Mark V review by Mesa Boogie

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reliability & Durability: 2
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 9.1 (275 votes)
Mesa Boogie: Mark V

Sound — 7
I play a PRS Custom 24 and an American Standard Strat with DiMarzio Areas at neck and center, and Seymour Duncan JB at bridge. The clean channel (channel 1) could be cleaner, and the amp hums louder than any other tube amps I've owned (Fenders, Egnater, etc.). But, once again, channels 2 & 3 can be tremendously versatile - clean to chunky to hi-gain, etc.

Overall Impression — 3
My overall Impressions of the Mesa Boogie Mark V: Pros: To reiterate, this amp is extremely versatile with power to spare. For that reason, it's a great one-stop-shop for any studio Cons: The Mark V (in my experience with two of them) is temperamental, a bit unreliable, noisy, and exhibits some questionable construction.

Reliability & Durability — 2
All that said, I bought the Mark V combo amp and had to return it. I spent the first three weeks of ownership troubleshooting the tube sputtering/crackling and the mechanical rattles in the amp to no avail. The guys at Mesa were good about sending spare tubes, but were basically of the attitude that combos will be combos' (to paraphrase) when it came to the rattles. When none of those problems could be resolved, I exchanged the Mark V combo for a Mark V head and cabinet. Within about a day, a fuse blew when switching out of standby mode and had to replace the 5U4G tube. After a few more days the tube sputtering and crackling started up. I replaced all four power tubes (after swapping out pre-amp tubes) and eliminated that problem. Shortly thereafter discovered the channel-two EQ preset knob was loose and spun around and around. About the same time, I discovered the power plug was pulling away from the cable shroud and exposing the insulated wire. Under warranty, Mesa handled exchanges for the tubes, fuses and power cord. Beyond that however, this amplifier produces loud pops when between switching channels even if all channels are at the same power level (for example 45W, 45W and 45W for channels 1, 2, and 3, respectively). Louder yet is the pop when switching to standby. It's alarming! This amp also hums louder than most tube amps I've owned. The Mesa guys are a little less sympathetic to these problems. Just aside, be aware that within each channel the tone control knob selections are pretty useless much beyond about their 1 o'clock positions. For example, beyond about the 1 o'clock setting presence gets very shrill, treble produces that ice-pick or hot-wire through the ears tone, bass gets flabby. However, combinations anywhere from 7 o'clock to 1 o'clock produce some very sweet tones! As such, the Mark V would be a superior studio amp if you keep lots of spare parts handy. A gigging amp?.. I don't trust it (yet). After eight long weeks of ownership (of TWO Mark V's), I would not recommend the Mark V. You may be able to do just as well buying both a Fender Twin and a Marshall for the 6L6's and EL34's, or just buy an Egnater Tourmaster 4100 amp and save a bit of cash. I'll probably sell my Mark V for a loss and do just that.

Features — 8
The Mesa Boogie Mark V is the singularly most versatile 3-channel amplifier I have ever owned, heard and have ever played through. This amp comes standard with 6L6's, but you can flip the tube bias switch and replace with EL34's. You can go to Mesa's website and get details on all the toggles, knob, settings, etc., and hear the amp being played in many of its configurations. As such, without going into the myriad details and options within each of the 3 separate channels, the tones and feels are virtually limitless. If you're looking for a particular sound, the Mark V has it! You just have to spend time to find it. There's enough voltage going through this amp to electrocute a convict... Consequently the three power settings (10W, 45W, 90W) can produce a "pop" when switching... So set 'em up ahead of time. A variable (sweeping) power option would probably be better for this amp along with selectable EL34's.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I just ordered a mesa mark 5 combo.. did a lot of research and felt good about my choice-but didn't really find all these forms of personal complaints until after buying it..Haven't got the amp yet and must say little worried.. One thing that brings a little comfort if you Google Andy Timmons rig set up..he gets the excact tone I'm looking for with His Lonestar combo, and pretty sure the Mark 5 can do that as well or better-and if not I will pay the shipping and return it for the Lonestar.. Anyone out there love the Mark 5 combo?
    I'm an architect. Just imported a Mk V 40th Anniversary special - flame Walnut and cane! . Sound? who cares about the sound! Just look at it!! Sets my soul a'flame! Settings? no problem: Just turn the dials to the suggested settings on the plastic gadget that comes with it! Plug in! Wow! Great sounds!! And, unlike my 30 year old MkIIB can set the sound completely separately on each channel.
    Dude; easily one of the best, well-worded, insightful reviews I've ever read. Kudos.
    I've got a line on a reasonably priced Mk2B-rev. I like it a lot. It is a pita to dial in. But the tones you get when dialed in are phenom and hold their tonal qualities at mid ranged to loud volumes (and when switching the 60w/100w modes). Yes, there is pop when using the pedal (a detractor for me) and there is also some wierd low freq flubbey bassie rumble that I cant seem to identify (seems to chase the primary signal). When running through only an ext cab and no combo speaker. it goes away. So maybe some sympatetic resonance or vibration from the speaker rattling a tube, or maybe there is some issue with the speaker driver (original EV) at low or subsonic frequencies. Im making the store identify and remedy before i bite on it. Regardless of its legacy, I expect high end sound gear to have some sort of hi fidelity to come with the high price point. (ZZZ im sorry). So i was also looking at the MkV for the MkIIC+ switch as these (MkIIc+) are regarded as the best of the Marks in other forums. Anyone with experience with both care to comment on the 'cloniness' of the Mark V's Mk3C+ mode? Is it best to chase a true MkII or does the MkV get me there with the latest and greatest of modern gear?