MA50C review by Marshall

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 3
  • Overall Impression: 1
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Features: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 3.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 7.4 (55 votes)
Marshall: MA50C

Price paid: $ 680

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 3
I have a Kramer guitar (from the 80s) with really HOT Seymour Duncan humbuckers and an Ibanez with average quality single coils). The single coils sound better through this amp than the humbuckers. The Marshall MA50C is a very noisy amp even when nothing is plugged into it. This is annoying especially at low volume levels. The amp is not as versatile as I was hoping. Its mid and lower gain crunch (ala AC/DC, ZZ top) is lousy, lacking note separation and dynamics of soft vs hard attack. It can mimic some heavy 80s rock such as Ratt, Motley Crue, etc. But even then the sound was too shrill for my tastes. It sounded more like a solid state overdrive than a tube. The clean channel also lacked the warmth of a tube amp. If I was blindfolded and someone played this amp without me knowing which amp they were playing I would have guessed it was solid state. The reverb is perhaps the worst of all internal reverbs I have ever heard. It has no depth even when cranked. It wasn't broken or unplugged as other reviewers noted on their respective amps; the knob did change the amount of reverb it just didn't sound very deep. The overall sound in both the clean an overdrive channels was way too tinty, shrill, and piercing. I had to put the treble setting at 0 just to make the sound tolerable. I also had to adjust the tone on my guitar down (something I have never needed to do on any other amp for the kind of tone I want).

Overall Impression — 1
I have been playing guitar since the mid 80s and have played and owned many kinds of guitars and amps. This is by far most disappointing amp I ever owned (if only for a brief period of time). I bought it because it said "Marshall" which turned out to be a big mistake on my part. Admittedly, Marshall makes good high end amps. Admittedly, Marshall never marketed the MA50C as anything but an entry level all-valve amp. However, I expected more from Marshall than what they produced in the MA50c. I wasn't expecting a JCM sound but I was at least hoping for a moderately decent tube sound. If you really want a Marshall, either spend much less and settle for their solid state selection, or save up and get one of their higher end models.

Reliability & Durability — 5
I can't speak to reliability and durability because I returned the amp. There were no defects on the one I had while I had it. As far as construction, better care could've been taken by the assemblers in Vietnam to wrap the box with vinyl. It didn't look horrible, but if you have OCD you may notice minor bumps and less than perfect cutting of the vinyl covering. The screen and beading were also less than perfectly installed. I rated this a 5 because a 10 may give it improper credit as to reliability and durability and a 1 may be unfair.

Features — 4
The Marshall MA50C is a 50 watt 2 channel tube amp. It has 2 EL8 power tubes and 3 ECC8 preamp tubes. Instead of using Celestion, Marshal used a cheaper 12" Eminence speaker. The amp has 2 channels with a overdrive boost (foot switch included). Both channels have a separate eq (bass, mid, treble). There is no headphone jack but it does have an effects loop. The speaker out jacks can accommodate either: 1) the single internal 16 ohm speaker, 2) the internal 16 ohm speaker plus another 16 ohm speaker, or 3) an 8 ohm speaker. I rated the features a 4 because the foot switch is useless for live applications. It has a slight delay after the switch is pressed before the channel or boost actually changes.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Wow that top review is tough. I'd tend to agree though. Theres no need for an entry-level valve amp. Entry level manufacture cuts costs and if you cut costs on valve amps they sound just as shit as SS ones.
    The old series of MA amps sounded like a guitar hooked up to a tin can with a piece of string. The newer revision sounds surprisingly alright but is way too expensive for what it is in the US. If you can find one of the newer revisions in the States for sub-$500 they're alright. Not that "classic Marshall tone" but it is what you would expect an entry level high-watt tube amp to be.
    I would completely agree with the unregistered review. I tried one with high hopes of scoring a nice-sounding Brit tube amp head for $800, and the only way I can describe the tone I got out of it with a Gibson SG Standard is if you try to use the recording out on a Roland Cube 20 straight into a computer using a 1/4"-1/8" cable, it was trebly and thin but at the same time it was muddy, I don't know how that works but it was like that. And it was right next to a Traynor Custom Special 50, which, for the same price as the MA, sounded pretty close to a TSL100, which(sadly) was $1400 used at the L&M I was at. Hurtin' times, hurtin' times.