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Metallica's James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett, John Petrucci and more on why they love Mesa/Boogie’s Mark II amps

Mesa Boogie has been producing a series of short videos detailing its guitar amp history in celebration of its 50th anniversary, featuring Boogie founder and president Randall Smith, and a host of famous names.

In the new second installment, Smith traces the design and evolution of the company’s Mark II series of amps.

“I kept trying to perfect it. That’s what I‘ve been doing all along, trying to answer the needs of players that I hear,” Smith says in the video. “One of them was ‘How about an effects loop? How about some way to insert your outboard effects in the midst of the signal path?’ ”

This resulted in the Mark IIA, IIB, and IIC amps, the last of which, Smith says, “was particularly voiced to sound heavier and more menacing and just ‘more.’ ”

Among the many advocates of the Mark IIC and IIC+ is Metallica’s James Hetfield, who says in the video, “Everyone was after, and especially me, that ultimate crunch sound. Percussive tight and in your face. And there weren’t any options back then. You’d have your Marshalls and if you had the money you could get them modded and all of that crazy stuff, or you had a distortion pedal.

“Someone said to me, ‘You oughta check out Boogie.’ They plugged me into a Mark IIC+ and I instantly knew that it was what I was looking for. It was closer than any other thing.”

Other Mesa artists testifying in the video include John Petrucci, Al Di Meola, Walter Trout and Hetfield’s co-guitarist in Metallica, Kirk Hammett.

“I remember seeing my first Boogie and seeing the basket weave front and thinking, Wait a second – this is a small amp,” Hammett says. “I had a vision of it being much bigger in my mind. I remember plugging it into it the first time and hearing how loud it was and how full it was and thinking, 'Wow!'”

Added Petrucci, “The amplifiers have become a part of our musical culture.”

For more information, head to Mesa/Boogie (opens in new tab).

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Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.