are two versions of this amp. The A version is a little brighter and has a little less gain. This makes it sound somewhat similar to the IIC+, but it still isn't there. The B version is fatter, has more gain and is better suited for lead tones. The biggest fault with this amp is R2. It's very anemic and needs to be boosted, in my opinion. Aside from that, the amp is awesome. It's probably my favorite lead amp out there. The lead channel just has tone for days. The clean channel is pretty good too.
If you're going to get only one Mark amp, this is probably the one I'd recommend. They go for a good price on the used market, are very versatile and should contain most features that you could want. Also, for those who don't think the IV can do metal, listen to Orpheus' Bleed the Way album. It shows that the Mark IV can do melodeath just as easily as it can do Dream Theater or Metallica.