Marshall Amps: Play What The Pros Play
Marshall amps are one of the most iconic brands in the world. When you think of rock and roll, you’ll probably imagine a wall of Marshall stacks, and you’d be right to. Since the 1960s, Marshall Amplification has become synonymous with the development of rock and blues music. Starting up in the early 1960s, Jim Marshall listened to the needs of guitarists of that era (Pete Townshend and Ritchie Blackmore being just two names) and designed amps that fulfilled these needs. The 60s was a decade in which guitarists wanted more out of their amps; more volume, more crunch, more of a visual impact on stage and Marshall amps gave them that. Since then, an enormous array of bands and artists have used Marshall amps for both sudio and live use. Some of these include Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Slash, Eric Clapton, Graham Coxon, Zakk Wylde, Angus Young, Joe Perry, Simon Neil, Joe Trohman, Noel Gallagher, Lzzy Hale, Sid Glover, Joe Bonamassa, Jeff Beck…. the list is pretty much endless.
So we know that Marshall amps are widely used by a whole bunch of pros, but which amps do they use and which one is right for you? This article aims to cover some of the more higher end Marshalls and outline what they’re good for. Many of these will be the actual amps that you see on the biggest stages in music. All the amps the following series are valve amps, which are widely viewed as a must have for those wanting a warm, dynamic and natural sounding guitar tone. These Marshall amps cover the whole musical spectrum, so whether you’re playing blues, metal, country, rock, or whatever, you’ll be able to find the sound that you’ve heard on so many of your favourite records!
These are really good amps; they’re amazingly versatile with fantastic clean tones, a nice subtle crunch and powerful, beefy high gain sounds. The JVMs cover a lot of ground, if you want an amp that approaches JCM800 territory, but that also has the ability to nail some super high gain sounds, as well as sparkling cleans, then a Marshall JVM might be the one for you. They’re made with the modern player in mind too, with features such as silent recording, allowing you to record directly out of the amp without having to make any noise. All channels on the Marshall JVM amps have three different modes, each with a different gain structure. What this does is essentially turn your two or four channel amp into a six or twelve channel amp, respectively, giving you ultimate versatility. Also supplied with the amps are programmable footswitches that mean you can recall your favourite settings in an instant.
The JVM series gives you the classic Marshall amp sound, plus much more. The fantastic crunch sound alongside the superb high gain settings render the JVM series particularly good for rock and metal players, but the clean channel is really nice too so whatever your style of playing, I’m sure you’ll find something here!
Bands and artists that have used the Marshall JVM series include Joe Satriani, Jon Bon Jovi, Alice Cooper, Children Of Bodum, John 5, Arch Enemy and Dave Mustaine.
JVM210H – 100 watt head, two channels, three modes per channel, two independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM215C – 50 watt combo, 1 x 12″ Celestion G12B, two channels, three modes per channel, two independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM205C – 50 watt combo, 1 x 12″ Celestion Vintage 30, 1 x 12″ Celestion Heritage, two channels, three modes per channel, two independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM410H – 100 watt head, four channels, three modes per channel, four independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM210C – 100 watt combo, 1 x 12″ Celestion Vintage 30, 1 x Celestion Heritage, two channels, three modes per channel, two independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM Joe Satriani Signature 410H – 100 watt artist signature head, four channels, three modes per channel, four independent noise gates, footswitchable mid-shift, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp)
JVM410C – 100 watt combo, 1 x 12″ Celestion Vintage 30 & 1 x 12″ Celestion Heritage, four channels, three modes per channel, four independent reverbs, 4 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83 , 4 x EL34 (power amp)
Cab wise, take a look at the Marshall 1960A and 1960B, or for something a bit smaller, the 1922 and 1936 cabs. Fancy some different speaker? Check out the 1960AV and 1960BV.
As the name suggests, these are brand new remakes of some of the most popular old Marshall amps. That guitar tone you’ve heard on those classic AC/DC, Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Hendrix and Cream albums (amongst many more) was created by a Marshall very similar to some of these. A lot of people say that the old Marshall amps are the best, and there’s certainly an element of truth in that; they do sound incredible, however, given that the originals are now rare collectables, they’re simply unaffordable for most of us. That’s where the Vintage Reissue comes in; you can get that classic Marshall sound and look without having to rob a bank to make it possible.
The Vintage Reissue series covers everything from the really early plexi style Marshalls like the JTM45, through to more modern classics such as the Silver Jubilee and the JCM800. Whereas other Marshalls like those in the JVM series cover a lot of ground i.e. clean all the way up to high gain, the amps in the Vintage Reissue series don’t do quite as much in terms of versatility, but what they do do is absolutely incredible. Like, insanely good. The old Marshalls have the best classic rock crunch sound you’ll hear so if you’re playing classic rock or blues, there’s no way you won’t find something within the Marshall Vintage Reissue series!
These Marshalls are the amps that countless professional musicians have used and continue to use on stage and in the studio; the Bluesbreaker is the amp that Clapton used in the 60s, the JCM800 is one of the most highly regarded rock amps of all time, used by the likes of Slash, Iron Maiden, Tom Morello and hundreds more, and the 1959SLP, played by the likes of Angus Young, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen etc., is basically the amp that gave rise to the now incredibly iconic Marshall stack. Dozens of amps have tried to replicate the classic Marshall sound and in all honesty, some have come pretty close, but there’s no substitution for the real thing. The Marshall Vintage Reissue Series IS the real thing, and now it’s affordable. They’re not cheap, granted, but they shouldn’t be, they’re extremely well made right here in the UK, they’re made to the same specs as the much sought after originals, and come on, these are the amps that shaped the sound of rock and roll!
JCM900 (4100) – 100 watt head, two channels, two master volumes, two reverbs, FX loop, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x 5881 (power amp)
JTM45 (2245) – 30 watt head, two channels, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x 5881 (power amp), GZ34 rectifier, reissue of the first ever Marshall amp
Silver Jubilee (2555X) – 100 watt head, two channels, master volume, three gain ‘modes’, power halving Pentode/Triode switch, 3 x ECC83 (pre amp), 4 x EL34 (power amp) – Pair with the matching 2551A cab
1987X – 50 watt head, two channels, FX loop, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL34 (power amp)
1962 Bluesbreaker – 30 watt combo, 2 x 12″ Celestion T1221 Greenback, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x 5881 (power amp), GZ34 rectifier
JCM800 (2203) – 100 watt head, one channel, master volume, FX loop, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp)
1959SLP – 100 watt head, two channels, FX loop, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp), the ultimate classic rock amp
Now for one of these heads, you need a cab that does it justice; there’s little point in getting a great amplifier head, only to hear it played through sub par speakers.
The Marshall 1960A and 1960B are great places to start, or if you want something a bit more portable, the 1936 or 1936V 2x12s.
The Marshall 1960AX is loaded with G12M-25 Greenbacks and sports a classic 70s style grill cloth.
The 1960AV and 1960BV though a little more expensive, boast Celestion G12 Vintage speakers and give a warmer sound and a smoother high end response.
For that truly classic look, check out the Original Tall 1960TV cab.
Marshall Handwired Series
This is the best of the best. The creme de la creme as it were. This goes one up from the lucious Vintage Reissue series. The Marshall Handwired amps are made with as many of the exact same materials as is possible, and the same methods and techniques that produced the original Marshall amps. Whilst there’s a lot of debate over whether handwired makes any difference to the sound or not, there’s no doubt that it makes the amp a lot more authentic and true to the original specifications of those oh-so-desirable early Marshalls. A lot of attention to detail goes into the Handwired series; both in terms of quality and authenticity. These handwired Marshall amps are certainly something to aspire to; they’re some of the finest amplifiers on the market and represent quality and class. They’re not just for collectors and gear connoisseurs, they’re for the player who has grown up listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck amongst others and has always dreamed of that sound. The Marshall Handwired Series allows you to join the upper echelons of rock and blues with exact remakes of some of the most desirable amps ever made!
2061X – 20 watt head, reissue of the famous Lead and Bass head, two channels, 1 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL84 (power amp). Match this head perfectly with the 2061CX cab
1974X – 18 watt combo, 1 x 12″ Celestion G12M, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL84 (power amp), EZ81 rectifier. If you want to add a matched extension cab then check out the 1974CX
1958X – 18 watt combo, 2 x 10″ Celestion G10F-15, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL84 (power amp), EZ81 rectifier
1959HW – 100 watt head, two channels, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 4 x EL34 (power amp)
1973X – 18 watt combo, 2 x 12″ Celestion G12M-20, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 2 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x EL84 (power amp), EZ81 rectifier
JTM45 (2245THW) – 30 watt head, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 3 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x KT66 (power amp), GZ34 rectifier
1962HW (Handwired Bluesbreaker) – 30 watt combo, 2 x 12″ Celestion G12C Greenback, two channels, valve driven tremolo, 3 x ECC83 (pre amp), 1 x ECC83, 2 x KT66 (power amp), GZ34 valve rectifier.
If you’re going for a Handwired head, it makes sense to match your cab – 1960AHW and 1960BHW.
If you choose any one of these Marshall amps, you’re not only getting something of fantastic quality, you’re getting a product stooped in history and heritage. So many people have chosen Marshall over the years and it’s easy to see (or hear) why. Whether it’s crisp, shimmering cleans, classic rock crunch or high gain saturation you want, there will be something for you within the above amps. This is professional grade gear and although it might not be cheap at first glance, it’s not bank breaking either. Plus when you look at a list of artists using these amps, it becomes very clear that this is the real deal. These are classic Marshall amps that have voiced some of your favourite licks and riffs over the past 50 years and they sound just as good as ever.