I own a number of
amps and I chose the Mark IV for
it's pure and unadulterated sonic characteristics. If
this amp was to be lost, I would definitely have it
Replacing the stock STR-430 tubes with STR-454
and STR-442 tubes improved the amp's musicality
The ease and portability of the amp is my favorite
aspect with no undesired aspects to report.
This amp is truely worthy of consideration. I
recommend downloading a copy of the manual prior
to test driving one. Get familar with the controls,
since the layout can be a bit confusing. The knobs
intimidate some, but after spending some time with
it, the amp's topography and layout becomes clear
and easier to understand. The back panel needs to
be paid attention to as well. Understanding the
multitude of switches and jacks, the amp's flexibility
Model Year: 2001
Price: $1499.00 (new)
Where Obtained: Guitar Center-Dallas (Central)
This amp features three distinct channels. Labelled
as RHY1 (Rhythm 1) for clean; RHY2 (Rhythm 2) for
crunch and Lead for hi gain leads. The tone controls
for Mids and Bass are shared for RHY1 and RHY2
and have independent treble controls. The LEAD
controls are totally independent. Each channel
features separate gain and master controls with a
bright control for R1 and fat control for R2 and LEAD.
There is an Additional control (LEAD DRIVE) that
also features a bright control when pulled. R2 and
LEAD presence controls when pulled have a shift
Channel switching is achieved by footswitch as well
as a selector switch on back of the amp. There is
also a Loop switching capablility found on the same
footswitch supplied with the amp (FC-3).
The Mark IV comes in several variations. 1) The 1x12
Combo; 2) the 1x12 wide Combo; 3) the short head;
4) the long head; and 5) the rack mount. Differences
are primarily moving a set of switches from the front
panel to the back.
This amp is a mono amplifier and uses (4) 6L6
power tubes in addition to (5) 12AX7 preamp tubes.
If stereo is desired, you may add a "simul-satellite"
amp that is a compliment for this amp. It also will
accept EL34's (2) on the ouside in addition to the
6L6's on the inside. This affords the player to either
select one combination or both depending on the
power selector switch position on the back or via a
footswitch (optional, not included). The Mark IV will
also accept 6V6 tubes in "Tweed" power for a more
authentic "vintage" sound.
A reverb tank comes standard with this amp and
short head Mark IVs and combos can be retrofitted to
be used on rack mount enclosures. (Long heads
cannot be retrofitted due to size limitations.) A
footswitch (additional option) can be used to control
the reverb on/off.
I use a Tom Anderson H3 pickup for lead playing
and (2) SK2's for alternate tones. Also I have another
Tom Anderson H2+ with (2) SK1's. In addition to
these guitars, a '66 Fender Stratocaster and a
custom '62 Fender Stratocaster is used on occasion.
I find these guitars well suited for a myrid of styles
that I am accustomed to playing. This amp is voiced
nicely for classic rock, blues, funk, jazz, and metal to
name a few genres. This amp is coupled through a
single 12" three quarter back Boogie enclosure with
a 90 watt Black Shadow Celestion.
The overall sound ranges from a pristine clean, a
overdriven crunch to searing lead. Each channel is
distinct and has a characteristic all unto it's own.
Comparing this amp to others, I find this particular
amp to be very responsive and tactile. It requires a
degree of understanding and one would be advised
to spend time with the users manual prior to setting
out trying to coax a desired sound from it's controls.
The settings are inter-dependent and respond quite
radically to broad adjustments. Once set, I found the
amp to respond wonderfully at higher volumes and
sweeten considerably. The distortion was traditional
sounding and maintained a classic, compress
sound with a soft break and a nice singing harmonic
The first two channels remained nice and quiet with
a slightly noisy LEAD channel, but one can expect
this from a hi gain channel.
First, to coax a useable sound from the amp, begin
with the examples settings given by the factory.
The Mark IV is a remarkable amp when it comes to
finesse. The controls are inter-dependent and
change radically to traditional "knob twirlling". Slight
movement and adjustment yield subtle changes that
alter tone quality with a greater degree than most
amps. Judicious prudence is recommended when
adjusting this amp. The graphic eq section is also
sensitive as well and "scooping the mids" may result
in undesireable definition to tone.
The amp has been in service for over a year without
inccidence. It has proven to be quite reliable and I
don't forsee any problems. After the first three
months of playing through the amp, I re-tubed the
Mark IV with a matched set of STR-454 (Svetlana)
6L6's and a matched set of STR-442 (Svetlana)
EL34's which I found them to be a better fit sonically.
The Svetlanas were much more musical and added
a dimension to the amp. One side note-the cabinet
speaker developed a buzz (Black Shadow 90W
Celestion) and had to be replaced after 5 months of
service. A 12AX7 (V3) tube went microphonic as well.