JCM800 2205 review by Marshall

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.5 Good
  • Users' score: 9 (43 votes)
Marshall: JCM800 2205

Price paid: $ 700

Purchased from: used (craigslist)

Sound — 9
My main guitar is an Epiphone Tony Iommi G-400. I plug it through a TS9 as a boost, usually. But it sounds great without the TS9 too. The Music I play is 70s hard rock like Kiss, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and Van Halen, and especially 80s metal like Priest, Maiden, Scorpions, Motley Crue, Whitesnake and so on, as well as thrash like Anthrax, Slayer, Overkill, Megaeth, Metallica, and Testament. It's perfect for that kind of stuff. So far the best sound I've found out of it is to run my TS9 with the gain on 0 and the level on 10, and the tone at noon, and put the gain on the amp at about 8. I keep the preamp volume, bass, treble, and mid knobs on 10, and the presence knob around 6 or so. For more modern sounds, I'll turn the gain up to 10, and it can handle thrash and even metalcore level gain really well. Like I said, I haven't used the clean channel yet because I don't have a footswitch, but I have heard that the clean channel isn't really very clean. The YouTube videos I've heard of it show a more dirty clean. There is a little bit of noise, but not that bad. Sometimes it picks up AM radio, but it's so faint I don't really think it matters. The noise isn't that bad, but I'm considering a Decimator or something just in case. Keep it away from windows, I had mine right next to a window in my room, and the radio interference was coming through really bad. But I moved it to the opposite corner of my room, and it's fine now. I think there might be a grounding problem, I'm gonna get it checked out soon.

Overall Impression — 9
I'm 18 years old, been playing for about 3 years, this is my first tube amp. Before this, all I had was my Spider 3. This was a heck of an upgrade. I really like it so far, it's perfect for the kind of music that I play. It's gotten me really close to my ultimate tone. Tom Morello uses the 05, as does Michael Schenker. Matthias Jabs from the Scorpions uses it's 100w counterpart, the 2210. If it were stolen, I'd be crushed, and I would try to find another one, or at least another JCM800. This really is a great amp, and I love it. You hear tube nazis bashing it because of the diode clipping thing, but don't listen to them. The diode clipping gives the sound that extra edge. If you see one, snatch it up quickly. You can get great deals on the split channel 800s because of all the bad hype about them.

Reliability & Durability — 5
I haven't gigged with it yet, but I look forward to it. It seems really well taken care of, so I wouldn't worry about it breaking down. I give it a 5 because it hasn't given me any problems thusfar, but I haven't gigged with it, so I don't know how reliable it would be in a gigging situation.

Features — 7
I obtained my 05 about a week ago through craigslist for $700. It was made in 1987. Supposedly, the split channel 800s from 1987 and later are better than the earlier ones, but I wouldn't know, this is the only one I've ever played to be honest. As far as versatility goes, there's not much to brag about, but you can adjust the gain and and get tones from the late 60s to modern day. Turn the gain knob to about noon, and you get a nice Plexi-sounding crunch, and on 10, you get a great thrashy Anthrax-type sound (especially boosted with an overdrive). The style of music I play doesn't require a lot of versatility, so I'm satisfied with what it has. It has a "Normal" channel and a "Boost" channel, but the original footswitch is long gone, and I haven't bothered replacing it yet (I haven't had it that long) because the Boost channel is so good, so I haven't even used the Normal channel yet. It's a loud sucker, but also sounds really good on low volume levels. Of course it won't sound as good as it does cranked, but let's just say, since I got this amp I haven't found a need for my Spider 3. There is an effects loop, but I haven't gotten a chance to use it yet. Right now the only pedal I'm using is a TS9 up front.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ok here's the truth about why the 2205 and 2210 sound like crap people...they use diodes for the clipping...essentially a crappy OD pedal built in between the tube stages. Thats why they do not sound classic...they sound synthetic, fuzzy, and non tube...because of the diodes used to generate most if not all of the distortion, unless you are really cranking it so the tube stages also distort. Clean channel sucks too. Yes I owned one and am not just guessing...look at the schematics, you will see the diodes in the preamp.
    dude thats awsome that one of the reveiewers got an original from 1987, and not the remake they have out now. It has to sound soo much better than the remake.
    @THRASH-METAL Well yeah, but remember, the reissue is based on an '81 2203, the 100w single channel. Mine is an '87 2205, the 50w split channel. So it's not exactly the same amp. I will say that I can nail all those classic JCM800 driven tones with it though, so the overall sound is still that classic 80s crunch, there's just some subtle differences, like a lot of people feel that the split channels have more gain, as I said in the review. And yeah, any original 800 is gonna be better than the reissued 2203. Why pay two grand on a reissue of something you can get for under one grand?
    "the distortion isn't suited to metal or heavy rock,"? Hmmmm....you're doing it wrong. Mine has more gain than pretty much any 2203 i've tried, so if that isn't doing it for you, you either need to get it serviced or get another amp. These are great and still a steal. I hated the clean channel on mine so I had the recording out on the back bypassed, and turned into a presence for that channel, made a world of difference. The gain channel was always a keeper.