#1
Can anyone here who's played both make some comparison commentary for me please on these two amps? I'm considering the head-only versions. I know the DC-3 is typically EL84-tubed, and that the Mark IV is typically 6L6-tubed.

My desired sounds are all types of metal. I don't ever really need cleans. So, my biggest questions are about the character of their preamp gain stages and the character of their distortion in the lead channels.

My favorite two amps are the Soldano SLO100 (deep and rich) and the Framus Cobra (fat and fuzzy). I own a 6505 that I'll use for rhythms, palm-mutes, and chugs. The Mesa would be for leads. I have an LP Studio and an HSS Strat, and typically run NO pedals. More specifically:

• Which is better-suited for metal?
• Which has more preamp gain?
• Which is darker/brighter?
• Subjective sonic character description of DC-3's lead channel?
• Subjective sonic character description of Mark IV's lead channel?

I actually already bought a DC-3 online, but haven't received yet. But, since they seem to hold their value so well, I may just turn around and sell it for a Mark IV, if I can determine that the Mark IV more fits my needs. I'm basically looking for that dark, growly, "signature," Mesa sound for my leads.

Also, since a used Mark IV sells for about twice what a used DC-3 sells for, is the DC-3 "close enough," and worth saving the extra $600-$700? Or are the DC-series amps and the Mark IVs TOTALLY different animals?
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 3, 2008,
#2
The DC series is similar to the F series, however is a little more aggressive sounding. The DC has quite a bit of gain though I find it can get a little bit muddy and undefined, but still more than a 6505 imo. It's been a while since I played one so I can't really comment on the darkness/brightness to the sound. Since you said you don't need cleans, I won't touch on those.

The Mark IV is a GREAT metal amp. I used to own a 5150 and F-30 before my Mark IV and the Mark IV blows both of them out of the water, though the F-30 is still extremely good for the money, I'm no longer a fan of the 5150s really. It's voiced a little more vintagely, but it has one of the most massive low ends I've heard through my cab. It really is based around mids and has plenty of them, most people that see my Mark IV think I have the mids scooped at 4 or 5 but I really don't, it has lots of mids.

The Mark IV I'd say is more versatile than the DC/F series, not a lot more like it would be compared to the 5150, but still a pretty good amount. I love the sounds I get out of its lead channel for both rhythm and lead, it really can do anything. The Mark IV is an amp I think I'll have a hard time ever selling and it'll probably stick with me for a very long time. Especially since I can cover so much different music styles with it with no tone compromised.
Quote by Dave_Mc
I've had tube amps for a while now, but never actually had any go down on me
Quote by jj1565
maybe you're not saying the right things? an amp likes to know you care.





www.SanctityStudios.com
#3
Thanks, Matrix! I got so confused reading DC-3 reviews on HC. Plus, I've auditioned some amazing DC-3 metal clips, leading me to believe that I could buy into that sexy, growly, Mesa-ish sound in a DC-3, for not a whole lotta coin.

I just went full-circle on my feelings toward my 6505. At first, I loved it. Then I started to get sick of it, and started this lengthy sojourn, looking to buy a Soldano SLO100 and a Framus Cobra. Yes, I said, "AND." I was going to buy BOTH. Then the weirdest thing happened . . . I just bought a PreSonus mic preamp, and miked up my 6505-powered cab, and WOW! I REALLY love my 6505 again! When miked, it's exactly the kind of tube tone I've been looking for. Plus, the 6505 makes EXCELLENT-sounding chugs, when miked. Exactly the kind of chug I've been looking for (the kind I can't get from a Mesa Recto).

As I mentioned in the other thread, my 6505 will be relegated to all the rhythm, palm-mutes, and chugs, since I think that amp does those things so well. I actually prefer the 6505's chugs to many other more expensive boutique amps' chugs, Soldano, included. The only other amp that pwns the 6505's chugs is the Framus Cobra, IMO.

So, I will be using the Mesa/Boogie DC-3 (or Mark IV, if I decide to go that route) soley for leads, so versatility really isn't an issue. But, just to clarify what you said when you stated that, "The DC has quite a bit of gain though I find it can get a little bit muddy and undefined, but still more than a 6505." Did you mean that the DC-3 had "still more" gain than a 6505? If the DC-3's preamp gain is at least equal to a 6505's, I'm good!
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 2, 2008,
#4
Quote by LEVEL4
So, I will be using the Mesa/Boogie DC-3 (or Mark IV, if I decide to go that route) soley for leads, so versatility really isn't an issue. But, just to clarify what you said when you stated that, "The DC has quite a bit of gain though I find it can get a little bit muddy and undefined, but still more than a 6505." Did you mean that the DC-3 had "still more" gain than a 6505? If the DC-3's preamp gain is at least equal to a 6505's, I'm good!

I meant that I find it to be more defined and less muddy than the 6505 can get. The DC can most definitely get a tight sound, but if you EQ it wrong it can sound pretty bland, so if you think that when you get it, keep EQing

And yes, that was my problem with my 5150, they sound great recorded but I just wasn't hearing that same sound when playing living
Quote by Dave_Mc
I've had tube amps for a while now, but never actually had any go down on me
Quote by jj1565
maybe you're not saying the right things? an amp likes to know you care.





www.SanctityStudios.com
#5
I strongly recommend the Mark IV over the DC. Although the DC in my opinion is far better than most amps in the market.
#6
I like EL84 for rock and clean tones, but I never really cared for EL84 and metal tones. Too much powertube sag for my preference, gives it that vintage vibe to me. Love their earlier breakup for the classic tones though. No experience with the DC series, but the Mark IV is a great metal amp man.
"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." - W.S.
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#7
Thanks for everyone's replies. Well, the MarkIV I was watching on Ebay just soared to over $1,300! So, now, it's now over twice the price what I paid for my mint-condition DC-3. For that kind of money, I can keep the DC-3 (to retain some Mesa-brand, sound capability in my repertoire), and still have money left over to pick up a used Soldano Astroverb or Atomic 16 someday as well (to have some Soldano tone laying around).

So my question still is . . . are the DC-3s and MarkIVs world's apart tonally? Or is the DC-3 servicable as a decent poor man's MarkIV?
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 2, 2008,
#8
Quote by LEVEL4
Thanks for everyone's replies. Well, the MarkIV I was watching on Ebay just soared to over $1,300! So, now, it's now over twice the price what I paid for my mint-condition DC-3. For that kind of money, I can keep the DC-3 (to retian some Mesa-brand, sound capability in my repertoire), and still have money left over to pick up a used Soldano Astroverb or Atomic 16 someday as well (to have some Soldano tone laying around).



You were watching that one too. Sucks that there so expensive on ebay and craigslist lately. I saw one for $750 but the guy never emailed me back.
#9
FINALLY!

. . . got my Mesa/Boogie DC-3 head today! I must say, I'm very happy with the Ebay seller I bought it from—it's a mint-condition DC-3! I mean, as close to f*cking perfect an amp this old can get. It's f*cking late at night now, so I can't crank it yet. It came tubed with 12AT7s. I played it for about one minute, then immediately replaced them with the TungSol 12AX7s I bought last week from Tube Depot (in anticipation my dislike of the wimpy 12AT7s).

So, now it's loaded with six, Russian TungSol 12AX7 preamp tubes, and four, JJ Electronic (Tesla) EL84 power tubes. The TungSol 12AX7s produce noticably more gain than the JJ 12AT7s, perhaps about 30%, or more, "apparent" gain. Seems like a pretty sweet combo, but like I said, I can't turn the amp up past '1' until tomorrow.

So, how much gain? Well, it's "enough," I guess. It's not over-the-top, "buzzsaw" kinda gain, but it's a very defined-sounding gain. I still don't know if a Mark IV utterly pwns the DC-3 in the gain department or not. One man's "insane" could be another man's "still need to turn it up to '11.'" My plan was to play dark, growly, "Mesa-ish" leads through the DC-3, to contrast with my ultra high-gain 6505 head. In comparison, the DC-3 is probably only about 50% of the 6505's monster gain.

At low volumes, the 6505 utterly pwns the DC-3 for low-end thud, thump, and overall gain. Perhaps at higher volumes, I'm guessing the DC-3 screams like a mutha, however. Hopefully, since it's only a 30-Watt head, I hope to be able to get some power-tube saturation a bit easier than my now, 60-Watt 6505, although I hear this amp is still f*cking LOUD. What's really surprised me, upon my initial impressions, is how similarly voiced the two amps seem to be. I think the 5150/6505s are actually a bit more underrated than they deserve. 5150/6505s sound great, IMO—they're extremely growly, with TONS of "thunder."

I really like the five-band, graphic EQ on the DC-series amps (just like the graphic EQs on the MarkIVs), and is one of the main reasons I chose the DC-3 over the other Mesa models (well, that, and the price was right). So many sounds! Yeah, I played around with the infamous 'V' setting. It does sound cool. Lots of other sounds to be had here. Versatile! Can't wait to turn it up tomorrow. By the way, the cleans do sound really good on this amp as well, but, who cares? I don't!
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 10, 2008,
#10
Hey, glad you liked it. And as far as oomph, gain, and low end go, the DC-5 is better suited for it than the DC-3. At 2 on my DC-5 it sounds as loud, but with more gain and tighter punchier massive low end than the DC-3 on 10. BTW, what cab are you runnin it through?
#11
Well, it's got great tone, but after some A/B comparison playing, I actually like my 6505 much better. There's just not enough gain in the DC-3 for metal. Plus, this has got to be the loudest f*cking 30-Watt amp on earth (NOT what I was looking for)! Will probably sell this soon and get a Soldano or Mojave.
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 10, 2008,
#12
I'd say try the DC-5 cuz in my mind it sounds better (in addition, you also get the option of using the clean channel as a pretty nice rhythm channel with the gain dimed), but if you're gunnin for a Soldano, then go for it. Sorry you didn't like the DC-3 too much. I'm pretty sure the main reason it doesn't seem to do metal well is the EL84s (not for anything, but they're just weak in my mind).
#13
For metal the MkIV is definitely, incontrovertibly better than the Caliber, but if you don't need the extra switching options the DC-5 can get close enough that I doubt you'd notice the difference in a blindfold test. DC-3 is a little softer and rounded though there isn't a world of difference. They need a lot of initial tweaking to get the tone you want, but would certainly do the job and have tons of gain on tap. They're hilariously under-rated for power too, mine measured at 65W with fresh tubes.

The DC, just like the F series and Express, is a jack-of-all-trades amp: therefore as the old saying goes, a master of none. Good little amp, but against a specialist rig like a Soldano it'd pale in comparison, so good luck with that.
#15
Uh, thanks. Where you guys two weeks ago????? I specifically didn't get a DC-5 because I wanted LESS Watts. But this thing is f*cking LOUD!!! Does anyone know if I can pull two of the DC-3's EL84s, just as you can in other four-power tube amps, like my 6505?

Well, I played the DC-3 again tonight, and it was SUPPOSED to be different from my 6505. I think the real test is miking and recording the cab, but it's all the way in another room, far from my recording set-up. Maybe I just need to get used to not diming the sh*t outta my gains.

Also, initially, I was so torn between the Soldano and a Framus Cobra—they're such different-sounding amps. Also, used Mark IVs go for almost as much as used Soldano SLOs. Maybe I should just get what I wanted in the first place—the Soldano.

On the other hand, the DC-3 is a pretty nice little amp, and may be worth keeping.

[a while later . . . ]

Well, I just plugged in my G•Major multi-effects unit into the DC-3's send/return FX loop. Nice to have that FX mix pot on the back of the DC-3. You can really hear the amp's tone, and the effect on the signal that the FX unit has as you mix it in. I have it about mid-way. Pretty cool. Don't need over-the-top gain for doing guitar FX tracks anyway. I think the G•Major suits this amp really well, and may be the biggest reason to keep this little amp after all. (Still want the Soldano, too, though.)
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 11, 2008,
#16
Sorry for the bump . . .

But, it's something I REALLY need to know:

I pulled two of the 6L6 power tubes out of my 6505 to halve its Wattage. Jerry at FJAmods advised me on how to do it safely. It works like a charm, and I now have a lot more usable "play" on the post-gain volume pot on my 6505.

But, can you do the same with an EL84, DC-series Mesa/Boogie amp? This DC-3 is just the loudest f*cking 30-Watt amp I've ever heard. It's waaaaay too loud for my usage. I know it won't make a HUGE difference in output, but anything would help!

[some time passes . . . ]

Although I'd still like to know if you can pull the power tubes, I just happened to whip out my attentuator and . . . WOW!

Okay, so I'm still running the G•Major in the FX loop at about 50% mixed, and it sounds awesome. NOW . . . I plug in my TubeCube attenuator and turn the output volume to about '4' on the DC-3. Remember, the DC-3 on '1' is f*cking goddamned loud, about as loud as my 60-Watt 6505 head at about '4.'

HOLY CRAP! Total power tube saturation! When I used my TubeCube on my 6505, it sounded overly compressed and tone-sucked, so I never used it. But, on the DC-3, it sounds much more transparent for some reason. Maybe the EL84's "brightness" helps to compensate for the attenuation tone-suck much better than the 6L6s in my 6505. I dunno.

Would I have been happier with a MarkIV? Probably. But I'm getting some pretty good sounding sh*t at half the price. I now have mucho gain that's very different form my 6505's gain. The attentuator sounds f*cking great and much better than on my 6505 for some reason. Probably sounds even better recorded. Will record some samples soon.

So . . . I guess I'm keeping the DC-3.
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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Last edited by LEVEL4 at Apr 11, 2008,