Mesa/Boogie is a true American success story. They’re one of the few long-time amp companies out there still building amps in the US under original ownership, and the company is continuing to evolve with new technology and ideas.
Founder Randall Smith spent a lot of time around electronics as a child. While he was in a band during the mid 1960s, he had the opportunity to fix a blown amp. After he successfully repaired that amp, Smith and his band decided to open a music repair shop that became the humble beginnings for Mesa/Boogie.
At the time, Barry Melton was the lead guitarist for Country Joe & the Fish, and when Melton’s roadies asked Smith to modify a 12-watt, 1x10 Fender Princeton, he turned it into something like a 60-watt Fender Bassman driving a JBL D-120 12" speaker. Smith soon became known for his ability to hot-rod small combo amps and, in his words, “What started out as a joke became the foundation of the company.”
Smith’s shop was a popular place among the hippie musicians of the era, and one day Carlos Santana wandered into the store and played one of Smith’s modified Princetons. Santana loved the amp and is quoted as saying, “This little amp really boogies.” This comment ultimately led to the company’s “Boogie” moniker. Smith estimates he built around 200 of these modified Princetons before Fender figured out what he was up to and cut off his supply!
In 1970, Smith left the music shop and ventured out on his own. In order to obtain parts and supplies at wholesale prices, he started MESA Engineering. In the early 1970s, Smith began experimenting with new preamp designs to produce the type of gain and distortion guitarists were requesting. The result was what is now known as cascading gain, and it was incorporated into the very first Boogie production amp line—commonly referred to as the Mark I.
As Mesa/Boogie evolved during the 1970s and early 1980s, they made several changes to their little combo amps. To indicate the change in each new variation, Mesa began calling their amps the Mark I, Mark II, Mark IIB, Mark IIC, etc. The original Boogie had two channels, but there was no provision for switching between them without changing input jacks.
After building approximately 3000 of the Mark I models, Mesa introduced the Mark II in 1978. It had footswitchable channels and an optional 5-band graphic EQ. In 1980, Mesa introduced the Mark IIB, which had an effects loop, and an expanded control panel that included Lead Drive and Lead Master controls.
The Mark II series lasted through 1985, when it was replaced by the 3-channel Mark III series.
This amp features the Lead Drive and Lead Master controls, but not the 100 / 60-watt power switch. It is a 60 watt amp. But 60 watts of Mesa Boogie is LOUD.
It also does not have the graphic equaliser which features on later Mk II B models, so we think this one is from 1980 – 83. That said, the tone controls of this amp are so precise you can dial up just about any sound you desire.
It features a big, chunky square back 12” speaker which we think is an EV, but not sure which model. But it sure sounds good. The black tolex is in good condition, as is the grill cloth. Some expected tarnishing of the metal handle ends and corners, but overall this MK IIB presents as a good straight example of a killer 80s Boogie.
Big, open and richly harmonic clean channel, which is the perfect platform for any pedal configuration. Or dial in some sumptuous Boogie crunch or burn via the channel options which are controlled with the original footswitch which is included in the sale.
This amp is in excellent overall condition and is a great example of the American dream amplified, and it will serve a new owner well for years to come.