Mark VII - dang double gang - messed up FX levels

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mace

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Hi,

I noticed this behavior in the VII the other day: I created a looper pedal clean riff in CH1 FAT mode, then let it run with the FX LOOP ON. I switched to CH2 CRUNCH and the volume of the FX LOOP dropped significantly. Playing live guitar CH1 and CH2 were the same volumes.

Tested further (just let the looper pedal run) and sure enough, all the high gain modes (CRUNCH, VII, IIc, IV) have a much lower FX LOOP volume than the cleaner modes (CLEAN, FAT and IIB). The MASTER volume also controls the volume of the FX LOOP on all three channels on the VII.

After checking out out the Mark V and TC-50 they were both free of this strange behavior. FX LOOP volume was constant on all channels regardless of channel MASTER settings.

This really is a big disappointment with the VII. It makes it impossible to play live and create a looper in one channel and then switch to another and play over the looper. The volume difference is crazy different between the channels.

Do other VII’s behave the same? I’m assuming “yes”. Bandit noticed that the channel MASTER pots are double ganged, and he was thinking this controls SEND and RETURN levels. It seems that assumption was correct? I’m hoping there is a fix for this since it makes switching channels over a looper track impossible…. but I fear this is a design “feature”, albeit a really crappy one.
 
This is normal. The JP2C does the same thing. I tried it with recording a 12-sting acoustic guitar and found the change would occur on the sound of the recording, its character changed considerably and also gain some power tube distortion. Thought I could create something interesting since the looper had a recorded 12 string (it has a pickup I sent to a fishman preamp). So when I tried to make use of it and switched to CH2 or CH3 it just was not sounding all that good.

As for the Mark VII, the channel volume controls use a doble pot so volume is altered in two locations, the obvious is after the FX loop. Mark VII does not use a single global FX recovery master volume control like the Mark V, Roadster, MWDR, and TC series so I would expect it to be different. I would not doubt that some modes will alter the effect of the volume as well. Not sure if there are three different negative feedback circuits that may change circuits based on operating mode. Mark V90 in extreme or Mark I mode will shift the presence control as well.

The only way to make use of a looper, would be to run the clean channel only and then add in distortion with a pedal on the front end for any other guitar parts. Same thing done with the Roadster and that was utter failure, Modern mode changes the negative feed back circuit to a different circuit. There is no such thing as disconnecting the negative feedback, it may change component values but it is still in the circuit. If it was actually disconnected, the amp would sound like :poop:.

I gave up on loopers some time ago. Cool thing but pointless if you want to have something of different characteristics. I found them pointless in the FX loop. My opinion, so others may have different comments or opinions. Perhaps there is a way to get what you want.
 
It makes me wonder if Mesa had loopers in mind. If you have an adjustable volume control on the playback of the stored recording you may be able to adjust it to compensate. I have one of those TC ditto X2 or something like that. I found it was not suitable for use in the FX loop. Never tried it with the Mark VII but gave up after thinking it was not ideal to start with. I give up on effects and multi units that take forever to get something out of them. I get the point that some people give up after 5 minutes with an amp, I am more tolerant than that unless that amp is a modeler. Stuff like the GT100 or other multi effect units, found I spent more time messing with dialing them in than actually playing the guitar. I have to hold back on laughing my *** off as the guitar player brings his ditto over and has nothing but issues with it. That was until he kicked it and it slammed into my amp he was using. I should take a deposit when he comes over to jam. There is reason why I do not let him play on the drums.
 
Thanks for the info. I forgot to mention that the Mark V:25 also is looper friendly. When switching channels, modes and changing MASTER level knobs the looper volume remained the same (except EXTREME, where there is a noticeable volume increase since that changes the power section).

Of course I couldn’t test the V with the OUTPUT disabled because that also disables the LOOP.

Yes, I had thought of using pedals out front to add distortion, that is a bit of a workaround.

Looks like it is what it is. The need for a looper is I’m the only guitarist in my band and in some songs it is nice to loop a rhythm riff and then play over it. I may just stick with the TC-50 with that band as it is looper friendly.
 
Does the JP2C also have double ganged MASTER pots?
 
No, the JP2C uses single level pots. No doubles. This one has the FX loop mod for the clean channel. You can see the components they added to the gain control in the far lower left. Mesa had to change how the send level was managed since the first release had major volume shifts when using the FX loop from clean to gain channels.

20180128_135434.jpg


As for the Mark VII, The thing about running the clean channel, it has no compression unless you push the gain control up and it will begin to distort much like the crunch mode. Compared to the JP2C, it is difficult to get the clean channel into any distortion, but it is possible to get a mild clip.

I also found myself pushing the volume up when using clean or fat to match the output level of the crunch, VII, IIC or IV modes. Both of the Mark VII do this. Clean and Fat are not as loud so a volume setting around 11:20 to noon is about the same as it is for the gain modes at 9am. The exception is the IIB mode, that is much louder due to less distortion.

I get the point, having a backing track if you are the only one playing guitar. Not sure if there is any workarounds for this. The Ditto I have drops the output level of the recorded track so you can play over it. It does have a means to increase the recorded level output. Not sure what you are using as a looper. I mostly use the Ditto for recording a song or melody of sorts but using the front end method. I usually have to adjust the output volume from the Ditto so it plays back at the same level as it sounded when I recorded it. I use it for practice on the drums or bass. I have not done that for some time now. I am getting lazy in my old age. :(
 
No, the JP2C uses single level pots. No doubles. This one has the FX loop mod for the clean channel. You can see the components they added to the gain control in the far lower left. Mesa had to change how the send level was managed since the first release had major volume shifts when using the FX loop from clean to gain channels.

Thanks much for the response. It sounds like what you stated here is the "why" of the use of double ganged pots on the VII. The "why" is that without the extra level control back to the power section the return levels would be even more different (between clean and gain channels). Is that what you mean?

What I'm still not understanding is why the little Mark V:25 has the same FX LOOP volume level on all modes all channels?? (except EXTREME, which is a wee bit louder and that makes sense with the different power section) The Mark V:25 does not have an OUTPUT which controls the final volume, each channel has it's own MASTER and that's it for volume control. Why is it balanced so well and his new big brother VII is not?

It's all more of a curiousity at this point (why I keep asking questions!). It sounds like my Mark VII is not defective but rather the changing FX LOOP levels was an intentional design decision, and it could be worse (as you say the first JP2C's were).

I have a Flashback X4 v2 in the LOOP. And yes, it has a volume control, but I really don't want to mess with adjusting looper playback volume in a live setting. Backing tracks or samples or some such may be the route I go at that point but that is a big deal and the band would have to play to a click with in ears etc. Not really where we want to go ($$$, time, more things to go wrong etc). So, I like to just lay down a quick riff or chord progression and play over it once in a while. It works most of the time, just not when switching channels with the VII.

Maybe another difference is in the MASTER volume range I'm running is more like 8 o'clock on the MASTER's, maybe 9 o'clock in 45W or 25W mode. This band doesn't play very loud at rehearsal in the small space. At 11 to 12 o'clock I'd be blowing everyone's ears out.
 
I do not have a short answer for that question. I do not have the schematics for the V:25 or V:35, or even the TC series. They are obviously different than the Mark V90 or even the RA100. Still similar in tone but not in feel or character.

Now we have this new toy, Mark VII. Not sure what Mesa did to cook up this amp. Not all of us that have one have explored the potential. I would rather not write another book based on speculation this morning.

Makes me wonder if a compressor would work in the FX loop, one of those dynamic ones that can maintain a steady output signal level that boosts and cuts based on a threshold. This is out of my range of experience except for doing a mix-down on a multi-track recording. That does not sound like an inexpensive piece of gear. Not really sure what that would do the overall sound or tone of the amp at the speaker.

That is part of the fun or frustration when it comes to new gear, how to make use of it and what are the workarounds to get what you want out of it. Sorry if that is a Mesa response. I am still figuring out the Mark VII but have not spent much time playing lately.
 
Can you keep the looper in front of the amp? Record a clean part, close the "loop" and then use the higher gain channels at a higher volume to compensate? Or will the looper part just become high gain when you switch channels? I use a ditto in front of a Fender amp with no loop and I can record a clean part and then tap on some dirt to play over it. I actually haven't tried it with my Mark yet but I have the V:25 so it sounds like it won't be a problem regardless.
 
Hi,

I noticed this behavior in the VII the other day: I created a looper pedal clean riff in CH1 FAT mode, then let it run with the FX LOOP ON. I switched to CH2 CRUNCH and the volume of the FX LOOP dropped significantly. Playing live guitar CH1 and CH2 were the same volumes.

Tested further (just let the looper pedal run) and sure enough, all the high gain modes (CRUNCH, VII, IIc, IV) have a much lower FX LOOP volume than the cleaner modes (CLEAN, FAT and IIB). The MASTER volume also controls the volume of the FX LOOP on all three channels on the VII.

After checking out out the Mark V and TC-50 they were both free of this strange behavior. FX LOOP volume was constant on all channels regardless of channel MASTER settings.

This really is a big disappointment with the VII. It makes it impossible to play live and create a looper in one channel and then switch to another and play over the looper. The volume difference is crazy different between the channels.

Do other VII’s behave the same? I’m assuming “yes”. Bandit noticed that the channel MASTER pots are double ganged, and he was thinking this controls SEND and RETURN levels. It seems that assumption was correct? I’m hoping there is a fix for this since it makes switching channels over a looper track impossible…. but I fear this is a design “feature”, albeit a really crappy one.

Not really related but Roadster had same “feature” with looper. Some recording in channel 3 played back in channel 4 would be completely unusable level. And vice versa. Also the tonality would be off as the NFB and ch presence would be different etc…

Life sucks 🤣
 
Maybe a volume pedal in the fx loop with your looper pedal. I used to have a morley volume pedal (I don't know exact model #) it had an adjustable minimum volume. So the pedal's maximum was always all the way toe forward, and a pot would set the heel down low volume limit, from completely off to barely different.
 
Thanks for the suggestions.

As far as the looper in front, I can't really do that since the looper is also my delay, and I like the delay in the FX LOOP. Also, the looper in front would just record the guitar signal. So, when switching channels the looper signal would be victim to whatever the pre-amp wants to do to it (clean, dirt, or distortion).

I think a compressor in the loop probably wouldn't help because the issue is the signal level in the RETURN is modified by the Mark VII. The signal in the loop is already maintaining a constant level.

The volume pedal would probably work in this case. But since this looper level is only an issue for a song or two, it probably isn't worth it for me. I like the volume pedal out in front to act like the guitar volume (dirt level control).

I'm travelling right now and won't be back at it until the weekend. I think if I stick with the Mark VII for this I'll likely use a distortion pedal out front to play a dirty lead over a clean looper riff, as suggested by bandit.
 
I wanted to hear this myself. Interesting. I tried going the reverse and recorded onto a Ditto from CH3. I had the amp on IV mode, recorded a riff and then when to CH1 on fat clean. What I captured from CH3 was loud as hell. Made it difficult to play over it. Erased the stored data and then repeated it with the ditto on a fat clean mode. Tried the other channels and modes just to see if there was a fix or not. Even tried to raise the playback volume. To no avail, it was much lower in volume than the guitar signal on any of the gain modes. There was one exception, CH3 IIB, that had a closer output level to the recorded track. I just could not get the dirt on the IIB where I wanted it to be. External drive pedal may be the only method that would work since it is a series FX loop, anything in the loop will adjust overall sound including a volume pedal. No way to get a compromise here. I barely ever use the looper unless I am practicing on another instrument like bass or drums. I have not been playing the guitar for some time now. Let it go for too long and you get rusty at it.

Interesting but not really. Sort of a bummer. I did not expect it to be any different than what you may have discovered already. Wonder what the flux drive will sound like on the clean channel of the Mark VII. Have not had much time to explore the amp in full detail.
 
The only thing I did not try was to run the clean ridiculously loud to see if that will influence the recording and then switch to a gain mode or channel with a more suitable volume level. If that works, I doubt it would be a good thing blasting the clean and then changing over to play lead over it. It may not be seamless to the listener doing it that way. It obviously is not seamless trying to keep volume levels in a desired setting.
 
It seems there is a level control between the RETURN stage and the power section. Therefore, there is no solution other than not changing channels and using a pedal out front. Each channel has it’s own LOOP RETURN level unlike the TC where the RETURN level is global and independent of the channel selected. It seems you are correct that the second pot on each MASTER is controlling the level after the FX LOOP but before the power section.

Mark VII: LOOP->MASTER_2->Power Section

TC, Mark V:90, MarkV:25 : LOOP->Power Section
 
Wonder what would happen if the one were to replace the ganged dual volume control pots with a concentric double pot setup with an outer ring and inner ring to adjust the two potentiometer levels independently. Good or bad idea?
 
The Roadster behaves this way as well (well specifically changing from clean to a channel in "modern" mode), which I discovered much to my chagrin as I do extensive looping with my band, and often am layering clean and high gain

The work around to this for me was easy enough though, I run my clean channel on full 100 watts, and run my high gain channel at 50 watts and things are overall pretty balanced by doing that

EDIT: I see that your high gain channels are -quieter- on the loop than the clweans. In that case I just suggest trying the inverse of what I said, run the high gain channels at full watage and cut the clean channel wattage down
 
I’ll give that a whirl at practice tonight! But that kinda sucks as I like the big headroom of 90W mode clean. But, maybe a workaround. And yes, chagrin is a good word for it. I thought the Mark VII was simpler than the V but in this regard, the V wins hands down: FX RETURN level constant across all channels.
 
I’ll give that a whirl at practice tonight! But that kinda sucks as I like the big headroom of 90W mode clean. But, maybe a workaround. And yes, chagrin is a good word for it. I thought the Mark VII was simpler than the V but in this regard, the V wins hands down: FX RETURN level constant across all channels.

Did this end up helping at all?
 
Edit: the suggestion was to manage level changes with wattage settings. This sort of helped but wasn’t enough, especially not for CRUNCH. The LOOP level of CRUNCH is just way lower than the FAT. The 6 dB delta from 25 to 90 watts just isn’t enough to compensate.


Yeah, using a distortion pedal worked OK kind of. Basically, I ran a TS9 at 9 o’clock full volume, so if I were to use it in this case I need to max out gain and limit pedal volume to about 10:30 or so to be a bit underneath the looped clean chords. The distortion pedal really gooses the volume, as is to be expected on the high headroom clean channels. I have an old RAT which may work better for true distortion, but alas the board is full at the moment.

So, a couple new discoveries on this:

1) Ch3 IIc mode actually seems to be OK in the sense the loop recorded on Ch1 will be at an acceptable volume when switching to Ch3. So, I may experiment more with this. Need to max out looper level, though.

2) When looping on any channel and then playing back over the looped sample there is some strange distortion which happens on certain notes. This is regardless of channel. Even when staying on FAT Ch1 and recording a loop, when I then play live over the loop there are some really strange sounding artifacts which happen. I need to cross check this with the other Mark’s and the TC, to see if this happens with them.

Bottom line: playing over a recorded loop seems to be kind of a pain in the rear! The coffee shop guy with his acoustic guitar makes it look so easy!
 

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