I have found the
"red stripe" variant to be rich and harmonically
"soulful" as a Mark can be. Although not quite as
chimey as a Mk II C+ the Rhythm 2 channel is closer
imitated. With an aggresive 3rd channel, the MkIII is
definitely more versatile than its predecessor.
Model Year: 1987
Where Obtained: Private Sale
The Mark III differentiates itself from it's predecessor
by adding a third channel known as the Lead
channel. The Rhythm 1 channel (Clean) and Rhythm
2 channel (Overdrive) operate on one footswitch and
the Lead is activated by a second and separate
The Mark III variants produced from 1984 thru 1990
came in various versions. First of which were the "no
stripes" or Black Dot (stripe), followed by the Purple,
Red, Blue and finally the Green Dot or stripe. Each
variant was an attempt to capture the "ellusive" Mark
IIC+ tone in either the clean or OD channels.
This review is for the Red variant.
Slight bit confusing when switching channels with
the footswitch but can be overcome easily. The tone
settings are very sensitive and react to small
incremental adjustments. Modifying one tone can
affect other tone settings in a cascading style.
Radical changes are not recommended when
setting up the amp. I suggest incremental
adjustments and comparison.
Mesa Boogie has had a reputation for building
extremely reliable equipment. This particular piece
has no evidence of failure in it's 21 year life span.
Apart from routine maintenance (replacement of
tubes) the amp has exhibited the standard Boogie
reliablity. The fact that the amp was cared for by it's
previous owner also lends itself to the trouble-free
operation of this amp. Of course these amps are
built to last.
Had I not had the opportunity to buy this amp I may have settled for a Marshall or Peavey. It's now possible to buy Mesa Boogie at much lower price as their range has expanded. For gigging I expect none are better though I'm sure some come close. For practising at home it's far too loud and at low volumes it doesn't sing - this amp needs to be driven hard.
Model Year: 1986
Where Obtained: Purchased privately
Bought in 1994, this amp (Mark 3 Simulclass)was the top of the range at that time. This is an all valve job with a switchable "Class A/Simul-Class" setting that changes the amp from 15/100 watt settings. Do not be fooled however, even at 15 watts this amp is VERY LOUD and at the 100 watt setting will put a Marshall Stack to shame. Having a 1 x 12 inch EV speaker in an ash cabinet with a wicker grill, it can hardly be called a stack. In fact some have likened it's appearance to an old transistor radio! Tone controls for treble, mid and bass allow infinite adjustments and there is a gain control for rhythm and lead settings. Other features include a five-way graphic on the lead stage. Effects loop. Reverb, presence, DI output (not great).
If looks can deceive then this is the amp to do it. It simply rocks and I have no problem getting infinite sustainon stage during solos. Quite simply I've not heard an amp sound so good - I use a Marshall stack in rehearsal and it comes nowhere close. Clean, crunch or saturated lead sounds are awesome - I'm always being praised for my sound and this amp is the reason. If you are looking for a variety of quick change sounds then this is not the amp to buy. If you are looking for a light-weight amp to cart around then this is not the amp to buy. However if you simply want a great sound then go for it - you won't be disappointed.
This amp has three switchable modes - rhythm 1 (clean), rhythm 2 (crunch) and lead. The manual gives you a range of sample settings to start you off with particular sounds (for example Rock, Metal, Blues, Jazz, Fusion, Country). If you are someone who likes to experiment with lots of different sound patch using a digital effects processor then this amp is probably not for you. However if you want to get a great guitar sound then this amp most certainly is.
I have had few problems in terms of reliability. The worst was a loose speaker wire just before a gig and i had to play through something else. Valves need to be checked for seating at every gig, it only takes a second. I have changed the power valves once in ten years and have been gigging most weekends. I had problems with the valve in gain stage one due to squealing, resulting in this being replaced every few months. However I stopped using Mesa Boogie valves after consulting a specialist valve dealer and moved over to Phillips valves instead. There were exactly the same price. I bought two, and am still using the first one two years later! This amp is heavy in construction and heavy to carry but it's worth it.