DSL40C review by Marshall

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 10
  • Sound: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.3 (47 votes)
Marshall: DSL40C

Price paid: $ 399

Purchased from: Ebay

Features — 10
This is the new line of DSL amps that were discontinued years ago. It is a 1 X 12 combo two channel amp powered by EL 34s instead of the EL 84s as the older DSL lines were. It has a shared EQ, Dual reverb control, presence resonance and tone shift. It is the most feature packed 1 X 12 on the market right now. I also forgot about the distortion switch on channel two and a mid shift button that scoops the mids. And it also has a switch to drop the output wattage to 20 watts. The effects loop takes pedals well.

Sound — 8
First off the clean channel is very good on this amp. It has an AWESOME bottom end and a slight break up similar to an early Marshall amp. I am surprised being a metalhead that I play more this channel, which does have crunch feature, than the distortion channel. There is a huge volume jump when you do kick in the crunch so adjust your volume. As far at the distortion goes Im on the fence. It kills that '80s metal sound. It is flawless on that setting. With the voice switch out and the gain on about 7 its like 1987 all over again. If you are looking for an extreme distortion this amp may not do it for you. I am used to the American sounding high gain amps so to my ears when the gain is cranked on this amp it is very loose and mid heavy. While that is not a bad thing many may be disappointing. It nails Zakk Wylde's type of heavy distortion but that Metallica type Mesa tone that a lot of metalheads equate with heavy sounds is nonexistent. You would need some sort of boost to nail that. The bottom end on this amp is actually not bad for an open back design. And the wattage switch does not effect the tone at all. The EQ, presence and resonance are very responsive and great assets to the amp. I do not like the mid shift of the amp as I feel as it kills that "Marshall Sound." The amp is very bright sounding, but many YouTube videos illustrate that a speaker swap will solve this. Now on to the reverb. It is non existent and the fact that some genius at Marshall thought it would be cool to place a reverb control for both channels you now have two useless dials instead of one.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This thing is built like a tank and it is definitely road ready. The construction on the dials, tolex and grill feel just like the high priced models. I think that if maintained this thing could last a lifetime. I do give Marshall that they do build things to last and even though this thing was not made in England I could not tell a difference. I can see this thing taking a beating with no problem and it will hold up just fine with out letting you down. It does not have a cheap feeling to it at all.

Overall Impression — 9
This amps features alone are far ahead of anything on the market. It is the most versatile amp out there right now. Versatile in a way that it is not awesome in one area, but OK in alot of areas. Its build feels sturdy and I have no doubts that it will hold up over the years. It is lacking in a lot of areas, but the price tag does make up for that. It is nice to see that Marshall is finally getting out of the habit of charging an arm and a leg for an amp. Often times in the past you were just paying for the Marshall name (as in with the Haze and MA series). It feels like Marshall is back now and I like it.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I'm disappointed with marshall :/ the ultra gain is just bad distortion you can barely ear the chord , i think there are other amps that can be a lot better that this one . This is just my opinion, don't wanna insult any one
    Ive got a strat SSS and Les Paul both sound great on this amp and I haven't come across a song yet I can't find a channel and EQ for. The Metal tones are good. (No problem with Black Sabbath, Metallica tracks) So too are Jazz and Reggae and cleans for RHCP, The Shadows, etc. The crunch channel comes in good for Pink Floyd, Cream and Jimi Hendrix tracks. Reverb is a room reverb and is adequate, but for jazz tones I prefer something a bit more luxurious and for rock I prefer a spring reverb. Ive added a HT-modulation, Strymon El Capistan, TC HOF and TC ditto in the effects loop and i really can't fault it. OK I need to swap to the Les Paul when playing metal and heavy rock (darkness, OASIS, Steve Vai, etc are all there) then to the strat for RHCP, Cream, Hendrix and the like. But so to did the artists. The presence and resonance dials are great when swapping between these guitars to fine tune the bottom and top end. On the Clean channel, with resonance turned up the strat (Neck position) will give a nice thud in the bass strings and crystal clear top end in the other strings. Great for finger picking. The shared EQ is a bit of pain. But the inability to store settings which can then be recalled using a footswitch is its greatest drawback. But this amp is versatile it will cover any genre and always sound good; Provided your Guitars are setup well and have descent pickups.