Mark IV buying advice

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Quiffmiester
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Mark IV buying advice

Post by Quiffmiester » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:22 am

I'm currently in the process of looking for a new amp to replace my vox valvestate amp (which I've had for nearly a decade). I was initially drawn to the idea of an F50, which got very good reviews, but I haven't yet managed to find one to try it out. Of the amps I have tried though, the top contender is a mark IV.

Whilst the mark is obviously a lot more amp than the F50, I have a few concerns. The first is that used mark IV combos in the UK seem to ask around £800-900, whereas the F50 goes for £500-600. I'm not sure that the F series is proportionally less of an amp for what I want to use it for, but as I've not been able to try one I don't want to try to barter a mark IV down and risk losing it if it's actually what I should be looking for in the first place. Can people shed some light onto what a good price for a used mark IV is? And comment on how much better/worse than the F50 it is (per £).

My second reservation is that the Mark IV I've seen is a 94 model - 20 years old. To me, this suggests that I need to be prepared to have expensive things blow. The person selling it has hardly used it in the 6 years they have owned it, but equally it hasn't been re-valved in that time and was serviced (I think) 2 years ago. What big things can go and how much do they typically cost to put right? On a related note, how frequently should it be serviced?

Finally, and I've not really looked into this last part so it's probably a stupid question, but does the 'EQ' channel effectively just switch the EQ panel on and off? If so, I think the footswitch for the EQ may have bust, as changing the EQ changed the sound when I thought the channel was 'on' and 'off'. Is this expensive to repair?

Any other hints of things to look out for would be much appreciated!

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swbo101
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by swbo101 » Tue Apr 08, 2014 12:32 pm

Quiffmiester wrote:My second reservation is that the Mark IV I've seen is a 94 model - 20 years old. To me, this suggests that I need to be prepared to have expensive things blow. The person selling it has hardly used it in the 6 years they have owned it, but equally it hasn't been re-valved in that time and was serviced (I think) 2 years ago. What big things can go and how much do they typically cost to put right? On a related note, how frequently should it be serviced?
My Mark IV is over 20 years old. I've always took care of it. The only problem I've ever had, was a few years ago the low voltage regualtor went (most likely from a bad tube or power surge). I brought it to an authorized repair shop, they did a great job. The tech also tested the caps and said they were fine and did not need to be replaced. However, I play this amp a lot. If the one you are looking at has hardly been played in 6 years, that may affect the caps & should be looked at, should not cost too much.

That's all I've got. Good luck.
1991 Mark IV A

bgh
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by bgh » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:55 pm

I agree with swbo101. If it has indeed been unused for 6 years, there is a decent chance that a cap may be leaking. It would definitely be worth taking it to a tech to give it a check-up. If it really has not been played in 6 years, you may luck out on the tubes. They may be okay. It all depends on how hard they were pushed before the amp was put away.

But, be aware that the Mark IV is heavy. Mine has side handles to make it easier for carrying.

Concerning prices: Most Mark IV combos that I see are selling in the $1k range. A few pop in at less than that. I have never played an F50, so I cannot compare them to a Mark IV. But, compared to the other Mesa amps that I have been able to play (Express 5:50, Nomad, S.O.B) the Mark IV does come out on top. Personally, I would go with the Mark IV (even for the extra dollars). The range of tones coming from it are amazing.
Lefty guitars: Gibson SG standard (1977) • Gibson LP custom (1979)
Amps and such: Mesa Boogie Mark IV-B • Mesa Nomad 45 • Mesa TA-30 • Effectrode Blackbird • Kingsley Jester • AMT SS-11a • Zoom G5

dodger916
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by dodger916 » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:48 am

I could never get comfortable with the F series amps; they sounded too "nasal" for me. The Mark IV is very versatile, and well worth the extra money over an F series, IMO. They are heavy, but a head/speaker cab set up is more portable than a combo. Easier on the tubes too.

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Quiffmiester
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by Quiffmiester » Thu Apr 10, 2014 2:02 pm

Thanks for the replies. I actually sorted out the last question (I think) by reading the instructions - seems like there's a switch at the back that turns the EQ permanently 'on', 'off' or 'footswitchable'.

From what's been said, I think the guy's asking more for it than I should pay. I think $1000 (£600) is a good price, and seems to be what similar mesa amps bring on the UK ebay when left to run at a no-reserve auction. At that price, I would be happy to not bother trying an F series too.

I'm still a little bothered by the age - I'm sure these things CAN go on and on for years, but the max age for a mark IV is only about 4 years older than this one. £2k+ for 20+ years of life seems a lot better than £800 for (potentially) 4 years... As I have a multimeter, is there anything I can do (besides flicking the valves with a pencil) to do a quick check on the condition of expensive/fail-prone components?

Quiffmiester
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by Quiffmiester » Thu Apr 10, 2014 3:25 pm

Update - after a quick search around for mark IV combos in the UK currently for sale, it seems the asking price is the same in £ as the suggested dollar price. As my amp trying today convinced me that I definitely want a mark IV, I rang the guy up and negotiated a price for the amp and case.

I'm now a delighted first time mesa owner!

ReverbIsANoun
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by ReverbIsANoun » Sun May 18, 2014 6:35 pm

Quiffmiester wrote:Thanks for the replies. I actually sorted out the last question (I think) by reading the instructions - seems like there's a switch at the back that turns the EQ permanently 'on', 'off' or 'footswitchable'.

From what's been said, I think the guy's asking more for it than I should pay. I think $1000 (£600) is a good price, and seems to be what similar mesa amps bring on the UK ebay when left to run at a no-reserve auction. At that price, I would be happy to not bother trying an F series too.

I'm still a little bothered by the age - I'm sure these things CAN go on and on for years, but the max age for a mark IV is only about 4 years older than this one. £2k+ for 20+ years of life seems a lot better than £800 for (potentially) 4 years... As I have a multimeter, is there anything I can do (besides flicking the valves with a pencil) to do a quick check on the condition of expensive/fail-prone components?
Caps caps caps. Everyone says replace caps.

BS I say! If there's no sign of actual leakage of material, do the following:

Leave the amp in standby for several hours, twist all the pots vigorously while in standby. Most, if not all, crackles and static should be gone when you turn the amp on.

The Mark IV is a rugged amp. I'd say a far superior amp to an F50.

Changing electolytic caps isn't a big deal either. They're not very expensive.

dannymusic
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by dannymusic » Wed Jul 16, 2014 6:58 pm

I've had a early mk IV for 2 years. I brought it in for service. First time ever, i think. didn't need much. standard stuff and no caps.

sounds terrific. They can be simpler than you think. I played my LP
JUnior through channel 1. nice!

bgh
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by bgh » Thu Jul 17, 2014 12:14 pm

Guys,

The OP said that it may have been serviced within the last 2 years, but it was not a sure thing that it had been.

And, I went back and re-read the OP. I did read it incorrectly on one thing. I thought it said that the amp had been put away and had not been played at all in 6 years. I missed that it had been played sparingly.

If that was indeed the case (that it had not been played at all in 6 years), to me it would be worthwhile to make certain that nothing was leaking. That's all I was saying. I was not advocating that a cap job was needed. Only that they should be looked at to make sure that they were not leaking.

If my post came off sounding like they definitely needed to be replaced, then I apologize. That it not what I meant it to say.

Sorry for any misunderstanding I may have caused.
Lefty guitars: Gibson SG standard (1977) • Gibson LP custom (1979)
Amps and such: Mesa Boogie Mark IV-B • Mesa Nomad 45 • Mesa TA-30 • Effectrode Blackbird • Kingsley Jester • AMT SS-11a • Zoom G5

Pilotltd
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by Pilotltd » Wed Jul 23, 2014 6:43 pm

bgh wrote:Guys,

The OP said that it may have been serviced within the last 2 years, but it was not a sure thing that it had been.

And, I went back and re-read the OP. I did read it incorrectly on one thing. I thought it said that the amp had been put away and had not been played at all in 6 years. I missed that it had been played sparingly.

If that was indeed the case (that it had not been played at all in 6 years), to me it would be worthwhile to make certain that nothing was leaking. That's all I was saying. I was not advocating that a cap job was needed. Only that they should be looked at to make sure that they were not leaking.

If my post came off sounding like they definitely needed to be replaced, then I apologize. That it not what I meant it to say.

Sorry for any misunderstanding I may have caused.
90's caps are, generally speaking, OK. 60's not so if they have been left standing for some time. From experience - Bought two as new identical Marshall JTM's that hadn't been touched in 40 years. When I went to collect the guy had one plugged in ready to demonstrate. Before I could say anything he turned it on, lots of pops and crackles and I told him to turn it off. Asked him not to "demo" the other. I bought both. Got them back and figured the one that was turned on may be OK - wrong! Turned it on again and hiss - smoke immediately. Pulled it apart and three caps had split. Other one went on a variac, built the voltage up slowly to 240 over 4 hours and it was fine - still is, it gets gigged regularly with all original parts and valves!

Other didn't fare so well, caps replaced but it started to be a money pit, various component fails - it ended up being a transformer donor for another JTM repair.

Pull the chassis and look - If one cap is bulged - replace the lot while it's apart. If they look OK and it works - leave them.

Steve

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fretout
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by fretout » Thu Jul 24, 2014 5:00 am

Congrats on your purchase and welcome to the Boogie Mob!

I can only speak from my experience, but I own several amps that are 20 years old, and a few that are over 30! I've never had a problem with any leaky caps, and I've found the Mesa Mark series to be extremely well built. When I purchase both of my Mark IVs, I took them in to the Boogie Authorized Tech and they had a clean bill of health.

The EQ switch on the foot switch turns the GEQ on and off on whatever channel it's assigned to. The rocker switch on the amp itself (found on the back of the short chassis versions) assigns the GEQ to a specific channel.

As far as a price, they seem to jump around a bit, somewhere between $1k to $1,500, while some great deals could be found really low, as in $699 if you don't mind some repair work.
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dannymusic
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Re: Mark IV buying advice

Post by dannymusic » Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:01 pm

I've owned every amp known to man..I have a MK IV v. A and it has a ton of tones. Not much more to want from a great professional gigging amp.
Just brought it in for 1st service to authorized service center. Not much to do. Cleaning, retentioning, tubing..thumbs up and out the door. Can use my petrucci or my LP junior with it live, they both sound great. Built to please.

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