Pros: Simply the most powerful bad ass guitar amplifier head on the market right now!
Cons: What did you say? Speak louder please? Don?t abuse volume levels or deafness will result.
Are you looking to find everything in one package? Something so versatile that you will not need to add anything else to your rig. Something to practice with, to record with, to jam with friends, for band rehearsals and to gig with? Are you looking to get the last guitar amp that you will ever need and never have to upgrade? If thats what youre looking for than Marshalls Mode Four may very well be the answer to your dreams!
Marshalls Mode Four MF350 guitar amp head mixes tube, solid-state and digital technology, and does so extremely well, demonstrating to the world how well these different technologies can actually work together.
With features like two amps in one, four modes of operation, 350 watts, the solo volume boost and the front-mounted independent FX level controls, Marshalls Mode Four is sure to please most fanatics and will no doubt influence the future designs of guitar amplifiers to come.
Front Panel Attributes:
On the left of the front panel, you'll find one guitar input jack with all the controls for Amp 1: GAIN, BASS, MID, TREBLE, VOLUME, REVERB and the FX level knob to adjust the amount of signal from any external effects unit that will be mixed in with Amp 1's dry signal. There is also illuminated push-buttons to access the CLEAN or CRUNCH modes (or voicing) and Marshall's familiar SCOOP switch which cuts mid-range and emphasizes highs and lows.
In the middle of the front panel, youll find all the MASTER controls that are common to both AMP 1 and 2. The RESONANCE switch affects low end tone. The PRESENCE control adds high frequencies and makes your sound crisper. The TUNER MUTE switch allows for silent tuning when on stage. The SOLO level control allows you to increase volume when performing on stage and one wants to be clearly heard over the entire band. Finally, the MASTER VOLUME control determines the overall volume of the amp. Set the relative volume between AMP 1 and AMP 2 using both individual volume controls, then set MASTER VOLUME for whatever the circumstances require.
On the right side of the panel, youll find that AMP 2 has the exact same controls and grouping as on the left side with an extra TONE MATRIX switch. This latter control affects the mid-range frequencies and offers three very distinct settings for extra versatility. Position 1 produces that woody knock Marshall valve amps are famous for. Position 2 produces a heavier sound with much less woodiness. Position 3 provides the most extreme bottom-end thump that you will find on any Marshall amp. There's a pair of push-buttons for selecting between two amp modes (OD1 and OD2), and you also get the SCOOP switch, which is voiced differently to that of Amp 1. Finally, at the far right youll find the Mode Fours POWER switch. When you power up, allow the pre-amp tubes to warm up for 30 seconds before engaging any sound from the amp.
Rear Panel Attributes:
Moving around to the rear of the amp, the back panel features two speaker outputs. Output number I can handle one 16 ohm cabinet with a minimum power rating of 235 watts. Output number II can handle an 8 ohm half stack with a minimum power rating of 350 watts. When using a full stack, connect two 16 ohm cabinets into outputs I and II.
The locking connector switch is for the supplied six-way footcontroller. The foot-switch allows you to switch between the amps four modes of operation: CLEAN, CRUNCH, OD1, OD2 and to switch both the REVERB and/or the SOLO BOOST On/Off.
There is a TUNER out jack to connect your tuner. Dont forget to engage the front panel MUTE switch for silent tuning. You also have the FX LOOP Send and Return jacks with an FX level switch which is very handy. Set the switch to -10dB when using stomp boxes or other effects pedals. Rack devices require +4dB setting.
Another very handy little feature of the Mode Four is that it is equipped with a LOAD PROTECTION circuit. This could potentially save you a lot of money. If, for instance, you accidentally connect a 4 ohm cab or any other mismatched load to speaker output I or II, the load protection active led will illuminate and you will not have any sound. When this happens, check to make sure your cabinet is connected to the right speaker output switch.
The Mode Four also boasts an XLR and EMULATED LINE OUTPUT jack. No need to mic this amp on stage, just use an XLR cable to go from your XLR connection direct to a mixer and voila, you also have the sound of your amp coming out of the PA system. Silent recording is also possible, just turn the MASTER volume control all the way down. :)
Suggested manufacture settings are an excellent starting point to get an overall feel for the amp. The headroom on the CLEAN mode is fucking way out there. Ive never experienced anything like it. Amp 1 has that Super Lead Plexi flavor and at higher GAIN settings it moves into JCM800's legendary hard rock territory, with a lot more GAIN levels than any of those original models ever had. In my view, the CRUNCH channel was enough for me to want to lay my money down. lol
But then I tested Amp 2, and found that OD1 had sounds and tone to die for, while OD2 is for players with de-tuned guitars looking for that deep modern very low-end sound.
In view that the GAIN control is shared by both the CLEAN/CRUNCH modes on AMP 1, finding the sweet spot in order to avoid unequal volume levels when switching between both modes of operation was easy. Set GAIN level somewhere between 4 and 7.5, and youll find it much easier to set and regulate relative volume controls between these two modes of operation.
One of the most useful and intelligent features of the Mode Four is the FX level control dial on the front panel. I placed my daughters Yamaha Stomp Box (using it as an FX unit only) into the FX Loop and was able to dial the right blend of delay and chorus for each Amp without having to look around the amp for a knob. Nice, very nice!
Much experimentation with Amp 1's GAIN and SCOOPED settings is required to fully appreciate the CLEAN and CRUNCH modes of operation. Dont forget the RESONANCE and PRESENCE control knobs in the Master Section as well. All have a profound effect on your sound.
Further experimentation is required on Amp 2. Here, not only do you have the GAIN control to figure all out but the TONE MATRIX control just adds so much variety that spending anything less than a month and I'm afraid you would only have scratched the surface of the many possibilities in sounds and tone. You also have the SCOOPED switch to worry about and dont forget to fiddle with the RESONANCE and PRESENCE controls.
This box weighs a little less than 40 lbs but don't let that fool you. The MF350 is one truly massive amp to take home. You also need to get a suitable 8 ohm or 16 ohm extension cabinet for this monster. This head is for the gigging guitarist only. Im not kidding!