Mesa/Boogie Mark IV

85W Head (1 x 1")

Made by Mesa/Boogie

Description Mesa Boogie's flagship amplifier introduced in the 80's and still being offered as a viable amplifier to affecinados of "Boogie tone". This amplifier is the pinnacle achievement of the Mark series amps.
Posted By Theresa Dobbs (3289)
Directory Equipment: Amplifiers
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Overall Rating: 4.0 (of 5)
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Member Reviews

On 12/18/2005, Theresa Dobbs (3289) posted:
Overall Rating:
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 replaced.

Replacing the stock STR-430 tubes with STR-454 and STR-442 tubes improved the amp's musicality and timbre.

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 surfaces.
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 function. 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.
Sound Quality:
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 resonance. The first two channels remained nice and quiet with a slightly noisy LEAD channel, but one can expect this from a hi gain channel.
Ease of Use:
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.