DSL40C review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.3 (48 votes)
Marshall: DSL40C

Price paid: A$ 769

Purchased from: Manny's

Sound — 10
I have so far used it with a Schecter Synyster Gates Custom and a Fender Strat. I love playing rock of all types and am trying to get into neoclassical. The clean tones are really nice without being glassy. In isolation they are really really nice but obviously not Fender like but more a clean warm tone well suited to arpeggios or rhythm guitar. The crunch and gain channels are really awesome and span a very broad spectrum of tones. I have not explored everything on it but its so easy to dial in a great tone that one is tempted not to spend that much time tweaking it. I have on occasion gotten quite carried away with this amp and lost track of time. Certainly the hallmark of a great sounding amp. As far as the other questions, it is not noisy at all. The clean channel has a huge amount of headroom. You could not get it to distort with a Strat. On the other end of the scale the distortion is truly brutal. You do not really need any distortion or overdrive pedals with this amp.

Overall Impression — 10
I have played for over three years now and still consider myself a beginner. Not a beginner beginner but still very much in the learning stage. I am at least now somewhat comfortable auditioning gear in a guitar store. This was something I was unable to do before. I love Ritchie Blackmore, Malmsteen, Satriani, Slash and Synyster Gates as well as Mark Knopfler, Gilmour and Santana. I am comfortable that this amp will do all these tones and more. So this is the first amp I have bought that I tried out before buying. Out of interest the other amp I tried was the Blackstar HT-40. I did not get the Blackstar in the end because it was a bit more complex to use and is a bit darker with a more sterile sound. I could easily find Marshall and other sounds like a Peavey 6505 using some of the controls on that amp but I am really only interested in the Marshall side so it did not make sense for me to not get a Marshall. This amp replaces a Jet City 2112RC, a lovely amp but does not have an FX loop and an Ibanez Tubescreamer amp that has an FX loop but needs a pedal to get the best Out of it. The Jet City sounds are a subset of these Marshall tones. The Marshall is far broader. Truth be told I would have kept the Jet City if it had an FX loop and would never have gotten another amp because the sounds contained within it and the Marshall are my sounds. The only thing missing is an emulated out but Marshall does not do emulated outs very well. For that I'll probably get a Blackstar HT-1R. Talk about a foot in each camp :)

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Reliability & Durability — 10
I used it mainly for playing at home. So it has not been subjected to a durability test. Having said that I expect it to work very well. I would certainly take it to a gig without backup. Everything about the amp is extremely solid and well built. The knobs feel like they can last forever. Anyway I am going to rate it based on the features that Marshall built into it. The material is MDF, a strong enough substance. The greatest thing that will contribute to its long life is that the fact that the power tubes are not mounted to the PCB but rather mounted to the chassis with hand wiring.

Features — 10
This tube amp was released in October 2012 and my amp was built in 2013. To people familiar with Marshall amps it has a straightforward layout with two channels, classic gain and ultra gain with two voicings per channel. The classic gain channel has clean and crunch and the ultra gain channel has lead 1 and lead 2. Each of the four voices across the two channels makes up the gain spectrum from sparkling clean to massive modern metal gain. The overall EQ section has the standard Treble, Mid and Bass, Tone Shift, Presence and Resonance. Tone shift scoops the mid. Presence pushes the higher frequencies higher, Resonance works the same on the low notes and seems to add more low frequency gain. Two reverbs, one for each channel completes the front panel. On the rear there is a switch to cut the power by half by moving from Pentode to Triode mode. Then there is a footswitch out and a send and return for the series loop accompanied by a switch to turn this on or off. There are also three speaker outs. The only feature I wish it had was an emulated out but that was not a deal breaker for me. For the price this amp has got all the features I need hence the full marks.

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Around 3 months have passed since I first did this review and I thought maybe people would like an update. After all the honeymoon period has worn off. I have had more chance to play it. I look back at the 10/10 ratings I gave it and feel I need to qualify them. Everything that we buy has a value equation attached to it. Things are either fair value where we get what we pay for or they can be poor value where we actually pay more for stuff than we can actually use or enjoy, several expensive car or watch brands or manufactuers of certain smartphones and tablets comes to mind. The best is of course when we actually get much more out of a product than what we spent on it. I truly believe this Marshall belongs in the latter category. It is truly one of those products that is such fantastic value for the money that it exceeds that of most other amps out there. It is in this context that I believe this Marshall truly deserves its 10/10 rating. No its not the best amp in the world (I havent played any I like better but I'm being objective here). It is however the very best amp that anyone can buy new for under $1000 or even $1250. There is another statement I would like to qualify. This amp is not the only example of a very high value amp. Most of the current crop of amps have very high value compared to what was available even three or so years ago. The Blackstar HT40 and the Vox AC15 are two such examples that come to mind. So how is the amp now. Firstly it is very easy to dial in and I still have not gotten over how versatile it is. It does lush cleans and searing leads all at the flick of a switch. I am starting to find that the reverb, while useable, is not the greatest. I probably will end up buy a TC Electronic Reverb pedal when finances allow. Apart from that its still fantastic.
    I got one about 3 weeks ago... it replaced a 76 Fender Twin reverb that I was really getting tired of lugging around... (Yes I still have the twin, and it's not for sale.. JK) I'm a working (part time) musician in a band that plays Classic Rock and Blues covers. First thing I've done is trim 2 of the 4 distortion pedals off my board, just don't need them anymore. The Clean channel stays very clean, and will stay that way through almost all of the volume. I use an overdrive to get the crunch, the lead channel on the Marshall on lead 1 for distortion, and another pedal for high gain distortion... I don't use the reverb but chose to go with a pedal that gives me a little more than what the Marshall is capable of. I Love the sound of this amp, it's everything I've wanted, about 20 lbs lighter than the twin, and more versatile then the fender ever thought about being. I get the sound I want, without having to try to push 100 watts to the breakup point. It gets an 8 out of 10 in my book because of the week reverb... Love it otherwise... Just a side note. If you like using a Compressor/sustain pedal, use it sparingly. The Marshall is already compressing the signal a bit...
    I don't know why it will not let me "undo" my negative vote...was just trying to se what happened when I pushes the green button on my phone and fat-thumbed the red one. No negative vote intended!
    I love this Amp and I play country. A Marshall for country? Yep. This amp has a great clean and the right amount of overdrive bite to do some old school country. If I want to do the new school country that has a more classic rock almost to metal sound, it's there. Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert, etc. I can do Skynyrd, Cream, Hendrix, SRV to 80's metal, to today's scooped metal sound...and none of it sounds cheesy or fake....all Marshall..get it
    Using the amp for the last 6 months. And it awsome. I run it through a line 6 x3 live and a ibanez js-100. VERY POWERFUL and does have the bone breaking low edge. Really happy with my purchase. Really enough for every gig i do here in sri lanka.
    OK, here is another update. It is now at the seven months point. I am still loving the amp greatly. The honeymoon period has of course worn off. The other day a preamp valve went in the V1 position and I replaced it with a Tung-sol. The sound has lost some of its hard edge but in a very nice way. I am thinking of replacing the V2 as well.
    I will be buying my first decent tube amp in a few weeks. I mostly listen to Deep Purple, Queen, Rory Gallagher and some old school metal. Would this be a suitable choice with Epi LP?