Mark III + is a firebreather

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I’m a Mark series fan. I’ve tried multiple amps from high dollar diezels to orange sludge, and everything in between. Admittedly, I don’t delve into the Marshall world (perhaps one day) but I think I’ve hit all the others.

I gravitate towards the Mesa product. Currently I own a III, IV and V. The III is a new addition (green stripe). I bought this as a rack-mount that was described as perfect working order. I’ll spare the seller scrutiny, but it was far from it. Either way, I picked it up at a reasonable price for today (1800 bucks).

It took me a minute to understand the logic for this amp. I was well versed in the mark iv language, but the controls on this thing were familiar, yet foreign. After some research, I learned its tendencies. It sounded great, but had some channel switching issues. I had my mark iv serviced at mesa, so I inquired about the issues I was having with my III. Mike Bendenelli was looped in and assured me that this was a relatively easy fix. He also described the + and ++ mods that he was willing to do for the III. After some discussion, I elected to do the +.

The product that has been returned to me is the amp I’ve been seeking for 30 years. It’s refined and laser like. The distortion has the brutality of a chainsaw, but it has the refinement of an elder statesman at a high end dinner event. What a machine! It gives you subtlety and all out annihilation controlled by the strumming hand. No need to roll volume. Im getting to know the clean still, but so far this amp is the one. I started my mesa career with a new mark V years ago…then went to the IV, and now my III is going to shelve the IV for a while.

I posted this to share my backwards progression (lol) regarding the mark series. So far, the III is the bell of the ball. I can’t see myself buying the IIC+ stuff, so I think this is as far back as I go, but man what a sound with this III! The controls aren’t great to be fair, but this sound is right in the pocket.
 
I currently own 5 Mark 3+'s. SRG and DRG No Stripe's. SRG and KDRG Blue Stripe's. And a No Stripe wide DRG that Mike B. had to replace the board. So it's kind of a hybrid. It has the 105 transformer and a later stripe board. They're all awesome amps. The No Stripe's are the closest to a c+. The Blue Stripe's are more aggressive. I had Mike install a Pentode / Triode switch in the Blue Stripe SRG. In Triode the wattage drops down to around 15 watts and softens the tone.
 
I almost bought a blue stripe, but this green was well priced so I went for it. Mike did ask if I preferred pentode or triode when I gave it to him (I stuck w pentode) but did not offer a switch. In your opinion, what does pulling the R2 pot do when you are in lead (the + mod)? Mike says it changes the sound a little, but doesn’t describe what’s happening. To me it almost adds a 3d sound to it. I’ve been experimenting with tubes as well. I’m trying 4 str415’s currently, but I think I prefer the el34/6L6 set up. Still testing!
 
When the Lead channel and R2 are both engaged there's a little more gain. Similar to my c++'s. I use Mesa Chinese 7025 12ax7's and 415/416's in my Simul's.
 
@Appleridge congrats on the 3+ and welcome to the Mesa Boogie Mark rabbit hole….

@xdg999 is spot on about the No Stripes being close to the IIC+. Difference wise, they are a little more forward in the mids and tighter on the bottom end.

If you get a chance to buy a IIC+ for a good price, go for it. They breathe easier on the low-end and the mids are wider.

Anyway you slice it you got an awesome Mark and had the right guy button it up. Enjoy the amp and the journey!
 
I almost bought a blue stripe, but this green was well priced so I went for it. Mike did ask if I preferred pentode or triode when I gave it to him (I stuck w pentode) but did not offer a switch. In your opinion, what does pulling the R2 pot do when you are in lead (the + mod)? Mike says it changes the sound a little, but doesn’t describe what’s happening. To me it almost adds a 3d sound to it. I’ve been experimenting with tubes as well. I’m trying 4 str415’s currently, but I think I prefer the el34/6L6 set up. Still testing!
If you can find some STR-416's try them paired with the STR-415's. I like that combo in a Simul-Class Mark series Boogie.
 
I have a Blue Stripe, my second as a matter of fact. The first one was so good that I sought out another.

I also have a Mark V which is in all honesty quite a fantastic amp and in particular when I run my 31 band graphic EQ in the loop,
use the red channel, and tweak the EQ for the greatest heavy overdrive I possibly can, I get a really mind boggling heavy crush tone out of it. And then I run the same EQ at the same settings through the Mark III and it's SO much more aggressive, it's hard to believe!

Only a Blue Stripe Mark III, or other amp of similarly high gain and aggression, could make a Mark V in the red channel feel a little bit too weak and polite.
 
I enjoyed my Mark V for years. I always used the mark IV setting on the red channel, and was very content with the high gain sound (and the clean too) until I got into some of these classics. This mark III is really amazing. Im pretty amazed by the clean as well. It’s tough to find the sweet spot between with the shared controls, but it’s pretty darn close. The amount of gain I like in the lead yields a trace amount of breakup on channel one. It’s controllable with pick attack though, so it’s pretty organic. Im into it. Last night I started messing w the preamp tubes and got a sound that I don’t think I can top. (Mullard in v1, TADs in the other Vslots, str415’s and TAD EL34 red base). It honestly takes months to get these things tweaked to your liking, but man when you do. Fun amps for the tone chasers!
 
Mk iiis are an all around hidden gem for sure.I have iii blue stripe coli.Man,this thing will rip heads off.The blue in general often gets labeled as too bright, too much presence, high end,etc.Some tube rolling in the pre will help that out tho.
 
I haven’t been around in a while, but it’s great to see y’all are still contributing to the forum!

I can undoubtedly say that I agree with just about anything I’ve read in this thread! I’ve been saying for a long while that those Blue Stripes are the gainiest (new word, trademark pending) amps that Mesa has ever made.

Here’s my current sample pool:
- No Stripe KDRG+ Coliseum
- Blue Stripe KDRG Coliseum
- No Stripe DRG (Bubinga)
- No Stripe DRG (White)
- Red Stripe DRG (Black)
- Blue Stripe DRG (long head)

Mark IIIs may not be as “full range” as the Rectos, but they are more brutal. If the Rectos are clubs, the Blue Stripes are obsidian knives.

I can also agree with the aspect of the III+ that they are a bit more “civilized”, but they are still very much a gain monster. I have to admit that I think I like the rebellious nature of an unmodded III, but the III+ mod is great for an extra color I’m your tone palette.

…The blue in general often gets labeled as too bright, too much presence, high end,etc….

LittleB has the right idea. Lower the presence and see how you like it, and if that doesn’t seem drastic enough, get sone dark JJ 12ax7s and try them in V1 or V3.

@xdg999 is spot on about the No Stripes being close to the IIC+.

This is the one comment that I’m not sure I agree with. My favorite Revision is the No/Black Stripe/Plus, but it’s due to the lower gain of R2 (more on this below). As far as the Lead channel goes, I don’t feel like it’s any closer to a IIC+ than any other triode Mark IIIs. In fact, I’d say the Blue Stripes would be closest to a IIC+, followed close by a Red Stripe. The No/Black Stripe/Plus may share sone overlapping components in extremely early serial numbers, but circuit-wise, the Red/Blues are most similar to a C+. Side note: many of the voices of the III Revisions can be adjusted via a single capacitor (C30 IIRC?) so, if you want your III to sound more like a _____ Stripe, switch the C30 to 500pf for a Red Stripe, 1000pf for a III+, or to cop Blue/Green tones remove C30 entirely!

I like to either run my R2 as my JCM800 channel (think AIC Facelift or Ozzy’s NMT), or I’ll run my fuzz pedals through R2, and I’ll use the volume 1 to dial in the grit.
 
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^^^^ I run my mk iii coli's rhy.ch that way too.( but no extra pedals).Its a very nice crunch,that's extremely controllable with guitar vol knob,as a good amp should be.
 
I haven’t been around in a while, but it’s great to see y’all are still contributing to the forum!

I can undoubtedly say that I agree with just about anything I’ve read in this thread! I’ve been saying for a long while that those Blue Stripes are the gainiest (new word, trademark pending) amps that Mesa has ever made.

Here’s my current sample pool:
- No Stripe KDRG+ Coliseum
- Blue Stripe KDRG Coliseum
- No Stripe DRG (Bubinga)
- No Stripe DRG (White)
- Red Stripe DRG (Black)
- Blue Stripe DRG (long head)

Mark IIIs may not be as “full range” as the Rectos, but they are more brutal. If the Rectos are clubs, the Blue Stripes are obsidian knives.

I can also agree with the aspect of the III+ that they are a bit more “civilized”, but they are still very much a gain monster. I have to admit that I think I like the rebellious nature of an unmodded III, but the III+ mod is great for an extra color I’m your tone palette.



LittleB has the right idea. Lower the presence and see how you like it, and if that doesn’t seem drastic enough, get sone dark JJ 12ax7s and try them in V1 or V3.



This is the one comment that I’m not sure I agree with. My favorite Revision is the No/Black Stripe/Plus, but it’s due to the lower gain of R2 (more on this below). As far as the Lead channel goes, I don’t feel like it’s any closer to a IIC+ than any other triode Mark IIIs. In fact, I’d say the Blue Stripes would be closest to a IIC+, followed close by a Red Stripe. The No/Black Stripe/Plus may share sone overlapping components in extremely early serial numbers, but circuit-wise, the Red/Blues are most similar to a C+. Side note: many of the voices of the III Revisions can be adjusted via a single capacitor (C30 IIRC?) so, if you want your III to sound more like a _____ Stripe, switch the C30 to 500pf for a Red Stripe, 1000pf for a III+, or to cop Blue/Green tones remove C30 entirely!

I like to either run my R2 as my JCM800 channel (think AIC Facelift or Ozzy’s NMT), or I’ll run my fuzz pedals through R2, and I’ll use the volume 1 to dial in the grit.
 
Fretout,

I’m about to purchase a 4yb cab like the one you commented on 10 years ago (mc90s and eminence v50s I think)

I’m using a recto 2x12 currently with my mark III but want to try something else. Comments on your cab? I play heavier, melodic type stuff. Wondering if I’m better waiting for the mc90 evm12l version to come around.

Thanks!
 
Fretout,

I’m about to purchase a 4yb cab like the one you commented on 10 years ago (mc90s and eminence v50s I think)

I’m using a recto 2x12 currently with my mark III but want to try something else. Comments on your cab? I play heavier, melodic type stuff. Wondering if I’m better waiting for the mc90 evm12l version to come around.

Thanks!
One thing to consider is the abuse the 12L puts on cabs. Transducer boat anchors take their toll. I had to completely go through one of my halfbacks that originally had them only in the bottom. I was converting it to a 4x12L but the baffles needed to be beefed up for that after a hard life with just 2 of them.

The eminence VS-12's would have been much kinder to that cab. And while the 12L is a brick sh!thouse, a life on the bottom of a halfback if used like it should be can get a little sloppy. Getting the drivers from combo pulls might have a tighter response.
 
Fretout,

I’m about to purchase a 4yb cab like the one you commented on 10 years ago (mc90s and eminence v50s I think)

I’m using a recto 2x12 currently with my mark III but want to try something else. Comments on your cab? I play heavier, melodic type stuff. Wondering if I’m better waiting for the mc90 evm12l version to come around.

Thanks!
Hey man!

Sorry I’m a bit late, but I have a few 4x12s with all sorts of speakers. I don’t believe I have any with the Eminence V50s, but I’ll double check to make sure. I remember the model being MS-12, from the 80s cabs.

I’ve owned many, many Mesa 4x12s (I currently have seven…need one more Straight 4YB!), and I’ve run across so many oddball combinations of OEM speakers (some I never knew were offered by Mesa!).

If you’re playing through a Recto 2x12, I’d guess it’s loaded with V30s. I’ve never really found a sound from the V30s I loved with a Mark (it’s a different story with the Rectos). The V30s add a grit to the sound that is pleasing and traditional, but with a Mark III, I have plenty of gain, and I’ve always preferred to add that grit with the amp so I can adjust exactly where the breakup occurs. V30s pair well with Marks, don’t get me wrong, but they sound more ”Rawk” and less “Metal” to me. YMMV.

No matter what speaker the 4YB is loaded with, if they’re OEM, nab that cab, and run away as fast as possible, and thank me in a few weeks…haha. if you can, ask the seller if those V50s came stock, or if they were scabbed from another cab. Mesa offers Eminence speakers, but I don’t recall what year they began Offering them.

As for some speaker surprises I’ve discovered along the way:

- G12H100s found in these older cabs from the mid 80s. It’s like the power handling of the EVM (well, not quite), but it stays together LOUD, but with that Celestion flavor we all love. If the EVMs are too sterile/transparent sounding, these may be the ticket. They don’t have Black Shadow stickers, but they’re OEM.

- JBL G125A-8 this has an even beefier frame than the EVMs, if you can believe that! 200w at 8ohms. Another power monster! It’s OEM again, and seems maybe a bit darker than a EVM, and has a bit of breakup in the low mids when pushed.

- Altec 417A-H - full range sound, but the highs/treble were a little sweeter sounding to me. Not shrill and more bell like.

If you’re stepping up to a 4YB, just know that the bass will be much more prevalent than a 2x12. Any of the OEM speakers Mesa offered during this era will have enough power to make your Mark sound amazing. The EVMs will offer the cleanest, most transparent sound of them all, and the C90s are THE sound of the Mark series IMHO. I think you may like the C90s over the V30s, especially if you play heavy melodic stuff. You need clean power, and even the C90s may be better suited for that sound than the V30s.
 
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Thank you all for your replies! The 4x12 fell through unfortunately, so still looking. You are correct with the v30’s in my 2x12. I do like them, but it’s a lot of sizzle lol. I have a C90 and, just picked up an evm12l. Both 8 ohm. Maybe I’ll find another pair and build a 4x12 cab, or run them parallel and build a 2X12 at 4 ohm. Not sure yet! Again, appreciate your insights.
 
Thank you all for your replies! The 4x12 fell through unfortunately, so still looking. You are correct with the v30’s in my 2x12. I do like them, but it’s a lot of sizzle lol. I have a C90 and, just picked up an evm12l. Both 8 ohm. Maybe I’ll find another pair and build a 4x12 cab, or run them parallel and build a 2X12 at 4 ohm. Not sure yet! Again, appreciate your insights.
I’m way late to the party, but you can’t go wrong with either variation of the halfback 412 cabs. I have two C90/EminenceVS and one C90/EVM and both combinations sound great, but the EVs give me a tight low-end punch that I prefer for chugga chugga riffs.

I agree that the Mark series doesn’t need the V30 sizzle and Fretout’s statement (like seemingly all of his statements) about the C90 being the voice of the Mark series is spot-on!
 

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