Price paid: $ 800
Purchased from: Soon to be major retailers
Features: To start things off this will be a different sort of review considering this is more of an overview of what I got to interact with at NAMM 2012 at the Marshall booth. These are the 50th anniversary amps, all 1 watt amps available in either a head or combo unit and one being released of each of the last five decades. They will be released in 10-11 week intervals going in order of decades (60's then 70's and so on).
Here are the amps you can expect to be released in 2012:
- 1960's JTM 1
- 1970's JMP 1
- 1980's JCM 1
- 1990's DSL 1
- 2000's JVM 1
All of these will be available in a head or combo unit. All of the combo units will come equipped with a 10" speaker except for the DSL and JVM version which will be equipped with 8" speakers. All of the features on these amps are what you would except for the time period. It is very interesting to see them all in a sequential line to see how the company evolved over the last 50 years. Being a Marshall nut myself I was blown away by their attention to detail in these amps. Every detail you would expect to be period correct is. The grill cloth, Marshall Plaque, placement of the knobs & input jack, and the "ON" light are all as they should. // 9
Sound: Literally blown away! I rarely give anything a sound rating of 10 but all of these amps earned it. All of these amps were tested as the head unit going into a 4x12 Marshall cab (speakers varied depending on the period. The first three amps really made the biggest impression on me. There were a couple of factors making this so, 1 watt going through a 4x12 cab is loud and awesome and Chris from Marshall was playing for us. It is always nice to have a professional musician who speaks for the company give you a rundown of their new line.
I have a HW 2061X and a 1962 Bluesbreaker RI (JTM45) at home and really love the early sound of Marshall. The 1960's JTM 1 really paid a great homage to the Bluesbreaker/JTM45 sound. It had a great growl but was still able to retain that Marshall "clean". Chris was playing through his Gibson Les Paul Standard. He was really channeling some early Zeppelin, Hendrix, and ZZ Top tones through the JTM.
When he plugged into the 1970's JMP 1 you instantly heard the addition of gain in the circuitry. This was starting to get much more like an AC/DC and Black Sabbath sound; the mid to late 1970's hard rock. The amps were being pushed and it is such a great sound to hear an efficient tube amp being driven.
Everything changed when Chris plugged in to the 1980's JCM 1. After riffing out for about a minute on this amp he addressed the eight of us in the room and said "It only took us 30 years but you can finally play a JCM 800 in your bedroom." We all had a good laugh out of that but it was back to riffing. This was a record quality kind of sound coming out of this amp, completely channeling Slash's Guns N' Roses tone. Hitting it to a tee along with other 80's rock sounds you would have come to expect made famous by the JCM 800.
All of the amps really sounded amazing. You could easily gig with any of the amps. All that is needed to do so is a microphone on the cab plugged into the PA and you will get any tone you want with minimal head trauma. The other amps sounded great as well but the first three essentially covered most of the sounds we have come to know in the Marshall Rock era. // 10
Reliability & Durability: Even those these are little 1 watt amps all of these amps are being made in the UK. They are going to be made right next to the reproduction JTM 45's, the 1959SLP's and so forth. With that being said and the fact that this is a pretty special year it seems as if Marshall will have a very keen eye on the production of this product. With this nearly being a collector's piece you can play I believe that all of these will be built to the same standards as the top of the line, most revered Marshall Amps. Until are all released and we actually find out they will have to stay at a hypothetical 7. // 7
Overall Impression: Overall I could not think of anything better to do for Marshall's 50th year making amps. I think they hit the nail on the head on this one with these five amps. In addition to the amps mentioned in this article they are also releasing a 50th anniversary 1962 Bluesbreaker and a collaboration with Gibson for a 50th anniversary Marshall Gibson Les Paul, and finally if you are a lucky one you can get a commemorative 50th anniversary Marshall Scotch.
If I had the cash or a studio I would have all of the one watt heads in my possession. Low wattage amps really seems to be the way of the future, especially with the increased efficiency of PA's and people being able to make professional level recording in their bedrooms. Many will gripe that $800 is far too much for these amps being only 1 watt, but there are a lot of factors going in to that price. These are all made in England, this isn't a new line or series, these will only be made in 2012 (giving it somewhat of a collector's item feel), and they really do sound great, 1 watt or not. If you have an opportunity I highly encourage you to plug in and just crank one of these. You will not be disappointed, pick an era of Marshall sound you like and go with it. Personally for me I cannot wait for the JCM 1 to come out. I have my early era Marshall sound covered with the Bluesbreaker and the 70's sound covered with the 2061X but a 1980's JCM 800 sound in a 1 watt form would be terrific, take up nearly no space in my cramped music room, and produce a big sound for what it is.
Enjoy your tone and happy pickin'. Feel free to contact me! // 8
Jesse Kleinow aka thejester