Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Discussion for the new Mark V

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APEMAN
Mark III
Posts: 286
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by APEMAN » Thu May 04, 2017 5:49 am

Hey mace,
I use a Thiele 112 [professional clone with the new EVM12L Classic 200W 8Ohm] as well in addition to a Recto Traditional 412 (V30). If you try the settings I posted you should hear a distinct difference in the high end. I can clearly hear that difference independently over the whole volume range on my amp from [-inf] to [max].
Yes, the human ear can never be subjective.

mace
Mark III
Posts: 237
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by mace » Thu May 04, 2017 10:03 pm

Hi Apeman,

I'll give it another try for sure. I wanted to a "reset" and go back to my original tube set (from Doug's tubes) so I've been playing with those for a couple weeks now and haven't had time to mess it. I'd rather be playing. haha

But, my question for you would be: how much difference do you hear between standing off axis and on axis when using the Thiele only? I mean, when you're like 4-5 m away from it and directly in line compared with 4-5 m away and at a 45-60 deg. angle to it. To me, this is a dramatic difference in the "ice pick" or "grainy" sound that can occur. Off axis is way less "in your face". I think this is all normal, of course. But, my point is, this "axis vs. off axis" difference to me was much more dramatic than swapping V6 with the JAN AT7. This as at about 100 dB in the room.

That being said, I'll still do some comparison with the tube rolling.

Thanks and keep rocking,

Mace
Rankings: #1 Mark V head, #1b TC50 combo, #3 Rectoverb 25 head

Bluestoned!
Bottle Rocket
Posts: 8
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by Bluestoned! » Fri May 05, 2017 10:53 am

Great thread!

I've been at odds with my MV since purchasing ten years ago but I believe in the versatility of the platform and the Mesa brand itself so I've continued the 'good fight' as it were. Recently, I purchased a retube kit from Doug's Tubes and I have to say, the amp came alive in so many ways. In fact, during one band practice last week, the amp sounded amazing. Like, for the first time ever...it sounded SO GOOD. But alas, as everyone knows how finicky this amp can be, it didn't sound quite as good the next night's practice (same settings of course) but at least I know it's in there...right?

I started following this thread a couple of weeks ago and pulled the trigger on two JanPhillips 12at7s (gray plate) and finally installed them yesterday in v5 and v6. After allowing the tubes to 'burn in' for a few hours, I must say the mod actually removed almost all shrill treble and 'ice pick' highs from the amp. However, the gain curve also suffered quite a lot...to the point where I had the gain on ch2 (Crunch) and ch3 (Extreme) almost dimed and still did not get anything near a luscious tone.

So today I am going to try swapping the JanPhillips 12at7 in v5 back to the Ruby 12ax7 and see what happens. I'll then swap the Ruby in v5 back to the JP12at7 and try replacing the other JP12at7 in v6 and reinstalling a Ruby 12ax7 in its place and will let you know what I find. I'm thinking that if I can remove at least some or most of the shrill highs and retain the majority of the gain structure of the MV, I should have no complaints whatsoever with this amp. That's my hope anyway...

Sorry for the long post...Wish me luck and stay tuned!

bandit2013
Triple Recto
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Fri May 05, 2017 11:45 am

Instead of using the 12AT7 in V5, try it in V4 which is following the gain stage of V5. The tube positions do not follow the gain stage chain. I have done many tube rolls, actually liked the 5751 in V1 but would probably work well in V5 or V4. unfortunately the cost a bit more than the 12AT7. I will have to play around with my Mark V and see what works. Actually I am satisfied with the 12AX7 tubes that are in it. No shrill or ice pick at the moment. Also, the long plate 12AX7's are typically lower in gain than the short plate designs. JJECC803S is slightly lower in gain than the Mesa 12AX7 tube. I have used them in the V5 and V4 positions and like the results. Tube rolling can become expensive when you fall into that hole.

Wayno
Mark III
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Location: Good ole England

Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by Wayno » Sat May 06, 2017 5:47 pm

Sorry If i ramble on a bit, but I'm stoked now.

Took Bandits advice, swapped V4 and 5 and wow. Got a couple hours free after work and shopping with the wife today so grabbed the Mark V, shut myself in the garage and cranked her up. Heaven! Not to band levels but loud enough to open up the power section.

Always kind of did what Mace had said and stood to one side a bit before, but don't need to any more. Had the amp sat on top of my PA speakers right at head height, pointed right at me about 2 meters away and no ice at all. Just clean, clear chunk!

iiC+ just rips, seems much more chunky with the top end rolled off the way it is now. Smaller coupling cap, no pull deep, doesn't seem to matter now. Master of Puppets was a dream to play, had the tone dialed in perfectly. Nice and thick sounding right in front, which is heavenly. Can now push up the gain, treble and presence to higher points with out getting screech. Bass too, no flub until nearly 12 o'clock. Just can't get over how full iiC+ sounds now, it's incredible. Crunch on Ch 2 sounds awesome too. Got Donny boiler, I believe it's his, VH brown sound dialed in and it's great. Rage against the machine, foo's GnR etc all sound great. Can't wait to get another chance to turn her up again and experiment with Edge. Just wish I had my gear set up so I could record something. Nothing less than properly micing it up would be a disservice to how great it sounds now.

Apeman, Bandit and the rest of you, thank you muchly

Wayno.
Her highness the Veenus
(Mark V/V4 & V7 12AT7 Combo)

2 x 12 Vertical Cab
GSP1101

Gibson LP Studio with alnico ii pro
Schecter C1-XXX with emg 81/85 18v
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robdoc
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by robdoc » Mon May 08, 2017 4:20 pm

Fantastic thread guys!

I had not changed any of the valves in my Mark V since I bought it new around a year ago. I have now changed V4 and V6 to Jan Phillips AT7's and am really pleased with the results.

I am a classic rock guy (low channel volumes , high master , 45W, variac ,tube rect. etc)and am now able to increase the treble and presence in each channel (Fat,Crunch and Mk iv)and get loads of bite and chime without the ice pick in the ear. Any honkiness has also reduced so I've been able to push the 750 Hz slider up slightly from the classic V shape to just below the centreline to round the sound out.

I've got a gig on Saturday so I'm just hoping it will sit well in the mix!

Regards
Rob
Gibson Les Paul Custom
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bandit2013
Triple Recto
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Mon May 08, 2017 5:16 pm

Funny I have not gotten too it yet...... been busy with the drums and finally have them where I want, nice woody tone. Was considering getting a pro drum kit but thwarted that with different drum heads... now focus shifted to guitar....Yeah, I had loaded V4, V5, and V6 with 12AT7 before. Not bad but not great either. SPAX7 in V1 typically cures the ice tone but when playing loud that is difficult to tame. With stock tube in V1, I have to drop the treble down completely and kill the presence. Have to visit this perhaps today and see what happens. May just use a long plate 12AX7 in V6 (helps with the FX return as well as the master volume for CH3). Mullard Reissue or the JJ ECC803s seem to have a bit more roll of on upper frequencies. Will have to try the Jan/Phillips 5751 but may have to remove the tarnish off the pins (same with the other NOS tubes). Not sure if they are nickel plated or silver....my guess is for nickel.

APEMAN
Mark III
Posts: 286
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:48 am

Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by APEMAN » Tue May 09, 2017 2:20 am

Hey there,
good to read your findings. Yesterday, before my rehearsal I gave the second 12AT7 on V4 in addition to the one in V6 another chance. Daisychaining those high end roll off characteristics leeds to some really drastic changes. The IIC and Extreme modes benefit the most from it, somehow the IIC mode can sound like the IV mode. On the IV mode it is simply too much for my taste. I was surprised how good the Extreme mode sounded, just wow - totally recto territory! So much bass!! Well, I'm a IV mode guy, so I changed the V4 back to a 12AX7. That way it is possible to keep all 3 modes in CH3 usable. I think V4 (with its bright switch) is somehow the heart of CH3, so maybe a 12AT7 is a little much and bandits advice to place a litte lower gain ECC803 will be the golden choice in V4... I think I have to place an order :D - Cheers.

bandit2013
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Tue May 09, 2017 6:03 am

It is all trial an error. I have been reading up on the differences of the 12a?7 tubes. Differences of opinion seem to be floating around about tonal characteristics. I would be more concerned about the plate voltages on the preamp tubes more so than the gain effects or roll off. Still would have to play around with what tube I have in my stash. I became fond of the Mullard RI long plates on V4, V5, and V6 (assuming you can get a few that do not have the mechanical noise issues, I have 4 out of 6 that were good, the other two pinged when channel switching and one could easily be triggered to go micro-phonic.) I have had similar issues with the Chinese ones with the clips on the plates as they are not as good as the earlier versions with the square getter that Mesa used to offer. The Mark V is an interesting amp to tube roll and responds to tube changes. I found quite the opposite in the JP-2C but I have not fully explored tube rolling in that amp but I did have a noisy preamp tube I had to track down and replace so I tried substitutes just to hear the difference. Note that the Mullard CV4004 work great in V4, V5, and V6 as well. I had installed all old stock Mesa Chinese tubes into the Mark V, had the best noise floor ever with no hum on the clean channel or CH3. CH2 is always quiet, the down side is that the CH3 becomes more compressed than with the stock tubes.

There may be a good complement of preamp tubes that work well with the Mesa STR440 6L6 power tubes. When going to something else like a =C= or TAD it makes sense to change tubes as the power tubes also have their own character.

bandit2013
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Tue May 09, 2017 6:13 am

Here is the thread on the 5751. It has been a while since I visited the tube section.... Do not recall if I was using SED =C= or Gold Lion KT77 at that time, probably the =C=. V1 seemed to be the better place for the 5751 but found the SPAX7 to reduce the ice as the 5751 had its own character to it.

http://forum.grailtone.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=63630

I will dive into the Mark V once again and try just changing V4. There are other means to alter character just by changing the PI tube. Sovtek LPS will brighten up a Roadster but has a different effect in the Mark V. Sometimes it is hard to quantify into words what the actual effect is.

Wayno
Mark III
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by Wayno » Tue May 09, 2017 4:08 pm

Hi guys,

Got another couple hours spare on sunday so put the old stock 6L6's back in and wow.

Just to quantify, i loved the amp from the first day that i got it but always struggled a bit with loud volume levels. Got rid of a Boss GT-8 i had in 4cm, that helped. Then tried some settings i found on the board here. They helped a lot. Got hold of some EL34's and they helped even more to tame the harshness of the amp. I figured that i just prefer'd them to 6L6's.

Now i can love both. With the following setup;

V1 - Tungsol
V2 - Stock Mesa 12AX7
V3 - Sylvania 12AX7
V4 - Jan GE 12AT7
V5 - Sylvania 12AX7
V6 - Jan GE 12AT7
V7 - Sovtek LPS

With the EL34's;

Ch1 is pure and sweet, not quite as sweet as with 6L6's but by no means bad at all. Tweed loves these power tubes. Ch2 absolutely roars. i mean it really roars. Real throaty sounding, which i love. Ch3 is incredible, no ice at all. So much more usable range on all the controls. iiC+ especially great now.

With the 6L6's;

Ch1 is heaven, a little reverb and Fat mode is the best clean I've ever heard. Tweed is not quite as nice as before but Clean and Fat modes definitely favor the 6L6's. Ch 2 is still great, not quite as gnarly as before but by no means shy at all. Ch3 is very similar to how it was with the EL34's, just with more bass. A bit ballsier maybe.

I cant decide now which power tubes i prefer on Ch3. Still think the EL34's have the edge for Ch2 and Tweed in Ch1 and the 6L6's have the edge for Ch 1 Clean and Fat but its pretty close now for all modes with both sets of power tubes as the range of control is much more usable across the board now the the highs are under control. The things that used to favor one power tube over another don't seem to have as pronounced an effect now. Think I'm going to stick with the 6L6's for a while as haven't used them in over 2 years to see if they grow even more on me. Maybe then if i can afford it I'll see about getting some of those TAD 6L6 GC...

Thanks,

Wayno.
Her highness the Veenus
(Mark V/V4 & V7 12AT7 Combo)

2 x 12 Vertical Cab
GSP1101

Gibson LP Studio with alnico ii pro
Schecter C1-XXX with emg 81/85 18v
Jackson Dinky XL with Duncan designed???
Sigma DNC-1STE

bandit2013
Triple Recto
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Tue May 09, 2017 4:54 pm

Wayno,
The TAD 6L6GC-STR were the one's I had used. Sounded great, not as awesome as a quad of =C='s but similar. They have other tubes too (short bottle 6L6WGC-STR that seem to have higher ratings by customers) but not sure which are the better versions. The Preferred series has a similar tube to the 6L6GC-STR but they sounded bright to me, not as full bodied and bold like the TAD versions. I finally started liking the Mesa tubes in the Mark V.

bandit2013
Triple Recto
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by bandit2013 » Tue May 09, 2017 5:07 pm

There is one tube position that was left out.... V3, it sits after the cascade gain stages of CH3 (V5 to V4) and is in front of V6. Not sure what a 12AT7 would do there. Something else to consider if you like the 12AX7 in V5 and V4.

Bluestoned!
Bottle Rocket
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by Bluestoned! » Tue May 09, 2017 5:28 pm

Loving this thread!

Following my previous post, I installed a JP12at7 in v5 & v6 and all ice-pick highs were gone. On the other hand, the gain structure was demolished to the point where I had to dime the gain in ch2 & 3 which created other problems with the overall sound which I could not compensate for. So I then replaced the JP12at7 in v5 with the Ruby 12ax7 and things got a bit better but still lacked the saturation level and depth that I'm looking for. After playing with this setup for a few days, I swapped the JP12at7 from v6 to v5 and, so far, I'm very, very pleased with the results. Still does not have the saturation and depth that I'm looking for but the amp sounds so much better overall. If you play classic rock or blues, this is definitely the mod for you!

I'll be playing this setup tomorrow in full band scenario and will report back the results from the frontline shortly thereafter.

Thanks everyone for the info and tips...this has been the most helpful thread for my tone search with the mv since purchasing the amp and playing it live over ten years ago!!! Kudos to everyone who has taken the time to add their 2 cents on this topic...really.

Wayno
Mark III
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Re: Mesa MarkV / Saturation 'mod'

Post by Wayno » Tue May 09, 2017 5:40 pm

Hey Bandit,

Would love to get hold of some =C='s but doubt i could justify the cost of them to the wife now. Shame as they seem like they had a good thing going there. Out of all the new production tubes they seem to be the only one's which are widely regarded as great. Wish i could afford them. Next best option seems to be the TAD 6L6 GC's, can get a matched quad for around £80 here in England, =C='s are more then twice that! Why did they get so expensive? Supply and demand? Even so, £80 is going to be hard to find at the moment, young family and all that, so will have to wait I'm afraid. Full bodied and bold sounds like i'd love them with the Mark V the way i have it now. Maybe I'll get to treat myself in a few months time if i keep my overtime up. In the meantime, I'm more than happy with the stock 6L6's and the EL34ii's as you might have guessed haha.
Her highness the Veenus
(Mark V/V4 & V7 12AT7 Combo)

2 x 12 Vertical Cab
GSP1101

Gibson LP Studio with alnico ii pro
Schecter C1-XXX with emg 81/85 18v
Jackson Dinky XL with Duncan designed???
Sigma DNC-1STE

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