Price paid: $ 600
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
This is the Marshall MA50C tube combo amp. I bought it about 2 years ago and play on it regularly. The pre-amp contains 3 ECC83 tubes and the power amp contains 2 EL34 tubes playing through a 12" Eminence AX-75 speaker. The amp has 2 channels: clean and overdrive (the overdrive channel has a boost that increases gain dramatically). The amp also comes with the corresponding pedal to allow switching between clean and overdrive and boosted or un-boosted. The clean channel has 4 knobs: bass, middle, treble, and volume. The overdrive channel has 6 knobs: crunch balance, gain, bass, middle, treble, and volume. The last 3 knobs on the amp are master controls for reverb, resonance, and presence. Last but not least, this amp has an effects loop. I would say that overall this amp has many good features.
Sound — 7
I like to play music ranging from calm cleans all the way up to hardcore. Due to the nature of the dual channels, I would say that this amp provides me with enough versatility to allow me to play all of my genres with the exception hardcore. That being said, with the use of external distortion this amp allows me to play all the hardcore I want to. I play with a Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster and an Ibanez GRG with active EMGs (81 and 85 if I remember correctly). My pedals include the: Boss TU-2, Boss MT-2, Boss NS-2, Ibanez TS-9, Fulltone PlimSoul, TC Electronic Flashback, and TC Electronic Hall Of Fame. As most tube amps are, this amp sounds very thin and shrill at low volumes on both channels (especially the OD channel). Once you get past the 9 o'clock point on the volume the sound improves greatly. This amp has a very bright sound to it and can sometimes need a little tailoring to the treble on either the amp or your guitar to smooth your tone out. The clean channel on this amp is my favorite (especially past 12 o'clock); it isn't hard to make a fat and warm sound out of it. This channel is very quiet, even at higher volumes, which is something I enjoy. Another positive is that the clean channel has a lot of head room (I guess this could be considered a negative for some players). One thing I do not enjoy, however, is that the clean channel doesn't take PlimSoul super well compared to other "cleaner" amps (like Fenders). The MT-2 sounds good with it when the gain is pretty high. I would rate the clean channel at an 8. The OD channel is not as impressive as the clean channel in my opinion. This channel is still fairly quiet (considering it's an OD channel) but can get really noisy with the boost engaged. I would not recommend using any external OD on this channel because it becomes very buzzy and diminishes tone. The amount of gain is pretty substantial and can easily handle the gain of bands like the Foo Fighters or Weezer. Being able to match their tone on this channel is a different story altogether. The tone of the OD channel does not sound very warm and does not have the feeling of "depth," even when cranked pretty loud (past 12 o'clock). I would say it sounds better than a solid state amp, but not too much better. I was expecting the OD channel to be amazing due to the brand name, but I was left hanging. I would rate the OD channel as a 5. It is usable, but average at best. Combining the overall sound of the amp, I rate the sound as a 6 1/2, but I will round up to 7 since I like the clean.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I play gigs at my church basically every week, so it handles live playing well. The hardware in the amp is decent, but I have encountered a few issues. The first being that the spring reverb on my amp broke completely about 5 months into owning the amp. Also, after 1 1/2 years the input jack fell apart and I was unable to plug into the amp. For the most part, this amp is dependable despite those two incidents. The input falling apart rendered one of my church gigs unplayable which was a major disappointment, but considering how often I play and that this is a tube amp (notoriously fragile) I think its fairly good quality. I use this amp without a backup (because I don't have one with me all the time) often, but I am a little on the fence about not having one after the input jack problem. I can't recommend playing without a backup (simply because it is smart to have a backup if possible), but I would not be fearful that it is going to breakdown at any moment.
Overall Impression — 6
I have been playing guitar for 5 years and have owned this amp for 2 years. I play guitar a ton. I am in numerous church worship bands and I also used to play in a metal band. It is not uncommon for me to play guitar for 2 hours a day, 7 days a week. I really like the clean channel on this amp, but if I was put in a scenario where this amp was stolen/lost/broken, I wouldn't actually buy this amp again. I have had fun with it, but there are overall better amps out there for $600 or less. I really thought that this amp was going to blow me out of the water, but unfortunately I am not sure if this amp truly lives up to the "Marshall" reputation. Does this amp have its positives? Absolutely, as do most amps, but I can't say that this amp is worth what I paid for it. Like I mentioned earlier, there are better amps to buy if your budget is $600 or less. I hope that this review has been insightful and helps aid in any decision making process for your future amp purchases.