Sound — 8
This amp has a very full and three-dimensional sound, thanks to the combination of the KT66 power section, the open-back cabinet and the Celestion G12C speakers. Everything sounds even and rich throughout the frequency spectrum, and the amp comes alive and sounds very rich when pushed with overdrive or distortion effect pedals. The claims about how responsive this amp is to the guitar, pickups, and the volume and tone knobs are very true. A great starting point can be found by dialing in the low dynamic range to a pushed, distorted tone with the guitar volume all the way up, and then rolling it back to get a cleaner, softer tone. In fact, this seems to be the sweet spot of this amp, allowing you to then put an overdrive effect in front to allow for an additional boost when needed. The high dynamic range does seem to introduce some noise even when set at moderate levels, and is especially sensitive to the Body, Detail, Treble and Presence knobs. Like most amps, special care needs to go into finding the right balance between all of the components that affect your tone. Once the high dynamic range is set, a 70's rock tone can be achieved, with a surprising amount of gain on tap considering the marketing for this amp seems to focus on cleaner tones than this.
Overall Impression — 7
This is a nice sounding, well-built guitar amplifier that truly lives up to its name; it harkens back to the vintage' Marshall years, by chasing those earlier KT66 tones and nailing them, and in some aspects improving upon them, while adding some modern' features, mainly the master volume, which every home player will appreciate, and the FX loop, which is considered a must-have for guitar players who employ any sort of time-based effects. The combination of the Celestion G12C speakers and the KT66 output valves allows for a very big sound out of a seemingly small package. Running a distortion pedal through this amp resulted in a giant, full sound that felt like it was being played through a full stack of 4x12 speaker cabinets. One serious drawback with this Marshall is the lack of true on-the-fly channel switching; while you can switch dynamic ranges via the footswitch, the gain jumps drastically, causing the volume to jump dramatically. While this is advertised as the design intent, it removes the practical ability to dial in a lower gain tone, and then a higher gain tone, and then be able to footswitch between them. While some purists would react badly to more controls in the mix, one simple adjustment would have been to have a master volume specific to each dynamic range, allowing you to balance the two tones and effectively have a channel-switching amp at your disposal. Looking at current going prices at the largest retailers, it is concerning that this Marshall is priced in the same range as other, more feature-rich amplifiers, which are also capable of covering more of a tonal range. However, the Marshall Vintage Modern 2266c is a good package, whether it's your first tube amp or if you've been playing for years. Its power, easy-to-operate controls and relatively lightweight package make this an ideal platform for the gigging or home player.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The common consensus on the Internet is that recent Marshalls have deteriorated in build quality compared to some of their timeless amps, such as Plexis and JCM 800's. The TSL and the JVM line in particular have taken a beating if you believe everything you read on message boards. The 2266c, however, seems deserving of more respect. The exterior build is timeless Marshall, with thick black tolex, solid carry handles, black grill cloth, corner protectors, and the classic gold faceplate and control knobs. The amp isn't as heavy as other 2x12 combos, the corners are made of plastic, and the knobs feel a bit cheap as well, but the amp feels solid, and there is nothing to suggest that the amp is not ready to withstand the rigors of live performance and travel. Removing the back panel exposes the tubes, transformers and other outward-facing components. This is a typical PCB-construction amp. Everything looks cleanly mounted, and it looks very standard-issue Marshall. Like all tube amps, the 2266c will require more care and maintenance over a long period of time, but unlike many 3-channel and 4-channel amps, the controls and the internals on this amp are straightforward with less potential points of failure.
Features — 8
The Marshall Vintage Modern 2266c is a 50-watt 2x12 combo amplifier, outfitted with Celestion G12C speakers, previously seen in the special-edition Marshall Jimi Hendrix 4x12 speaker cabinets. The amp is driven by two KT66 power tubes, and comes standard with a digital reverb section, similar to that found on the Marshall JVM series. The unique feature of this Marshall, and its 50-watt and 100-watt head versions, is the concept of two dynamic ranges. The easiest way to think of this is to imagine the gain either taking you from 0 to 3, or from taking you from 2 to 10. There is an overlap range depending on where the gain is set when you switch ranges, but the idea is that you either restrict yourself to a lower range, but with more fine-grained control, or a much wider range, where the impact of your volume and tone knobs on your guitar, and your pedals, have a much bigger impact on the tone. While you can switch between the ranges, you are effectively boosting the gain when you do so, which causes a large volume jump, which makes this Switch more of a set and forget type of control, rather than something to be switched mid-song. A unique feature not commonly seen on guitar amps is the Body and Detail knobs, which allow custom tweaking of the preamp section to get better command of your overall tone than a typical EQ section allows. The amplifier has typical Treble, Bass and Middle (Midrange) controls, as well as a Presence control which helps counteract an overly dark or bright sound from various types of guitar bodies, pickups and pedal combinations. A reverb knob adjusts how much reverb is applied to the signal. This control should be used sparingly, as usually just a little is enough to make an impact to the tone, whereas this will allow you to heap on an overwhelming amount of reverb if you so choose. Finally, the front panel also contains a MID boost switch, to punch up the midrange EQ curve which can help counteract an overly thin, scooped signal from some effects. The back panel provides access for a speaker extension cab, should you choose to pair this with another 2x12 or 4x12, for example. The FX loop is on the back, with a selector for +4db or -10db depending on the types of effects being connected. The included footswitch allows you to Switch between dynamic ranges and to toggle reverb on or off.