JCM800 2205 review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 9.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (43 votes)
Marshall: JCM800 2205
2

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.

22 comments sorted by best / new / date

    GuitarCrusher
    If you want the true Marshall tone like when they originally introduced the jcm800, then add 6550 tubes they are expensive but thats what made Marshall so great. Also for zakk wylde fans out there he uses the 6550s too.
    The Hellion
    Okay.. I got a chance to crank it. Can't say much about the tone 'cause I had earplugs, but I think it was pretty good... but its really too early to say. It has maybe a little bit too much distortion for some old hard rock, but not enough for some new hi-gain stuff. Well okay, if you just have enough time, you can find good settings for that old hard rock stuff. Just turn down the boost channel volume and gain and put master volume all the way up. Lo-gain EL34s and 12ax7s would help to achieve that old hard rock sound better. As well as vintage pickups
    soulseeker_x
    what are good boost pedals to put in front of this amp? i mean i know the ts9, od1, and zakk wylde od, but other than that?
    wareagle5490
    @ hirschberger 2204 is a 50 watt verison of the 2203, its a single channel. 2205 is 2 channel. let me say, the double channel amps sound nothing like the singles, the single channels are "meatyer" and have a great crunch, the double doesnt have as good tone. @reggire119: the 100 watt version is the 2210. @***wicked***: the 2000 has more distortion but HORRIBLE tone in my opinion, very bad. what id do, and what im doing, im going to most likeley buy a 800 2204, and add the original mxr + disotortion and a tubescreamer. i need more disotortion and sustain. the 2000 has very "fake" or as some say "synthetic" disotortion/tone. i dont like it at all.
    blues-guitarist
    I have a JCM800 2203 and love the tone but you need to crank it to get a good tone, it's WAY too loud for me...i'm selling it and getting a Orange Rocker 30
    ***wicked***
    hey guys im stuck between jcm 800 and jcm 2000. i play black sabbath, led zeppelin, ac/dc also metallica, pantera and stuff. i mean i need and amp that can give me old and modern sound. i love the sound of 800 s but i couldnt get any modern sound out of it. what would u guys prefer?
    RG_FANMAN
    Dan Jacobs of Atreyu uses one. I'm prett sure he uses his Boss Overdrive to boost the sound a bit, but still, they have some pretty good metal tones. Also, Slash uses one, so it's got to be good. I'm really interested in one of these!
    5thhorseman
    I thought that only the 800's that were brought to America had 6550's because the EL34's of the time were easily damaged during shipping. Those that stayed in GB should have had EL34's.
    Spartan 117
    The Hellion wrote: Does someone know if any legendary band has really used 2205 or 2210? All the bands that have used JCM 800 seems to have been using 2203..
    I saw John Fogerty using a 2210 at the football game on Thanksgiving.
    Spartan 117
    The Hellion wrote: ^I thought Schenker used either 2203 or 2204 or whatever that 50w single channel JCM 800 is.
    The 50 watt single channel is the 2204
    The Hellion
    ^I thought Schenker used either 2203 or 2204 or whatever that 50w single channel JCM 800 is.
    Gutch220
    Yea, I agree EL34's and Marshall's are legendary together.. ^Tom Morello uses the 2205's. I'm sure I can think of more if I try. There are lots of artists who use them.
    The Hellion
    Does someone know if any legendary band has really used 2205 or 2210? All the bands that have used JCM 800 seems to have been using 2203..
    The Hellion
    there's also not a lot of sustain even when you can get some distortion out of it. Tell me about it! I have 2210 and the problem is exactly same, no sustain really, but maybe that's usual with this kind of amps. Late 80's amps started to have tons of sustain. If you want the true Marshall tone like when they originally introduced the jcm800, then add 6550 tubes they are expensive but thats what made Marshall so great. EL34 is the legendary power tube, not 6550. All the bands I listen to (Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Accept, Scorpions, Michael Schenker Group etc etc) used EL34s (I'm pretty sure of it). Now, 6550s do sound good too, but it's not the classic Marshall tone then anymore. I was a bit dissapointed with my 2210. The clean channel is useless without of gain (but maybe sounds decent with distortion/overdrive pedal) and EQ is very weak too, so it needs propably good 10 band EQ too. Otherwise the amp is okay and the distortion is very powerfull, not like that modern hi-gain that sounds very sterile.
    Gutch220
    Yes thats pretty much right. The amps were shipped over to the states with no tubes, and when they arrived they were fitted with tubes that were readily available at the time (6550's)
    Sam Mézec
    I'm considering buying one of these. Does anyone know if it would work fine in an AVT412 cab? Because thats meant to go with a solid state Marshall I thought there might be some complications?