Posts Tagged ‘Electrovoice’

Tone :: My Mark IV & Me

With so much programming required for my current project, I’ve been at my desk pretty much non-stop recently. That means basking in the glow of up to four screens at a time, which has started to occasionally induce headaches, eye strain etc… – symptoms of computer vision syndrome, a kind of studio tan for your eyes and brain.

I always have an amp by my desk for practice and warmup exercises, but in an effort to tempt myself away from working I’ve shelved my trusty Roland JC-50, and replaced it with the amp I bought with a year of shelf stacking money when I was 15 years old – my Mark IV Mesa/Boogie.

This amp provokes thought more than any other. I’ve had it for the best part of a decade, and played it just about every day through school and when I was at music college. I’ve played it with Strats, SGs, my Squier Esprit (in the picture above), and most of all Telecasters. I’ve played it with meters long pedal boards, in stereo rigs, and simply jacked into the front. When I played gigs in my teens, this was the amp that came with me.

Playing the Mark IV this evening, I wasn’t quite happy with my tone on any of the channels. Yes it’s a stadium amp, with more headroom than basically anything else out there, but I know from experience that it can kill at low volume too. For whatever reason, I just wasn’t feeling it this evening. Any tweaking session on this thing is at least a half hour tonal excursion, but spending time with my eyes off the screen is the aim of the game here so I dived right into it, and for about the millionth time I ended up in the same spot – T/M/B @ 7/4/4, gains at 7-8, lead drive at 8. Slightly scooped 750, edge off 6.6k, and a boost on 80 & 240.

How much of my life have I already spent tweaking this amp?!

The thing is, it always ends up sounding awesome. But next time I plug in, it’s just not going to feel quite there.

I love tweaking amp settings, so I’m cool with that aspect, and I do love the tones it spits out. Maybe it’s just that I know there are some real solid gold tones in there that makes it so frustrating. I’m so conscious of the fact that whatever tone I can get dialled in is, say, 85% as good as I’ve heard it at its best. For a 1 channel amp, 85% of a Boogie at its peak is still a cut above. But take that 85% times 3 channels and you get the niggling sense of ever-so-slight disappointment I feel every time I plug in.

I’ve had it crunch and sing like nothing else, and cleans which would kick the ass of a Twin (seriously). But in nearly 10 years I’ve never been able to get all three kicking in sync, and there’s a frustration that I’ve absolutely nailed how to get the amp sounding nearly as good as it can, but never achieved perfection.

As an aside, I could write for days about every aspect of the Mark IV that makes it the most powerful and versatile amp I’ve ever owned, and there’s no doubt that it’s my ‘desert island amp’…but damn! I feel like really mastering it it requires an approach that borders on the academic, so this can be considered as ‘entry one’ in the logbook of my quest to own the amp I’ve owned for so many years. 


iPhone 4S Camera :: 1981 MESA/Boogie Mark IIB

It struck me while I was playing today how awesome the Mark II looks, sitting on top of a 1×12 EV loaded extension cab and pumping out just the best tone. This thing really delivers. Anyway, as I’ve had the 4S for a couple of weeks now I decided to have a go at taking some more decent pictures of the Boogie. Bottom line: I’m really starting to enjoy the camera on this phone.

The parallels between MESA/Boogie and Apple are pretty clear to me – the beautiful hardware, the build quality and unparalleled functionality. While I’m certain I won’t be using the 4S in 30 years time, at this moment in time is seems like a nice pairing of camera and subject.

More pictures below


Best Rig Ever…

Could well be. I’d love to build this out with a couple of 1×15 extension cabinets, a power conditioner and remote switching.

I think this just might be the best rig I’ve ever built. The distortion of the Mark I is so thick and full, and the 15″ speaker handles the bottom end beautifully. At the other end of the spectrum, the OTS has so much high-order harmonic content and clarity. The Electrovoice EVM12L in my late-80s MESA/Boogie 1×12 cabinet is one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard, with all the usual punch you’d expect from an EV but with the top end wonderfully rounded off through years of gigging. Running the OTS through that cabinet is a perfect match – the speaker takes care of the harsher top end and leaves a tone that’s round and full all the way up the frequency spectrum.

You don’t need to worry about the bottom end when the Mark I is in town, so I paired these amps with my favourite Telecaster. This guitar seems to emphasise just the right frequencies to make this rig come alive; it’s the ballsiest Tele tone I’ve ever heard. Recordings, video etc… to come.

Fender Telecaster –> Startouch A/B/Y –>
A: 1977 MESA/Boogie Mark I, 15″ combo    
B: Ceriatone OTS-50 (Dumble Overdrive Special clone) –> MESA/Boogie EVM12L 1×12 cab