MS-4 Review

manufacturer: Marshall date: 11/18/2010 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Marshall: MS-4
The MS-4 is the ultimate in portable battery/mains adapter operated micro amps, packing a full 1 Watt of Marshall tone into a tiny case. This mighty micro Marshall half-stack has switchable Clean and Overdrive modes. A single Tone control provides full focus of bass to treble.
 Sound: 5.1
 Overall Impression: 5.8
 Reliability & Durability: 6.2
 Features: 6.1
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (13) 28 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 4
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 15, 2004
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: classmate...2nd hand

Features: Features 4 knobs, 1 gain, 1 volume 1, tone and 1 on/off switch. I bought this amp from my friend because I did not have any money after buying my Yamaha Pacifica 112J with SD custom pickups. I regretted it. This amp can only play blues, classic rock and country with its mellow sound. It can't play metal. It also drains the battery fast. 10 hrs of play and its flat. Looks like a toy too. Very bulky too. It's not something you can really bring along. // 4

Sound: I use Seymour Duncun Custom pickups. Suits only half my music. Bob Dylan, Muddy Waters, The Band and U2. It can't play Steve Vai, JS, Malmsteen and Velvet Revolver. It can't even play Guns N Roses. There is no noise from this amp. Only capable to make clean noises. If you ever thought of distortion, forget it. It is very loud but whats loud if the quality is bad. // 4

Reliability & Durability: Stopped working once and I gave it a kick to make it work. I inserted the bat but it didn't work so I used a small piece of tissue to give it a lift and power the amp. This is bad. And it falls easily even with the stand. // 6

Overall Impression: Ugh stay away from this. If Marshall could actually do more research and improve on this I would say go ahead. My advice to those beginners looking for an amp. Save up and never go for this Marshall MS-4. Save up and spend it on a proper Roland Cube 30 amp. Use this amp only if you are giving guitar lessons. // 2

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 6.5
MS-4 Reviewed by: Underhander, on november 22, 2004
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from:

Features: As for features, this amp is loaded with em. I play classic rock, blues, and metal, and this amp has got a wide range of sound that can cover all my styles. It's got a clean channel, and a distortion channel that you can easily switch back and forth from. It's got RVB, DLY, CHR, FLG with an FX level control knob. I use this amp in my room and at my friends house when we jam. // 10

Sound: But it isn't even close to being loud enough. This amp has got a terrible volume level. When me and my friends jam together, I always get drowned out by them. It's got thick distortion and great clean sounds. Even at high volumes the clean channel sounds great. The volume is just such a big problem though. // 6

Reliability & Durability: So I would never use it at a gig. No one would be able to hear me. Not only that, but I wouldn't trust this amp to get me through a gig. I got dust or something in the input slot, and I don't care nough to get it out, so sometimes it will fade out, or just sound raspy. // 4

Overall Impression: This is a great practice amp for anyone who is just starting out, but for playing in a band, or playing live, this amp will defetly not cut it. If it got stolen, I would not get a new one. If I were to stick with Marshall, I'd get the same modle in 100watt. Or I'd buy a Giant Crate amp. I'll give this amp, a 3. // 6

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 7.5
MS-4 Reviewed by: Feeder_Fan_4eva, on december 09, 2004
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 32.76

Purchased from: E-BAY

Features: This a good little-ish amp and sounds lovely for its price, there are 4 knobs on it which are gain, volume, tone and power. The amp is a great size to be carried around and transported really easily and works off of one square battery which has so far lasted me 2weeks already and has plenty of life left. I use this amp in my bedroom and sometimes walk around the house playin with it attatched to my strap when I feel like a little stroll. // 8

Sound: I'm using a AXL AEG10 guitar and a DigiTech Hot Head Distortion pedal. The clean sound sounds great on it whether I use the pedal or not but the distortion is pretty weak if I connect the guitar directly to the amp witout no pedal which lets it down. The clean sound also sounds a little distorted when the volume is high which lets it down a little bit. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I haven't gigged with this amp and I've only had it for a few weeks and so far there havent been any problems with it. // 10

Overall Impression: I play all kinds of music with this amp and it suits all if it's got a distortion pedal plugged in. If it were lost or stolen I might buy this or might buy a different amp depending on what I wanted at the time. I love that it's compact and I can carry it around with me and yet it still packs a punch, I compared it to the MS-2 which is the amp down from this one and so I brought this one because it's a newer version and also has 2 speakers. I do wish it had more of a distortion when it was without a pedal but I suppose the size and battery power effects that. // 6

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 2
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on december 23, 2004
0 of 6 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 4

Purchased from: a sale

Features: Features headphones dead lousy amp. Kills the bat like stepping on ants, I play it for 6 hours and the tone degrades. I only use it to teach my students outside. It's good for playing some chords, if you want to use it in the studio, it's fine. Try playing G maj, A minor and B minor chords, it sounds good. But play other music its realy really bad. Some guy did a review above and gave a 3. I guess it did a review for the wrong amp. It doesn't have any effects at all. // 2

Sound: The distortion at 5 sounds very classic and clean. Great for chords. Other than that, no don't buy it. // 2

Reliability & Durability: I throw it on the floor 5 times because its so lousy. It still works but the battery cover at the back is always lose even if you don't throw it around. It's soo bulky. // 2

Overall Impression: Only bring it to the studio to play background chords for your album. Not jam session but if you wanna seriously make an album, use this amp to play chords. It sounds beautiful but terrible with single notes. Get a Line 6 Spider instead. // 2

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 7
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on may 10, 2005
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 45.75

Purchased from: Cookes, Norwich

Features: This amp has 4 controls, 1 volume, 1 gain, 1 tone, 1 on/off. Single channel, headphone port. 2 speakers. I use this amp when I do not have my 100watt. // 6

Sound: This amp cannot play any style of music well. It is too trebly and lacks bass and mid. 'Very tinny'. However, the tone controls can vary the tone quite a lot. Plus, for its size it is incredibly loud! It can easily fill a bedroom! I use it with a Vintage VRS 100 (2xhumbuckers). // 2

Reliability & Durability: It seems pretty tough for a mini plastic amp! Batteries seem to last a very long time. // 10

Overall Impression: As I said before, this amp cannot play any style of music very well. However, listen very carefully - this amp is 25! - that's one of the cheapest amps you'll ever find! It's just so cool! It doesn't need to make any noise, it just needs to sit there, with its stylish looks! Please, don't talk about quality of the sounds! Marshall surely have better things to work on than the tone of this amp! Who doesn't want to own a full Marshall stack? I did and now I do! // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 7.5
MS-4 Reviewed by: indie_rock_king, on january 20, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 45.75

Purchased from: Gift

Features: This is an almost 10" high, 1-watt Marshall Microstack amp that certainly packs a punch for one watt. It has volume tone and an all-in-one gain knob. This amp is perfect fo a teenager/kid practising in his/her bedroom or a tourbus amp for a band. It has a headphone output and as well as a guitar one (lucky it has that eh) there is a mains input. This little amp runs on annoying 9v batteries but can run on mains but on an adapter sold seperately! Overall, good features for an amp of this size. // 7

Sound: I play this amp with a Dean EVO XM guitar with humbuckers and it sounds pretty good with it. You can not expect very good sound quality for an amp of this size and price, but it certainly is the best it could be made with that price. Some players may not like the fact this amp does not have seperate bass, middle and tone controls but the all-in-one tone is ok. If the style of music you play needs gain, do not think of buying this amp as its gain is awful, you get better gain on clean at high volume. However, if you don't mind playing clean, it does deliver a somewhat downgraded Marshall tone. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I think this amp is pretty reliable but the suggestion of gigging with it is laughable. If I was to take to a gig it would be to practice with it in the changing rooms. The battery cover seems a bit wobbly and the mechanism that holds the stand up is rubbish and the stand keeps folding completely backwards the wrong way. I think being a Marshall it is strongly built, but it is made of rathe flimsy plastic. // 8

Overall Impression: Despite it rubbish distortion, battery cover and stand, this amp is very good overall for 3 reasons. It is 10" high, it runs on batteries and it is sells brand new RRP for just 25! For 25 its tone isn't bad either. I would suggest using a distortion unit with it to replace that horrible gain. I use a Korg AX10G signal processor, and that does the job just fine. One thing it should have, all amps should have infact, is the type of headphone jack used on an mp3 player etc for the average Joe guitarist that doesn't have expensive studio headphones. // 9

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 7
MS-4 Reviewed by: blue_strat, on june 19, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 36.6

Purchased from: Soundhouse

Features: Very small Marshall stack. 4 controls: gain, volume, tone and a rotary on/off switch. Seriously, guys, you don't buy a 20 quid, 10 inch high amp and expect reverb or chorus on it. This amp is only useable as a practice amp, though actually it was also used on Song 2 by Blur. // 7

Sound: I use this with a Fender Mexican Strat, and it is very weak and thin at lower levels, but the best thing to do with this amp is to set all controls to 10, plug it into the mains and just rock out. It produces the best, thick Marshall tone at full tilt and at a useable, if very loud for its size, level. The tone really is amazing at this level. // 9

Reliability & Durability: It's a small plastic box with an electrical circuit in it. Don't throw it against the wall, jump up and down on it or batter it with your guitar and it will be fine. The casing's durable enough to withstand the odd fall, but don't expect it to last much more than a couple of years. // 5

Overall Impression: This is a Marshall and has that great Marshall tone at maximum volume and gain, but for all else it is thin and weedy. Only use it as a clean practice amp, really, unless you put a pedal to it. However, the compact size of the thing does make it very useful for playing in the car or on a bus as it takes a 9V battery or mains. This amp is cheap and utilarian, don't expect much from it except as a decent low level practice amp. // 7

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 7.8
MS-4 Reviewed by: AdamDK, on july 26, 2006
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Purchased from: Live N' Loud

Features: The MS4 doesn't have too many features, but is very good. It has clean and overdrive, but no Switch to Switch channels, you just have to turn the gain down, and it has a all in one tone knob instead of trebble, middle & low (which other amps have). The amp is good enough to play my style of rock, and blues music. Marshall could imrpove this amp by having two seperate channale sfor Overdrive and Clean, with a button to turn clean on and overdrive on. // 7

Sound: I'm currently running a Blaze Stratocaster copy through this amp, and the sound is fantastic for the size of the amp. the overdrive could be improved, but the clean sound is absolutely fanatic. I have played some RHCP and Hendrix on the clean, and some improvisation, and the sound has been fabulous. The overdrive just hasn't got too much of the edge when your playing individual notes, but for power chords and normal chords, it is fine. The amp isn't noisy, but can go very loud which is good. // 8

Reliability & Durability: This amp hasn't broken down on me, but personally, the stand at the back isn't good enough. The metal stand that comes out is small and weak, and it's probably best to stand the amp on it's own without the stand. I'd never use this at a gig because of two reasons: it is not loud enough for a gig and it isn't good enough for playing leads. But the amp is reliable, and shouldn't brake down on you. // 8

Overall Impression: For my style of rock, this is a good match, but isn't too good for lead. I've been playing nine months, and personally, this is a nice practice amp. If I had this amp stolen or lost it, I'd be straight up to my shop to buy a new one. I'm in love with it. I love the clean sound you get, but I dislike the lead sound, but you can get a nice little rock edge if you have it clean with little distortion. Compared to the Marshall MS-2 this amp is 10x better. It has better clean, better for power chords & chords. Overall, this is a eight. I seriously suggest you should pick up this amp to practice. // 8

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 3.5
MS-4 Reviewed by: thechief99, on march 19, 2007
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 45.75

Purchased from: Foxes music

Features: For such a small amp, I guess the features are ok, the ms4 model features two speakers, and three controls: gain, volume and tone, but with only these three features there's not really much you can do with this amp, there is the gain which you can use to alter the sound significantly but this sounds awful when on full, the features on this amp are overall very simplistic but what else can you expect for 25 quid? // 4

Sound: I use a stratocaster, and the sound produced through this amp is awful, I play generally Indie and rockwhich is ok when the settings aren't on full, the sound produced when the settings are on full is tolerable, but on full the sound is awful. During solos where you play two strings simultaneously or when certain chords are played the amp always makes a wierd vibrating sound, which is quite annoying!! For such a small amp it can produce enough noise for the amp to be heard from downstairs when played in the bedroom but overall the sound quality of this amp is not very good, with the sound produced often sounding tinny. // 3

Reliability & Durability: Obviously this amp is for practice purposes, and nothing more. I have had the amp for just over a year, and one problem that has developed to become worse, is a vibration produced by the amp, when the settings are on full the amp produces a very undesirable vibration as though something is loose in the amp. Although the sound has remained the same and there is no damage whatsoever to the outside of the amp, the vibrating is an annoyance and has generally developed to become worse. // 4

Overall Impression: Overall this is ok as a practice amp for beginnersbut nothing more. At first I really liked the amp, because I didn't have much to compare it to, but after playing on various other amps, I recognised a number of flaws with this amp, and realised how awful the sound was. My advice is, if you want a practice amp, save your money and save up for something better, as over time you will realise the sound of this amp is nothing compared to a lot of the other practice amps out there. // 3

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 6.8
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on august 25, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Features: I don't know when it was made, but I bought it this year (2008). It as 3 knobs, gain, volume, tone and an on/off switch. If you want overdrive simply turn the gain up. I play rock music, from '70s rock to '90s grunge and it does the trick. I remind you that it is a practice amp, so I'll rate it as so. // 7

Sound: I use a Jackson JS30DK Dinky with stock humbucker pickups. At first I used 9V batteries and the sound was awfull, specially the overdrive channel, but when I bought a DC9V adapter it really improved the sound quality, gave a big volume boost, and it cleaned the sound, I don't know why! The clean channel is "clean" as long as you don't turn the volume to 10 (maximum). Since I bought the adapter it started to make some noise when I wasn't playing but it stops as soon as you hit a string. It wasn't made to make CD's but it's great to practice at home. // 6

Reliability & Durability: I wouldn't use to play in front of an audience, not because it could break, but it hasn't got the best sound. It didn't brake yet, but notice that I only have it for a month or two. I don't think it will brake for the next 3 or 4 years because it is a small "box", and it has the size of a radio. // 7

Overall Impression: As I said you can't make a CD with this amp, but if you want a "good" practice amp this is a great choice, it doesn't matter the style of music you play. I played for 1 year but believe me I understand a lot about music and music gear. I have an acoustic guitar and another electric guitar wich I don't use a lot. If it was stolen I would safe enogh money to buy a better amplifier. // 7

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 1.3
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 08, 2009
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Features: This guitar features, well not very much at all. There is gain, volume, and tone controls, and of course the all important one and off Switch which is very useful with this amp, what with it being terrible and all. There is no foot pedal, but one channel, no effects, just plain and simple amplification. On a more positive note, there is a headphone jack, and it is battery powered, or alternatively, you can plug it in, if you can get hold of the right plug. // 2

Sound: I have used this amp with a Vintage Les Paul copy guitar (pickups unknown), and a Gibson X-Plorer, with stock pickups, with both of these guitars, the distorted end of the dials, is horrendous. There is virtually no sustain at all and the tone literally gives me a headache. On a lighter note, the clean sound this amp produces isn't too bad, it's nothing special but all the same... But if you are like me and play heaver things, then your most likely to be playing with the distortion sound, so, sound quality is bad. // 1

Reliability & Durability: I can depend on this amp to "work" to it's full potential each time I turn it on. I would never gig with this thing, it wouldn't even cross my mind, it is far too small for a start, and it don't sound god at all. The build quality is fine, my own complaint would be that the "gold plate" which feels like gold plastic, or gold paper to me, isn't even long enough to fill the background behind the amps control panel. I mean come on Marshall, if your going to make a terrible amp, at least make it look ok! // 1

Overall Impression: I play metal music, thing like Metallica, Iron Maiden etc, ( if they even are metal! ) and this amp does not suit my playing style at all, apart from the slightly ok clean sound it makes, which I guess could go down well with some Metallica clean sounds. I have been playing for, about 6 months, and I own a Gibson X-Plorer, and a Vintage Les Paul copy... thing. If this amp was stolen, I would find the person Who stole it, and say "its your burden now" and be grateful, and maybee have a quick jamming session with him/her. When buying this, I did compare it to other amps, and bassicly I picked this one because it looks like a stack, whcih I thought was pretty cool. Overall though, I did only pay 15 pound, so not much of a loss. But for the love of god look else were if your buying a new (practice) amp! // 1

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 9.3
MS-4 Reviewed by: unregistered, on november 12, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: C$ 47.25

Purchased from: Long & McQuade

Features: The MS-4 has a Gain, Tone, and Master Volume controls. It also features a headphone jack. Unlike the MS-2, which has a belt clip, the MS-4 has a stand. The stand is optional, so the amp can stand straight. The stand also flips up so you can hang it from somewhere. The MS-4 runs on a 9 volt battery(included) or a 9 volt adapter(sold separately). // 9

Sound: Marshall packed the sound of a classic Marshall stack into this tiny little powerhouse. The user has the ability to adjust the amount of distortion with a gain control, sound with a tone control, and is able to adjust the loudness with a master volume control. The MS-4 can me super quiet or VERY loud. The MS-4 carries the classic Marshall sound. // 8

Reliability & Durability: The MS-4 is great for travelers who don't carry around acoustics. Also good for those who like to play their electrics at the park, or small gatherings. Obviously, this would not be used at a performance, however it has quite the potential. My MS-4 has been through quite a lot of use, and it's still going strong. The 9 volt it came with lasted a long time. // 10

Overall Impression: When I pulled it out of the box, it was pretty straight forward. Wrapping, the amp, manual and other info. I was surprised that it actually came with a battery inside. The MS-4 goes well the rock, which is what I play. I used it mainly with my Strat and SG. My MS-4 is definitely sitting up there with my other its not collecting dust either! I love the potential you could get from such a tiny amp. I bring it everywhere. even to gigs so I can play backstage. If my MS-4 ever got stolen, I would definitely buy another one. They are amazing and inexpensive. I love my Marshall. // 10

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
overall: 5.3
MS-4 Reviewed by: Metalcore Jero, on november 18, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: A$ 60

Features: The Marshall MS 4 features a tone, master volume and gain control with an on/off Switch and headphone jack. For $60, you can't really complain about the features. Runs off an included 9volt battery or mains power with an adapter sold separate. Unlike the MS-2 which features a belt clip, the MS-4 uses a stand which I found to be less than trustworthy. // 6

Sound: I'm using a multitude of guitars through this mainly a Jackson JS30KE with EMG 81 85 pickups, or Epiphone Les Paul Standard. The amp has some good clean tones coming out of it, but it stops there. Once distortion is added the sound turns to mud almost instantly rendering it basically useless for anything besides clean playing. As a primarily metal player I was disappointed, but again for $60 you can't expect punishing amounts of distortion, and especially from such a small amp. That said, it can get quite loud for such a small amp, but the quality of the tone also decreases. Obviously its designed for quiet home practice so I'm not too saddened by this. // 5

Reliability & Durability: Obviously this is meant for quiet home practicing so no I wouldn't gig with it. Reliability seems to be decent, I've had it for two months without any problems with atleast an hour of use a day. I can't see it failing on me anytime soon since I don't neglect it, but I wouldn't be sad if it did. Also, this thing goes through batteries rather quickly. // 5

Overall Impression: For the clean playing I do, this amp serves me well. For anything else at home, I turn to my faithful Peavey Vypyr. If for some reason the amp stopped working or was stolen I wouldn't buy it again. Not because I hate it, simply because my Vypyr provides much better qualities and is still more than suitable for home use. For anyone looking for a micro amp to play anything but cleans with, this isnt for you. For clean players though, this might be a good investment depending on the specificity of the tone your after. // 5

Was this review helpful to you? Yes / No
Post your comment
Only "https" links are allowed for pictures,
otherwise they won't appear