Friday, November 7, 2014

Ibanez & Kaoss Unite – Mesa Unveils Mark Five: 25

Written by: Jimmy McQuade

Date: October 10th, 2014

In recent guitar news, Ibanez has unveiled two intriguing additions to the RG line: a guitar and bass equipped with the Korg Mini Kaoss Pad 2S.

The RGKP6 and the SRKP4 are rather barebones interpretations of Ibanez’s iconic RG design (you know, the Stratocaster’s shape with slightly sharper edges). The bodies are mahogany, finished in an unassuming Cosmo Black; the fretboard, rosewood with white-dot inlays; and the pickup is a single passive, ceramic IBZ-KP at the bridge. But what these guitars lack in aesthetic flamboyance, they most surely make up for with the built-in Mini Kaoss Pad. Nestled in a pre-routed mount just below the bridge and pickup, the Kaoss Pad delivers “100 ‘dynamic’ effects including filters, modulation, LFO-based effects, delays, reverb, looper, vocoder and synth effects, all of which are controlled by the pad’s touchscreen ribbon controller,” according to an article on the Music Radar site.

The commercials for both the RGKP6 and SRKP4, which you can watch here and here, demonstrate many of the Kaoss Pad’s capabilities, which range from your traditional Wah-Wah sound to weird glitchy murmurs; needless to say, you could get pretty far-out with these two guitars in terms of sheer variety of sonic textures, which is never a bad thing. Though, as a bass player, I wonder how much low-end rumble is lost, if any, when the Kaoss Pad is engaged on the SRKP4?

But I don’t want to dwell too long on the Kaoss Pad, because both guitar and bass are built with an internal distortion circuit, which can be switched on with or without the Kaoss Pad and adjusted with the its own set of tone and gain knobs. Anyway, for additional specs, take a look here.

In recent amp news, Mesa Boogie has unveiled the Mark Five: Twenty-Five, not only a miniature version of the Mark Series amplifier but also a sort of amalgam of the previous Mark Series designs, especially the Mark II-C+ and Mark Five; or, as the Mesa Boogie site has it, “the embodiment of the last 45 years of guitar amp evolution.”

For an excellent summary of the impetus for the development of the Mark Five: Twenty-Five, here’s an except from a Premier Guitar article on Mesa Boogie’s new micro amp:

“During years of development, Mesa’s team looked back to the wellspring of past Mark amps for inspiration on the new Mark Five: 25. Revisiting the coveted Mark II-C+ and comparing the vintage icons to the production 6L6 powered Mark Five, which many believe is the brand’s best work to date paying tribute to the II-Cs, the team confirmed that many of the Mark Five modes absolutely had to be included in the new mini package. The key requirement being that, in the end, the new Mark must truly sound on par with or even better than the original II-C+. Given this challenge they set out to find a layout that would accommodate 6 incredible modes in a sub-compact chassis size. Mesa’s research overwhelmingly confirmed that players preferred two, and only two, preamp channels for a tiny Mark amp. With pedals now offering such a personalized, quick-change approach to getting different sounds, Mesa set to work defining the Five: 25’s two channels. Mesa claims the result is a collection that includes the very best of the Mark IIC+ and the Mark Five in a package that many will find unbelievably powerful and versatile for its size.”

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