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#1
So today, my dad and I rode down to Hollywood, the home of a shitload of guitarstores.. most notably the Mesa Boogie store, and a nice little carvin store next to it... plus Hollywood Guitar Center.

Soo, throughout the day I tried a variety of amps.. and I just wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on the amps, and wanted to see what you guys thought on the same amps. Also note that all amps were played with the master volume at around noon, so while they were not "cranked" they certainly were not played conservativly.

Mesa

Dual Rectifier Roadster
The virtually legendary amplifier, one that almost every guitarist that plays any type of heavy music yearns for at least once or twice in their search for tone. I can gladly say that I don't yearn for one anymore. Why? Well, its got a very very nice crunch to it, and the clean channel is years ahead of a standard dual, with a nice crispness that is blatantly missing from a typical Dual... and while it is a great amp on the whole, if you simply take a few more steps to either side of it, you'll find much better amps.

Stilleto Ace
Now this is a tremendously powerful amp. It is essentially a catalogue of Marshall amps, all crammed into a nice package, and injected with an intensity that is typically only achievable with modifying and cranking (I'm looking at you JCM800). Its got two channels, a clean and an overdrive, each with three modes. The first mode of clean is pretty bright, and very trebly, a little harsh for my ears. Its second mode, however, yields a nice warm clean, that is veery nice, and suitable for all forms of rock and blues, and a bit of jazz. The third mode can be dimed and you can get a nice Plexi Crunch (a little bit darker than a reissue, but still similar.) Next is the second channel, which started off with the nice crunch, and then had a second mode, which was a great 80's tone (think anywhere from Van Halen, to Dokken, to Ratt) , unleashing a furious roar, that had a great punch behind it, but it was not without its drawbacks, which I will get to after the third mode. The aforementioned third mode can essentially be tuned to two different tastes, first is a lead style setting, with a slightly more liquidy tone than the crunch, but still with a hint of signature crispyness, orr you could dial it in for an extremely modern tone, that is far beyond anything Marshall has ever dished out (of course, I haven't played the new JVM, so I can't really say anything...), but the leads on this are a little harsh and sterile. Also note, the drawback that is really one of the two things holding tis amp from being an instant reinvention of the classic is that its got a bit too much bass to it, so if you aren't willing to screw around with your gain and bass knobs for a good twenty+ minutes, its probably not gonna perform at its best. This is my second favorite of the day, leading to my next, which is by far, my favorite.

Mark IV
Now this was an amp. Three channels, with a few voicing twists via a push pull knob here and there, alternating between gain stages and voicings like "thick" and "bright, and a handy Graphic EQ. This amp had insanly nice cleans, I'm talking cleans that rival the Deluxe Reverb, it had that nice fender sparkle, but, it didn't have that Fender "pop", which can be a bad or good thing depending on your tastes, either way channel one yielded a nice solid clean channel that would satisfy most blues and jazz players. Channel two, was simply put, the best "in between" channel of the day. It was nice and mid-gainy, but what was really great was that it had a beautiful creamy voicing to it, that lent itself well to everything from classic rock, to jazz fusion, its pretty much the definitive Santanna tone to, with just a bit of eq'ing. Now, the real monster is unleashed with the third channel, or lead channel. This mode had an artisticly crushing distortion that maintained a solid clarity, and had a nice dark voicing to it that was wonderous. The thing I really dug about this channel compared to the Recto, was that, even through all the distortion, there was a nice clarifty to it, whereas the Recto seemed to get real loose (even when the rectification was switched to SS instead of Tube) and almost buzzy at the most extreme. Also not that if this channel was rolled back just a bit from the hi-gain modern, it had a similar quality to it as a VHT Pitbull, with a nice amount of gain but with crisp clarity, something that is really missing from a lot of hi-gain amps.

Carvin

MTS
This amp was pretty rad, but after going to the boogie store, it was only "good" not amazing or anything dream worthy. It had a standard clean channel, and a pretty good distortion, reminiscent of, again, a mesa rectifier, but with a bit more of a bite. This bite was kind of a set-back, but with a bit of eqing there is a nice little "sweet spot" that is just waiting to be tapped into by the patient guitarist. This amp is a great deal, and if you only have $1500 to spend on a halfstack, no doubt, but that is the way to go.

Legacy
I walked up to this amp, thinking I'd get an amazingly smooth vai tone, ala For the love of god.. but it was really a clean/low gain amp... it wasn't my cup of tea, so I passed on it. Note: it does get reasonably high gain, but its extremely weak and brittle... so its really not meant for it..

V3
This amp is really the king of carvin. It had the distortion of the MTS and the clean of the Legacy. Extremely versatile, and very good price wise..
Again, if you had around $1600 for a halfstack, this is for sure a great option. its only real downside is a quasi-sterile lead tone.

VHT

Pittbull
Now I tried two versions of this amp.. both were kind rushed, becuase the GC hollywood was a total dump, with a bunch of bums/junkies just making noise..
literally, there was a guy plugged into a reisuue plexi just hitting a squire and making noise, I don't jest. Anyways, this amp was really rad, the first version was the onehundred CL which has two channels, bare bones controls, and a graphic eq... It had a nice, tight focused gain voicing, which is essentially the ultimate 80's/Shred tone... but it really lacked balls in terms of rythmn for anything heavier than Winger.
Now, I guess they gave me a shit cable, or the power was wacking out, but it started picking up radio signals, and then took a huge hit in volume and gain.. and I just left it, in hopes they wouldn't make me buy a $3000 amp...
But I went and played another VHT.. it was again a Pittbull, but it was the Onehundred. No EQ, but it had three channels, two overdrive and one clean. Now the clean was pretty good, pretty standard, but the two overdrive channels were essentially the same as the CL.. maybe a bit punchier, esepcially when I fooled around with the Presence and Depth Controls, which were unique to this specific model. Of course, this amp did the same thing as the last, and it fizzled, played some radio, and died.... and came back to life... then died again.
So, in a fit of anger and disapointment, I left the GC, ending the day on a reanably bad note...

But nonetheless today was pretty great, and I came closer to the solution for my search for the tone..
the only other amps I have to try are ENGL's, Soldano's (they had them at GC, but I was disapointed with the subpar service and atmosphere so I didn't try them), and Bogner.

also in summary here are my days picks, in descending order of tone (in my opinion)
1) Mark IV
2) Stilleto
3) Pittbull
4) Recto
5) V3
6) MTS
7) Legacy...

(all guitars tested with a Jackson SLSMG Soloist loaded with SD JB/Jazz combo)
(plus, I lied, it was seven amps, but i didn't play the legacy enough to really draw a suitable conclusion, so I won't really count it.)
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#2
I was at that GC for the pres day sale this morning, you played that VHT by the door?
#3
Quote by TehJermie
I was at that GC for the pres day sale this morning, you played that VHT by the door?


I played the one by the Soldano at the door... ANND the one by the crates.
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#4
I wanted to jump on that thing, but all the employees wheeling shit around got on my nerves, so I bounced. Almost scored a deal on a Valve Junior, but the guy wouldn't go down to 50, so I left it.
#5
I thought the MTS had amazing cleans, not 'standard'. And also, how much gain does the MTS actually has.
RIP Jasmine You.

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Quote by FaygoBro420
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#6
I can't take that many amps in one day, I'm sorry.
Co-Founder of the Orange Revolution Club


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#7
Quote by aznrockerdude
I thought the MTS had amazing cleans, not 'standard'. And also, how much gain does the MTS actually has.


they are a bit above standard, I'll give you that, but its not amazing by any means, well atleast in comparision to other amps I've played. Maybe if its like.. you only look at amps in that specific price range, but its not really amazing either way.

Also: it gets about as heavy as Metallica/Megadeth style thrash. Not any kind of grind/death or whatever, but pretty heavy.

Quote by TehJermie
I wanted to jump on that thing, but all the employees wheeling shit around got on my nerves, so I bounced. Almost scored a deal on a Valve Junior, but the guy wouldn't go down to 50, so I left it.


Yah.. I just walked in, asked for a cable, and they let me do whatever....
It was real busy when I came in there, and a 14 year old isn't real intimidating... soo.. yah

Quote by Jinskee
I can't take that many amps in one day, I'm sorry.


Yah... I live in the middle of freakin' nowhere (high desert incase you are curious) so it was a three hour drive, so I made the most of it... I'm probably going down again next weekend for the second half of the gauntlet..
But the beautiful thing about Sunset Blvd is that you can literally walk two stores down, and there is a guitar shop. In the space of about a hundred feet, you have like... five or six shops, all with atleast one or two marshall hafl stacks (like the one store on the corner across from the rainforest place, htey had a bunch of vintage marshalls and fenders.. but they were the smallest ones in the area IMO)
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
Last edited by Striketalonx at Feb 19, 2007,
#8
The stores are literally across the street from each other Jin, there's not a lot of jumping around.
#9
Sorry for double post.
Quote by Striketalonx
they are a bit above standard, I'll give you that, but its not amazing by any means, well atleast in comparision to other amps I've played. Maybe if its like.. you only look at amps in that specific price range, but its not really amazing either way.

Also: it gets about as heavy as Metallica/Megadeth style thrash. Not any kind of grind/death or whatever, but pretty heavy.


Yah.. I just walked in, asked for a cable, and they let me do whatever....
It was real busy when I came in there, and a 14 year old isn't real intimidating... soo.. yah

When I got there, there were only about 3 customers(Woke up at the asscrack of dawn). One kid playing this shitty MG really loudly, but the employees were all over the place. Looked pretty trashy today too, and I'm kind of a xenophobe so I didn't feel too comfortable.
#10
Quote by aznrockerdude
I thought the MTS had amazing cleans, not 'standard'. And also, how much gain does the MTS actually has.
I have an MTS, and I think the cleans are really great; not "Oh my god, that's AMAZING!" great, but pretty darn good. It has quite a lot of gain, but above 8.5 or 9 or so it gets kind of fizzy and... I don't really know how to describe it, but it's just kind of sloppy and loose sounding. It can get plenty heavy, but it won't be 5150 brutal or anything.
#11
Oh, did you check out the Sam Ash by the church Strike? They usually have some pretty nice stuff, and the atmosphere isn't annoying as shit like GC.
#12
Sounds cool. I was down in hollywood this weekend as well. I ordered a carvin dc727 guitar while my friend bought a Musicman Luke and an EHX Deluxe Memory Man delay pedal.
2006 Fender Deluxe Players Strat w/ Stephens Design Mojo pickups
Gibson SG Special
Carvin DC727 w/ Bareknuckle Nailbomb 7 and CWP 7
Mesa Boogie Mark IV head
Mesa Boogie 2x12 Cab MC90/EV200w

VP of Carvin Club but call me Il Duce
#13
^It's a nice little corner, 'cept for that GC, I really hate that place. I was just trying to score shit for super cheap because of the sale.
#14
yep, once you hear the Mark IV in person, you hear what all the hype is about. I thought it was a grandpa amp before I actually got to play thru it, lol. I'd be curious to hear how the 100CL sounded with the graphic EQ, I've seen it make a big difference on other amps. I'd also like to try out an XTC, after hearing some of their clips, it really peaked my interest. Have to hear one in person though. Sounds like a great trip actually, always kickass when you can play on that much variety.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
amp clips
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#15
...now i really want my mark IV....
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#16
Quote by Erock503
yep, once you hear the Mark IV in person, you hear what all the hype is about. I thought it was a grandpa amp before I actually got to play thru it, lol. I'd be curious to hear how the 100CL sounded with the graphic EQ, I've seen it make a big difference on other amps. I'd also like to try out an XTC, after hearing some of their clips, it really peaked my interest. Have to hear one in person though. Sounds like a great trip actually, always kickass when you can play on that much variety.


yah.. I dug the EQ on the mark more..

cause the 100CL lacks normal eq really.. its really barebones, but it has the EQ.. so its like "hey lets destract you with the EQ!!" when the normal 100 has more "normal" knobs, ya dig?

+

I'm not a huge sam ash guy,
I've never baught anything big from them, always a GC..
but that GC was horrid... big, but horrid.

Also: I'm like one of the top 10-15% of GC customers, so I can get super rad discounts.. sadly most amp companies won't let you knock down prices, like guitar companies will..
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#17
^u too?! sweet. Im one of gc's top customers too. I spent a good 20 thousand there


So how much was the Mark IV, and if my GC doesn't have it do you think i could order through there. and which model, wide medium etc?
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#18
Quote by Striketalonx
yah.. I dug the EQ on the mark more..

cause the 100CL lacks normal eq really.. its really barebones, but it has the EQ.. so its like "hey lets destract you with the EQ!!" when the normal 100 has more "normal" knobs, ya dig?

+

I'm not a huge sam ash guy,
I've never baught anything big from them, always a GC..
but that GC was horrid... big, but horrid.

Also: I'm like one of the top 10-15% of GC customers, so I can get super rad discounts.. sadly most amp companies won't let you knock down prices, like guitar companies will..

Sam Ash is kind of smaller, I guess that's why I like it more. But they do get some really nice amps going through there. Last time I was there they had a Matchless, a Plexi, and a few Oranges.
#19
Quote by mexican_shred
^u too?! sweet. Im one of gc's top customers too. I spent a good 20 thousand there


So how much was the Mark IV, and if my GC doesn't have it do you think i could order through there. and which model, wide medium etc?


Well... The pro net pricing for it is like $1,849... so thats as cheap as it gets.. any cheaper (like if GC gives you a discount) and Mesa will void the warrantee (wtf!!? i know.. but its how it works). But really... The Wide and the Short heads are essentially the same inside, just differnt size, they are the same price too...
I'd get the wide though, as 1) it looks nice IMO and 2) it fits ontop of cabinets nicer than the short...

I've only spent like $10,000... but I guess by the time I'm 20 I'll be waay over 20..

Quote by TehJermie
Sam Ash is kind of smaller, I guess that's why I like it more. But they do get some really nice amps going through there. Last time I was there they had a Matchless, a Plexi, and a few Oranges.


awesome, I wanna try a few Oranges... I'll check them out the next time I go up there.
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#20
Quote by Striketalonx
awesome, I wanna try a few Oranges... I'll check them out the next time I go up there.

Check out the back room in that same GC, they have the REALLY nice amps back there. Few Oranges there too if I'm not mistaken.

10K on gear? You must be freakin' loaded.
#21
Quote by TehJermie
Check out the back room in that same GC, they have the REALLY nice amps back there. Few Oranges there too if I'm not mistaken.

10K on gear? You must be freakin' loaded.


no..
but I've been playing guitar since I was 9.. and I've bought everything there.
strings, picks, guitars, amps, pedals. ETC...
it really adds up.
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#22
^ Would explain it, I've probably got about 3000, but I buy from different places all the time.
#23
Quote by Striketalonx
Well... The pro net pricing for it is like $1,849... so thats as cheap as it gets.. any cheaper (like if GC gives you a discount) and Mesa will void the warrantee (wtf!!? i know.. but its how it works). But really... The Wide and the Short heads are essentially the same inside, just differnt size, they are the same price too...
I'd get the wide though, as 1) it looks nice IMO and 2) it fits ontop of cabinets nicer than the short...

I've only spent like $10,000... but I guess by the time I'm 20 I'll be waay over 20..



so if i see one on ebay snag it? what kind of speaker/cabinet did u play it through?
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#24
Quote by mexican_shred
so if i see one on ebay snag it? what kind of speaker/cabinet did u play it through?


For sure man.
I played it though a 1 x 12 combo, and then seperatly through a 2x12 extension cabinet..

so the speakers are Black Shadows? I think thats what are in the combos.. not sure about the extension cabinet.
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#25
thanks for the info man. well if i work hard i should have one by spring break.
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#26
I use my long head with a Recto 4x12 OS (V30's). I've found the bass response of the OS works very nicely with the Mark. It also sounds great thru my 4x12 greenback loaded cab too, nice organic tone with earlier breakup. The only complaint I have with the Mark, is it's LOUD as hell, and the volume is VERY sensitive. Even at the 30W setting, it still peels paint. I swear, Mesa amps just seem sooo much louder than other similiar power rated amps.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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#27
^thanks for the info Erock. Which cab would u say sounds the best with the Mark IV


volume is no concern. I constantly crank my JSX to 3/4 of its power every day, so my hearing is pretty much shot and th neighbors dont mind.
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#28
^

meh, I can't really say, I go thru moods, so I don't want to steer you wrong. Either one sounds good to me really. Lately I've been using it with the Greenbacks with the 30W setting, and it sounds pretty kickass. Great high gain and blues to clean tones. When I've had the chance to play with other people, I used the OS V30's though, and it sounded great in the mix. If you're looking for huge volume and push in your shite metal tone, the V30s work very well.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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#30
Quote by mexican_shred
^thanks for the info Erock. Which cab would u say sounds the best with the Mark IV


volume is no concern. I constantly crank my JSX to 3/4 of its power every day, so my hearing is pretty much shot and th neighbors dont mind.


The cabs with the black shadows compliment the mark iv nicely.
2006 Fender Deluxe Players Strat w/ Stephens Design Mojo pickups
Gibson SG Special
Carvin DC727 w/ Bareknuckle Nailbomb 7 and CWP 7
Mesa Boogie Mark IV head
Mesa Boogie 2x12 Cab MC90/EV200w

VP of Carvin Club but call me Il Duce
#31
alright my last question(s)

How heavy is the combo version
Would any one recommend it over the head and cab
and what kind of cab does would sound better with it (2 x 12, 1 x 12)


Ill be able to buy by the 28th : )
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#32
just opinion, but I prefered the Mark thru at least a closed back 2x12 for the bass response, depending what kind of music you're playing. Maybe if it was for blues, I would prefer the open back 1x12. The guy I got my Mark from was using a recto 2x12, and tbh, it wasn't that far off from my 4x12, it sounded great for metal. The 1x12 combo is about 90lbs iirc.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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#33
thanks. alright i think im going for a head with a 2 by 12 recto cab(if i can sell my v) if not are the 2 by 12 avatar cabs worth it?
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#34
dunno man, haven't tried one personally, but I've heard mixed reviews. I've heard guys praise them, Ibanez4lifeSZ comes to mind. However, once he got a quality cab to compare, his tune changed quickly. Also, Genocide had one that fell apart on him. The baffles fell right out of it when he was moving it, and it wasn't getting beat on. Seems like a good deal for the speakers alone if you are pressed for cash and time, but if not, I would probably save for a quality cab.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
amp clips
amp vids
#35
alright its off to the bank on the 28th to withdraw 2400 smackers
I traded in my Real Books for Robbins and Cotran Pathology Textbooks
#36
matt, the sam ash near the virgin store in hollywood is much nicer than GC, very clean, its quiet, and people are nice there. i bought some stuff there.

while you're down, head to wild west, you can try alot of nice stuff there. . . .
Recognised by the Official Who To Listen To List 2012


Quote by steven seagull
You don't argue with tubadude on Washburn-related matters, he flosses with the G string from a set of 0.12's y'know....and it's WOUND!
#37
Quote by Jongpil Yun
I wish I could get a Mesa but they kill me with the volume


Your not lieing. I expected my Stiletto Ace to be tamer volume wise then my old JCM800.

I can't turn the channel volume or the master volume past 2 without shaking the house on my Stiletto Ace. Blows the 800 outa the water tonally to. Its everything the 800 was and more.
Quote by deg0ey
The best pickups for emo are no pickups at all...


Gear:

1996 Les Paul Classic w/ Alnico II's
Marshall Jubilee 2550
Avatar 2x12..V30 and G12H
Vox V847 Wah
Assorted pedals
#38
Quote by tubadude
matt, the sam ash near the virgin store in hollywood is much nicer than GC, very clean, its quiet, and people are nice there. i bought some stuff there.

while you're down, head to wild west, you can try alot of nice stuff there. . . .


Next amp trying session will either be to try ENGL's, buy a Mesa, or to wild west...
But I gotta say, ENGL's better be freakin' amazing, on cleans, overdrive, and distortion, to be able to beat those Mesa's...
[Founder of the Ibanez S players club.] Pm Me to Join
#39
there are ENGL's in southern california? if so, take me. . .

but according to genocide, ENGL's kick any mesas ass.
Recognised by the Official Who To Listen To List 2012


Quote by steven seagull
You don't argue with tubadude on Washburn-related matters, he flosses with the G string from a set of 0.12's y'know....and it's WOUND!
#40
that was an excellent spam thread. I really enjoyed it, you used nice flowery language like I use (). Plus, you get 14,968,586 bonus points for mentioning winger. and 24,500 for mentioning ratt, dokken and van halen.

^ I prefer engl to mesa too, austin, but with the caveat that I haven't tried the mk IV EDIT: though I don't think I dislike mesa as much as brad.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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