JMP 2203 review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (26 votes)
Marshall: JMP 2203

Price paid: € 700

Purchased from: Used

Sound — 10
The guitars I played through this amp are HSS and SSS stratocasters and a few Les Pauls. I use a Marshall 1960A box with 4x Celestion G12T - 75 speakers. I liked it best either with the SSS strat or with a Les Paul. The amp sounds great with single coils, which can sound very thin and weak on modern compressed high gain amps, but they sound so open and powerful with this amp. Perfect for blues & rock. You just have to be careful with the presence and the EQ because it can get too bright sometimes. On the other hand, when you use a LP, you get a fat sound, with a lot of bass and mids. Sound gets darker with adding more preamp gain. Adding master volume gets more mids in the mix and opens up the sound even more. This amp should never be played under at least 1/4 of the master volume, it really doesn't sound good on lower volumes. My favorite combination with this amp is a LP plugged into the High input with full preamp gain, and a tubescreamer in front of the amp. I set the gain control on tubescreamer to 0, and volume and tone on half to boost the amp. In that way I get a fluid hard rock sound, screaming on the bridge pickup and singing on the neck pickup. Sustain gets much better that way, and it's easier to play. Clean sound you get on the low input stays clean even on higher volumes, but it's not really the best sound you can get out of it. It's a lot more dry than a Fender Twin Reverb clean, but it has a funky snappiness to it. The amp is really touch sensitive, with great dynamics. To get a really good sound out of it, you really need to be in a good playing shape, because it's not easy to play on it. Each tone you play must be played perfectly to sound good. I didn't like that when I got the amp, but I realized it makes me practice more which is really a good thing.

Overall Impression — 10
My favorite type of music is hard rock, but since I play in a few bands, I often play blues, classic rock and alternative rock. This amp is a perfect match for the music I play, it's really warm and fat, and capable of getting really heavy when boosted. My favorite guitar sounds are those of Steve Ray Vaughan, Slash and Gary Moore. I get similar sounds with my amp using a SSS strat for Stevie Ray, and a LP for Slash and Gary Moore sounds. I have to boost it though to get to the Gary Moore zone. It's not the same sound of course, and it's not that I really wish to achieve the same sound. That is just the character of sound I prefer. I love the simplicity of the amp, because I don't have to think about all those channels, mid boosts, reverbs, effects, and so on. I just plug in and have a really good time. I really wouldn't change it for any other amp.

Reliability & Durability — 10
This is really one of the best things with this amp - it's truly reliable, and because it's simply constructed, it's easy to repair if something breaks down. These amps have been around for ages, and many electricians are already familiar with them. My amp is over 30 years old, and the only thing that has ever been changed were the tubes. It still works perfectly.

Features — 7
The amp I am reviewing was made in 1978, and has only basic features when compared to modern guitar amplifiers. It's a one channel amp, with two inputs with different sensitivity. The "Low" input will give you a clean sound even on full preamp gain, while the "High" input will be much louder and quite dirtier. There are six controls on the front of the amp besides the Power and Stand By switches - Presence, Bass, Middle, Treble, Preamp Volume and Master Volume. Presence controls the amount of high frequencies and should be adjusted to match the guitar and the room you are playing in. The EQ section is simple, but you should take some time to adjust it well (too much bass = muddy, scooped mids = not with this amp, too much treble = ears bleeding). Preamp Volume controls the preamp gain, and when plugged in the High input can make your sound clean or totally dirty. Master Volume controls the power amp volume. It's not possible to plug in both inputs, and switch between clean and overdrive sounds with a AB box, because when there is a jack plugged into the High input it overrides the Low input so you can't use it. Even if you mod the amp to be able to do that, the volume difference would be to much, and the amp reacts quite good to rolling off the volume pot on the guitar so you can achieve clean sounds that way. There are three ECC83S preamp tubes, and 4 EL34 power tubes. I use the amp for rehearsals and open and indoor gigs, and I can say it's a bit too loud. Actually not really a bit, it's probably 3-4 times louder than I would ever need it to be, but I like it that way. Not really suitable for rehearsals and indoor gigs, a 50w combo would be better in those situations, but when you take it to an open stage it rocks. Literally. As you can see, there aren't many available features, but it's not a big deal because if you like the sound of the amp, and you wish to play the music most commonly assigned with this sound, you probably wouldn't even need any extra features. The main feature of this amp is it's massive sound, and it's quite enough for me. An effects loop would be nice, and you can mod the amp to do it, but I advise you not to. One of the main contributors to the classic Marshall crunch is the power amp distortion, and since the effects loop must come in front of the power amp you wouldn't get a good sound out of it. If you are a effects freak, then this is not the amp for you.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    haha you guys are gonna be jealous! i found one of these in my attic the other week, brand new in the box