02-03-2013 03:18 PM
About three weeks ago, I traded a bunch of equipment (a Roland JC-55, Mesa/Boogie V-Twin, Boss RT-20 and EHX BMS big chassis) for a red stripe Mesa/Boogie Mark III head. I'd really like to play it, but I live in a house with other occupants, none of whom want to hear me play after a certain hour. However, I know that the only way to make a tube amp sound right is to crank it. The two, obviously, cannot coexist. There are a couple of solutions: 1. Trade the head for a low-watt amp (there are a few that spring to mind). 2. Be a disagreeable housemate, and play it full blast; 3. Get a power attenuator. Since I refuse to trade this head, having never used it, and since I'm not about to be evicted from my own house, I'll have to look at an attenuator. Or do I? Is there a way for me to use this 100w head, in my room, at a respectable volume, without sacrificing the mojo that makes tube amps desirable in the first place?
I will stress that this is my first tube amp, and, if I do everything right, my last. I will make this work, which means that I do not want to get rid of this amp. I'm also rather cheap, so I'd like to avoid the "buy a smaller amp" answers, if possible.
02-04-2013 04:10 AM - edited 02-04-2013 04:11 AM
If you're not getting enough saturation at lower levels, it may be worth trying an overdrive such as a tubescreamer to boost the gain. If it has the built in graphic eq, try lowering the mid slider and set the others in a smile formation (if I recall correctly, older Mesas with 5-band eq's work well set that way).
Another option which doesn't involve the amp at all and possibly no cost at all would be going to ultimatemetal.com and the Sneap backline forum, searching up the Lepou and TSE free amp sim and tubescreamer plugins as well as KeFir to load cab impulses and downloading some very good free cab impluses for it all to run through a DAW on your computer. You could use it to record running the guitar direct or even just for playing/practicing. You could also go to asio4all.com and download their free ASIO drivers to lower the latency on such a recording setup if you don't already have a sound card with ASIO. It's a little learning curve for it all but worth it IMO.
02-04-2013 01:21 PM
Just get a THD Hot Plate, run the amp as high as you want it and let the HotPlate turn those dBs into heat. You'll get the power tube character, but w/o the setting ear drums on fire for 1,000 yds in all direction volume. I use my HotPlate with my Laney VH100 and Genz Benz El Diablo 100. Both amps love to be run hard to sound astounding.
You will lose some thump though, HotPlate'll letcha push the tubes but I'm not aware of anything that actually provided the thump of a 4x12 being run hard... but a 4x12 being run hard.
02-05-2013 07:18 AM
02-05-2013 11:50 PM
When you run the Mark IV's master volume up at full and then bring up the channel volumes it sort of acts as an attenuator. I assume the Mark III will do the same.
02-05-2013 11:58 PM - edited 02-06-2013 12:01 AM
You need a practice amp or headphone solution as someone suggested and you need to keep that amp. I've been down that get a smaller amp road because I'm doing some gigging and barely cracking the volume and no matter what you do the little guys will not sound as good as the big guys when you need a little volume. You'll regret getting rid of that amp because you need something quieter for late at night at home practicing. You want cheaper than an attenuator? Get a little Behringer 30 watt amp for $70.
Do not get rid of that Mark III....EVER!
02-24-2013 05:08 PM - edited 02-24-2013 05:09 PM
I figured something important out: my work week is structured, so that I can play it plugged in on certain days, without any sort of complaints. I have done so; It blew my mind, and I'm not about to trade it, for any conceivable reason. I'll just get a Fender Greta, which is quirky and fun, if I want to play plugged in at night.
02-24-2013 08:12 PM - edited 02-24-2013 08:16 PM
The Mark series amps are actually pretty sweet amps for low volume playing. You'd want different settings to what you'd use cranking it, but you can definitely get great sounds out of them at any volume.
Back when I had mine, even playing with a band I don't imagine the power section was really getting worked that hard. They're pretty fecking loud amps. Even switching it to "Class A" mode, it was still fecking loud.
You're going to be attenuating the shit out of it to get a Mark III down to bedroom levels. Similarly, even a low powered tube amp is going to be fecking loud to get the power section cranking. As an example, at band practice one day, we turned up and the studio had lost power. So we dragged all our crap in while we waited for them to sort it, and then I realised I had my lil Smokey Amp in my bag. Hooked that up to the 2x12, and we had a trio jam. That is, with a double bass and a violin going at full tilt. Even with that tiny Smokey Amp running off just a 9V battery was drowning out the others. Don't remember what a Smokey is... what, 1W or 1/2W or something?
The other thing is, aside from the amp itself working hard, there's the speakers not really being worked hard, plus we simply hear things differently at different volume levels. Part of the great sound of a cranked amp is the actual volume. The speakers being worked, the way the sound is processed by your brain, the way the volume interacts with your guitar, etc. Cranking an amp, then bringing it right down to bedroom levels with some brutal attenuation still isn't really the full effect, except that you'll get the full effect of the wear on your tubes (and therefore, your wallet).
IMO, just stick with the amp and spend some more time dialing it in. The Mark series for one are somewhat unusual compared to most high gain amps out there, in that the knob-EQ is pregain, and if you have one, the GEQ is post-gain. So you can really shape the shit out of the sound. If your amp doesn't have the GEQ, you might want to put a decent EQ pedal in the loop to open up some more possibilities.
They're great amps for pretty much anything, and it's probably the only piece of gear I've really regretted selling.
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