The Mesa Boogie Mark IV

Some regard the IIc+ as the great birth of Boogie, some the Mark III. But the Mark IV was the first Boogie I ever came into contact with. A mate of mine had one, and a PRS (this was a big deal in Wales in 1990). We never played it (hell, we were never allowed to touch the thing) but it sounded sublime and just looked like the baddest thing on the planet. That Boogie/PRS combo

cost £2,000, 24 years ago.

So can Amplitube give you a reasonable facsimile for 3% of the money. As with the other amps in the package, first impressions are pretty good. It looks like a Mk IV, pretty much every switch and knob are modelled in such detail that you just need a copy of the Boogie IV manual to dive in.

Like the Mark III, the key here is the interaction between the controls. Simply whacking up the gain to 10 will simply not do so to get to all the goodness locked inside takes a little research and a little patience. In fact, you really need to approach this as an amp rather than a sim and accept that you are going to have to work at it a little. But trust me, it is worth it.

I admit it, I’m an older guy and clean tones are where it is at for me. And the algorithms Amplitube are using for the Mk III and IV are simply sensational. – once you really grasp how it all comes together. It is the sheer degree of interaction, of how the Pull control adds a precise degree of shimmer when the gain is set so and the master set exactly here. How the treble shapes the tone with the bass and mid fine tuning. Without even thinking about the powerful equalizer. The core clean tones are Fender-y in character but cover everything from punch-in-the stomach Bassman to the most delicate Twin shimmer, and it covers the range with very specific movements of the controls. These control may look daunting on first inspection but they are a touch more intuitive than the Mk III.

The same applies with the overdrive. It runs from delicate break-up to a pretty vicious 1970s growl but like clean it really responds to player dynamics and the nature of the guitar. As good as the tones are, they are always transparent enough to really capture the personality of the player and the instrument. And that continues onto the lead channel, of course you can have brain melting distortion if you want it, but cut the lead gain back 20% and the tone sweetens so much. It still has a wonderfully smooth sustain and a really gripping bite but it is such a grown-up noise and such a high-quality noise.

I’ve spent many hours just on this model and on looking over my notes I come across the same words over and over again, transparency, subtlety, clarity. Describing what it sounds like rapidly becomes a zero-sum game, do you want to know what it sounds like? It sounds like a Mk IV, its faults and virtues are the same as a Mark IV. If I had to be pushed, I just prefer the clean tone on the Mk III and if I wanted to shred, the Triple Rec would have the edge. But as a package, there is so much here, it is so beautifully presented, the range of tones is so vast and it is just so rewarding to play. Sound bad playing this? Then it is your fault.

Next I’ll be looking at the TA-30, see you then and thanks to IK for their review copy.