JCM2000 DSL401 review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 4
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 4.8 Poor
  • Users' score: 8.3 (110 votes)
Marshall: JCM2000 DSL401

Price paid: £ 300

Purchased from: Private ad

Sound — 4
This amp is in the medium-price range and this is reflected in the sound. It has more clarity and punch than cheaper valve combos, but really doesn't compare well to my old Marshall JMP; A-B ing the two reveals the DSL to be lacking in sparkle and punch, with an unpleasant gritty overdrive character which does NOT sound natural and loses a lot of treble when the guitar volume is backed off to clean. The high gain third channel is too saturated to maintain any note definition at volume. That said, it is a useable amp for most gigs, rock bands in particular. If this is your second or third amp, you shouldn't be disappointed. Where this amp really fails is the crap FX loop. The parallel design is becoming more popular among amp designers, but it's COMPLETELY USELESS! You can't put a tremolo pedal in the loop because the amp puts a dry signal over the top, meaning that when the tremolo cuts off, you can still hear the guitar. Phaser was weak and there were odd phasing issues with other pedals. I couldn't even mod it like I did on a Laney L5T, because of the cramped and complicated PCB inside. Bad design alert!

Overall Impression — 4
A decent amp with some fairly major flaws, the main ones for me being the effects loop and the uninspiring, raspy unpleasant overdrive. Not the worst amp I've used, but lacking in important areas. Buy one if you are upgrading from a practice amp and can find a cheap deal.

Reliability & Durability — 5
Sold it soon after buying, so I'm not sure about the reliability. I haven't heard good things.

Features — 6
The DSL has some good features. The 3 channels might be useful for some (not me), there's reverb, an FX loop and a decent speaker. The FX loop is parallel though, not series (see Sound). A welcome stripped-down version of the DSL head without the useless "Tone Shift" and "Deep" silly buttons.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I had a Tsl 122 100w combo which is of the same JCM2000 family as the Dsl401, I've played a JMP MKII and a JCM800 heads, and to my taste the TSL beats them in terms of gain, portability and, you might not believe me, of loudness too despite being a combo, amazing, whereas the tone is pretty much the same, I've compared the 3 face to face in my regular rehearsal studio where they supply vintage Marshall heads and cabs here in London but I always bring mine because that's the one I'd use for gigs, the clean channel of the TSL also is the best I've ever heard, I've tried many fenders and I don't like sparkliness, I had a TSl602 same thing as the 122, as loud but breaking up on the clean as I needed more gain, I'm waiting now for my DSL401 in about 2 days time, I've managed to buy it used for 310 apparently mint, Marshall has said that the tone is the same in all DSLs and TSLs heads and combos like one whole JCM2000 project apart obviously from the boost, deep and tone shift buttons options that might or might not be there, I play from Zep to old Thrash to Prog rock and Jazz Fusion, I have been playing for 20 years, as I want now a lighter carriable little valve amp (getting older and lazier) but loud and powerful enought I'm very confident that the DSL401 is gonna be the one I want forever, I'll let you know next week
    I bought my Marshall JCM dsl401 brand new in 2000 for about $700 and also all the pedals for it. I only got to play it once for an hour and it sounded killer. My friend refused to use it and it's been pack away since. It is completely mint and I bought it for an investment and I am disappointed that it doesn't seem to have held a good value.