JCM2000 TSL100 Head review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.7 (150 votes)
Marshall: JCM2000 TSL100 Head

Price paid: A$ 1500

Purchased from: Second hand

Sound — 8
My two main guitars are a Fender Stratocaster (stock pickups) and an ESP Horizon (stock pickups). I also use a Cort Acoustic guitar. Between the three guitars, I can achieve a wide variety of sounds through this amp. This amp is really, really good for what I like to play. I am very happy with it, and I've always been able to get the sound I want. This amp has onboard reverb, which only works with the clean channel. It isn't really that good - it's a bit dry and dull. I don't use it though. The clean channel has miles of head room. Even with the gain right up, the volume needs to be up a bit to achieve natural distortion. I can play clean (acoustic or electric) as loudly as I want without having to worry about unwanted distortion. The distortion ranges from mild 60s overdrive to modern nu-metal hi-gain. It is extraordinarily versatile. I have been able to get just about any sound that I have tried to emulate, from AC/DC to Pink Floyd to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Metallica. The Lead channel is a bit noisy. There is a bit of hum present, but when playing lead, I can't hear it. It's only when I'm not playing that I can hear it, regardless of guitar or pickup configuration. The Lead channel is the hi-gain channel and I don't mind the hum at all, because I can't hear any sign of it on recordings of the Lead channel.

Overall Impression — 9
This amp suits my styles exactly. Like I said before, I play classic rock, modern rock and metal, and this amplifier is more than capable of doing exactly what I need it to do. I have about 8 years of playing experience. Like I said before, I have a few different guitars which I use for different styles. My other equipment ranges in quality from beginner to professional, and this amp works well with everything. I am totally satisfied with this amp. It's everything I expected it to be and more. It has some undesirable features, but I can live with them and, in a way, they add to amp's character. What's more, I love how imposing this thing looks. With the Marshall 1960A cabinet underneath it, it looks brilliant and intimidating. It's part of my show. If this amp were stolen or lost, I would probably investigate other Marshall heads that are slightly more higher end - something like a Marshall 1959SLP or JTM45/100 or similar. But, because they would probably be too expensive, I would probably turn back to my trusty TSL100. There is nothing about this amplifier that I hate. Yes, there are some annoying features but overall it's brilliant. I have used my friend's Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier and I honestly prefer the TSL100. I give this an overall 9/10, and I think it really is that good. If you're considering this amplifier, do yourself a favour and BUY IT. You will thank yourself for doing so.

Reliability & Durability — 8
This amplifier is very solid. The only fragile part of it is the valves, and these are well protected by a steel grill (that is easily removable for changing the valves or just to look cool). The amp itself has a solid wooden housing and is covered in standard black Tolex. The handle is very solid, and shows no signs of breaking. I don't want to try it, but I would be confident this amp could survive a fall from its cabinet. This amp has never done anything untoward. I have never had any cause to doubt it would work whenever I want it to. It has never failed. It's always worked exactly as it should. I regularly gig without a backup amplifier, and I do so confident that the amp will not fail. I imagine that eventually the valves will fail, but I have had the amplifier for about 4 months now and the vales are still going strong.

Features — 8
Note: I bought the TSL100 head and the JCM900 1960A cabinet together. This amp was made in 2003 in Milton Keynes, England. It is a very versatile amplifier, with three genuine distinct channels: Clean, Crunch and Lead. I is rated to about 120 W. I like to play classic rock mostly, and some modern rock and metal. This amplifier can handle it all, easily. I have been able to achieve a number of tones with a bit of experimentation. The amplifier comes with a footswitch that is primarily used to Switch between the three channels. Each channel has its own button on the footswitch. The other two buttons are Reverb and FX, which are reasonably self explanatory, but I will describe them later anyway. This amplifier has 3 speaker outputs: two 4/8 ohm and one 16 ohm output. The 4/8 ohm outputs have a Switch to select which impedance is matched. This allows it to be matched to just about any cabinet you might have lying around. The amp has a function, called 'Virtual Power Reduction', that modifies the power amp circuit to reduce output power to approximately 25 W. This allows the amplifier to be used in a small rehearsal room and turned up to a reasonable volume (about half) without being unbearably loud. The guitar can be an appropriate volume relative to the drums and bass and still be able to achieve the sonic character that you expect from a Marshall amplifier. This is a very useful feature, as at full power, the amp is too loud to turn up past 2 or 3. The amp has a mute button. This is surprisingly useful. It disables the power amp stage. I have used this in conjunction with the Emulated Line Out. This allows me to turn up the volume and send the pre-amped signal to a mixing desk for recording. I can listen to the guitar over headphones, with the amp volume high but the desk volume low. This means I can get the full tube breakup sound straight to the desk. This amplifier has an effects loop, in fact there are two: a Master and Overdrive loop. The Master loop will effect all three channels, while the Overdrive loop effects only the crunch and lead channels. However, when BOTH loops are in use, the Master loop becomes solely available to the Clean channel. Each loop has a level button to select High or Low level signal, depending on the effects source (pedal, multi-effects, rack unit (intermediate or professional), or whatever it might be). This amplifier does not have a headphone jack. I don't need one. I use this amplifier for proper band rehearsals and gigs. It has been easily loud enough for any gig I've played so far (rooms of about 1500 people) to be un-mic'd. It is ridiculously powerful when I need it to be. There are no features that I need this amp to have that it doesn't already have. The amp comes loaded with 4x 12AX7 pre-amp tubes and 4x EL34 power amp tubes. Accordingly, it has both Master and Standby power switches.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Love this amp.... JVM awful and I took it back to the shop to pay extra for the TSL 100 thru 1960tv cabinet 25 wt celestions.... Beautiful sound from clean to dirty... ONLY problem - Marshall effects loop buzz and drop in volume. They did this mod because people were blowing them due to circuitry too and changed design.. Replacing board may minimise hum and rebuilding effects loop can work because it's a crappy effects loop... I may have to modify it.... Other than that major blunder that marshall users experience with the JCM2000 series, it's probably the best modern marshall to date in recent times since the 800/900 days... The JVM 210h/410h? Shitty amps, way way too much gain and fuzzy crap with a clean sound that is lifeless and useless. JVM are a woeful series of Marshalls' recent line... SOrry.