Price paid: $ 430
Features — 9
- 2017 Model
- Clean/Distortion Channel
- "Clean" channel is gain knob only, no master volume knob
- The dirty channel is a separate Volume and Gain knob
- Treble - Mid - Bass controls
- Mid Scoop - Deep Channel Push Button Switch
- 5 Watt/ 1 Watt selector switch on the back of the amp
- Series Effect Loop send/return on back of the amp
- Celestion 10-30 10" Stock Speaker (16 ohm)
- (3) ECC83 (12ax7)Preamp/Inverter Tubes (1) 12BH7 Power Tube
- Comes with detachable power cord, and one button footswitch to select clean or gain channel
Sound — 9
The Marshall DSL5C is a well rounded versatile workhorse. Works well for any style of music from modern jazz to country to blues to rock and heavy metal. Probably not best suited for ultra-clean jazz or the highest gain death metal. I run a full pedal board of effects with the overdrive and high gain distortion pedals pushed through the front of the amp and an assortment of effects through the effects loop. I've found the amp do be a little noisy using a single coil strat with no RWRP middle pickup for noise cancellation, mostly when using high gain so it's not so much an amp issue as a guitar issue. So I'm using a Decimator G String II in the effects loop to gate the external noise and it works quite well.
For blues and rock this amp excels. The range of gain is adequate to cover a lot of ground and works well in those genres. The variety of EQ settings, mid-scoop and deep switches extend the tone shaping capabilities further yet and really allow you to dial in the exact sound you are looking for. The clean headroom is a little low for all but bedroom practice, but can be rectified easily with a tube swap (changed out 12ax7 for 5751 in preamp and 12at7 at the inverter). The distortion/gain stage is where the amp really shines. The Marshall sound is here in spades and allows you to dial in everything from a light breakup (blues) to crunch ('70s rock) to full on '80s and '90s heavy metal distortion.
To achieve a more modern distortion you'll need to push the gain channel with a pedal out front, or run a higher gain distortion pedal through the clean channel. Both options work rather well as the amp is completely compatible with all pedals I've tried (I've rotated more than 40 pedals through my pedal board since I've had this amp).
Reliability & Durability — 10
Marshalls are built like a tank. This is my second one. The first one I had for 12 years and still looked brand new and worked perfect when I sold it. Marshalls last forever. The strap is heavy duty and will never giver out. The buttons feel solid, the knobs are all solid and smooth turning. The corners are a glossy heavy plastic I believe. I'm pretty sure they could take a good beating from what I can tell. The amp is pretty heavy, belying it's relatively small stature. You don't expect it to have the heft it does when you first pick it up. It just feels solid.
Overall Impression — 10
I tried a Laney CUB10 before I purchased this amp. The Laney sounded very nice and I would recommend it for someone who plays strictly blues. I may even pick up another one someday for that purpose. But the Laney didn't have a separate clean and distortion channel and no effects loop, and the controls were top mounted. Also, it couldn't achieve that desirable Marshall sound I'm after.
I play everything from SRV/KWS, Trower, Hendrix, Rory Gallagher to Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd to Ozzy, Metallica. This amp can cover them all, and that's what makes it so amazing. It's extremely versatile.
The downfall of this amp is the lack of a clean channel separate master volume and gain, and that it has no built in reverb. Honestly though, most built in reverbs are far from perfect and a pedal like the TC HOF will blow away anything built in so that's a wash in my book.
I've been playing for 30+ years. I've had Peavey and Marshall amps in the past that were much bigger and louder when I used to play out. Now I'm just an old bedroom player who still loves playing just for the enjoyment, but won't settle for anything that sounds bad and after all these years still enjoy sculpting my sound. I have 6 guitars these days, but only run my Schecter Damien and Fender Strat through this amp along with an extensive pedal board of compression, dirt and modulation effects.
I have no regrets about purchasing this amp. It does all I ask of it and sometimes completely surpasses my expectations and when I hit that sweet spot when playing, you know what I'm talking about, when it all comes together and you just "nail it" and have it all dialed in the way you want it, it still puts a smile on my face. I would purchase this same amp if it somehow was lost or stolen... Don't know how the hell that would happen, but if it happened I'd get it again. It's been fantastic. I did do a couple upgrades, because that's what I do with all of my equipment when possible. If I had one wish it would be that the 10" speaker was a 12" speaker. But I knew this going in and weighed it out against the other included features that amp does have, and decided it was worth it to live with the 10" speaker and make modifications accordingly to tailor my sound. I swapped the stock Celestion for a Greenback G10, and it sounds amazing. Really was blown away by the sound. I also swapped in a Celestion Gold G10, again, blown away. Sounds really fantastic. I keep both speakers in case I want to switch back and forth for a different sound from time to time.
The stock speaker was bad, and would probably benefit from some break in time, but it was just a little too bright for my tastes with my strat and I felt like I was needing to tame it down too much. With the other speakers, it just sounded "right" from the first note. I've always been a fan of Marshall Amps. The pedigree of the Marshall line up and the lineage of guitar gods who have used Marshalls speaks volumes to the sound quality and timeless appeal of the brand. I couldn't ask for anything more.