JCM2000 TSL100 Head review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 3
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.7 (149 votes)
Marshall: JCM2000 TSL100 Head

Price paid: £ 900

Purchased from: Music Ground

Sound — 9
As good as anything I have heard in terms of valve distortion ranging from twinkling sharpness to saturated singing distorting madness. The clean channel has a gain boost which is useful. On the neck pickup you can get some great jazz tones but I found it lacking for bridge tones. Sharp but not expressive. Another slight criticism is the emulated output. Its pretty dire, no matter what anyone tells you. I have tried to use it in a studio setting and have been literally laughed at by technicians.

Overall Impression — 7
Well, I recently got rid because I got sick of having it repaired so I can't be too positive. It did sound fantastic though. Basically, I love the sound and features but its really temperamental. When you have time to just stand in front of it and play its joyous... if it works. Transporting the thing is interesting as its a heavy beast and the reverb coil sound like its going to break at any minute. SO in short it is like an Italian sports car. It makes a fantastic noise and everyone will be jealous but it won't work half the time and will cost you a fortune in repairs.

Reliability & Durability — 3
Firstly, I should say that Marshall may have fixed some of these issues. I had many problems with reliability. The first one I had set itself on fire on stage, literally. Funny in retrospect but not at the time. Thankfully it was under warranty so I got a replacement. The useful thing about this is that I have owned 2 from new so can give a better idea of what is a design flaw as apposed to a one off. For instance, the footswitch socket on the ampo is prone to falling in requiring some really tricky soldering. If not checked this leads to bad connections and spontaneous channel changing... Not good on stage. I am told that this is a common issue. Also, both amps got through valves pretty quickly. My second TSL 100 managed to burn out its circuit board requiring an expensive replacement. It was partly due to reliability issues that I eventually sold my (beloved) SL 100. Basically I learned not to trust it and as a result you need a plan B when playing live. But given how amazing it sounds, you may think that, that is a price that you are willing to pay.

Features — 9
My first TSL 100 was purchased new in 2001 and I got a replacement under warranty in 2002. I was attracted to it because it does everything. It has a staggering amount of valve power. It has three channels allowing for a bluesy and crunchy middle channel which was really useful on stage with the 5 switch footswitch (3 channels, reverb and FX loop). The "deep" switch saturates the sound with warmth and bass but I can't describe it as a feature because I never turned it off... Basically it has everything that you could want from a modern amp.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    maowcat wrote: I'm amazed people rave over these amps, they are complete pieces of shit. Got one of these in my basement, my friend keeps it here for band practice and i use it for my other band because i don't have an amp. He got it with a 1960a cab and it was retubed recently. Clean channel is way to bright, no warmth to it and is all mids. Crunch channel is thin and fuzzy, no low mids to it, absolutely no strength, sounds like a SS amp to me. Now the lead channel is decent, without the deep switch it sounds OK, the deep switch gives the tightest and most present sound, muddy in the high gain area. The modern switch makes it sound like an MG, but my metalcore band needs that sound so i have to use the stupid modern switch. This amp is not loud, all the idiots here have never played a mesa in their life. My rhythm guitarist has his dual rec at 2 when i have the TSL at 6 at out shows, by the end of our show i turn it up to 8 for my end solo, ****ing EIGHT, no tube amp should have to go that loud. I have never been fond of marshalls, after playing this piece of shit you couldn't get me to pay more than $500 for it. Go out and a mesa, peavey, engl, fryette, bogner or anything except marshall, I'm probably gonna go buy an old peavey 5150 II just so i don't have to use this piece of crap. Marshalls are overpriced mediocre amps, only good thing about them is they cut through the mix.
    Someone who writes a review this stupid would play metalcore lol. I play primarily post-rock and death metal, and if you work with it and get new tubes, the tone is CRUSHING for death metal. And maybe you haven't fiddled with the clean enough, or maybe you have a shitty guitar most metalcore guitarists prefer (thin neck with the fastest action = dead tone my friend) cause it's pretty on par with a Fender deluxe reverb when I run my Les Paul through it in a lot of ways. Sorry it doesn't have that overcompressed dead sound most metalcore does (: Try listening to some organic death metal with players who can actually *gasp* play and who use the distortion to accent their playing, not to hide behind.
    I don't understand why these amps go so cheap second hand, they are awesome and very versatile. I have owned the TSL 100 head for 10 years now and it's never let me down. I don't use the stock valves but I particularly love the vpr switch to reduce the power to 25 watts. The emulated line out is very useful when doing big gigs and the mute switch is handy for guitar changes. The tonal range is excellent with deep switches and mid shift buttons adding to the already extensive tonal pallette. I have a Bugera 333xl and the one thing on that amp I'd love to see on my TSL 100 is the ability to change valves without biasing and no need for matched pairs. Then the TSL would be perfect.