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  • Mesa Boogie or Marshall

    Lately I've been shilly-shallying about if I'm gonna get a Mesa Boogie (models mark III, DC5/3 or 50 caliber) or Marshall jcm 800 (4104, 4210 or 4010). I know that all of them sound good and stuff but I'm not sure which one to choose cause of sustainability. I just know that I want an amp that can play all from miles davis jazz, to The Beatles, to Black Sabbath, to Metallica, to In Flames etc. (diverse with other words). And I also know that I want it to cost from 500 up to 750 pounds (8000 swedish crowns).

     

    So if there is anybody who experienced these amps please comment. Peace!


  • #2
    I had a JCM 800 4010. Great frickin' amp. I wish I still owned it. I went through a Vox ac30 phase about 15 years ago and I sold the Marshall to get the Vox. The 4010 did everything. With gain down and plugged into the low input, it was very clean and warm sounding. High input with the gain up and you get that glorious Marshall overdrive. Throw a couple of dirt pedals in front for different flavors and you have an amp that will do just about anything. The only thing it lacked was a little low end. But, otherwise, it's one of my favorite amps I've ever owned.
    Can't say a whole lot about Boogies. I've played through a few but have never owned one. I played through an old Mark II combo and I thought it sounded good.
    Bill Lawrence custom Strat
    Ibanez Artcore AS-73 (Member Ibanez Art Corps)
    1991 Peavey Classic 50 2x12 Tweed

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    • #3
      Boogies like the MkIII are great amps, but they're a bit more difficult to dial up than an amp with more straightforward controls like the JCM 800. I'd say they're marginally better if you can deal with that and if tonal flexibility and variety is crucial to you.
      **********

      "Look at it this way: think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of 'em are stupider than that."

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      - Bob Lefsetz, The Lefsetz Letter

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      • #4
        Apples vs oranges...But if we're talking value for money, overal build/parts quality, and versatility...I would think the cleans on those Marshalls might sound a bit more shrill and meh than those of the mesas you mensioned. I probably have too little mesa experience to really back that up, but I've owned a lot of Marshalls, and played a lot more...And the 900/800 series is probably the last thing I'd look at when shopping for an amp that's capable of doing somewhat convinceable jazz tones or beatles sorta stuff...

        You'll have a hard time getting chimey/warm cleans out of those mesas too, but if you want both high gain as well as old school cleans and your budget is limited...A jcm 800 might be a bit more of a compromise than, say a caliber .50.

        Especially if you could find a Mark II or III in about the same price range as a used '80s JCM800, I'd go with the Mesa in a heartbeat. Maybe it's because I got bored with playing Marhalls for a decade, but if I'm not mistaking those Mesas are known to be reliable, rock solid, and as versatile as mid-priced high gain amps get...
        Last edited by thom; 04-19-2014, 09:07 AM.

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        • #5
          The JCM800 is better if you like to use a distortion pedal or an overdrive. I tried to use a boss OS-2 with my mesa studio caliber and sounded like fart.

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          • This topic by jnotsew has been deleted by jnotsew
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            #5


          • #6
            I own a Mesa and love it. I did a lot of research before going the Mesa/Marshall route. The Mesa amps are very rugged and reliable. I know that every time I take my amp to a gig or church, it will fire up. Yeah, there is a bit of a learning curve with the Mesa but I have found example settings on the Internet that have worked well for me. I have a Road King II which is the kitchen sinks of amps. It has both 6L6s and EL34s so I get the best of both worlds. You can get Marshall tones from it but I always end up going back to the 6L6s for most of my tones.
            -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Mesa Boogie Road King II
            Carvin 2x12 cab
            Egnater Rebel 30 Combo
            Fender FSR Standard Black
            Schecter Hellraiser Black Cherry
            Ibanez RG570 Blue
            Ibanez AR200 Red Wine
            Gretsch G5120 Orange
            Hofner Shorty White
            Musket > Morley Bad Horsie > DynaComp > FullDrive 2 > BBE Green Screamer > EH POG2 > Ernie Ball Volume > Amp
            Loop EFX: Line 6 M9

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            • #7
              I own and use both Marshall JCM 2000 TSL-60 head and Mesa Heartbreaker Head with different cabs. sometimes both heads together. If tryout one at a time in same cab for sake of tone comparison it is very much in the ear of the player for end result and tough call. The Marshall will get surprisingly clean voice and since is TSL not 800 will get more gain in general than Mesa can. Marshall has more of background type reverb or less plush/harsh reverb if that matters. As stated above by others the Mesa controls are "not intuitive" for user to say it nicely. Basically the amp is near opposite to dial in than the Marshall. I would agree that Marshall has less strength in its bass tones but also heard KT-77 power tubes will add missing bass (I will find out). The Mesa Heartbreaker head is rare amp and I am glad because it easily gets as much or more gain than Mark I yet can run deep clean voice with terrific power much like black face twin except with more power say Bassman 135 head. Has to be loudest 100 watt amp I have heard/owned. The TSL is only 60 watt head but with pair of either EVL12's or JBL E 120-8's with pair of Swamp Thangs to fill bass TSL can do most places with lead guitar volume and thump the floor fine with no problem. If TSL is not loud enough you are probably playing outside. Both heads sound very good with 4 Vin 30 speaker's made for Marshall and loaded in 4X12 Marshall cab but again different. I guess what am saying is honestly do not know if JCM 800 has enough gain and amps are not easy to compare. Mesa probably does but may take a while to learn how to dial it in as almost opposite Marshall in use of controls. Also honestly the JCM 800 series is a different type of beast if comparing to Mesa Heartbreaker. Comparing the JCM 800 to the Mark III or 50 cal is like apples and oranges. I agree basically with all folks above and if wish gain to be same will need peddle for Marshall 800 or look into DSL 100 head or combo. The DSL and Mesa Mark III or DC/5 would be closer overall amps in gain to compare. Then again it is true that Mesa will be counter intuitive maybe opposite to dial in than Marshall DSL. The only thing for sure is Mesa will have more reverb. If you have heart set on 800 the man above owned and used one so has best information. I think 800 will need gain boost from peddle. Also fact is I know both amps respond a great deal and do well with preamp tube changes and also to pickup and speaker type. It will be tough call to make even if find both in same store to test. Unless can take both home with some tubes to try for a week through same cab. the good thing is will not lose if pick any of amps you mentioned.
              Best of Luck,
              jnotsew

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              • #8
                I have limited experience with Mesas and Marshalls but view the Mesa Mark series as more versatile overall and better for heavy metal tones- you crank the gain, set the EQ V shape and your tone can not be more metal. And it's about as creamy and sweet as tone can be for leads.

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                • #9
                  I think in the end, you will have to judge for yourself. I actually went through 3 Road Kings before settling on the one I have now. Amps made from the same lot or day can sound so different. My quest was to find an amp that I could play a wide variety of music. I did a lot of research, played many different amps, watch a lot of youtube videos and asked a lot of questions here. I play at church and we cover everything. I love prog metal music. I also love the classics (70's and 80's) rock. As an older player, I wasn't going to be spending the rest of my life buying and selling amps. The Road King gives me everything I need. I get great cleans all the way up to high gain. I have 4 channels to choose from, I can have multiple cab types and assign it to any channel, and lots and lots of tubes (oh yeah). The only draw back is that it is heavy. It weighs about 75 lbs. I have a dolly that I put all my equipment on. I also can have my rig setup so that I am be ready in about 10 minutes. I have had other amps, solid state and tube amps. This one really does it for me.
                  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                  Mesa Boogie Road King II
                  Carvin 2x12 cab
                  Egnater Rebel 30 Combo
                  Fender FSR Standard Black
                  Schecter Hellraiser Black Cherry
                  Ibanez RG570 Blue
                  Ibanez AR200 Red Wine
                  Gretsch G5120 Orange
                  Hofner Shorty White
                  Musket > Morley Bad Horsie > DynaComp > FullDrive 2 > BBE Green Screamer > EH POG2 > Ernie Ball Volume > Amp
                  Loop EFX: Line 6 M9

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                  • #10
                    Marshall of course.
                    Mesa is very time consuming and expensive to service compared to other amplifiers. They will not give you schematics...
                    I have worked on both amps for many years, and I would never buy a Mesa Boogie amp. Too much headaches.

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                    • #11
                      JCM 800's can be great if you get the right one. There's a lot of crappy ones out there. Mesa Mark III's are great amps too. As Phil said, they're not as straight forward in dialing up tones, but offer more flexibility than JCM 800's.
                      **********************

                      www.thesymbolsband.com

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