Purchased from: Dawsons Music
Features — 8
I bought this amp as my first sojourn into the territory of tube amplifiers after a decade or so of farting about on little solid state combo amps. The main reason why I picked it was the price and brand, Marshall are a brand that I trust almost unconsciously due to their long standing association with the music industry. This is maybe the wrong reason to pick an amplifier but the positive reviews also helped my decision some.
It's a two channel amp, clean and distorted, with each channel having a further two modes, e.g. Classic Gain, Ultra Gain, Clean and Crunch.
It's a typical three band EQ but with the addition of both Presence and Resonance knobs. It has a reverb option for each channel and can be controlled by a footswitch which also allows for easy switching between heavy and clean channels.
I don't know the full in's and out's of tube amplifiers and am not particularly qualified to comment on any more technological features, but I believe it has four EL34 tubes inside it.
Simple and effective.
Sound — 10
Before the description of the sound it's probably worth saying that I play the amp through a Marshall 1960B 412 cabinet. I play in a progressive hard rock band and we have a lot of songs with soft hard dynamics. In terms of the heavy sections of our songs, I've always been a big fan of Matt Pike (Sleep era) and Greg Anderson's (Goatsnake) guitar tones, which are notoriously bassy and thick. I managed to hit that sweet spot incredibly quickly with my Gibson SG 2016 T by rolling down the tone knob slightly. Clean wise, I love a bass heavy EQ and I can quickly achieve a gorgeous tone by quickly flicking the pick-up selector from the bridge to the bass.
The amp was pretty much a plug in and play in terms of sound. With all settings at 12 o' clock it sounded fine although I have obviously explored and changed this EQ setting over time. I've not noticed any excessive amounts of noise coming from the amp either and this is probably because I run the gain fairly low, around 11 o' clock on the Ultra Gain setting. When I plug my Fender Strat (SSS) in there is a bit more noise but this is to be expected of single coils.
In terms of sound alone, this is by far the best amplifier I've ever plugged into and it knocks every one of my older amplifiers out of the park in terms of quality.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Like Gibson or Fender, Marshall is almost the first name that comes to mind when one thinks of classic rock amplifiers. With such a brand reputation it only stands to reason that they would take pride in the production of quality products and that certainly seems the case with this. I've had the amplifier for over two months now and it doesn't appear to have degraded in appearance, gathered dust or tarnished in anyway. Obviously, it's early days, but aesthetically it looks to be made in a very robust manner!
In terms of the quality of its construction and its functional reliability, it's never failed me yet. I play it every day and always make sure to leave it a couple of minutes before fully turning on or turning off (i.e. letting the tubes warm up and down).
As this is my first tube amplifier I am still frightened by the idea of tube failure and don't really know how to approach fool proofing this. I'll probably replace the tubes on it once every year or so, as I've been advised, ensure I keep allowing the time for the tubes to warm up and cool down.
Overall Impression — 8
My overall impression of this amp is that I made the right purchase. I can't beat that feeling of satisfaction when I get brave enough to turn it up past 1 on the dial and actually hear the thing. It sounds heavy as thunder and as clear as a mountain stream depending on what I do to it.
The only minor issue I have with it is that the inbuilt reverb it has is basically none existent. Unless I have very insensitive ears, tapping on the reverb nob on the foot pedal makes no difference to tone whatsoever. If this were a big issue I'd send it back and get it fixed under warranty but honestly, I'd rather not be without my amplifier for that long! I'll probably end up getting a good reverb pedal anyway! It fits the sound, image and philosophy of my band and makes me glad to be playing a quality rig!