Mark IV Review

manufacturer: Mesa Boogie date: 02/18/2009 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Mesa Boogie: Mark IV
Truly a treasure in black tolex, the Mark IV soars with multiple tonal options and a tight midrange lead channel.
 Sound: 9.8
 Overall Impression: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 9.5
 Features: 9.5
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (4) pictures (1) 19 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 10
Mark IV Reviewed by: oggiedoggy, on february 18, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1300

Purchased from: Gulfcoast Guitars

Features: 1994 version I believe (it's one of the earlier second edition Mark IV combos, compact version). 3 Channels, 85 watts all tube power adjustable down to about 15 if I remember correctly. Slave D.I., Stereo/Mono Effects loop, Satellite send, recording out, 6 button footswitch - rhythm 1_rhythm 2_lead_lead w/eq_eq in/out_fx on/off. It's got a reverb that I originally thought was really lacking and pointless, but after owning it for 9 monthes I have found that it sounds amazing after you realize that the master output knob really effects the depth of the reverb. I have not experienced any hissing or buzzing with the reverb like the other reviewer mentioned. It has 2 four ohm slots and one 8, so you could make it into a stack of sorts if you wanted to. Oh and more buttons and pullswitches than you could shake a stick at. // 10

Sound: I use it with my Squier Strat (sss), and everyone knows that Squier, well, aren't that great of guitars. BUT, this amp does a fantastic job of making my second string guitar sound like a champ. I play everything from country style stuff thru hard rock, though if you are looking at one of these you are well aware of it's capabilities beyond that. When I first got it (used) it went into microphonic feedback when I cranked the master output, thus making the reverb seem shit because that knob is apparently very important for that to function well. That problem has since ceased (no clue why). The only limitation to how loud you want to play is the onset of deaf-ness, and I like my hearing so I don't put it up too loud. But boy is it a pretty sound. With all of the various knobs at your disposal many of which will also pull out basically doubling your options, you can make nearly any sound you want - from very thick/creamy/sludgy rhythm to fat melodical leads, or if you like it tight ;) (innuendo stops here) you can have it your way as well. With the right guitar you could play anything from the twangiest of country to the heaviest of metal. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Mmm, I'm actually thinking about retubing it because I think it has Chinese preamp tubes in it and I'm starting to see more volume fluctuations. The MESA people I called seemed very friendly and get back to you within a day or so. It seems very solid and is quite likely it is made out of lead... it is very heavy! // 10

Overall Impression: I thought long and hard before I got this thing, and I'm sure there is something better out there for you if you are after one certain sound. What the Mark IV will give you is many different sounds that are all above average, and for me that was perfect as I like to play many things and have them all sound very good. I gave 10's to all because it is perfect for me - but remember there is no perfect it's all relative. // 10

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overall: 9.5
Mark IV Reviewed by: travd92, on december 16, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 1605

Purchased from: Atlanta Discount Music

Features: Truely a treasure in black tolex, the Mark IV soars with multiple tonal options and a tight midrange lead channel. Mine is a 1998 model (he's ten years old! ) and includes 3 channels: Rhythm 1, Rhythm 2, and the infamous Lead Channel. it has an effects loop which can be turned on/off via the footswitch, a slave out, recording out, reverb, pentode/triode, simulclass/class a, harmonics/highgain, and reverb. 85 watts of all tube power, which I run with 2 6L6 power tubes and 2 EL34 power tubes, and all the preamps are of course 12AX7s. also, the power can be switched between full/tweed. // 9

Sound: the sound hits everything. I can literally flip a switch, and change from pristine cleans, to tight bottom heavy metal. my music style ranges from elevator jazz to southern rock, to technical death metal. the way the gain is set up on the lead channel is this: the input gain is based on the "lead gain" setting and you can shape that up with the "lead Drive" setting. when set wrong, this produces some really bad fizz and noise, but when set properly, it's very round and tight. The clean channel has headroom for days, and the R2 channel can get a really fat, almost fuzzy distortion. Now, the only problem with the amp is the reverb. It just gives off a hiss, and when the effects loop in engaged it seems to triple, no matter what setting it is on (other than off). // 10

Reliability & Durability: The only problem I've been having is paranoia with this amp. So far, the amp has given me no trouble. and mesa has great customer service, so if I ever need help I can give them a ring. the thing is heavy and built pretty solid. One of the tubes is rattling against the base just enough to annoy, and that is the only thing that I need to look at. // 9

Overall Impression: I will never need another amp. I love everything about the amp. The warmth of the overdrive, the cleans and the fat warm sound there is to obtain with this beauty. Thank you Randall smith. The only thing I have negative to say is the reverb is what I would consider an "epic fail", but that is what digital reverb is for. // 10

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overall: 9.3
Mark IV Reviewed by: NathanRobbins, on april 27, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: Straight from Mesa's site: 85 Watts, Simul-Class Power / 4x6L6, 5x12AX7, Fixed Bias for Consistent, Maintenance Free Performance, 3 Channels w/Independent Gain & Master Controls (Rhythm I, Rhythm II & Lead), Independent Treble & Presence Controls for Rhythm I & II (Bass & Mid combined), Fully Independent EQ for Lead Channel (Bass, Mid, Treble & Presence), Multi-Stage Cascading Gain Lead Channel (Lead Gain + Lead Drive), Lead Voicing Switch (Mid Gain/Harmonics), Pull Fat (Rhythm II & Lead Channel), Pull Bright (Rhythm I & Lead), Pull Shift Presence Controls (Rhythm II & Lead), Assignable 5 Band Graphic EQ, Assignable FX Loop, Slave Out w/Level Control, Spring Reverb, Output Level Control (over all channels), Full Power/Tweed Variac Switch, Simul-Class/Class A Switch, Pentode/Triode Switch, Record Out w/Level Control, Silent Record Mute Switch (Pull Output Level), Fan Cooled, External, Switching Input, 6 Button Footswitch (Rhythm I, Rhythm II, Lead, Lead+EQ, EQ (Graphic) & FX Loop), Slip Cover. Okay, onward to reviewing. My Mark IV is the compact combo version and was made in 1991! Old... I know. There are so many great features on this amp one could easily get lost tone tweaking for days, but there are some complaints that I have regarding the EQ. Why on earth is there such a large range? The mid and bass controls for the lead channel have way too lare of a sweep. Anything past 5 sounds horrible on either. You lose any sign of definition and it just ends up a sloppy mess. Also, the bass and mid controls for Rhythm 1&2 are combined which presents an obstacle: finding a setting that sounds good for both your clean and crunch channels. I'm glad the treble and presence controls are separate though. The RECORD OUT feature is wonderful. To record stereo you have to use some other effects. I am moving away to college soon and it helps to be able to use my amp without getting thrown out of an apartment. On another note, the pull/push knobs bother me. I haven't had any problems with them so far, but I'm just scared that I will break one off because they stick out pretty far. As far as features go there's not much more you could ask for. The Mark V did solve the problems I mentioned btw (pull push knobs and combined bass/mid on Ch.1&2 were switched to toggle switches and separate EQ for all channels). // 9

Sound: I'm using an Ibanez RG4 equipped with the DiMarzio Liquifire and CrunchLab and play mostly progressive/classical/metal/whatever you want to call it. I'm also using some Boss, and Visual Sound effects as well as an Ernie Ball VP. I wouldn't go as far as the other reviewers have in saying that this amp can give you some brutal distortion. Even though the distortion that I've gotten out of it is pretty badass it doesn't come close to the rectifier series, but it's not supposed to. From the lead channel I can get a very tight, defined rhythm sound that takes you right to the edge of good metal tone using a combination of the graphic EQ and various other features. A little bit more distortion and it would be perfect for metal but you can use a pedal and fix that immediately if the amp isn't heavy enough for you. It'll cover about everything you want though. The lead tone that I can get is absolutely phenomenal. It's retarded good! With my bridge pickup I can produce some searing solos and the Mark IV definitely makes my Liquifire shine. The tone is so smooth and beautiful. The only issue is that it doesn't seem to produce the amount of sustain that I would like. Legato lines are a little difficult, but, again, I think a distortion or boost pedal would solve this problem. The harmonics leave a lot to be desired. Both pinch harmonics and natural harmonics are difficult to produce with any pronounced feel at all. They just seem to get lost and dwindle or never jump out at all. The clean channel is great. You can crank the settings to get some crunch from rhythm1 but that's the beauty of rhythm2 channel. Once again, it's easy to make the bass and mids produce that "flub" sound so roll off of them until you find the definition you want (Petrucci's terminology). But once you get the EQ dialed in the results are wonderful. Overall the sound of this amp is AMAZING once you put in the time tweaking the settings. // 9

Reliability & Durability: My Mark IV I bought used. Already I've noticed that every now and then the volume and gain crackle and go out. I'm suspecting that a tube needs replacing. I'm not sure when the last time the previous owner changed the tubes was. Also, there's a problem with the master volume control on the Rhythm1 channel. Around five the volume seems to jump up to max with some wiggling of the knob. But as you continue to turn it up it drops back to the correct value such as 7 and 8 and on up to max at 10. None of these problems are major and they can be easily fixed with some maintenance and work from a shop. I'll change out the tubes sometime soon. Keep in mind that this amp is like 20 YEARS OLD! Tip: Never gig a tube amp without a backup :P // 9

Overall Impression: For my style of music I knew that I had to have a Mesa. The lead channel alone is worth the price of this amp. I've been playing for 6+ years and have owned many solid state amps. I must admit that this is my first tube amp but I believe it was a great choice. If it were stolen I would cry because I don't have the money to buy another:( I love the cleans and lead channel on the amp. I wish it had more sustain and distortion but a cheap pedal can fix that in a heartbeat. I did play around on other tube amps before deciding on this one. None of them had that signature Mesa tone. The RECORD OUT feature is wonderful and sounds great. The power options are great. The reverb is great. This amp is just overall great. My next amp purchase will be the Mesa Mark V or possibly the Dual Rectifier. Who knows. It'll be awhile though:P in the meantime I'll enjoy the f--k out of my Mark IV. // 10

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overall: 10
Mark IV Reviewed by: chris.meidl, on september 13, 2016
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 2500

Features: I've got the wooden Small Top with an external 1X12" Speaker Cabinet loaded with a single Celestion Black Shadow speaker, both fitted with that funny "wicker cane grill" that make classic Boogies a piece of furniture ;)) I won't bother you with all the features, cause other reviewers described them sufficiently. In brief: 85 watts with the possibility of reducing the output power to aprox. 25 watts in "tweed mode" (class a) which i prefer for bedroom level playing. I swapped the stock tubes (Chinese) and use some Jan-Philips (don't know the exact model) instead, which was a big improvement in my ears. Experimenting with the tube settings does makes sense an will change the tonal appearance of the amp significantly. 3 channels (clean, crunch, lead) with various possibilities for tone shaping (in addition to the tone knobs the presence knobs and the pull/push function for "bright" or "fat" add further variations and make this am kind of a "sound chameleon." And there is the famous 5 band equalizer which is very useful for nine tuning your sound. It also features an switchable effects loop an a tube driven reverb spring reverb unit. // 10

Sound: This amp is very complex with all the knobs, push/pull pots and 3 channels plus the switchable effects loop. And it needs some patience in order to strike tonal gold. If you want a plug-n-play amp, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for an flexible amps, that suits many musical styles and don't want to jump onto the train of "digital modelling" instead of classic tube sound, this is the amp for you. It simply covers all kind of sounds i was ever looking for. The "Rhythm 1"'s clean sound is great and (especially in tweed mode) can cover the signature Fenderish tweed sound very well. And it can bring you that nice crunch sound if you turn the gain knob until 10. "Rhythm 2 mode" is the most versatile channel in my opinion. It can be played fully clean until serious distortion, especially if you use the "fat" option on the gain knob. I really like it for a blues and classic rock and with my Schecter Strat with Duncan SSL 1 pu's even comes close to the sought after Hendrix tone. "Lead mode" starts where Rhythm 2 ends and offers all nuances of overdrive until heavy distortion (Metallica)... If you take your time to discover all the tonal possibilities of this amp, maybe you'll never find a need for another one. But keep in mind that that knobs are extremely sensitive and can bring you to tonal heaven and hell by micro changes in the tone settings. Once you have found your sound (and it took me months), you will find that the Mk IV is an easily to use amp despite all its bells and whistles. Fore sure this amp is not boring! // 10

Reliability & Durability: The amp looks built like a tank. No problems so far. And Mesa's customer support is known to be helpful. Swapping the stock tubes make a difference as I already described above. You can use a variety of tube types like 6L6, EL34 and even 6v6. I Being a Fender man the 6L6 tubes do fit my needs best. Using EL34 maybe an interesting option if you are looking for a more british sound. Like other reviewers said, the only not so superb feature of this amp is the reverb unit. I like the reverb of may Deluxe Reverb more, but it´s not that bad to say it is completely useless. That said, the Mk IV is nothing less than super reliable. // 10

Overall Impression: After checking various options of tube amps in order to offer me more tonal variety than the beloved classic Blackface Fenders I also own, this amp is it for me. It's the perfect studio amp with an bunch of possibilities. It literally made me stop searching for "the amp" because with the Mk IV I fell to have the potential of various amps in a pretty little box. Again: if you have the patience to discover the tonal grace of this tone monster, you won't be disappointed. Besides the Mk IV I use a Fender Deluxe Reverb RI that I really love for the sound it offers right out of the box - a completely different animal indeed and it perfectly complements the tonal flexibility of the Boogie with its signature Blackface tone. With this two amps, I never felt the need of another amp. // 10

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