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Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:05 am
by OldTelecasterMan
Here is my rant about the rants.

I continuously see the “Ice Pick” or “I just can’t get the tone” on and on. I’m going to be stinky here for a bit. The tone you want is probably in there. Dial with your ears not your eyes. Using a specific channel or setting because so and so told you it is what he uses is kinda, not smart. Trying to get your amp to sound like somebody else is completely fruitless. The Mark V or any amp for that mater broadcasts what your hands make it sound like. If your favorite guitarist played your rig it would sound like them, not you.

When I first got my Mark V I cannot decide if I was disappointed or frustrated, maybe a mixture. But with over 40 years on the fretboard all of the sudden I sucked. I sounded sloppy. Had the “Ice Picky” crappy sounding, no smooth tone everything I had was suddenly gone. So my immediate reaction was it’s the amp. So, I adjusted my pickups, tried different strings, I adjusted string height I did everything from talking to the guys at Mesa Boogie to posting here on this forum. After all that what I found out was, it was me. I was sloppy, I was not precise, my picking was not consistent in velocity. Having just parted with the cash to buy a Mark V head and two 2x12 vertical cabinets with 40 years of playing I humbled myself. I began to practice scales and really listening to the amp, listening to what my hands were making the amp do. Working chords so my picking velocity of each string was consistent. Word of advice, use a heavy pick. I use Mesa Boogie picks .88 you have feel exactly what you are doing to the string to get the string to sound how you want it to.

It’s not the amp. I play Telecasters, a Les Paul, a Warmoth that I put together with Tom Anderson single coil pickups all on the same amp settings night after night. I switch guitars with no amp adjustments and each one sings. No “Ice Pick” no overbearing lows, no shrill ear-piercing garbage. I get over the top sustain that continues as long as I want and I can back off the guitar volume and get a beautiful sparkly clean all with the amp, no pedals in front of the amp. I use lots of gain on the amp almost all of it. I control it with the guitar volume. Lows are not your friend and there is a tone control on your guitar that does stuff, use it.

Parctice, practice, practice, don’t play songs. Dust off the metronome, practice and listen, pay attention to detail. The amp is making what you do louder. Weather it is “Ice Pick” a wrong note or a miss fingered chord, you did it. It’s all the same.

About the amp settings, turn down the channel volume to about 9am or a little less and turn up the output. The Mark V output is not just a master volume. If you have the channel volume up too high you are shoving a big signal onto the power section and your tone will suck. Let the amp breath. I have played some very small clubs on the 90 watt setting and I get asked to turn up.


Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:05 am
by Wayno
What he said!

Having just started "getting the band back together" I've realised just how poor my technique is. I have also realised that the vast majority of my poor tone in the past has been purely down to my technique. The 3 or 4 songs we practiced that sounded great where because we all played them great. Point of example, The Killers, Mr Bright side, love the tune but it's an absolute pig to play. And it sounded horrendous. But, that is all down to my poor technique. So I've had a word with myself and every night now, once the littlun goes to bed, I sit for an hour and do stretching exercises and chord progression exercises etc. Only until i feel the burn so to speak, then i rest and then play songs. It makes sense, if you want to imlrove an overall game you have to pinpoint your weaknesses and work on them. Thats why footballers, soccer players to most of you, spend hours practicing with their non dominant foot. Its the weakest part of their game therefore it needs the most time and efgort to improve. After only a week playing the song on an electric unplugged I can easily hear a marked improvement. That will improve the amp tone much more than tweaking settings. Wish I'd had this word with myself years ago. I learned quick as a teenager and could soon play various styles from thrash metal to finger picked acoustic. But I then stopped learning because I was all " hey, listen to this, I can play the full solo from Metallica's One!" Sure, impressed the hell out of the girls back in the early 90's, probably wouldnt nowadays. My point being, I never mastered those licks though and never had great tone because as I thought I never had a great amp. I had a Peavey Bandit then a Marshall AVT275. Now I have a Mark V and even though right from the get go the tone improved immensely, it still wasn't perfect. I've done the AT7 mod. That does improve things a lot for me, others mileage WILL vary as we're all different. The C39 mod, also helped a lot. But none of that compensates for technique. A lot of the "ice pick" is pick noise and poor fret hand technique.

Poor technique and poor tone equals poor tone.
Poor technique and great tone equals poor tone.
Great technique and poor tone equals poor tone.
Great technique and great tone equals great tone.

At the end of the day regarding the Mark V. It is an incredible amp based very very closely on one the most iconic amps of a golden generation of guitar based music. It also does many other styles inceredbly well. Is it perfect, absolutely not. Could it be perfect, absolutely not. The there are so many great tones in this amp it's amazing jt can do what it already does. At the end of the day if you have to have THAT iiC+ tone, get a iiC+. Can't afford one, sorry but you can't have THAT iiC+ tone then. Want THAT Marshall crunch, get a Marshall. Its as simple as that. However, if you want an amp that can get incredibly close to the iiC+ tone and can also get incredibly close to the Marshall tone AND can do an incredible clean tone to boot. You can't beat the Mark V. But and it's a big but, learn to use it and learn your instrument.

Learn your instrument guys and gals and give the expensive guitar and expensive amp youve worked hard to afford the dedication they deserve. In return they'll give you great tone.

Like the Nuno video you posted as well, very underrated player by the way, he's spot on. Sure, be inspired by your hero's that's what they're for. But be yourself.

My 2peneth worth.


Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 12:15 pm
by OldTelecasterMan
Thank you Wayne.....

More detail about my experience. Facts and laughs at my expense.

I had a standing job on Sunday evening in a Jam band where people would sing or play and we backed them up. So, added with regular band gigs I was working 2 to 3 nights a weekend. I was putting $100 to $200+ per night in my pocket not including tips. I was using a Mesa Boogie F-30. It is a very versatile amp with plenty of volume for the clubs and even the outdoor jobs we did. I was only using the Mesa F-30, a Boss CE chorus, a Wha pedal I rarely used and a MXR Carbon Copy delay. I was buying strings by the case and using guitar picks until they were basically round with no more trace of lettering. The F-30 is a very good amp.

My point? I was playing a lot. We played every music style, we were a tight 3 piece with harmonies all over the place. I knew what I was doing as did the other players. We knew music, not just how to play songs. We could make unrehearsed transitions from styles, songs even keys. During a song the drummer-lead vocalist would ask if we could transition to a different song at the bridge. So on the fly we would play another song, changing the key of the song so it would sound right. Pull it off and then go back to the original song. It was fun, no rehearsals effortless playing with lots of on stage laughs. When we added new songs, we would learn it on our own through the week and just play it as a band at the next gig. Gigs make you tight as a band, not rehearsal.

After 3 years of shoving money into my pocket from gigs I wanted a new and well deserved amp. So me thinking I was all that, chest all pumped out thinking I was the premier whatever. I somehow forced my big head into my truck and drove down to the Mesa Boogie shop and bought the Mark V along with two 2x12 vertical cabinets. I got home set everything up, stood back and beamed over my impressive guitar rig. I thought of all the other musicians that were going to be so envious, so impressed. How I was going to sound so much better. 9 amps to choose from, 3 channels, this was almost better than, well you know. I plugged in, turned up and out of the speakers was the raw stench of SUCK, sloppy, foul, Ice Picky, frosted with a good coating of the amp putting, me, in, my, place.

The same amp now sings. It has beautiful chime and is just a dream to play every time I turn it on. Every guitar, and I have bought a quite a few over the 40 + years I have been playing has a different tone and feel but all of them sound incredible. So, I wonder what changed?

It's a bitter pill to swallow, I know. Ego deflation. Practice, listen, take responsibility. Your ego will grow back and it will have been earned...LOL

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:28 pm
by Rider1260
I purchased my first Boogie ( a MKIIB ) in 1982 it has been my only real am in all that time :) why did I need anything else, add a few ( than many ) pedals and the world was good, yes the MKIII was nice but not enough nicer.
But I have tired of the pedal tap dance, I wanted it all in one box, I searched around tried other brands ( and really like some ).
Then one day a friend got a MKV he called it his Holy Grail but he kept adjusting things changing tubes etc, I knew that MKV needed to be mine, it made all the sounds my MKII with pedals made and then some.
So pleased with the V add some reverb and delay and :)
Currently using EL34s ( Mesa )
Channel 1 Fat
Channel 2 MK-I ( Very treble heavy EQ :) )
Channel 3 MKIV

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 9:33 pm
by OldTelecasterMan
About the EL34 tubes. What mode of the amp do use? Variac or Full Power?

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Mon Feb 12, 2018 10:07 pm
by mace
I hope Variac or EL34 tubes won’t last too long. Mesa updated the manual to instruct Variac for EL34s. I had the original 2012 manual and tried Mesa EL34 tubes for a while using Normal power (before Mesa updated the manual) . The tubes did not last very long (a few months).

As too this thread topic, I mostly agree with the OP and follow up comments. The part that disagrees is simpmy ‘personal preference’. You can be a guitar god and play with all the feeling in the world and the Mark V may just sound great to you.

Personally, I love it. It is the top of my Mesa heap (TC-50 and Rectoverb 25). But I’ve noticed when I go back to another amp, like the TC-50 or Recto, it is always good. I get that warm fuzzy feeling. But, after a week or so, going back to the Mark V I get the warmest fuzziest feeling. It’s the amp I miss the most.

Funny thing is, about 8 years ago I started really playing/practicing a lot (after already playing guitar for 25 years). About 3 years ago I really got into the modes and scales and 3notes per string and minimizing finger movement and all that. I really focused a ton on technique and repetition, mostly playing unplugged. I plug in maybe 50% of the time nowadays just to not irritate the family too much. So, I can relate to what you guys are saying about practice, practice practice and listen listen listen.

To my ear, I still sound better when I am playing then when I listen to a recording of myself playing (if that makes sense). So, much work to do. But the Mark V is an amazing tool for the job. So articulate.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:47 am
by jnoel64
I struggled with my tone for decades. I used to eat, sleep, and breathe guitar, playing every spare moment I had. I know I am mediocre at best, and I am ok with that. Accepting that was pretty ego deflating, but it is what it is. Anyway, there was always some inherent portion of my tone that just drove me nuts. Finally, after switching from Ernie Ball stainless steel strings to nickle, things began to change. Then, learning more about how tube amps work (was forced to because an amp I ordered was shipped with faulty tubes - probably damaged in shipping), how to customize tone from tube changes, speaker swaps, etc, I finally heard the sound out of my amps I've always heard in my head. Also, buying my first Boogie, my Electra Dyne, just cemented everything for me. I believe that tone begins in your fingers, no doubt about that. But, I also think that your entire gear setup contributes to your tone. But, it HAS to start in your hands. Regardless of whatever amp I use now, it sounds like me, and I am finally very pleased with my tone.

For the past 7 years I have been in an oldies band where we play only 50s and 60s rock. I only play clean in that band, and I can say that having to always play clean will definitely improve technique and tone. Playing dirty just allows for more sloppiness that can easily be masked by the overdrive. Mesa amps, though, aren't as forgiving with their dirty channels as other amps, but they still can cover up some sloppiness.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:09 pm
by Rider1260
OldTelecasterMan wrote:About the EL34 tubes. What mode of the amp do use? Variac or Full Power?
Variac power - I did try full power for a bit it did not sound as good to me.
The EL34s to be honest "to my ears" make it sound and act like an older MK.
With the 6L6s it was just too present for my tastes, still sounded killer just the EL34s work better for me.
I like the gain channels better- Clean is still a work in progress getting close tho :)

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 7:01 pm
by bandit2013
:shock: Now you tell me...... :roll:, you could have said something 5 years ago and I could have avoided all the pain.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 10:35 pm
by OldTelecasterMan
bandit2013 wrote::shock: Now you tell me...... :roll:, you could have said something 5 years ago and I could have avoided all the pain.
LOL... when I was having trouble I spoke to the Boogie Technician at the Boogie shop, he has always been extremely helpful and very honest. He very kindly and diplomatically in an around about way let me know... it was me.

When I corrected my issues I was more interested in completing my guitar rig I didn't visit the forum much. And the rig, although a bit complex is sweet and well worth the 20 minutes of setup time.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:38 pm
by Pongo
Great post.

No single amp is for everybody, but the V has so many good options, it's hard to imagine it not working out for many players. A friend of mine runs a music store, and after I got the V, he quipped "Great, so now I'm not going to sell you another amp for 20 years." He might be right.

That being said, the learning curve is steep, and depending on your background, you may have to devote some time to retraining yourself. People who just want to plug in and play may have issues... and unfortunately, they'll have to get over those issues if they want to get the tones they're really after. I was definitely playing with the amp's knobs and switches more than actually playing music at first, and after years of running through Fender amps (which I love, but they're simple and easy to dial in at this point), it was frustrating, even overwhelming at first.

If you are willing to put in the time to learn the quirks and features, and really listen to the amp, those ice picks will go away in short order. The OP's "The tone you want is probably in there" is very true.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 9:02 pm
by bandit2013
I believe my particular amp has some issues. I have tried newer one's and they sound way better than my Mark V. Unfortunately when I bought it I should have taken the dusty one I played though (same one everyone else has played through as it appeared). I asked for the super clean one in the corner stacked on top of other amps. I should have played through it first before buying it. Oh well. At least I have something to experiment with.... :|

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 11:59 am
by _AJ_
I just got a Mark V, after having my Roadster go bad. I can see where people's issues come from. I don't agree that it has anything to do with the guitar or the technique. It's a complicated and unusual amp. It has the option of two overlapping EQs on every channel, the EQ controls have different ranges than a typical amp, and they change depending on which mode you're in. The amp almost requires you to become a mix engineer to get the sound you're looking for.

The manual addresses a number of things, but in some cases it only alludes to something, and leaves it for you to fill in the blanks. It uses the word "harsh" a number of times, and talks about preamp tubes going microphonic with some settings. That's the "icepick" sound that is definitely possible with the amp.

I've messed with it enough to know that it has a lot of good sounds in it, but you have to work to get them. Whereas with a Marshall, Fender, etc., it's voiced to get you a few good sounds, and that's it. The tradeoff for variety and tone is complexity. It's definitely good for a studio environment. And once you've found your ideal tones, you can just leave it set. But if somebody just wants to plug in and play without thinking much about it, this might not be the best amp for them.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:52 pm
by Markageddon
Exactly. I agree that the preamp tubes definitely positively affected the amp, but after some dialling, you gotta find your optimal hand technique too to bring out that magic that the amp then facilitates and makes bigger. Once that the high gain was smooth and big and roaring AND the sweetness was increased overall helping the lower gain and more vintagey sound out no end, then its 'job done':
You've got your brush and the best quality of paints in your palette then its applied imagination/fun time.

Re: Problems with your Mark's you.

Posted: Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:05 pm
by The Mink
This thread rocks. A tough-love support group for Mark V players.

Hi, my name is JB. My inconsistent picking and loose-goosey dynamics were revealed by the Mark V. Good to be here.