Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestions?

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tptb73
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Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestions?

Post by tptb73 » Fri Sep 05, 2014 11:28 pm

Hey everyone. I have decided that I'm going to part with this head. I had high hopes for it, but I've had it for about 8 months now, and I'm really sick of the regular disappointment. I bought a used closed-back horizontal rectifier 2x12 cab with V30s (already broken in by a friend) which helped a little, and it sounds good at bedroom volumes, but whenever I turn it up loud, there is just no hope. It is so unpleasant to the ears. Of course I have done exhausting research online, including trying sooooo many different recommended settings. I love the clean channel, but I am disappointed by the other two. I can get awesome tones out of every mode on the clean channel. What kills me are the preset EQ sounds. They are just so trebly and harsh that they are murder in my ears at high volumes. Even with the treble and presence turned almost all the way down. And when I turn the treble and presence down so far to compensate, I lose too much gain on channels 2 and 3. I need to be able to play from blues breakup to metal crunch. In slider mode, if I compensate enough with the far right slider to get rid of the ice-pickyness, it ruins the overall tone. I have tried every setting on channel 2 & 3. I have tweaked this thing so much that it doesn't seem complicated at all to me any more. It's just that I have found some sounds that are "useable" at high volumes, but I can't deviate from those at all. And after playing loud, it always ends in disappointment. Even the John Petrucci settings are super ice picky at high volumes...to me anyway. When the EQ is off, it sounds boxy and sterile to me, like the amp is inside a cardboard box (except for the clean channel). I can't get a smooth, fluid lead tone that's not laced with harsh fizziness. I also switched between EL34's and 6L6s hoping for something, but that didn't fix it. It also happens with multiple guitars.

So, I am ready to trade this head for something else. I would like to stick with the Mesa family, but I'm not sure which way to go because I don't really have the opportunity to test out various models in person. I used the Nomad 45 for years, and was pretty happy with it, but it was too loose for the metal type tones. Plus, it didn't have the external switching options. I also had a Stiletto Deuce (first type). I really liked the distortion, but it didn't have the gain that I needed. I do not like the thought of having to use fuzz pedals to boost my gain. I never understood why people would pay so much money for an amp and have to add pedals to get the gain they need. Also, I would really prefer a 3-channel amp.

I tried the Orange Rockerverb 50 MK II the other day and LOVED the sound of it. The distortion was warm, thick, rich and tight. The problem is (besides being expensive as hell for the limited features it has) is that it has only two channels. I really need to be able to have a clean sound, a light distortion sound, and a metal sound, all which can be selected on the fly. I could live with the Rockerverb if necessary, but there is an additional problem with it. It's a little complicated to describe. The orange has only one jack for channel switching to go back and forth between the two channels. I use the Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro + GCX to handle all my switching and FX. The Mark V has separate switching jacks for channels 2 & 3 & solo. This means that I can program the voodoo lab to select a particular amp channel combined with particular effects, all with the push of ONE button. I really need to be able to do that because I am playing some pretty complex prog, and I have to be able to change on a dime. If I use this setup with the Orange amp, then I could only switch back and forth between the channels. Correct me if I'm wrong (and please bare with me), but I think this means that if, for instance, I had footswitch button number 1 on the Voodoo Lab programmed to switch to clean on the amp with delay and chorus, and button 2 programmed for clean with only chorus, and button 3 programmed for crunch, etc., as the switching on the amp goes back and forth between channels, it would get changed around to where button 1 could actually activate the crunch channel instead of the clean. On the Mark V, button 1 would ALWAYS activate the clean. Does that make sense? So, I would have to press two buttons to change sounds, one to change the amp channel, and another the select the effects. That's not feasible for me.

So, can anyone recommend anything for me? Is there a Mesa that sounds like that Orange Rockerverb distortion with all the gain that I need? Are the Dual and Triple Recs, and the Nomad the only modern Mesas with 3 channels and enough gain? Do the rectifier series amps sound less harsh and trebly? If there seems to be no Mesa alternative, is there another brand someone can recommend. I honestly don't have much experience with amp brands other than Mesa. Of course I have tried a few Marshalls and Fenders. I like the distortion on the Marshalls I've tried, and the clean on the Fenders, but that's about it.

I would really appreciate any recommendations. Thanks so much!

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LesPaul70
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by LesPaul70 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:18 am

Dunno...for me, EL-34s definitely 'fixed' the ice-pick highs. I can now use the Bright swich on channel 3 without ruining my ears and so on. But you already tried that. And I also have V30 cabs.

Maybe try better (NOS) EL-34s? I'm using original Svetlana =C= EL-34s, and while not 'NOS' tubes, they aren't being manufactured anymore (and while they still were, the last couple of years were worse in quality), and I'd say they sound far better than the standard Mesa-labeled EL-34s.

But based on what you're saying, maybe MkV is not the right amp for you. If you like the sound of a Rockerverb (great-sounding amp, by the way!), I believe a Recto might be more up your alley. It can give you a big, thick, warm distortion, a bit like the Rockerverb does. Check out the Roadster at least - it's not much more expensive than the standard Rec but (slightly different sounding and) much more versatile.

tptb73
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 12:43 am

LesPaul70 wrote:Dunno...for me, EL-34s definitely 'fixed' the ice-pick highs. I can now use the Bright swich on channel 3 without ruining my ears and so on. But you already tried that. And I also have V30 cabs.

Maybe try better (NOS) EL-34s? I'm using original Svetlana =C= EL-34s, and while not 'NOS' tubes, they aren't being manufactured anymore (and while they still were, the last couple of years were worse in quality), and I'd say they sound far better than the standard Mesa-labeled EL-34s.

But based on what you're saying, maybe MkV is not the right amp for you. If you like the sound of a Rockerverb (great-sounding amp, by the way!), I believe a Recto might be more up your alley. It can give you a big, thick, warm distortion, a bit like the Rockerverb does. Check out the Roadster at least - it's not much more expensive than the standard Rec but (slightly different sounding and) much more versatile.

Well thanks for the reply. That is exactly the kind of recommendation I was looking for! Wow, the roadster has all the features I need and more. I think I will give that one a shot. Hopefully I can find a way to try one first.

barryswanson
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by barryswanson » Sat Sep 06, 2014 1:07 am

Have you tried plugging it into another speaker cab? I get great results through a marshall 1960 412.

Archlute75
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by Archlute75 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 8:28 am

I find that really odd. I do prefer the sound of the 34s over the sometimes fizzy 6L6s, but even then, I can only get "ice picky" highs if I'm cranking my presence knob. The preset EQs sound really good, and Petrucci's settings do as well. It's either operator error, your guitar/pickups, or your ears are jacked up.

Also, have you tried disengaging the global EQ and just using the channel EQ? That can provide a real smooth and wooly character.

I'd also like to know if you play out live. I think that would make a big difference, because that amp at live performance levels is one of them most amazing, focused and singing amps I've ever owned. If you're blasting your amp on 90w at the house, it's probably going to be uncomfortable to anyone's ears. Playing outside of "bedroom levels", but still being in your bedroom, or studio, or basement, as the case may be, is not a very good idea for an accurate representation of that for which the amp was built.

Check out the Roadking, I guess, but it sound like just another excuse for GAS.

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b00g13mk2B
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by b00g13mk2B » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:04 am

Was the amp compare with the same speakers? The V30s sound ice picky to some people. A speaker change is often very dramatic, more so than tube swaps.
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tptb73
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:34 am

barryswanson wrote:Have you tried plugging it into another speaker cab? I get great results through a marshall 1960 412.
I have only tried a Mesa TA open back cab that was even worse. Can't use a 4x12. They're too cumbersome.

tptb73
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:39 am

Archlute75 wrote:I find that really odd. I do prefer the sound of the 34s over the sometimes fizzy 6L6s, but even then, I can only get "ice picky" highs if I'm cranking my presence knob. The preset EQs sound really good, and Petrucci's settings do as well. It's either operator error, your guitar/pickups, or your ears are jacked up.

Also, have you tried disengaging the global EQ and just using the channel EQ? That can provide a real smooth and wooly character.

I'd also like to know if you play out live. I think that would make a big difference, because that amp at live performance levels is one of them most amazing, focused and singing amps I've ever owned. If you're blasting your amp on 90w at the house, it's probably going to be uncomfortable to anyone's ears. Playing outside of "bedroom levels", but still being in your bedroom, or studio, or basement, as the case may be, is not a very good idea for an accurate representation of that for which the amp was built.

Check out the Roadking, I guess, but it sound like just another excuse for GAS.
When I disengage the EQ and use the channel EQ, it sounds like the amp is inside a cardboard box. I have tried it with multiple guitars, les paul, strat, godin lg signature, and parker nitefly mahogany.

It sounds great a bedroom volumes, but obviously I can't use bedroom volumes during gigs. That is actually the whole problem. I need to be able to turn it up somewhat loud in order to play gigs. It sounds ice-picky at gigs and at rehearsal. My other guitarist and our bassist have also tried tweaking it extensively. We are all pretty damn experienced with tweaking amps. I haven't had this experience with other amps.

Plus, I have used the exact same settings that many others use and have recommended on this site and on youtube, so I don't see how it could be user error. researching on this site, I can see that others have had the same issue.

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 11:41 am

b00g13mk2B wrote:Was the amp compare with the same speakers? The V30s sound ice picky to some people. A speaker change is often very dramatic, more so than tube swaps.
I am going to look into this as a last resort. Not sure I want to go to the trouble at this point, but maybe I will take it to the guitar shop and plug in to a few more cabs.

Thanks.

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by bandit2013 » Sat Oct 18, 2014 8:06 pm

Good to know I am not the only one who has suffered the ice pick with the Mark V. The preset on the EQ can be unforgiving and gets worse when using Extreme vrs MKIV mode. I basically use the sliders for CH3. Tube roll, over and over again, this tube that tube. I started off with V30 in the standard slant front Recto cab 412 that I bought 14 years ago to use with my Mark IV combo. Always wanted a head so I bought the Mark V in 2012. Ice pick yes. Swapped the V30 for EVM12L Black Label. Huge difference, no more flub with moderate bass settings. Did not cure the ice pick though. The Mark V is a bright amp, at first I thought the bias may be the issue (sure it contributes) but is not the cause for the brightness. CH1 TWEED, CH2 EDGE, CH3 MKIV and Extreme are all ear piercing. I have rolled Tung Sol RI 12AX7, EH 12AX7, Mullard RI long plate 12AX7, Mullard CV4004, Preferred Series 7025, JAN/GE 5751 (for V1) and even dropped the gain with the JAN/GE 5751 and JAN/PHILLIPS 12AT7. Even the stock Mesa 12ax7A were no different. I was so fed up with this amp, I bought an RA100 (perfect for blues and classic rock). Still had the Mark V for hard rock and Heavy Metal. I had a few issues with the amp, toasted one of the screen resistors. Fixed the amp (replaced all of them with metal oxide resistors which are better than carbon core resistors). Ice pick still there. Since that issue came about, decided to get something completely different, DR Roadster. Wow, I could not be any happier. Love this amp. Figured I would buy a complete set of replacement tubes just to have on hand. I had to install them when they arrived in the mail and try them out, decided to leave them in and use the stock tubes as replacements. Thought, I can always get more so I re-tubed the preamp of the Mark V with the tubes I removed from the Roadster. Not much of an ice pick any more. I can use the treble on the CH3 as well as presence. Sliders or Preset sound really good too. Current power tubes in use are SED =C= 6L6GC. I have tried Gold Lion KT77, EH EL34, JJ 6CA7, Tung Sol 7581, TAD6L6GC-STR (not as bright as the SED or TS). I actually preferred the TAD6L6GC-STR but blew out one of them (broke the plastic post early on, may have inserted tube indexed by mistake while tube rolling). They were getting close to EOL anyways. SED tube seem to hold up the longest in the Mark V. You could opt to retube the Mark V (preamp is the ice pick cause). Most recent Mesa tubes I have used did fix most of the top end ice. Then again, depends on what guitar you are using. Single coil pups may sound brittle, same goes for humbuckers. All depends on peak resonant frequency of the pup for the bridge. Most of the pups I have on my guitars for the bridge have a PRF at 2.3KHz or lower. That really cuts the ice pick tendency tremendously. The Mark V can be difficult to tame (may not hold true for all of the V's, and who wants to use ear plugs all the time or tape pillows in front of the speakers. There is one thing that will add to the brightness, power supply transformer. If the output is on the high side that will definitely add to the brightness. The Mark V topography does voltage shifting on the preamp circuits depending on what channel is in use. You could opt to run the amp in Variac mode, as it will not be as bright as it is at full power. If you feel that you cannot tame the Mark V or melt the ice pick with preamp tubes. Not sure what else to suggest unless the amp is out of spec. Give Mesa a call and see what happens.

I could not be happier with the Roadster. A bit different to dial in and understand than the Mark series amps. But hit has gobs of gain, awesome cleans (CH1 TWEED is to die for, from bright chime and bold bottom end to out right bliss of compressed gain crunch) Fat cleans are sweet, Brit mode can be a bit sharp on the ears but can be adjusted. Yes, it has 2 clean channels you can either clone settings and use diode on one and tube rec on the other. Also has two legendary high gain channels that offer similar features for cloning, or set them different from each other. Each channel has its on program for the power section (tube/diode rectification, 100w/50w power, and assignable FX loop) similar to the Mark V, each channel has its own reverb control. Roadster reverb is amazing. Best of all, no ice pick shrill. This amp is by far extremely flexible. I have also used the Mesa 5 Band EQ in the loop. Traditional V setting did not impress me, but an inverted V or upward arrow ^ really woke the amp up to a different world, mid boost perfect for solo. Sounded like you did a V1 tube swap to a tung sol on the fly. I tried the TS in V1, I did not like it overall, not bad for a different tone but prefer the stock tubes. I cannot think of one thing this amp can not do.... except sound the same at very low levels. Not a 10W performer but will do a good job at low volume. Note: Converted my Mark V head to a combo when I got the Roadster...

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by bandit2013 » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:01 pm

Couple of tricks to tame the ice pick.

What tubes do you have in the preamp? I have used many but found the Mesa stockers to sound the best. At one point I did like the Sovek LPS in V7 (phase inverter). To be honest, it will add to the overall brightness of the amp. I used to have them in all of my amps (except the Roadster) and changed back to Mesa 12AX7A and actually prefer that tube overall. The exception is the Mark IV, it sounds dull with other tubes in the PI.

If you are running the gain too low on CH3, it will be much brighter. There were times (depending on what preamp tubes I was using) it was next to impossible to adjust the gain above 10 o'clock without tremendous feedback. No more issue since I went back to stockers. Now I can run the gain about 2 o'clock and boost the treble. Not too bright anymore since the higher gain will compress and enhance the mid and lows. I can also enjoy the preset in MKIV mode too without ice pick. Extreme, not the case, use the sliders on the Eq.

If none of that helps, connect your 8 ohm load to the 4 ohm output, there will be a tone shift in doing this and will not be as bright. Also this is considered a safe miss match. Since I converted to a combo, stuffed an EV into it, and also use a 1x12 with an EV but deep cavity for enhanced low end, both connected into 4 ohm jacks. Amp never sounded better. Still will not compete with the Roadster. Totally different character than a Mark Series amp. That's about all I can offer.

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by YellowJacket » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:51 am

Hmmmm. Try switching one of the v30 speakers in the cab for a c90. That will darken the tone and smooth out the top end. Alternatively, if you can find a Road King 2 x 12 you can test the Mark V through that to see if you like the result.

Another question: What guitar / pickups are you using?

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by siggy14 » Mon Oct 20, 2014 12:40 pm

I also agree on trying different speakers, you can try the C90's or even the new filmores mesa has are suppose to not have the midrange spike that the v30's have.

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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:27 pm

bandit2013 wrote:Good to know I am not the only one who has suffered the ice pick with the Mark V. The preset on the EQ can be unforgiving and gets worse when using Extreme vrs MKIV mode. I basically use the sliders for CH3. Tube roll, over and over again, this tube that tube. I started off with V30 in the standard slant front Recto cab 412 that I bought 14 years ago to use with my Mark IV combo. Always wanted a head so I bought the Mark V in 2012. Ice pick yes. Swapped the V30 for EVM12L Black Label. Huge difference, no more flub with moderate bass settings. Did not cure the ice pick though. The Mark V is a bright amp, at first I thought the bias may be the issue (sure it contributes) but is not the cause for the brightness. CH1 TWEED, CH2 EDGE, CH3 MKIV and Extreme are all ear piercing. I have rolled Tung Sol RI 12AX7, EH 12AX7, Mullard RI long plate 12AX7, Mullard CV4004, Preferred Series 7025, JAN/GE 5751 (for V1) and even dropped the gain with the JAN/GE 5751 and JAN/PHILLIPS 12AT7. Even the stock Mesa 12ax7A were no different. I was so fed up with this amp, I bought an RA100 (perfect for blues and classic rock). Still had the Mark V for hard rock and Heavy Metal. I had a few issues with the amp, toasted one of the screen resistors. Fixed the amp (replaced all of them with metal oxide resistors which are better than carbon core resistors). Ice pick still there. Since that issue came about, decided to get something completely different, DR Roadster. Wow, I could not be any happier. Love this amp. Figured I would buy a complete set of replacement tubes just to have on hand. I had to install them when they arrived in the mail and try them out, decided to leave them in and use the stock tubes as replacements. Thought, I can always get more so I re-tubed the preamp of the Mark V with the tubes I removed from the Roadster. Not much of an ice pick any more. I can use the treble on the CH3 as well as presence. Sliders or Preset sound really good too. Current power tubes in use are SED =C= 6L6GC. I have tried Gold Lion KT77, EH EL34, JJ 6CA7, Tung Sol 7581, TAD6L6GC-STR (not as bright as the SED or TS). I actually preferred the TAD6L6GC-STR but blew out one of them (broke the plastic post early on, may have inserted tube indexed by mistake while tube rolling). They were getting close to EOL anyways. SED tube seem to hold up the longest in the Mark V. You could opt to retube the Mark V (preamp is the ice pick cause). Most recent Mesa tubes I have used did fix most of the top end ice. Then again, depends on what guitar you are using. Single coil pups may sound brittle, same goes for humbuckers. All depends on peak resonant frequency of the pup for the bridge. Most of the pups I have on my guitars for the bridge have a PRF at 2.3KHz or lower. That really cuts the ice pick tendency tremendously. The Mark V can be difficult to tame (may not hold true for all of the V's, and who wants to use ear plugs all the time or tape pillows in front of the speakers. There is one thing that will add to the brightness, power supply transformer. If the output is on the high side that will definitely add to the brightness. The Mark V topography does voltage shifting on the preamp circuits depending on what channel is in use. You could opt to run the amp in Variac mode, as it will not be as bright as it is at full power. If you feel that you cannot tame the Mark V or melt the ice pick with preamp tubes. Not sure what else to suggest unless the amp is out of spec. Give Mesa a call and see what happens.

I could not be happier with the Roadster. A bit different to dial in and understand than the Mark series amps. But hit has gobs of gain, awesome cleans (CH1 TWEED is to die for, from bright chime and bold bottom end to out right bliss of compressed gain crunch) Fat cleans are sweet, Brit mode can be a bit sharp on the ears but can be adjusted. Yes, it has 2 clean channels you can either clone settings and use diode on one and tube rec on the other. Also has two legendary high gain channels that offer similar features for cloning, or set them different from each other. Each channel has its on program for the power section (tube/diode rectification, 100w/50w power, and assignable FX loop) similar to the Mark V, each channel has its own reverb control. Roadster reverb is amazing. Best of all, no ice pick shrill. This amp is by far extremely flexible. I have also used the Mesa 5 Band EQ in the loop. Traditional V setting did not impress me, but an inverted V or upward arrow ^ really woke the amp up to a different world, mid boost perfect for solo. Sounded like you did a V1 tube swap to a tung sol on the fly. I tried the TS in V1, I did not like it overall, not bad for a different tone but prefer the stock tubes. I cannot think of one thing this amp can not do.... except sound the same at very low levels. Not a 10W performer but will do a good job at low volume. Note: Converted my Mark V head to a combo when I got the Roadster...

Thanks so much for the DETAILED reply. You probably saved me a lot of trouble here. I am finding it to definitely be preferable in variac mode. Gonna try some tube swaps. I actually bought a Road King 2 just recently, used from GC, but something in it was vibrating badly...probably the reverb springs. So, I returned it. Want to get a Roadster in the future, but waiting for a good money moment.

tptb73
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Re: Sick of the trebly ice-pickyness on my Mark V. Suggestio

Post by tptb73 » Fri Oct 24, 2014 10:30 pm

YellowJacket wrote:Hmmmm. Try switching one of the v30 speakers in the cab for a c90. That will darken the tone and smooth out the top end. Alternatively, if you can find a Road King 2 x 12 you can test the Mark V through that to see if you like the result.

Another question: What guitar / pickups are you using?
Hey, yes, I thought of that. Someone was trading a C90 for a V30 on here recently, but I just missed it. I use a few guitars. Les Paul, Godin LG signature, Strat, & Parker Fly Mojo Singlecut.

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