Price paid: $ 1027
Purchased from: Long & McQuade in Windsor Ontario, Canada
Sound — 10
First of all, I hate Marshall amps. They always seem to make amps that sound exactly like what famous guitarists (such as Slash, Hendrix, Paige, Kiss etc.) like and not putting out anything unique. I never liked their clean tones (too high on the mids and not "rich enough"). I was probably going to go with Fender but when I found this amp I decided to give it a shot. What I was looking for in an amp was a very rich clean tone which I could distort to pure liquid death for heavy stuff. Well this amp has the perfect clean tone for me. It doesn't produce the distortion that I want but that's okay because used in conjunction with a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone I get exactly what I want. It's really unusual for Marshall's to have such a good clean tone but this amp does it. The only problem (which I stated above in the feature list) is that it's a one trick pony. You either love the tone or you don't. You can't change it. The amp really shines at high volumes. It's most suited for playing live and in a practice room where you can crank it. It's VERY loud. When the familly's home and watching tv I have to keep the volume at 1.5 and they still have to crank the tv to hear it (and there's 2 floors in between us!). When they're out that's when I can put it at 3 and apparently with all the doors and windows shut you can hear me a couple doors down ;) At very low volumes (below 1) this amps distorts which is why I don't suggest buying it unless you're planning on using it mainly for gigs. Fully cranked there's zero distortion! I play everything from Hendrix to Metallica. For bluesy stuff I prefer to use my Ibanez Tube Screamer but the Crunch mode on Classic channel really does compare. The ultra distortion just isn't for me which is why I use the Metal Zone. Anyway I give it a 5 because I really do love the clean sound and I make good use of the reverb even though it's not the greatest reverb you can get.
Overall Impression — 8
I've been playing for 10 years but this is my first "serious" amp. I tried out a ton of amps including both stacks and combos before settling on this one. I bought this amp because of it's clean rich tone. The downsides are the single EQ, and un-switchable channel modes. If it were stolen I'd cry, go on a screaming rampage and then call my insurance company. Yes I've insured this amp because I just can't afford to replace it. I would definintely get the same amp though. Overall I give it a 4 over a 5 because it's quite expensive, it's Marshall and the lack of features listed above. Even though I don't like the distortion it's only my opinion so I'm not considering it a downside. You may love the distortion. The sound quality, loudness, pure tube, EQ, FX loop, dual channel and the fact that you can drop it on cement and not break it are what makes this amp really shine!
Reliability & Durability — 8
This thing is pretty reliable. My grandmother helped me pay for it and when we brought it home she decided to try and help out by bringing it to the house for me and dropped it on my drive way! I almost shit my pants but it still works fine. So that's pretty reliable IMO. I wouldn't ever gig without a backup and spare tubes. Now since I've only had it for a short while I'm not going to give it a reliability rating since it could blow up on me tommorow for all I know. However, the above tells me that it's built like a tank.
Features — 6
This amp is a 50 watt all tube. It has four ecc83 preamp tubes and two el34 power tubes. I believe this amp was made in 2001. It has 2 channels, classic and ultra. Each channel has two modes: classic has clean and crunch and ultra has lead1 and lead2. So it's really 4 channel if you count the two modes in each channel. The Crunch mode in clean has a very light 70's "bluesy" style overdrive which is very nice if you play Hendrix or Vaughan. The Ultra distortion is quite heavy but better suited to hard rock like Aerosmith. For rythm you will probably want to use lead1 and for leads use lead2. The difference is that lead2 is basically lead1 with more fuzz. The distortion is very impressive but it has this "fuzzy/staticy" sound that I don't like much. You may love it. Try it for yourself. The amp also has a reverb effect for both channels which is nice enough for me since I don't use reverb that much but if you really like reverb it's not the greatest and will probably want to use a pedal. It also has a parallel effects loop which I don't use but I plan to if I ever get a delay, chorous or flanger pedal. The EQ has a ton of features but they don't do much to adjust the tone. They just fine-tune it. If you like to change all your EQ settings for each song to get radically different sounds then this amp isn't for you. It has one distinct tone which you can adjust. The adjustments are Prescence, Treble, Mid, Bass, Deep (switch) and Tone Shift (switch). The Prsence knob seems to adjust your treble and your mid at the same time. It's very hard to explain but the main idea is that you can adjust it for each venue to modify the "attack" of the sound for each unique room. I find it very useful presonally. Treble, Mid and Bass should be self-explanatory since they exist on every amp I've ever used. The main thing to note here though is that the tone adjustment produces quite different effects from most other amps. I'm used to boosting the treble and the bass and keeping the mid on 0. It doesn't work with this amp. To get the best tone I keep Treble on 5, Bass on 6 and Mid on 0. You will have to play with them yourself to get what you like. The Tone Shift basically cuts your mids. I always keep this on since I'm not a big fan of high mids. Again this is just my opinion and you will have to experiment to get what you want. The deep switch basically cuts the mids and the treble and boosts your bass. It's nice but I find on this amp that it has a very high bass "attack" which is why I keep the bass only on 6. With the deep switch on it feels almost like you're playing a bass and not a 6 string when you hit low notes ;) Suffice to say I keep this off. There are two features that this amp lacks. One is a separate eq for each channel and the other is switching modes with a footswitch. You can switch between channels but you can't switch between clean and "crunch" or "lead1 and lead2". This is why I only give it a 3. All in all this amp has a perfect feature set for me but when it comes down to it you either like it or you don't. It has a very static tone which you can't change. Only fine tune. If you like to play with the knobs and change them for each song to get radically different tones then this amp isn't for you.