Price paid: $ 650
Purchased from: Guitar Center (used)
Sound — 9
I'm currently playing a 2004 Gibson Les Paul Studio and a 1996 American Telecaster Standard. Both guitars sound very good through this amp. The classic Marshall lead sound is especially applicable with the Les Paul's humbuckers. The Telecaster enables a better clean sound with a higher end bite. The DSL tends to pick up extra noise where I practice probably due to the older electrical wiring in my basement. I simply turn off the lights when I'm playing and that gets rid of that. I'm running the amp out to the 1960 in stereo and it sounds great. This is probably the best amp you can own that can nail a wide variety of music styles. One of the complaints that I do have is that it would be nice to have independent EQs for each channel. The independent reverb is very handy however. Both gain stages are brutal and you can certainly play any type of harder rock/metal. I don't really prefer shredding but it is nice to have that option. I typically play with the lead channel's gain up to about four; this is perfect for a more AC/DC-like crunch. The clean channel is one the best sounding cleans that Marshall has ever created: something that the brand is not known for at all. With a chorus pedal and some compression, it sounds great.
Overall Impression — 9
I like to play all styles of music from punk, country, and hard rock and I've found that this amp can do it all. I've been playing for about ten years so I'd like to think I know something about tone. For a modestly priced Marshall tube 100 watter, I'm impressed with the sounds but not so impressed with the upkeep and potential disaster. From a strictly sound perspective, I would replace this amp in a heartbeat if it were stolen. After purchasing it for $650 I've put a lot more money into getting it up to it's true potential so maybe if it were still made I should have bought it new. I own several Marshalls (1985 Lead 12, Zakk Wylde mini stack, the smaller acoustic model) and this is the British high gain sound that I've always thought that gives the brand its reputation. It's not a Plexi or handwired model but for what I spent, I'm pleased with the half stack. The neighbors might disagree.
Reliability & Durability — 6
This is where the DSL starts to go downhill. As mentioned before, I purchased this amp second hand from Guitar Center so I immediately changed the tubes to Groove Tubes in the power section and Mesa Boogies in the pre-amp. This was not cheap. I also had to take it in to be re-biased and have all the pots cleaned. After about a month, I noticed that the reverb was shorting out. After taking off the back panel, I found that the RCAs had come loose. When I changed the cord, the problem was fixed but I'm not sure for how long. The amp also gives off a lot of heat which is usually paired with that HOT tube smell. Although I know this is typical for the model, it does leave me uneasy about the future. I've never had to change the fuses.
Features — 9
I bought this head from Guitar Center about a year ago used, one owner previously. It is a 2004 100w all tube amplifier that has essentially two speaker outs at 4 & 8 ohms and a single 16 ohm. It has an effects loop with a push in boost. It has a clean channel with a single gain knob that creates a more "natural" overdrive, a second lead/higher gain channel that includes an extra gain stage to push the amp into metal territory. The EQ section has presense, high, mid, and bass controls. The accutronics reverb has independent knobs for each of the two main channels. The back panel has the three speakers outs, the effect loop, and inputs for channel and reverb footswitches. The 100 watt power section has more than enough power for any instance. I'm running it into a 1960A with Celestions and I can't imagine any scenario where this wouldn't be enough power. I can't even turn the amp up past 3 in the basement without seriously injuring my hearing! I play a variety of different music styles and I like to experiment with different sounds. This amp can do it all very well. You can go from country clean to high gain scream with a stomp of a button.