Lead 12 Combo review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.5 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (6 votes)
Marshall: Lead 12 Combo

Price paid: $ 150

Purchased from: eBay

Sound — 8
I'm currently playing a faded Gibson SG through it and the humbucker have a good overdriven sound to them, especially through the neck pickup. This Marshall is capable of producing some solid leads when the gain is cranked and the volume is set to at least three o'clock. There are basically only three gain stages despite the knob going to ten. The clean is anything between one and five, then the amp starts to break up around six with full on distortion at nine and ten. One can easily get a good 1970s rock tone with the higher gain setting. The clean is very disappointing however because it lacks "meat". The sound is tinny and weak and it doesn't help to tweak the EQ at all when the gain knob isn't turned up. This combo doesn't give the player a very big variety to choose from but the Celestion speaker does enhance it a good amount. The speaker alone is worth a third of what I paid for the whole thing. The line out jack is a really good feature. When I plug it into my 1960A, it really sounds similar to a JCM 800. It obviously doesn't have the thick sound as the JCM but I was still impressed what this little amp could do when paired with a big cabinet. I do have a few complaints: The pots are pretty scratchy and even after I cleaned them, they still crackle in spots. The amp also makes a very high pitched squeal when the gain is cranked and there is no 1/4 jack plugged in.

Overall Impression — 9
I would never use this amp on stage without a mic or at least running the line out to a bigger cabinet because although it can keep up with some drummers, it would eventually be drowned out by the entire band. It does sound good, especially the gain, for a small practice amp. I've tried the Marshall MG line of practice amps and they are horrible, this one is vastly superior despite the lack of effects. I own several Marshall amps both big and small and for what it is, the Lead 12 is harder to beat. It gives you a taste of the classic Marshall crunch albeit in a small compact practice package.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I haven't had it for very long so I haven't ran into any problems yet. The squeal is reason of concern though. It almost sounds like one of those whistles that only dogs can hear. For 26 year old amp, this one is in very good shape. I would depend on it only if I were playing a smaller venue as it wouldn't produce enough volume for anything very big. It's built Marshall tough however and I couldn't see the thing breaking unless you had some really fat chick sitting on it.

Features — 8
I originally purchased this 12 watt combo amplifier second hand off eBay for $150. This was probably the best amp that I've ever bought for that price! According to the stamped chassis, the amp was made in 1985 and has the lighter brown mesh that was popular around the early/mid 80s. It has a single channel with three band EQ (treble, middle, bass), two inputs (high, low), a gain and a volume control. The front panel also features a line out/head phone that can send the signal to a larger cabinet. As mentioned before this amp has a 12 watt solid state power section with a ten inch Celestion speaker stock. This on the surface makes the amp a solid buy alone. I bought this amp for the sole purpose of practicing at a low volume in my bedroom hence the headphone jack. The amp itself is plenty loud for what I bought it for. The combo has no reverb although I've seen some Lead 12's with it as an option.

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