i was looking off ebay at tubed marshall combos and found that the JCM800/900 and hte DSL401 were in my price range (around $500). what are your opinions on these amps? how well do they do hard rock and metal??

not a big fan of the DSL401's. very lacking in my opinion. I own a JCM900 and it rocks hard. i love it.

there are big differences between the 900 and the 800 besides the number of channels. the 800 is a british voiced amp with a moderate amount of gain. It gives you a really classic and vintage tone that's great for classic/hard rock (led zeppelin, ACDC, Guns n' Roses, etc.). it can do metal as well, but you definitely need a good distortion/overdrive pedal. really though, this amp sounds amazing for just about anything.

the 900 is a more modern voiced amp with much higher gain and more versatility than the 800. it has a great clean channel, as well as a good overdrive. its better suited for a modern hard rock/alternative sound, but it can pull off blues, classic rock and metal very well too.

800's usually go up past 800-900 dollars on ebay by the end of an auction. i'd go for the 900. or you could save up for the 800.
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for hard rock and metal the 900 is your best bet. get the high gain dual reverb that's the one i got and i love it.
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JCM800 - bigger low end, more balls. darker tone
JCM900 - more gain, more modern voiced
JCM2000 dsl401 - more fizz

I'd definite