Purchased from: Second Hand - Birmingham
Sound — 10
I use an Aria Pro II (copy of a Ibanez SA-120) which has an H-S-S pick up configuration. I have a Seymour Duncan SH-5 Custom in the bridge position, a Hotrails in the middle, and a JB Jr in the neck. It suits my music style very well (Rock/Metal mainly, and also I play in a cover band that plays all sorts of music, and I can rely on it to reproduce these tones, with the help of a multi-fx pedal) On the negative side, the effects loop is very noisy, but I don't use it (although I don't have much to put through it yet), the overdrive channel isn't as gainy as it's made out to be either, it pretty much stays clean-ish until you turn the master volume, channel volume and channel gain up to at least 5, the distortion isn't suited to metal or heavy rock, unless you have a pedal to boost it, there's also not a lot of sustain even when you can get some distortion out of it. The gain also gets noisy (lots of hiss) after about 8 on the dial. There isn't very much variety of sound (without a pedal) but the sound that does come out of it is brilliant.
Overall Impression — 10
I play Rock/metal music, and this amp is well suited to this music, as long as it's used with a pedal. I have been playing for roughly 2 and a half years, and this is my first tube amp. I also own a Fender Champion 30 SS amp, a MXR Distortion+ pedal, and a Zoom 606 guitar effects pedal. I would definately buy another one if it were stolen, I would also maim the theif responsible. I compared it to some more modern Marshalls, (JCM900 series, DSL series) and found the gain on those models, while higher in general, was also of a much lower quality soundwise, and preferred to boost the lower gain on this amp (which stays good even after it's boosted). I wish it had a better quality effects loop, and a mid EQ control on the clean channel. Famous guitarists who used/use this amp or one of it's close counterparts include all 3 current guitarists of Iron Maiden (Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers) and Slash of Guns N' Roses fame.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I would depend on it, and gig without a backup if I didn't have one, however seeing as I do have a backup, I won't! I mentioned earlier that the amp needed servicing once or twice for different reasons, however these services were done for sound quality, and the amp worked fine before they were done. The amp has never broken down on me and sounded ok even before the replacement parts.
Features — 8
This is one of the famous JCM 800 series, more specifically the 2205 model, the features include 50-watt (2x EL34 power tubes), 2 channel (footswitchable only), master volume, effects loop, and master reverb (also footswitchable). This all-tube head was made in 1987, and has survived well up to this point, however time had taken it's toll in a few ways. When I got it, it still had all the original power tubes and preamp tubes, which had pretty much used up their life, and needed to be replaced. Also I had to take it back to the tech again to replace some caps and a resistor or two, the values had drifted with age. When I got it back the second time however, it was great! I run it through a Marshall 1960AC 4x12 cabinet (4x25 watt Celestion Greenback speakers). It does have a few minor shortcomings, the biggest of which is the lack of a midrange EQ control on the clean channel. It also lacks seperate reverb controls for each channel, which is sometimes annoying.