Mesa Boogie Mark V 25 Review
Verdict and Review Summary
Perhaps with the exception of Diezel, Mesa delivers the absolute most intense and modern-sounding tube amps on the market, and the Mark V 25 is a fantastic example. It's just an absolute monster, but with a ton of control and flexibility including the ability to operate without a speaker cab.
The Mesa Boogie Mark V 25 (and other wattage variations within the series), are modern, aggressive and flexible. Yet, for some odd reason, the main demo video that Mesa put out is really blues heavy.
I have no earthly idea why.
So it's important to note: These are not blues tube amps.
While they can do the subtle overdrive style, their primary appeal is modern metal, heavy lows, and aggressive gain. In fact, most Mesa Boogie amps completely eliminate the need for a distortion pedal, and the Mark V is no exception.
I'll get into more of the details in my Mesa Boogie Mark V 25 review.
Leave questions and comments below the review.
Read more: Best Mesa Boogie amps
We get a lot of comments here along the lines of "This isn't fact, this is just your opinion." Well, I thought that should be obvious, but since it appears to be a gray area, I thought I'd start stating this up front: While we make every effort to research and often buy/use the gear and programs we discuss, these are still the ramblings of a lunatic, are probably wrong, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Compare to Similar Mesa Amps
This is the same table we used in the Mesa amp roundups linked above. It highlights some of the most popular Mesa amps and our favorites, including the Mark V. Use the Compare buttons to see pricing info, and consider using the Sweetwater buttons to support us at no extra cost to you.
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier
Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier
Mesa Boogie Recto-Verb Combo
Mesa Boogie Mark Five 25
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Price History (based in Sweetwater retail)
Price History for Mesa/Boogie Mark Five:25 - 25/10-watt Tube Head - Black Taurus
|Current Price||$1,999.00||September 29, 2023|
|Highest Price||$1,999.00||April 4, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$1,899.00||August 3, 2022|
Last price changes
|$1,999.00||April 11, 2023|
|$1,899.00||April 11, 2023|
|$1,999.00||April 4, 2023|
|$1,899.00||August 3, 2022|
IDEAL FOR: Recording, any and all studio work, modern rock, those who want to play without a speaker cab, indoor practice, heavy metal, low tunings, and intermediate to advanced skill levels
The Mark V's Tone and Style
I usually like to link to manufacturer demos, if possible.
However, I've already mentioned that Mesa's demo of this amp - at least the one I saw - was extremely bizarre in that it didn't really demonstrate the amp's stronger profile. Instead, I'll go with Euge Valovirta's demo, which is distinctly metal and hard-rock focused:
You can hear plenty of low-end thickness, but also the bright siren-esque squeal of pinch harmonics, even on the lower register. It definitely reminded me of a Disturbed tone, or something Adam Jones would play on a Tool album.
As Euge points out in the demo, there is no distortion pedal to compliment. All of the tone is just the amp.
When you get a tube amp that can handle a modern tone, you almost always have a far superior distortion that releases you from the need for a distortion pedal.
This is how most of the pros get their distortion.
Overall, the Mark V has plenty of gain, with plenty of definition.
Distortion, Gain, and Note Clarity
At no point do you notice any lack of note clarity, even with the gain cranked. The thickness and definition of the lower register, even when tuned down, are crystal clear.
This is something that often does not happen with a distortion pedal.
Distortion pedals layer gain before the preamp, whereas an amp-based distortion - as in the Mark V - pushes gain directly from the preamp itself.
This gives you more refined and clear notes, that are consistent through varying gain levels. Thus, the Mark V's distortion is perfect for modern rock and heavier playing styles that implement a lot of gain.
Clean Channels and Subtle Aggression
The Mesa Mark V 25 is capable of more subtle gain tones and bluesy sounds, simply by turning down the gain. However, it should be clear that this isn't at all why you would buy a Mesa amplifier.
If that's the sound you're looking for, there are plenty of other amplifiers out there that can do this sound and won't cost you as much.
Fender tube amps are a good example.
That said, the clean channel on this amp is fantastic, especially with the wide range of EQ at your disposal. Before you can put down a layer of gain, you need to have a solid clean tone to start with. In the Mark V you still have plenty of thickness and the clean tones don't sound thin or weak.
Strumming open chords has a definite warmth, while single note arpeggios have a lot of clarity and produce a nice chime.
Note that reverb controls for each channel are on the back panel.
Read more: Best reverb pedal
Control, EQ, and Flexibility
Each channel has a four band EQ with the following dials:
Gain and volume controls - as expected - are available for each channel. As I already mentioned, there are also reverb controls on the back panel. I suppose Mesa just ran out of room on the front since the amp's form is on the smaller side.
The five-band graphic EQ is basically like having an EQ pedal (like the Boss GE-7) built into your amplifier.
You can turn it off on either channel, though it makes the amp extremely flexible, more so than anything else in the Mesa Boogie lineup. To be honest, I'm not sure why more amp manufacturers don't include this. It's something that once you start using, you'll have a hard time going back to an amp without it.
Total, excluding the gain and volume controls, you have 10 ways to adjust your tone on the Mark V 25.
Lastly, you have a wattage selector for each channel, which is helpful given the interior speaker emulator and headphone jack.
Back Panel Features (emulator, headphone out, balanced output)
Some of the features on the back panel have already been discussed, though we'll list them briefly here.
- CabClone D.I. out (balanced output for going straight to a PA system or recording interface
- Headphone jack (amazing to have this on a tube amp)
- Effects loop
- External speaker connections (two four ohms and one eight ohm)
- Reverb controls
- Speaker on/off switch
- Open back/closed back switch
This back panel looks more like something you'd see on a solid state amp. It's just a fantastic technologically advanced amplifier that gives you nearly all the benefits of digital flexibility with a monstrous tube tone.
There's nothing to complain about here.
Pricing and Value
The size of the Mark V:25 brings down the cost considerably. At only $1900 it's fairly cheap by Mesa Boogie standards.
Typically, as an amp's wattage and weight goes up, so does pricing.
For example, the price of the Mark V 90 combo and amp head are significantly higher than the V 25:
- Mark V 90 Combo: $3400
- Mark V 90 Head: $3150
Unless you need the additional wattage and size, you can save a ton of money by going with something like the Mark V 25.
Obviously, most of the same features and qualities of the 25 would be true of the 50 and 90 versions as well. So if you don't need the additional size and volume, the 25 is a fantastic value, if not still a more expensive higher end amplifier.
Alternatives, like the Blackstar Club series, typically retail in the $900-$1000 range.
Read more: Best Blackstar amps
Ideal Fit and Context
Even though it's cheaper by Mesa Boogie standards, the Mark V 25 is still firmly in the top-tier amplifier category, making it an advanced/pro guitar rig solution. Some intermediate players looking to level up and make a bigger investment in their rig should also consider it.
But beginners or earlier intermediate players will probably be out-punting their coverage with a nearly $2000 amplifier.
If that's you, I'd recommend hitting the brakes and pulling back to something like Blackstar or Orange.
Also, genre of music and playing style are an equally important consideration.
Are you trying to dial in a heavy modern rock or metal tone? If so, it's hard to do better than the Mesa brand. On the other hand, those working in blues or softer gain styles might want to look elsewhere.
As a final note, the emulator and balanced output make this amp extremely ideal for those wanting to record or who might want to avoid a speaker cab, for whatever reason.
- Intermediate/advanced skill levels
- Metal/modern rock genres
- Heavy rhythm playing style
- Recording and/or session guitarists
- Those who plan to take full advantage of the onboard speaker emulator
I've tested a lot of amps over the years, and this is easily one of my favorites. Even beyond my own Mesa Rectoverb combo (which I love) this amp wins out because of its ability to go without a speaker cab.
You'll have to make the call based on your situation, so feel free to share thoughts and questions in the comments section below.
We'll see you there.