Video: John Petrucci ~ Mark V ~ Settings and Tone Tips

by Tim McKee on December 9, 2010

in Interviews, Mesa Boogie Artists, Mesa Tones & Tips

John Petrucci with rock engaged and the Mark V 'Cloud Rig'

John Petrucci with rock engaged and the Mark V 'Cloud Rig' on the Black Clouds and Silver Linings Tour 2010 (click to enlarge)

Wouldn’t it be amazing if John Petrucci sat down and plugged straight into a Mark V to demonstrate how he gets his sound?  Well, we thought so too!

The following video was shot in June 2010 with Dream Theater in support of their latest album Black Clouds and Silver Linings.  He came to the one-and-only Mesa/Boogie factory in Petaluma, California on his day off to crank out some tones.  Part One focuses on John’s philosophy on getting his clean sound in channel 1 as well as some crunch rhythm sounds in Channel 2.  Part Two gets deep with his Channel 3 high gain settings and the power of the Graphic EQ.

The video and audio was recorded with John’s Music Man JP6 model guitar plugged directly into his Mark V head (stock Mark V with 6L6s) and a Rectifier Standard Slant cabinet which was live in the room with us for the shoot.  It was close mic’d with a Shure SM57 on the 8 ohm Vintage 30 speaker of the Recto cab.  A Royer 121 was also used a couple feet back to capture a little more space.  From there it went straight into our video recording rig.

What I really love about this video is how it captures the essence of John’s personality in this setting.  We are all players here at Mesa and find it completely mind boggling how precise and consistent John is as a guitar player as you will see in his playing examples.

For more detailed info on the Mark V, check out the product page for the full specs rundown.

And for details on the latest happenings in the John Petrucci and Dream Theater world, check out or


{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul December 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm

There’s no way he gets that much gain in CH 3. Are you saying there isn’t a single pedal (overdrive) between that guitar and the amp input? My Mark V absolutely must have an OD pedal up front to get that much compression and overall gain. Come on guys, it’s ok to tell the truth! I love my amp, but it’s the OD pedal in front of it that really squeezes out the tone.


Boogie Boogie December 19, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Hi Paul –

Thanks for the comment and the kind words.

It would be dishonest of Mesa to create/showcase tones that individuals like yourself and the thousands of other Mark V owners and fans seek and not show people how. It’s just NOT what we do…

As many people are aware, tone lies, first and foremost, in the players hands.I would suggest that this is a lot of what you hear. Next, if you consider how well developed John Petrucci’s playing is, it might be easy for you to connect the first statement to JP and the overall tone. Finally, if you consider his guitar and pickup selections in addition to all the other stuff we’ve mentioned, this also has a significant effect on what we’re talking about.

All that said, if it takes a OD pedal in the front of the amp for you to get (or get close to) this tone, SWEET! I say that’s all good. As for the rest of it, it’s definitely JP, his guitar and the amp/cab. The man’s a guitar hero (and the amp ain’t half bad either).

Hope this helps!



Paul December 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

You guys are impressive, that was an insanely fast reply! Thanks. This said, that bit about telling the truth was just to give you a little ribbing. Based on the setting he had on that amp on CH3, the channel master being at 11 oclock, and the main at about 10 oclock, it would be quite loud going through a 4×12 that close to his playing position.

Being a musician for a living, I figured he must value his hearing. So, to get that tone at a low volume, he’d either have to be in 10W mode, or pushing an OD pedal up front. However, if you saying that rig was playing at the volume indicated on the controls, right next to him, then he really needs to start wearing ear plugs! :)

Thanks again for your reply, and for making fantastic amps!


Sary December 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Amazing tone, amazing player and amazing company. Sometimes it happens that a manufacturer gets a model (or two) right. But in between rectos, marks (including the TA), lonestars, RA, stiletto etc.. it isn’t just a moment of inspiration or luck. That is without mentioning the cabinets that are just voiced so much better then most other cabs, and the bass amps/cabs that are amazing as well. Thank you!!!

Speaking of cabs i wouldve expected to see JP using the stiletto that he likes so much. Personally i love that cab with the mark V (that is what i use most of the times) though i can’t imagine not using a recto cab for more agressive/modern tones.. (mark V channel 3 as well and dual rectifier!)

A question i had: i have been considering getting myself a ribbon mic and the royer is recommended by many (though i hear some other brands are good too) so i might pick that one up but what i was wondering is; did you have to phase align the two tracks manually since the royer was further away? or did you experiment with the distance until they both sounded good? and how much of that mic was used in respect to the 57?

Also what did you guys do to the tone before he played pull me under?! that one sounded phat lol! (they were all amazing tones though depending on what you are playing)

Anyway congrats on your new pedal line!! (looking for wallet..)


George June 5, 2012 at 6:26 am

Borrowed a friend’s MV while he was on vacation and while I absolutely love my MIII, the MV has become my mistress. Picking one up for myself by week’s end… Thank you Mesa for the tones!


Boogie Boogie June 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Thank you, George. Glad you’re digging it and we appreciate the kind words! Rock on…



Gtr April 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I had a Lonestar for a while and I decided to get a Mark V …I got a 1×12 combo in a custom built Orange Bronco color and love it. I think the Lonestar cleans are a bot more creamy and basey…however I am yet to dial all the tones. I have spent just a day with it so far…normally dont write reviews but this one deserves it. The flexibility and tonal possibilities are really endless…I did some of the Petrucci settings sounds identical and wonderful.

DOnt regret plonking down hard earned cash. I figured if this is my primary past time, I just wanted the best. Have been searching for it and this is it.

Finally for those with any Hum problems with the amp …the mesa engineers were super helpful. AMong other things noted elsewhere on other sites. I wd suggest, get rid of CFL bulbs and go back to the good old energy inefficient Incandescents….especially if you have good guitars…with great pickups….they catch everything.,…and the amp faithfully amplifies it…lol. This affected my Lonestar and the Mark V even clean channels, 9-12 gain even)…after the bulb change…boom gone….no more hum. Just my 2 cents.

Overall I wd recommend it…Eat peanut butter sandwich for 2 months, save it and hand it to mesa…it is a worthy trade….lol


Boogie Boogie April 30, 2012 at 11:51 am

Hey Gtr –

Thanks for the amazing comment. Glad you’re experiencing exactly what Mesa and Randall had in mind throughout the design process of this amazing amp. It’s got sounds it’ll deliver for the next decade (or two).

Thanks for taking the time to share!



Cjklife March 6, 2012 at 9:46 am

49 yr old been playing since I was 12. Starting teaching at 16. Career engineer. Played through A LOT of equipment (amps, pedals galore) and guitars over the life time (Les Pauls and Strats mostly). Mark V – OMG! Amazing amp. Added a Gibson ES339 to it and that completes the dream! Enjoy and live!


Boogie Boogie March 8, 2012 at 11:37 am

Thanks for the kind words, CJ. ES339 is a sweet geet and that setup likely sounds amazing! ;)


rog_s September 2, 2011 at 10:38 pm

I got a DC-5 head and Recto 2×12 cab 15 years ago. Spent the first 10+ years being completely satisfied and astounded at how good it sounded with the two primary settings I had come up with for “my tone”…barely touched the knobs as I was continually floored with how awesome it sounded. Over the past few years I’ve been playing with the settings more (as I’ve learned there’s much more to explore) and the DC-5 continues to deliver. I told myself way back when I bought it that I’d probably never need to buy another amp. I didn’t know 1/10 of what I know about amps/tone back then yet the statement still holds true.


Joseph September 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I agree. I have had my DC-5 since I was eighteen (now 28). I almost sold it for sheer ignorance of how to truly use it. I am glad I didn’t. The cab I always used with it had the wrong ohm speakers in it and never sounded right. After a simple replacement, I kicked myself for so many wasted years of being ignorant of the beauty that this amp can deliver.
Enjoy it. Everyday.


Stevie Savage January 26, 2012 at 11:54 am

hey Rog_S, I’ve owned a DC-5 1×12 combo for over a year now and have considered selling it, but have read so much about how great it CAN sound that I decided to keep it and persevere. The thing is, no matter what I do it doesn’t seem to deliver the great tones promised, instead it sounds sort of nasal and lacking in depth. I wonder if it is a shortcoming of the driver and if it would come alive through a bigger extension cab.
But any tips you can offer me would be very helpful and I so want it to sound as good as I know it can, but I’m just not connecting with it yet, and maybe I don’t yet understand it properly!



tcm2000 May 25, 2011 at 1:16 am



Dallas May 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

Well, I used to own a Mark IV. I own a 5:50 express, an Impulse walk-about, and an Impulse Venture. I guess you can say that I like Mesa Amps. I sawy John with Mike at Daddy’s in Albany and the Amp setup with TriAxis was cool then. I am saving up for the MKV.


Phil Fritschle March 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm

I own a Blue Angel Dual Rectifier; just a simple combo; but what an amp. It is fantastic for all of the local venues. I am hoping to add a Mark V to my equipment eventually. I am at the point of being able to honestly say that I will NOT buy any electric guitar amp other than Mesa!


Scott Perry March 10, 2011 at 3:03 am

I’ve owned just about every Boogie there is, and my main amp has been the Dual Rectifier for many years. About 6 months ago I tried the MK V, and now I’ll never use any other amp! This is the best sounding head I’ve used ,bar none! Thanks Parkway Music, for talking me into branching out, and going with this head! Not only are your tone choices endless, it’s caused me to play differently, and take chances during a gig I would’ve never thought attempting. This amp also forces you to clean-up your playing, instead of hiding behind the gain of the amp!!!


Scott Perry March 14, 2011 at 6:09 am

I personally have to say I’ve never owned a Blue Angel, but I have a friend who’s played in many high-profile gigs, that I’ve had the pleasure of rippin’ through it a time or two. GREAT UNIT!!! But, I still recommend the the MK V. It’s great for any application! I stand by ANY MESA product I’ve ever owned, and now, the MK V is my amp of choice, bar-none!!!


Carlos F. MC March 9, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I’ve always felt curious about this brand whose name has this sort of “mythological” air around it down here in Mexico. Even though I don’t have the access (if any) I’d love to have to your products, I’ve come to learn enough about you to distinguish Mesa as an outstanding company. This kind of material does nothing but nourish the sense of respect (worldwide) towards you.

Congratulations Mesa!


Rob Falconer February 12, 2011 at 1:16 am

Thanks John,

And Mesa.
I don’t own a Mesa, but i luv them & your tone.
I kind of applied your clean setting idea’s to my own amp
& viola – wow perfect.
A guitarist at our church has a Dual Rectifier,
it sounds awesome.
Your tone is always clear & full,
Form images & words till now.
Thanks for sharing your tips with us.


ginsu February 11, 2011 at 11:34 am

I,m relitivly new to the Mesa family, after purchasing a stereo 20/20 ( a little over a year ago) as a tone buffer for my Boss Pro GT, (set on the Rectifier modern one pre amp stage) I was hooked, I mean completely and totaly blown away by the tone, I’ve been playing the same instrument for twenty plus years and all I can say is, shes never sounded so damn good. Anyway about three months later I went out and purchased the real deal, after taking a Roadking, a Mark V, a duel and a triple Rectifier for a test ride, as well as a couple different Peaveys, Randalls, Engls, and two or three other manufacuers, I chose the Roadster head, because of the versitility and the overall tone of the amp on every channel. Simply put, this head has everything I could ask for in a amp, clean, dirty, filthy, its all there. I know this comment section is supposed to be about Mark V, but I simply couldent resist the oppertunity to discuss what I believe to be the finest amp in your fleet, the Roadster.


Steve February 9, 2011 at 3:48 am

Thank you Mesa and thank you John. I managed to discover the best clean sound I have ever had by messing around with channel one on my new Mark V. Now with the help of John I have the best lead sound I have ever heard, period. Although it sound nothing like John as I am using the 1×12 combo, it is a superb sound for my needs and it works with both my Strats and my Les Paul. Excellent work guys and Mesa, thank you for making such a killer amp.


Trevor Collacott February 5, 2011 at 1:56 pm

I am the proud owner of a Mark V that John used for a clinic he did in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). He not only played through it, he was gracious enough to sign it as well.
Thank you John, and thank you Mesa!! I am honored to finally be a part of your very special family!!!


Nathan January 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

John – Thanks for your insights about the Mark V! I am a huge fan!

Mesa – I’ve owned and loved your amplifiers for about 20 years now. I have what I believe to be one of the first 100 (MKVooo88) Mark V’s, which I ordered before they were available (total confidence!). I love this amp! I don’t really know what else to say that hasn’t been said many times before.

I have the 1/12 combo with the 1/12 closed back/ported front cabinet. It’s everything that I want in an amplifier! THANKS!!!!!


yaseen January 1, 2011 at 11:49 am

awsome review John :)
i live in india .. it feels so sad that mesa engineering don’t have a dealer here :(


Ahmad December 31, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Thanks for how much you care about making sure people can get the most out of their amps. The Stiletto manual has lots of super helpful tips, and the Timmons video also has great ways to use the amp’s features, now this for the Mk. V.


joe December 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm

these are absolutely great videos from john,thanks mesa and john for making them,for 9 or 10 years now ive been playing through a class 2:90 and a triaxis with a straight slant recto cab,sounds incredible of course.
but i must say that i may tryout the mark v head.i love the tone that john was demostrating and i use the same pickups as well..i was also wondering why john switched from his old 2:90 rigs,,,but these amps sound awesome so i can hear why…thanks mesa for building such wonderful products..also the production on the videos is great too
i was able to hear all the great bottom end i love to get out of my gear as well


joe December 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

i wrote the comment above two years ago,,im happy to say that today
i got a markV combo finally,,,so far the amp sounds amazing,,i did’nt even get into the heavy stuff yet,that will come soon…and i will be hooking this up to my recto cab..
tweaking wil be a lot fun..i still love my 2;90 rig,but im sure i will
make this combo sing..john and dream theater has been a big influence on my music along with many others…..thanks mesa for another superb amp..


HANK December 22, 2010 at 8:35 am

With out a Doubt the most complete AMP on the Market to Date.


Jeff Wasserman December 21, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Petrucci is an inspiration. It was his experience with Mesa Boogie that led me to “have to have” the Mk V. I have had mine for a little over a year now and am discovering it’s new wonders every day.

It never occurred to me to turn off the EQ on Channel 1, but having heard this video, I can’t wait to go into my study and give it a try!

John Petrucci–a wonderful musician!
Mesa Boogie Mk V–a wonderful musical instrument!


MKJ December 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

This JP’s sound has always been so well mixed of punch, clarity and tone. I really like this video because it shows the sound settings. All other and final sounds comes from the Master himself John and his touch picking strings.

Nice video John and thanks for Mesa boys for building best Amps!!! =)


Simon December 16, 2010 at 8:17 am

The rig at the start of video one is labelled 1992, but the JPM p2 shown in the background didn’t come out until 95 (see I think that’s his rig for recording FII.


shotgunn October 20, 2011 at 7:15 pm

You’re right. That was in the studio while they were tracking Falling to Infinity. I caught that right away too.


Paul December 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

Awesome tone love it. I’m curious why John has moved from using the road kings to the mark V? Anyone got any ideas?


Boogie December 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Hey Paul –

Glad you liked the video…

Like any artist and musician, John likes to mix things up and different tones inspire different songwriting and riffs. When John went to Roadkings, it was partly to get more into the Recto sound for the album they were working on at the time. He had previously been heavy into Mark series stuff (Mark IIC+ and Mark IV etc…) and he was looking for something new to try. The Roadking just happened to come out with one of the most extensive feature sets of any amp ever made. Cab switching, loop programming, tube selection with Progressive Linkage. What’s not to like, right? And the tones on that album (was it Train of Thought – 2002) reflect that mighty Recto sound!

But – John is in an elite group of people and players on the planet who has almost as much experience with Mark series products as the factory (he certainly owns more vintage Mark IIC+ amps than we do…;).

So after the 18 years the Mark IV was king of the Mark series amps and the Mark V was finally becoming a reality, Mesa looked to John for his take, experience and expertise to help with the concept and the fine tuning of what is now the Mark V.

And just a little while later, we get to watch this video and see some of the insights into a master of guitar and his approach to a milestone in Mesa’s design history with the Mark V. Thanks, John! As always, sounds like a million bucks. Awesome stuff!


shotgunn October 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I think simply because it exists.


Michael December 14, 2010 at 9:14 pm

John Petrucci and his sound is awesome. So is Mesa Boogie. I have owned a Road King, a Express 5×50 combo, the Roadster 2×12 Combo, and now the awesome Mark V 1×12 Combo. The sounds one can get from the Mark V are incredible! The clean channel is pristine, and the two overdrive channels with all the available sounds are unprecedented. All guitar players know if they have a great sound it makes them play better. Mesa Boogie and the Mark V make you play to your full potential. Thanks Mesa Boogie! Great amps, great people, great company.


Cabal December 13, 2010 at 9:25 pm

John just blows me away. Everytime I hear him play. Mesa Boogies do the samething everytime i hear one Im just like (WOW). The Mark V is just killer I cant wait to get my hands one one and add it to my Roadster.


Jason DeRousse December 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

Yes Mr. John Petrucci is a legend in metal/rock guitar’s own rights and bar none at the top of my list as a personal influence. About the Mark V-, seriously can it get any better? I own a Mark IV which I love. Also have owned stereo Dual Recto’s, 45&55 watt Nomad 2×12 combos which I am at home with. Back to the Mark V, I have spent some time playing on one which was the head on a Mesa 4×12. I don’t think I have been able to dial in 3 channels or modes in such a short time that I would of been completely confident to roll with at a gig. These amps are with a simplicity,- intuitive. All the Mark series alone are worth the price. Then you add an awsome clean channel, the modes in channel 2. The Extreme setting on top of the Mark l, llc+ and lV, you have basically the best amp on planet earth. Add your favorite front end effects or put them in the effects loop which i prefer, and you instantly have a proffesional rigg. This is my next purchase from Mesa, my amp company by choice for 20 years. Mesa has just astounded me from the first note I played and heard through thier amps. Yes *****, 5 stars for the Mark V. Keep it up there in Petaluma. Mesa you guys have a player for life with me. Mark V tone-simply awsome!


Mabel December 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

awesome!!….as usual….so perfect sound!!….no matter what kind of equipment you use….love you John!!…XXXX


Mabel December 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm

awesome!!….as usual….so perfect sound!!….no matter what kind of equipment you use….love you John!!…XXXX


james tracy guitar December 10, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Great amp, great tone,
great guitar and the best guitar player to me.
John Petrucci yeah.


Boomer December 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Awesome information John! Thank you for “Taking The Time” to show us guitar players what we love to see. Thank you for your music!!



Felix Uitz December 10, 2010 at 1:48 am

Just perfect – This is just a perfect service innovation from mesa boogie.

For ages guitarists were trying to achive a specific sound mostly coloured by the sounds of their idols.

And now you guys are bringing these idols into my living room

Thank you so much!


Boogie December 13, 2010 at 1:43 am

Thanks, Felix!

It takes time but good stuff when we get it done. Appreciate the comments and the patience.



til December 9, 2010 at 11:44 pm

u forgot, great petrucci ;-)


david December 9, 2010 at 11:20 pm

simply awesome tone!!!


seth December 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm

great tone
great amp


francesco December 10, 2010 at 12:12 am

tons of tones! I use this amp with very different settings and this machine can define you very personal sound is great


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