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It’s arguably the most significant development in the history of rock and roll: the Marshall guitar amps. 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.
- 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 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 this brand is 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.
- 1 Quick Links To My Top Marshall Amp Recommendations
- 2 Best Marshall Amplifier Reviews
- 2.1 Best Of All Time – Marshall Studio Classic SC20C
- 2.2 Amp Head – Marshall JTM45 2245 30W Plexi Tube Head
- 2.3 Combo Amp – Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage
- 2.4 For Home Use – Marshall MG10
- 2.5 For Metal – Marshall M-JVM410H-U
- 2.6 For Blues – Marshall Origin 50W
- 2.7 For Classic Rock – Marshall DSL20CR
- 2.8 For Beginners – Marshall Code 25
- 2.9 Under 500 – Marshall CODE 100W
- 2.10 Under 1000 – Marshall M-DSL40CR-U
- 3 What To Consider When Choosing A Marshall
- 4 Our Marshall Amps Conclusion
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
- Clean, clear sound with a rich bottom end.
- Useful controls on the amp.
- Looks great on stage.
- Slightly prone to feedback when playing live, but this is not too bad and usually not an issue at all in the studio.
Amp Head – Marshall JTM45 2245 30W Plexi Tube Head
Here’s yet another rendition of an older design. 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 JTM45 2245 Plexi Tube Head will only be happy to oblige.
- You want your sound slightly overdriven. The Plexi has a moderate gain structure and lots of preamp distortion.
- You want to play rhythm guitar and bluesier leads. The Plexi is known for its dynamic response and it’s perfect for those gritty, fat riffs.
- This amp doesn’t need much tweaking to sound good. It sounds great from the first time you plug it in.
- The gain structure may be too low for some players’ liking and it may even seem “quiet” at times.
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.
- This amp is a fantastic choice for rock and blues.
- It can do wonderful overdrive sounds and can hit all the sweet spots.
- This amp has a mini cabinet that is also beautifully decorated.
- It has four channels of stellar preamps that have been built with the player in mind. You won’t be disappointed in this amps overall sound.
- It doesn’t do as good of cleans as some other choices but much better than others.
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 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?
- The MG10 has tons of power for a small amp.
- It’s versatile.
- Comes in a variety of finishes to suit any taste – from the classic silver and black to rich hues like ruby red or deep blue flame.
- The MG10 is portable so you can take it anywhere without needing an electrician to set up power for you.
- The raw tone isn’t always what some people are used to hearing and might not be great for some applications.
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 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 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
- Great for guitarists on a budget.
- Plenty of headroom.
- Very good clean channels.
- The mod eco mode is a feature for the eco conscious musicians out there.
- The drive channels are harsh at low volumes.
- It’s not very good at high volumes because it’s noisy and brittle.
For Blues – 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 Origin 50W.
- Reputation for making great sounding amp.
- It produces a nice crunch sound that many metal players enjoy
- It is more expensive than other models in its class. In fact, most mid priced competitors offer more features and versatility while still costing less.
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
- Great tone.
- Built in effects.
- Nice clean and overdrive channels.
- The amps level will increase if the volume is not adjusted before turning on the amp. This can lead to unexpected noise while playing with headphones or when plugging into a PA system.
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 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.
- The Marshall Code 25 is a portable amp with a sleek design, durable build, and the iconic Marshall sound.
- The amp’s versatility is really useful for anyone wanting to play any type of music.
- It features an effects loop that can be used to hook up with your pedal board or pedal platform.
- The quality of the Code 25 is top notch and it has a lot of good durability points.
- The amp also has several other tone shaping features such as a 3 band EQ, Presence, and Contour control.
- Not really meant for heavy metal or rock players but the Code 25 sure does have a classic Marshall sound for those looking to play things like blues or country.
Under 500 – Marshall CODE 100W
If you want a novice-friendly unit with a little more grunt, look no further than the 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 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 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 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
- Lots of volume.
- Wide variety of sounds available.
- A little complicated to use.
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 tone at a neighborhood-friendly level. Or better yet, leverage the emulated output for a hush-quiet practice session. The M-DSL40CR-U is about as versatile an amp as you can have for less than four figures.
- Dial in the perfect sound by adjusting the treble, mid range, bass, and gain controls
- A bit pricey without considering other options on this list. Makers of this amp chose quality over cost.
What To Consider When Choosing A Marshall
If you are looking to buy a new Marshall guitar amplifier, you may be a little confused on which one to get. Want to know how to choose the right Marshal for you? Read on.
Choosing the right one depends on a few different factors. First, you will need to determine what kind of music genre you play or are interested in playing. They are designed for certain genres can help it be more suited to those genres. Next, you’ll want to consider what kind of sound and volume levels the amp is capable of producing. Applying this, you can then decide which Marshall amp you’re looking for.
Which are right for you?
It’s typically considered a good idea to choose an amp according to what kind of music the amp is best suited for. For example, if you are playing rock and roll music, choosing an amp that is designed specifically for this genre will help it be better suited. If you want a more complex sound, you may also want to consider finding an amp that boasts more effects and tone controls.
It is also important for you to consider to what kind of volume level the amp is capable of producing. If you aren’t happy with your guitar’s volume or if it can only produce certain volumes, then it might be more convenient to choose an amplifier that has variable volumes.
Another factor that you should consider is whether or not the amp you are looking at has any effects built-in. Effects offer extra effects and sounds for your performance and a wide variety are available for different kinds of musicians.
If you decide to get an amp with effects, you can benefit from being able to use its built-in effects and sounds. However, most amps have their own built-in tone that you will probably want to use.
When looking for a guitar amp, it is also important for you to consider the amount of money that you want to spend on it. Maintaining your guitar amplifier will add extra costs in the long run.
Our Marshall Amps Conclusion
The best rock sounds you’ve heard through the years were likely crafted. Chances are that your favorite player and role model also has one. So perhaps you too could use a Marshall rig, right?
Once again, these Marshall amplifiers 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 something out there waiting for you.
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