I don't post here very often, but I've encountered a gear issue that I think needs resolving. Here goes!

So I'm in this punk band ( new music here | older music here ), and we're seeking a move toward a college town, as 3 of us are still attending college. We will likely rent a small house, practice there, and play small-/medium-sized shows about once a week.

Now, we're a sort of higher-gain punk band, featuring punchy rhythms and a considerable quantity of lead guitar. I play most of the leads, and my current [amp] rig consists of a Peavey Triple XXX head and a Marshall 1960AV cab. While I can get some pretty decent tones out of my Triple XXX, I fear that it may be a bit much gain-wise for this band.

Since the Triple XXX is something of a Recto substitute, I find that it also isn't the best amp for "fluid sustain and creamy leads". I would also like to own something that can cover more territory (ie: Fenderish cleans to Boosted Fender/Vox overdrive [a la The Strokes] to a thick metal tone). Additionally, I enjoy playing metal, and I would like an amp that could grant me the gain and tightness to play some progressive metal in my leisure time (and maybe even begin a side prog-ject). I'd like a rig that is closer to "Swiss Army Knife" versatility in an all-tube setup.

So far, I've considered a range of amps: Oranges, Fenders (namely the Super Sonic), Egnaters, Mesas, and more. The amp that I have been most pleased with thus far is/are Mesa's Marks IV and V (although my budget limits me to a IV). I favor the Marks' gain, a more middy/articulate alternative to the overly-gainy drive on my Triple XXX. I've looked into the DC-5 and F-50 as well, but neither seem to possess the all-encompassing variety of tones offered by the Marks.

Selling my Triple XXX and 1960AV should definitely put me within financial grasp of a used Mark IV combo. However, I'm not sure if I should part with the V30-loaded cab. I'm impressed with V30s, and I got a great deal on it, so can't help but feel that I might regret selling that cab down the road. My ideal rig would consist of my current cab and a Mark IV/V head, but that wouldn't be fiscally responsible of me (I should try to save as much money toward school as I possibly can). I most certainly do not need a half stack in my current situation, and I would be hard-pressed to find a place to put it next year.

My questions to you: Do you think that a Mark IV combo would satiate my needs? Do you think that my sound would be lacking in any (considerable) way with a combo compared to a stack? Is the Black Shadow a prime speaker, or should I include a speaker swap in my list of expenses? Thanks in advance!

Gibson SG Special Faded (Duncan JB/Jazz set)
Fender MiM Telecaster (Texas Special Set)

Ibanez TS-9
Boss DD-7
EHX Holy Grail Nano Reverb
ISP Decimator
GFS Tuner
I'd keep the cab. In my experience the most fluid leans and Fenderish cleans to come out of the same amp were from a Traynor. So I might suggest Traynor YCS50H , which is also reputed to take pedals extremely well if you need more gain options.

If the XXX has a decent clean tone (possibly using a gain channel and rolling off volume) you might want to consider using an overdrive up front to give you some lighter crunch tones or 'smooth out' the amp's distortion channel by pushing it a little more.

I think the Mark IV would also be fine. I didn't like it's cleans as much as the Traynor's nor was the lean tone as smooth and creamy, but it definitely has a better 'bite' in the rhythm-crunch tones and combos tend to be a bit more portable. If you can find a Traynor dealer though, I'd definitely recommend giving those a try.

If you happen to be moving to Ann Arbor (it's a college town) I could sell you my Evil Twin (Fender Twin Amp) which is probably a little low-gain for you, but does clean/light overdrive/leads okay, it just needs a pedal of some sort to do the crunchy British thing...
Last edited by RadioMuse at Mar 20, 2012,
I don't like the XXX. Too bright.
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
Actually, funny thing...I'm totally moving to Ann Arbor. xD

I actually have my Tubescreamer up front of the Triple XXX right now, which DOES help cop some of the lower gain tones, but I'm not wholly satisfied with them. Additionally, I'm not totally sold on the gain structure of the Triple XXX. I've tried several different lower-gain tubes in the preamp (among other things), and the gain voicing is just rather harsh and a little scooped. Mid = mud on that amp, and I love my mids. =)

I would be willing to give that Traynor a go, but I'm not sure if there's anywhere in the Flint area that sells them. I'll keep it in mind while I shop around for sure; it seems to be pretty flexible.

That said, I must ask, is there any particular reason you suggested that I keep the cab? I'm aware that V30s are great speakers, and that closed-back cabs are conducive to a tighter low-end, but is there a particular sound (or presence in the mix) that I could achieve with the cab and not with a combo?
I must also mention that I find some of the features on the Mark IV to be appealing. Assignable FX loop and Graphic EQ? Mmmmmm grrrrrll.
You know I had trouble getting mid-gain tones out of my XXX for a while as well, until I bought an OD pedal (Vox Ice 9) and ran it over the clean channel, it sounded beast. Maybe something other than a Tubescreamer will get you there, like an OCD or something. Also, what brand of tubes are you using? Buying some JJs will work wonders.

And if you're in the Ann Arbor area any time soon, check out the Musicgoround off of Ann Arbor-Saline (by Target), they have a good used selection there including some Traynors if you're considering those.
Between the velvet lies, there's a truth as hard as steel.
The vision never dies, life's a neverending wheel.
I like the Mark IV, but I've had a hell of a time dialing in the right sound. It's REALLY good for that mid heavy grind though. I think I just suck at EQ'ing it

It's definitely a tweaker's amp.

I'd definitely keep the cab. A mark through a good cab absolutely roars. I play through a 212 recto cab loaded with V30's, and I don't think I'll ever part with that cab.
Quote by tubetime86
He's obviously pretty young, and I'd guess he's being raised by wolves, or at least humans with the intellectual capacity and compassion of wolves.

You finally made it home, draped in the flag that you fell for.
And so it goes
I will always be an advocate of the Mark IV, and I have yet to find something it doesn't do at all. If you want an amp that you can play your punk and proggy stuff on, it's a good fit. I would keep the cab too. A Mark paired with a 1960 is a rig that you could keep forever and be reasonably happy with, given the styles you're into.
I have no idea where the "XXX is a Recto substitute" thing came from. They're completely different amps - the only similarity is that they're both 3 channel, and they both have chrome grills (maybe that alone got the rumor started?).

Anyway, check out a JSX/XXX II. That is a serious amp, and a whole different ball game than the XXX (Which, despite having 3 channels, isn't all that versatile, IMO). The JSX can do pretty much anything, and there is more contrast between the three channels. It's a really great amp.

The Mark IV is a great amp, but it sounds a little "sterile" to me.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
Any Pritchard amp... solid state with analog voicings (Fender, Marshall and Vox to name a few), with a ton of options. Super loud or super quiet for practice. Every person who has heard this amp think its a tube, yet it cuts through better than any tube I've every owned. Worth every dime... I've retired several amps since owning this one.
I have JJs in my Triple XXX right now. My biggest problem is that the Triple XXX is an amp built for metal, plain and simple. It has a great clean tone, but I would prefer not to rely on a pedal for all of my lighter OD/distortion.

I've extensively tried and quite like the JSX, but if I'm going to sell my Triple XXX, I would prefer to get an amp that will last me a while. It might be a stretch to say that I'm looking for the last amp I'll ever buy, but that would certainly be nice. =P I have an inkling that the purchase of a JSX will leave me wanting a Mark series in the future.

Part of my original plan was to downsize. I would far prefer the ease of storing and transporting a combo (my cab alone occupies the entire trunk of my car). Does the Mark IV require multiple speakers to sound its best? Would the combo (without an extension cab) be a bastardized version of what the Mark could be with a cab? For what reason(s) would it benefit me to keep the cab?

Also, would a cheaper Mesa like a DC-5 or F-50 fit the bill, or would I just find myself wanting a Mark series amp later?
What is your budget?

I can't answer your combo question but you can always get a cab later.

If you are pretty sure you want a Mark then there is no sense dicking around with other stuff.

But just for fun I checked the Ann Arbor craigslist.


There are a couple of Mesa combos on there including a Nomad 100 and a TremOVerb - both of which I'd give serious consideration too.
The XXX is a fine amp if on a budget but it aint no Mark IV. You are comparing a fiat to a ferrari. If you can afford a Mark IV get it.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100

Cathbard Amplification
My band
Quote by Cathbard
The XXX is a fine amp if on a budget but it aint no Mark IV. You are comparing a fiat to a ferrari. If you can afford a Mark IV get it.

They're completely different amps!

I'd still rather drive a Lotus or BMW... save the ferrari monies and spend it on a proper motorcycle...
"If you're looking for me,
you better check under the sea,
because that's where you'll find me..."
They'll both do what he wants so it comes down to quality. In that the Mark IV wins hands down.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100

Cathbard Amplification
My band
look up a Jet City 100...for 700 bucks (800 for the HDM version) its a killer amp. From what I hear and vids of them on youtube, they are very versatile. I am almost regretting buying my 6505+ over the Jet City
More gear laying around then I know what to do with, and still buying crap.