Marshall Mode Four: Rightfully ignored or Unfairly Overlooked?

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by Clockworkmike, Feb 13, 2020.

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  1. Clockworkmike

    Clockworkmike Active Member

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    Over the years, time has not been too kind to the Mode Four, although it's MF400 cabinets have a surprising fan base. When it debuted, it was pretty well received but within a few years, it found its way in the forgotten pile of Marshall's. Being the owner of one of these and two of the MF400 straight cabinets, I am biased to liking this amp, but I can see where MANY would not like it. Though it is a hybrid technically by having tubes in the preamp section, it IS a solid-state amplifier at the end of the day. (This actually the only solid-state Marshall I own but I can't help but like a lot that it is capable of. I do regret though buying it when it first came out because the price has fallen out DRASTICALLY since its initial run. You can find them used now for about $400 when they were $900 upon release)

    Holding it against an classic tube Marshall is really apples to oranges as it doesn't compare to something the akin to a SLP, 800, 900 or even a DSL. But it definitely stands apart from the Valvestate and MG amplifiers in my opinion. To me, it falls in the middle of both classes. But as I said, it is a very controversial amp it seems among players and other owners, for better or worse.

    What are your thoughts on this particular amplifier?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  2. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    It's the most glorified Valve State ever made.
    Seems to be a pretty good metal amp.

    The industry has attempted to switch musicians to solid state 2-3 times in the last 50 years. But professional musicians by and large won't buy solid state amps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  3. Clockworkmike

    Clockworkmike Active Member

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    I can see the infatuation from modern metal players towards this amp. But personally, I don't use the heavier settings. In it's clean channel, it's probably at it's best because it really is amazingly clear. The channel 2 crunch is pretty fun too . Channel 3 I probably have used a handful of times and channel 4 is a bit way too much, too much low end and not bright enough.

    Ironically, I stick to the 900 SL-X and JCM2000 nowadays, but I do like to play with this as well.
     
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  4. Trelwheen

    Trelwheen Well-Known Member

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    The Mode Four sounds pretty good in the recordings I've come across. Haven't had the opportunity to play one, but I'd like to.

    The MF400 cabs are outstanding. I've got an angled one. Massive thump and clarity. It gets a lot of use here.
     
  5. SkyMonkey

    SkyMonkey Well-Known Member

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    My LGS did have a Mode Four head (and possibly cabs) in a few years ago. I recall it being on the books for several months.
    Orange seem to be at the forefront of hybrid amps at the moment with the 20W Micro Terror & Micro Dark heads.
    I have suggested (tongue in cheek) a revival of Valvestate in the Studio line in some threads.
    But seriously, a modern take on the Valvestate concept could sit very well between DSL and MG.
    I am still impressed with my VS65R.
     
  6. spacerocker

    spacerocker Well-Known Member

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    I find it strange how people consider a hybrid amp, like the Mode 4 and the Valvestate series to be "Solid State", because they don't have a valve power stage!

    Seeing as how >90% of the overdrive comes from the Pre-amp most of the time (particularly for bigger amps), the power amp construction becomes less important - so these amps are what they are - Hybrid amps, NOT solid state amps! An amp with a solid state pre-amp, with a Valve power amp would be more worthy of the "solid state" tag!
     
  7. Matt_Krush

    Matt_Krush Well-Known Member

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    I remember trying out a Mode 4 when they were released.

    I found it to sound exactly like my valvestate 8200, except that the Mode 4 was broken up into 4 chanells, whereasthe clean/crunch is shares and so are the 2 overdrive's on the valvestate.
     
  8. ampmadscientist

    ampmadscientist Well-Known Member

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    It does have a SS preamp and power amp. :lol:
    They threw in a couple 12AX7 tubes. It is for all purposes a SS amp or a hybrid amp.
    It does sound like a chain saw, which I find appealing. Internal digital effects were pretty good.
    The MF 350 was about as loud as a Plexi 100 watt tube amp.
    I had a chance to crank it up. The neighbors were banging on the walls (that means they love it).
    Not bad I thinks.
     
  9. 6550

    6550 Active Member

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    I've had a couple and thought they were ok. Solid-state amplifiers have come a long way ways since the mode 4 came out though. I recently picked up an orange cr120 And it is light years ahead of a mode 4.
     
  10. Drinkingdeath01

    Drinkingdeath01 Well-Known Member

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    I have a MF400 straight cab and it sounds awesome. Love the cabs but never tried the head. I should, I love the first gen Valvestates.
     
  11. JacksonCharvelAddict

    JacksonCharvelAddict Well-Known Member

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    I have nothing against hybrid amps. I have a Peavey Deuce that is a hybrid but it has a solid state pre amp section with an all tube power section. in my opinion this is a better way to do the hybrid thing. The only downside to that is the power amp has the most tubes and they cost more so doing it in the preamp is probably simpler and cheaper. I think the Mode 4 is criminally underrated. If you are after a vintage plexi sound I dont think you would like it. Those metal guys that are looking for a modded 800 or Mesa Boogie type amp will probably be able to get some good tones out of this thing. I do think it is a lot harder to dial in than a lot of amps. I would say it is even harder to learn than the vintage modern. Alex Skolnick loves the Mode 4. I believe he uses the lower gain dirt channel and boosts it to get the tone he likes. The cabs are legendary and I think everyone agrees with that.
     
  12. Clockworkmike

    Clockworkmike Active Member

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    I agree totally with that. It is a very difficult amp to master it's controls and get the sound you want but tweaking around with the knobs, you can find amazing tone and clarity with it. I prefer the channel 2 section probably over any other but when cleaned up, the channel 4 has massive attack. It can be very heavy on the bottom end, but adjusting the tone matrix, scoop and presence will change that entirely
     
  13. Clockworkmike

    Clockworkmike Active Member

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    My favorite memory of this amp was shutting a Marshall naysayer up permanently. I have an older cousin who is an outright miserable prick and snob, who trashed Marshall for YEARS. He outright slammed both my Jcm2000 DSL 50 half stack and JCM900 Sl-x 2500 half stack that I've had since I was a teen ( worked my butt off getting those two doing every miserable job you could imagine). He would talk about how great other amps were and told me until I owned a Roland JC-120, I wouldn't be a real guitar player ( great clean amp but that's it in my opinion).

    So one day, he rented out this auditorium for his son's 16th birthday and had this huge jam session type of thing with all these other guitar players, bassists and drummers. Out of about 12 people, only 3 were genuinely nice and not arrogant. So I accepted his invite, brought the full stack Mode Four with 2 MF400B cabs and plugged in. Not only did it drown every single other amplifier out in the auditorium, it drowned their PA system out as well. First and only time I took it to full 10 and he literally has not spoken to me since. That was about 9 years ago lmao

    Excess is best!
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  14. Lance Chambers

    Lance Chambers Well-Known Member

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    Jeff Hanneman swore by the MF cabs. :shred:
     
  15. Mitchell Pearrow

    Mitchell Pearrow Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    As do many more
    :cool::cheers:
     
  16. MonstersOfTheMidway

    MonstersOfTheMidway Well-Known Member

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    Of the Marshall amps that use a significant amount of solid state technology, I like the Mode 4 head more than the MG and Valvestate heads, but for me the Lead 100 MOSFET model #3210 is tuned more to my liking than the Mode 4; even the JMD:1 series is a little closer to what I like to hear from a Marshall than the MODE 4 head, but the MODE 4 head is still very useful. All in all, a proper functioning MODE 4 is always worthy my time and attention.

    But I do say that I'm a huge fan of the MODE 4 cabinets more than the MODE 4 heads. The MODE 4 cabinets are very powerful yet produce a good balance of low, mid, and high tones; these cabinets sound great with a variety of amp heads from Marshall as well as other amplifier manufacturers.
     
  17. spacerocker

    spacerocker Well-Known Member

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    I don't know the circuit....but if the two valves are producing most of the overdrive (which is most likely the case) - then it's more "Valve" than "Solid State" isn't it? As you say in reality it is actually a Hybrid amplifier - but I think it is misleading to call it "Solid State".....
     
  18. JacksonCharvelAddict

    JacksonCharvelAddict Well-Known Member

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    I remember hearing some debate about the Valvestates being Solid state and not a true hybrid but I don't recall anyone saying that about the mode 4. I know the valvestate won't function without that pre-amp tube and they start to sound bad if the tube is bad so I would wager it's a true hybrid.
     
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  19. spacerocker

    spacerocker Well-Known Member

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    I know my little AVT20 Valvestate amp that I use as a practice amp gets most of it's overdrive from the single Valve, but it also uses diode clipping SHOCK! - I used to be a bit snobby about DC until I realised this - as it is actually a cracking little amp, and gets some great tones through the an external 4x12 cab!
     
  20. JacksonCharvelAddict

    JacksonCharvelAddict Well-Known Member

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    I think the AVT is a killer amp. Paired with the right speaker I find them to be very capable.
     
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