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.