It’s arguably the most significant development in the history of rock and roll: the Marshall Amp. The unassuming little black box is what brought the rock and roll sound to the masses, allowing bands play in front of huge crowds for the first time. Not to forget the high-octane crunch it had to offer — a novel sound that crafted new frontiers for the burgeoning genre.
Quick Links To My Top Marshall Amp Recommendations
- Marshall Studio Classic SC20C – My top choice and favorite offering fro Marshall.
- Marshall JTM45 2245 30W Plexi Tube Head – For guitarists looking for the top amp head.
- Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage – Great combo amp choice.
- Marshall MG10 – For guitar players looking for something good to use at home and for practice.
- Marshall M-JVM410H-U – Perfect for metal guitarists.
- Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 50W – Great for blues players.
- Marshall DSL20CR – Perfect for classic rock.
- Marshall Code 25 – A great beginner option with lots of options.
- Marshall CODE 100W – For people looking to spend less than $500
- Marshall M-DSL40CR-U – For people looking to spend less than $1000
Fast forward six decades, and the legacy pioneered by James Charles Marshall still lives on. The black box still commands the landscape, and Marshall Amplification are only happy to oblige to the wishes of today’s guitarists. On that note, let’s find you the best Marshall amp for your tonal needs.
- Quick Links To My Top Marshall Amp Recommendations
- Best Marshall Amplifier Reviews
- Best Of All Time – Marshall Studio Classic SC20C
- Amp Head – Marshall JTM45 2245 30W Plexi Tube Head
- Combo Amp – Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage
- For Home Use – Marshall MG10
- For Metal – Marshall M-JVM410H-U
- For Blues – Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 50W
- For Classic Rock – Marshall DSL20CR
- For Beginners – Marshall Code 25
- Under 500 – Marshall CODE 100W
- Under 1000 – Marshall M-DSL40CR-U
Best Marshall Amplifier Reviews
Best Of All Time – Marshall Studio Classic SC20C
It’s the gloriously-brazen rock sound of the 1980s brought to you in a downsized package. The Studio Classic SC20C is a descendant of the JCM800, an all-valve hundred watter that’s as wicked as it is revered. It had a brutal, crunchy timbre that rocked you down to the sternum — the kind of tone associated with hard-hitting genres of yesteryears.
The SC20C brings the same capability in a portable 20-watt combo. Employing a trio of ECC83 valves in the pre-amp stage and two EL34s in the output, it’ll give you everything from crisp cleans to overdrive mayhem. A 3-band EQ with presence control lets you sculpt the tone as you like, and there’s an effects loop if you still want to conjure up more possibilities.
The inbuilt 10-inch speaker will be enough for most situations, but there’s a plethora of outlets to connect to external drivers when you need more decibels. Just take care not to run afoul your local noise ordinances.
- 20W Single-Channel Tube Amp (5W Power Mode Available)
- Celestion V-type 10-inch Speaker
- Input: 2 x 1/4-inch (High & Low)
- Output: 5 x 1/4-inch sockets
- FX Loop
- 3-band EQ
- Controls: Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence, Preamp volume & Master Volume
- Accessories: Standard Power Cable
Amp Head – Marshall JTM45 2245 30W Plexi Tube Head
Here’s yet another rendition of an older design by Marshall Amps. Specifically, the JTM45 2245 30W is a reissue of the very first amplifier built by the company. With a spartan Plexi chassis and 30 watts of power drawn from an all-valve signal path, it remains the quintessential example of how a proper amp head should look and sound like.
The said signal path is comprised of three ECC83s and two 5881s on the preamp and power sections respectively. Combine that with a GZ34 tube rectifier and you have a fluid, glassy tone with plenty of sustain and a distinct natural compression. It’s the same tone that the original JTM45 was revered for back in the days of Jimi Hendrix & Co.
- 30-Watt Tube Amp Head
- Input: 2 x 1/4-inch (Channel 1); 2 x 1/4-inch (Channel 2)
- Output: 2 x 1/4-inch
- 3-Band EQ with Presence Control
- Accessories: Detachable Power & Speaker Cables
In a nutshell, this unit follows the footsteps of the original in both intent and purpose. It’s a modest rig with a basic control layout and a straightforward demeanor. Whatever the tonal possibilities you want to explore, the Marshall JTM45 2245 Plexi Tube Head will only be happy to oblige.
Combo Amp – Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage
It’s been over half a century since Jim Marshall launched the monstrous, thunderous and willfully bonkers Model 1959SLP. The first hundred-watter on the market, the 1959SLP led the ’60s rock revolution and spawned a few sub-genres along the way. Of course, such amps are becoming impractical in the era of quiet stages and in-ear monitoring — not to forget the all-important health & safety. And it’s for this reason that Marshall have brought back the SLP in a humbler format.
- Vintage-Style Tube Combo Amp
- 10″ Celestion V-type Speaker
- Inputs: 2 x high & 2 x low
- Outputs: Two Quarter-inch Jacks
- 3-band EQ
- Controls: Power toggle with 3 modes (High, Low & Standby); Bass, Mid, Treble, Presence, Loudness I & Loudness II
- Comes with Detachable Power Cord
The SV20C emulates its forefather with three ECC83 tubes and two EL34s in the preamp & output stages respectively. You still get 4 separate inputs to sculpt your sound, with the option to “jump” for added gain. The onboard 10″ driver still serves the snarly British tone with a tinge of warmth — albeit with the output toned down to 20W. To make up for that , the unit comes with an effects loop and DI-Out, a couple of features not found on the original. It’s fair to say you’ll love the added functionality as much as you will the classic sound.
For Home Use – Marshall MG10
There comes a point in every guitarist’s life when they need a dedicated home practice amp. You know, a light, compact rig you can easily carry from room to room. The setup also has to be simple and straightforward. But most importantly, your home practice amp must sound good at low volume — no one else should have to listen to your little “experiments.”
The Marshall MG10 not only ticks all these boxes, but for a very affordable price too. It’s a solid-state unit designed to emulate the characteristics of a valve amp, with its own 6.5-inch speaker so you don’t have to connect a separate driver. A 10W output ensures the sound is just meaty enough to fill your ears, but not too loud to enrage your neighbors.
- Solid-state Dual-channel Amp
- 6.5″ Custom Speaker
- Input: 1 x 1/8″ Aux in, 1 x1/4″ Instrument in
- Output: 1 x 1/8″ Headphone out
- Controls: Channel select switch, Clean volume, Overdrive volume, Overdrive gain, Contour
- Power: Fixed AC Cable
Although the lack of EQ might raise a few eyebrows, the MG10 still offers ample room for tone-sculpting via the Contour control. This will allow you access a wide range of sonic textures, and the separate volume controls will prove handy in taming the sound. What more could you want from a home practice rig?
For Metal – Marshall M-JVM410H-U
“This amp will just blow your mind! There’s a special chemistry that occurs when you route an ax through those tubes and crank up the volume knob. You’re immediately rewarded with a creamy, chunky overdrive that seems to emanate from all corners of the room.”
Most other amps would be on the precipice of blowing up when pushed to such an extent. But as the mesmerized shredder above confirms, the Marshall M-JVM410H-U seems like it’d rather do nothing else. That’s all down to the formidable valve engine: a quintet of ECC83 valves in the preamp section and two pairs of EL34s in the power stage.
This amp has another trick up its sleeve in the form of four preamp channels, each with its own dedicated EQ. You also get three footswitchable modes on every channel, which basically gives you more gain at each stage. With 100W of headroom at your disposal, you’ll be able to fabricate thunderous tones that can cut through steel. The Marshall M-JVM410H-U has no equal as far as heavy metal is concerned.
- 100W Tube Head
- Input: Instrument in, Power amp in/return
- Output: Five 1/4″ jack sockets, XLR line out, Preamp out/Send
- FX Loop
- 3-band EQ with Mid-shift Switch
- Accessories: 6-button Footswitch, Standard AC cable
For Blues – Marshall Amps Marshall Origin 50W
Here’s the all-valve amp once again with the same familiar recipe: a trio of ECC83 preamp tubes feeding two EL34 power tubes. It still pays homage to its ancestors with a vintage tweed cabinet and a straightforward control layout. But like its modern siblings, the Marshall Origin 50W packs a few welcome improvements, including an effects loop and variable power output.
Features and Specs
- 50W Tube Amp Head
- Input: 1 x 1/4 inch Instrument In
- Output: Three 1/4″ Sockets, DI-Out
- 3-band EQ with Tilt Control
- Other Controls: Bass, Mid, Treble, Master, Gain, Boost, Presence & Powerstem (toggles 3 Power Settings)
- Accessories: Two-Button Footswitch, Detachable Power Cable
While the Origin 50W isn’t really a dedicated blues amp, its prowess in the genre is unrivaled. Marshall’s time-tested valve “engine” always delivers that warm crisp-clean tone you need to make your ax shine. It’s highly agile and responsive, yet still pithy enough to register on stage. There’s a handy boost function to let you inject more punch to your solos, plus an FX loop to accommodate your pedalboard. It’s time to set the stage alight with the Marshall Origin 50W.
For Classic Rock – Marshall DSL20CR
“Drive it less and keep it simple.” Anyone who dabbles in classic rock will be familiar with this mantra. While metal favors heavy distortion, a classic rock tone is hinged upon keeping OD as light as possible. And if there’s another guitarist alongside complementing your style, you want an amp that can handle those tonal variations as well.
The DSL20CR will prove a handy ally in such situations. Featuring 3 ECC83s and 2 EL34s in the engine room, this amp naturally excels at clean to mildly-overdriven tones. It now comes with a master volume section so you’re able to reap the grit at reasonable levels, and the tonal controls will help you rein in on unwanted high-end fizz. And in spite its lowly 20W output, the DSL20CR will fill your tone with enough pith to cut through the mix. That Led Zeppelin vibe you’ve wanted so badly suddenly got within reach.
- 20W Tube Amp (10W mode available)
- 12 inch Celestion Seventy 80 Speaker
- Input: Aux-in, Instrument-in
- Output: 4 x 1/4-inch jack sockets, Softube Emulated out
- Effects Loop
- 3-band EQ with Tone Shift & Resonance
- Footswitch and Power Cord Included
For Beginners – Marshall Code 25
There’s no need to feel left out if you’re still learning the ropes — and therefore not ready to perform on stage. The CODE 25 will let you have a taste of Marshall’s magic in a novice-friendly format. And the price isn’t too bad either.
A digital modelling unit, the CODE 25 utilizes state-of-the-art technology to emulate the classic tones that Marshall have developed over the years. It packs fourteen preamps, four power amps, and twice as many speaker cabinets. Combine that with a couple of dozen effects, and you effectively have a world of tonal possibilities.
- 25W Modelling Amp
- Bespoke 10″ Speaker
- Input: 1x Aux In, 1x instrument jack
- Output: 1 x Headphone out
- 14 Preamp models; 4 Power amp models; 8 Speaker Cab models; 24 Effects (up to 5 can be used simultaneously)
- 100 Presets
- Controls: 3-band EQ, volume, gain, delay, reverb, amp, mod, pre-FX, cab
- Gateway app for Android & iOS; Bluetooth Connectivity; USB port
- Accessories: Detachable power cable
Even with its electronic wizardry, the CODE 25 is no more complicated than a vintage Marshall. It comes with a tiny LCD screen that lets you navigate through amp models and effects with ease using the preset knob. The other controls are just as user-friendly, and you can use the Gateway app to refine your sound further — a bonus if knobs aren’t your thing.
Under 500 – Marshall CODE 100W
If you want a novice-friendly unit with a little more grunt, look no further than the Marshall CODE 100W. It’s a solid-state modelling amp with a 100-watt output yield — enough to bring down a sizable stage with the iconic Marshall tone.
Like its brethren above, the CODE 100W brings a wide range of tonal variations with 14 modeled preamps, 4 power amps, and 8 speaker cab emulations. You still get the same 100 presets and 24 built-in effects. And once again, the unit is accompanied by Marshall’s Gateway app accessible via Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
Of course, you can expect a few upgrades to go along with the higher wattage. The CODE 100W packs a pair of 12-inch drivers instead of a single speaker, plus a convenient footswitch. You’ll also appreciate having a quarter-inch output jack on top of the standard headphone-out, especially if you have a home studio. The Marshall CODE 100W will provide a very capable audio interface for your guitar.
- 100W Solid State Amp
- 2 x 12″ Custom Marshall Speakers
- Input: 1 x Instrument in, 1 x Aux in
- Output: 1 x 1/4-inch Speaker, 1 x 1/8-inch Headphone out
- 3 Band EQ
- Controls: Delay, Reverb, Pre FX, Power, Cab, Mod, Gain, Volume, Amp
- Accessories: 2-Way Footswitch & Power Cable
Under 1000 – Marshall M-DSL40CR-U
We round off our list with the M-DSL40CR-U, a refreshed model from Marshall’s DSL line. It’s a 40-watt tube combo featuring the same familiar pairing of ECC83s (4) and EL34s (2) in the preamp/power sections respectively. This time, however, you get two channels on the preamp section with independent gain and volume controls, equating to four different voices to play with.
To let you make the most of this flexibility, the DSL40CR brings more goodies in the form of resonance control, reverb, and a revamped EQ section. There’s more than enough tone-molding room here for every gigging guitarist. And with a plethora of jacks on the output section, you’ll be spoilt for choice with regards to speaker configurations.
Features and Specs
- All-Valve Design
- High and Low power modes (40W & 20W respectively)
- 2 Channels with 2 Modes each (Clean/Crunch & OD1/OD2)
- 12-inch Celestion V-type Speaker
- Input: 1 x 1/4″ Instrument in, 1 x 1/8″ Aux in
- Output: 4 x 1/4″ Stereo Out (Two 4-ohm, 2 8-ohm); 1 x 1/4″ Softube Speaker Emulated Out
- Bypassable effects loop
- Accessories: 2-way footswitch & Standard AC Cable
Even with its stage-eager disposition, the DSL40CR will have no problem serving as your home practice rig. Dial in the low power mode and the built-in speaker will yield that burly Marshall tone at a neighborhood-friendly level. Or better yet, leverage the emulated output for a hush-quiet practice session. The Marshall M-DSL40CR-U is about as versatile an amp as you can have for less than four figures.
The best rock sounds you’ve heard through the years were likely crafted with the help of a Marshall amp. Chances are that your favorite player and role model also has one. So perhaps you too could use a Marshall rig, right?
Once again, Marshall Amps aren’t the preserve of elite guitarists. They’re available in a wide range of shapes and forms, as well as price ranges. So whether you’re just learning the ropes or skilled enough to play the guitar blindfolded, there’s a Marshall Amp out there waiting for you.