Zakk Wylde MG15MSZW Microstack review by Marshall

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6.7 (6 votes)
Marshall: Zakk Wylde MG15MSZW Microstack

Price paid: $ 400

Purchased from: Guitar Center - Denver

Sound — 7
I'm currently using a 2004 Gibson Les Paul Special through it and it sounds pretty good. Like I said before, this amp has a lot of additional noise regardless of pickup choice and setting. I can get a decent sound out of the humbuckers but only if used in conjunction of a noise gate. The clean channel stays mostly clear unless its turned up past six in which it starts to break up. This can be a good thing or a bad thing because the gain on the distortion channel is much louder than the clean channels. It's like night and day volume wise. The gain rivals my JCM in that once you go past seven its brutal. As with the EQ on this amp, it struggles to really deviate between tweaks, that is you can't really get much in between a 5 or a 10; its basically the same. As mention before the reverb doesn't hold up unless its maxed out at ten and then it sounds pretty good. It has a nice spring decay that can almost work for surf.

Overall Impression — 7
I've owned this amp for about four years and it's done the job. I wouldn't gig with it because of the excess noise it produces and the awkwardness of transporting it. It can however keep up with the rest of the band because it sounds much louder than fifteen watts. As far as looks go, it's dynamite. The checkered grille looks awesome and the additional graphics on the head look intimidating. It's limited edition and as far as I know Marshall doesn't make it anymore so it's becoming scarce. From that perspective, I'll hold on to it but from a strictly sound perspective, it simply can't keep up with larger model "more professional" models. The lack of footswitch is irritating. Marshall probably should have made a few minor tweaks to this before it released it as I've played the Dave Mustaine mini stack and it's got more features and it's similar in price. Overall though it does the job for what it is.

Reliability & Durability — 8
You can't really move this amp easily because it's in three awkward pieces. I haven't had any technical problems with it however. It's been pretty dependable as far as practice amps go. It's been through three house moves and it's still in really good shape.

Features — 6
This amp is like the MG micro stack on steriods, at least as far as the distortion is concerned. It has the two ten inch speaker cabs that sit beneath the 15 watt head. It's got two channels: a clean channel and a distortion push channel that offers a ton of gain even at low volume. The added spring reverb is a nice bonus but in my opinion has to be cranked to get anything out of it. It also has the Frequency Dampening switch that is designed to sound like a tube amp although this is a completely solid state amp. It has an "emulated line out" that doubles as a headphone jack. It has a three band EQ that works for both channels. I mainly bought this amp because although I don't really play metal, it at least gives the user the option to crank the gain on the distortion circuit. The amp is VERY loud for fifteen watts and before I moved into a house with a basement I rarely turned it up past four. You can achieve a wide variety of sounds from it and although it certainly isn't as diverse as my JCM 2000, one can go from a nice clean tone to a low gained distortion to a bone crushing metal sound easily. As far as practicing goes, this amp has the gain, the volume, and the cool look to satisfy most people. It doesn't have a footswitch input and that is the first obvious complaint. The second is the weak reverb followed immediately by the hum and hiss that this amp almost always has at higher volumes.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Not sure what all the fuss is about. i think its a great lil amp. It's NOT gonna make you sound any better than you did before. That comes from practice and technique!
    I tried to find out, reading the reviews above, whether we are talking about an all-tube head or a solid staten, and also which is the dimension of the speakers used in the cabinets. None of the respectable reviewers felt the urge to communicate us these fundamental "details", who might point us all to the conclusion we are talking about a toy you can use only for practising (and if you don't much care about your sound). For practising, 15W of SS power are too much. For playing live, they are just not enough (they are the equivalent of 3-4W of an all-tube). Not to mention its despicable 10" speakers. Cleans are terrible, and the distortion is rough and lacks both clarity and depth. In fact, this SS amp cum cabinets is just and advertising trick, making use of Zakk's name to attract innocent people who are not aware that Zakk's sound cannot be scaled down . You don't get Zakk's sound at 15W instead of 100W, you just don't get ANY sound of it. Just a mediocre SS grunt, at a very high price. At half price, a Vox Pathfinder 15 or a Fender Mustang would smash it down, not to mention their sparkling, crystal-clear cleans.
    Well obviously for 200-400 dollars you aren't going to get a 15 watt tube amp with celestion speakers...That's basically the Haze mini stack and it goes for at least twice that.
    I just received a signed version of this "microstack" today. Quick review: 15w solid-state amplifier head. Separate straight and angled cabinets. Possibly useful for stereo recording. Single 10" speaker in each cabinet. (since nobody mentioned this...even the guy bitching about nobody mentioning this...) Clear on the clean, with a nice crunch using the gain from my guitar. Accepts straight input chorus effect well, but haven't tested any other effects pedals as of yet. OD channel is nice. Variable crunch, can handle everything from "bluesy mud" to "BLS cranked" tones, depending on volume/gain levels. Reverb is essentially useless unless maxed out. FDD switch is a pretty cool feature, that allows for some tone variability in both the clean and OD channels. The shelving EQ system is a basic shelving EQ, and it works well at 10, 10, and 10, though I didn't even bother to test it at any other settings aside from that and 5, 5, and 5. (Why would I? It's a basic shelving EQ...) No, it's not a 100w, or even 50w, tube amp in terms of volume, but for its size and output, it maintains a clear and controllable tone with a reasonably loud volume. It's a great practice/warm-up amplifier setup. That's all it is, in a very nice visual package, with a great sound for a 15w solid-state system. Definitely not a "POS amp". I own a few of those, made by Crate, and a 15w Line 6 Spider IV (though I still love my 30w Spider II). If you're looking for a relatively cheap peice of equipment that will help you sound like Zakk (or anyone else), you won't find it. Period. That comes from YOU, and countless hours of PRACTICE.