Mark III review by Mesa Boogie

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.5 (22 votes)
Mesa Boogie: Mark III

Price paid: £ 600

Purchased from: Ebay

Sound — 10
I use several guitars with active EMG pickups (EMG 81/60 the "Het set" etcetera). This is unquestionably the most ferocious and aggressive sounding amplifier I've ever used or heard in my entire life. I was actually shocked by how distorted it can get. So it suits what I do perfectly. Classic Metallica tones are a no brainer and it handles modern metal sounds effortlessly too. Whether you're tuned up or tuned down, this amp can do it all. To my ears it sounds close to a Dual Rectifier but without the flabby lower end. When I plugged in for the first time I had instant "...And Justice For All" tone (these were obviously the settings the previous owner had used). Rest assured, if you're a metal guitarist like me, you will LOVE this amplifier. The clean channel doesn't interest me so I have nothing to say about that. The crunch channel is great for rock, blues and all that stuff too. I'm happy being a metal guitarist, so I don't "dabble" with other styles too much but I'm sure this amp is tonally versatile enough for any musician out there.

Overall Impression — 10
Little annoyances aside (reverb/presence knobs in the back, shared EQ, physical weight of the combo itself) I don't have any serious complaints about this amplifier. For me, it's a match made in heaven. I'm so satisfied and happy with this amp, I sold my Mesa Boogie Mark V and used the money I made to buy new goodies. It's better than the Mark V in my opinion, it just blew the thing out of the water. I've converted the combo into a rack mountable head and now use it with 4x12 cabinets. If this was stolen or damaged, I'd definitely, absolutely replace it. It has everything I need for what I do, I'm sticking with this for life. If you're a serious headbanger like me, get a Mark III green-stripe.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I'm only a few years older than this amp and it's in better shape than me (it's currently 22 years old, this review was written in 2012). It's second hand but I gave it a good clean and it now looks brand new. Obviously, the tubes will need to be changed at some stage in the future but it came to me with a fresh set installed.

Features — 10
I took a gamble and purchased a second hand Mesa Boogie Mark III simul-class "green stripe" combo from eBay. I believe it was made in 1990. It has 3 channels, clean, crunch and lead. These are all accessed via the pedals or by pulling out/pushing-in the knobs on the amplifier itself. It also has a "direct out", reverb, a built in EQ system and an FX loop. In addition to that, it comes with a power switch in the back to go from 15 watts to 85 watts, so it packs plenty of power. I've used the "direct out" for home recording on my PC (by plugging the amp into my sound-card and playing through cabinet impulses) and it works great. I'm a metal guitarist, so the clean channel doesn't interest me much. However, I'm sure it'd satisfy a jazz musician. Don't underestimate the size of this combo, it's incredibly heavy in weight. Believe me, it isn't any fun to carry around (especially up flights of stairs). It's remarkably loud too. The amp is a bit "fiddly" and in that I mean, it may take you a while to familiarise yourself with it's controls etcetera but once you do, you're flying. The presence and reverb knobs are at the back of the amplifier, this is a bit annoying for me but hey, they still get the job done so it's not the end of the world. The combo speaker can be unplugged and the amp can be connected to larger cabinets (2x12, 4x12 and so on). The EQ can be turned off, on or set into "auto mode". The amp also has a "stand by" switch. However, the EQ is shared across all 3 channels. Some guitarists may hate this but it isn't a problem for me because I only use the loudest channel anyway.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    How many would recommend this rather than a Mark IV or Mark V?
    Recommendation depends on personal preference. ----- Mark III has the most burn, aggression, and immediate pick attack. ----- Mark IV is more liquid in the feel. It can get very heavy also, but doesn't burn like the Mark III. ----- Mark V has the best clean channel. The high gain channels are dryer without being as liquidy as the Mark IV. The high gain channels do not get as much of an awesome mid scoop sound as the Mark III or Mark IV. ----- I recommend Mark III if you primarily play metal riffs.I recommend Mark IV if you play metal riffs and want liquid leads. ----- Mark III is too bright in Vintage 30 cabinet. The stock combo speaker works well. I've never heard an open back combo get so mid scooped heavy while still delivering bass. The stock Mark III speaker works better in that amp than the newer Mesa C90. ----- Mark IV works best with closed back Vintage 30 cabs. However, the combo does sound adequate with the stock C90 speaker, but you won't have lots of thick lows in your heavy palm-mutes.