#1
Hey all,

So, at some point (probably next year), I'm considering adding another head to my rig, depending on the activity level of my current music project.

I know that I'd love to have a 2203 or 2204 head, but just one problem - They're getting damn hard to find in unmolested shape, for reasonable prices. They seem harder to find for sale in general too, so that probably plays a part in it as well.

Because of this, I'm considering the clone route as a possible option. I would be looking for something that is an exact copy though - Not something built w/cheaper parts (even if it sounds decent). I've heard the Ceriatone stuff is pretty good, but that they don't use quite as high quality of parts as the original 2203/4 amps. I've also looked into Metro amps, but those are rather spendy - more so than the original amps they're cloning.

Curious for more info on these, as well as other options out there. I would absolutely be buying used. Tone is priority #1 here, although I do consider resale value as well (I realize a Marshall is best here, but maybe the other options hold value somewhat well too?)

Also, call me a purist, but I'm looking to stick with an antiquated, single channel, master volume design!

All advice appreciated, in this vintage vs boutique debate!
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#2
Quote by FlightofIcarus
Hey all,

So, at some point (probably next year), I'm considering adding another head to my rig, depending on the activity level of my current music project.

I know that I'd love to have a 2203 or 2204 head, but just one problem - They're getting damn hard to find in unmolested shape, for reasonable prices. They seem harder to find for sale in general too, so that probably plays a part in it as well.

Because of this, I'm considering the clone route as a possible option. I would be looking for something that is an exact copy though - Not something built w/cheaper parts (even if it sounds decent). I've heard the Ceriatone stuff is pretty good, but that they don't use quite as high quality of parts as the original 2203/4 amps. I've also looked into Metro amps, but those are rather spendy - more so than the original amps they're cloning.

Curious for more info on these, as well as other options out there. I would absolutely be buying used. Tone is priority #1 here, although I do consider resale value as well (I realize a Marshall is best here, but maybe the other options hold value somewhat well too?)

Also, call me a purist, but I'm looking to stick with an antiquated, single channel, master volume design!

All advice appreciated, in this vintage vs boutique debate!


So why don't you just buy the board from Ceriatone and then populate it with parts that are 'quality' to you? I mean it will probably be cheaper than a Metro and pretty close aside from the irons.


If you're worried about the amp being correct, why not buy one of those modded JCMs and then just revert them back to stock? At least that way you have an actual Marshall and you don't have to worry about trying to find a guy that wants to buy a clone when you get tired of it.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#3
Harder to find? Where are you located?
Reverb has plenty (~20) 2203 heads right now.
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#4
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
So why don't you just buy the board from Ceriatone and then populate it with parts that are 'quality' to you? I mean it will probably be cheaper than a Metro and pretty close aside from the irons.


If you're worried about the amp being correct, why not buy one of those modded JCMs and then just revert them back to stock? At least that way you have an actual Marshall and you don't have to worry about trying to find a guy that wants to buy a clone when you get tired of it.
I'm not so handy with wiring/electrical work, so if I went the Ceriatone route, I'd need to buy one that's already been assembled.

I've considered buying a modded amp too, but I've heard that you must be careful going that route, because some amps have been poorly modded, or modded in irreversible ways (The latter of which sounds farfetched to me, but as always, I'm after the opinions of others more knowledgeable on the subject).

As far as getting tired of it goes, I plan on keeping it for quite some time. If there is one piece of gear I regret selling in my time of playing, it's my old 4210 combo I had . I love many different amps, but I still think a Marshall w/a boost is my favorite dirty tone there is.
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
Last edited by FlightofIcarus at Nov 18, 2016,
#5
I think youve heard a lot of things and half of them arent as bad as you think. Its not like Ceriatone uses shit components. Just not top of the line audio grade stuff that corkers insist on having. As for mods its super easy to ask what has been done to the amp and if youre that paranoid then you can have a tech look at it. The only thing that wouldnt be reversable is physical changes to the chassis like new holes and even still, thats just cosmetic.


Lots of people plan on keeping something for a long time. Doesnt always work that way. I have owned 3 different vertical input JCM 800 combos and they never sounded exactly the same. I own 0 of them now and I thought I would have them forever
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#6
How do the Ceriatone components compare to the real deal? As far as mods are concerned, that's good news to hear. I'm still curious about transformers, though. Some sellers brag about their old 2203/4's still having the old Drake transformers. Are replacements available? And if not, how much of an effect would it have on the tone/value of the amp?

I hear ya on the whole "plans change" thing. Let's just say I'll damn well do my best to hold on to this one!
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#7
Friedman, Granger, Krank (sort of), Fargen.
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#9
I'm surprised you're having trouble finding them. Especially the heads.....the combo's seem much more rare.
If I were you I'd just hold out for an 80's JCM800 combo. I own a couple JCM heads, and I wish I had a combo (50x 1 or 2x12). They're so much easier to get around with. moving cabinets is a pain in the ass.
Also, be prepared to deal with quirky electronic issues with vintage gear. Once you have to deal with this stuff a lot, you'll look forward to a new amp.
#10
Quote by Gutch220
Also, be prepared to deal with quirky electronic issues with vintage gear. Once you have to deal with this stuff a lot, you'll look forward to a new amp.
This is actually another reason I've considered the clone route. I had minimal issues w/my old 800 combo (I think a cap went out on it once, but other than that, it was pretty solid), but I realize vintage gear can have it's quirks. Some of the parts can get expensive too, IIRC.

8Len8 - I checked out/listened to some of the Granger stuff - If the clips are any indicator, you could slap a Marshall logo onto their M50, or 2203/4 models, and have me fooled . Thanks for pointing them out as a possible option!
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
Last edited by FlightofIcarus at Nov 18, 2016,
#11
Quote by FlightofIcarus
How do the Ceriatone components compare to the real deal? As far as mods are concerned, that's good news to hear. I'm still curious about transformers, though. Some sellers brag about their old 2203/4's still having the old Drake transformers. Are replacements available? And if not, how much of an effect would it have on the tone/value of the amp?

I hear ya on the whole "plans change" thing. Let's just say I'll damn well do my best to hold on to this one!


It's a JCM layout with decent parts. The Ceriatone kits sound good and if you don't want to use their stock transformers they can upgrade them to Mercury Magnetic ones IIRC.


I mean, if you're replacing transformers in the amp I would imagine there would be a hit in value.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#12
How about a Splawn?
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#13
Quote by metalmingee
How about a Splawn?
I haven't necessarily ruled out Splawn, but it's my understanding that they're great, but not a direct copy of the old Marshall circuits (i.e - That they're based on heavily modified versions/their own circuits).

Based on some more research (and my budget limitations), I'm leaning towards either a Granger or a Ceriatone if I go the clone route (I did some more reading up on Ceriatone, and the general consensus seems to be that they're really well made - better than most mass produced, name-brand amps - with some minor complaints regarding the stock transformers).

H4T3BR33D3R Couple more questions for you, as you seem well versed in info on these old amps

Regarding mods done to original 2203/4's. Is there any truth to the idea that FX loop mods hurt the tone? Or is that more or less corksniffer BS? Or does it depend on how the mod was done? Truthfully, an FX loop would be useful for me, and I realize that none of the original amps came stock with them. I just don't want to risk getting something w/shoddy mod work done (if buying an amp online), and have to spend time/money getting it reversed, or re-done correctly by a tech. Maybe I should avoid buying vintage online, if this is the case?

Lastly, reliability is of concern, as if I do make this purchase, I plan to use it for recording and gigs, and don't want to deal with excessive technical issues. If this is the case, is a clone the way to go for me?

Thanks for everyone's input, btw!
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#14
Quote by FlightofIcarus
I haven't necessarily ruled out Splawn, but it's my understanding that they're great, but not a direct copy of the old Marshall circuits (i.e - That they're based on heavily modified versions/their own circuits).

Based on some more research (and my budget limitations), I'm leaning towards either a Granger or a Ceriatone if I go the clone route (I did some more reading up on Ceriatone, and the general consensus seems to be that they're really well made - better than most mass produced, name-brand amps - with some minor complaints regarding the stock transformers).

H4T3BR33D3R Couple more questions for you, as you seem well versed in info on these old amps

Regarding mods done to original 2203/4's. Is there any truth to the idea that FX loop mods hurt the tone? Or is that more or less corksniffer BS? Or does it depend on how the mod was done? Truthfully, an FX loop would be useful for me, and I realize that none of the original amps came stock with them. I just don't want to risk getting something w/shoddy mod work done (if buying an amp online), and have to spend time/money getting it reversed, or re-done correctly by a tech. Maybe I should avoid buying vintage online, if this is the case?

Lastly, reliability is of concern, as if I do make this purchase, I plan to use it for recording and gigs, and don't want to deal with excessive technical issues. If this is the case, is a clone the way to go for me?

Thanks for everyone's input, btw!


It's probably a cork sniffer thing IMO but so are a lot of things that a lot of people go crazy about. Like the whole Drake transformer thing, I mean so many Marshall people brag about their Drake transformers and they don't realize that there are different variations of it and Marshalls also had more than Drakes in them. I mean in the 60s era, most of the 100 watters came with Dagnall transformers and the 50 watters had the Drakes (with some exceptions) and that formula stuck for a while until the mid-late 70s where I think both 100 and 50 watters went Drake. Furthermore, the Drakes from the 60s are spec'd different than the later ones from the 70s and 80s and even moreso from the ones in the later 90s AFAIK. The ones that are claimed to be the 'better' transformers are the earlier plexi ones and the ones after that aren't considered as good to some. To most though, a Drake is a Drake.

I honestly think a lot of it is a bit of horse shit though. People like to focus on 'oh I have a vintage, vertical input, single channel JCM 800 with original tranny' when a lot of the popular JCM 800 tones (especially ones I like) were recorded on later 2 channel, single input, 6550 loaded, 'corker's bane' JCM 800s.


Honestly with everything you say, you should just get something more modern that has the features you're looking for. I'm sure it's a nice idea owning a vintage JCM 800 but really if you need things like loops and stuff and you're worried about reliability you should probably look elsewhere. If I was going to gig with one I'd probably want to recap and retube and probably other stuff as well at minimum. Who knows what else could go wrong.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
Last edited by H4T3BR33D3R at Nov 21, 2016,
#15
H4T3BR33D3R, I might have to start referring to you as the Marshall guru around here! Thanks!

Do you have personal experience w/Ceriatone stuff? A brand new one, shipped and assembeled would run me into used 800 territory cost-wise. But I do see used Ceriatone stuff sometimes, which would seem like a no-brainer if it mimics the real deal as well as people seem to say it does, combined with modern amp perks and reliability.
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
#16
Thanks but Im not that much of a guru. Just a passionate (and slightly crazy) gear head


I dont have any personal experience with Ceriatone unfortunately. Just word of mouth mostly.
Quote by zgr0826
My culture is worthless and absolutely inferior to the almighty Leaf.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#17
FWIW I've had friends with Ceriatone jobs. They turned out well, in terms of construction probably at least as well as any Marshall of the last 20 years. The examples I've heard in person definitely cop what they're going for. I'd not have any hesitation buying one.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#18
Quote by FlightofIcarus

Do you have personal experience w/Ceriatone stuff? A brand new one, shipped and assembeled would run me into used 800 territory cost-wise. But I do see used Ceriatone stuff sometimes, which would seem like a no-brainer if it mimics the real deal as well as people seem to say it does, combined with modern amp perks and reliability.


the ceriatone 18 watter i had was a great amp. the only problem is i've never owned a "real" one to compare it to. but the amp was well built, and sounded great. i'd have no worries about buying another ceriatone. i bought used and saved a bit over what it would have cost if new. i resold it for more than i paid, iirc. ceriatones tend to hold a decent value on the used market, from my experience.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
Last edited by gregs1020 at Nov 22, 2016,
#19
Quote by metalmingee
How about a Splawn?

another great idea. some splawns are selling used for bargains and deliver a quality "800" tone.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#20
gregs1020 I'm in love with my Splawn. It's ridiculously tight and loud, and I really couldn't be happier with it. Whenever I play a Marshall or Orange stack backline I'm always floored with the tone, until the next day when I use my Splawn live and it kicks the 800s and Oranges to the curb.
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