Variation between different Marshall heads

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Antigua Tele, Nov 4, 2019.

  1. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I currently have acquired over the years, a JCM-900, a JCM-2000 TSL, and a JVM410H. I like them all, but to a large extent, they all crunch the way a Marshall is supposed to. The JCM-900 has a lot of punch, but is rather crude in other respects. The TSL has crazy amounts of low and high end on tap, I think it's an underrated amp. I feel the JVM is a bit on the mellow side, more gain on hand than is ever necessary, honestly I like it the least. Overall, when I want a "Marshall sound", I feel like all of them deliver well enough.

    I read though, that aside from the JVM, that the 900 and the TSL are some of the least loves Marshalls, which I why I ended up with them, they were cheaper on the used market. The JVM I also scored a good deal on. So I've GAS'd for a while for some of the more notable heads, the JCM-800, JTM54, the Jubilee reissue, or even the JCM 2000 DSL, which is generally more highly regarded than the TSL.

    So my question is, to me the three heads I already have aren't terribly different. Do you think these more coveted models are so much better, or is it just group think bias that says these amps are so great, and the others so bad? Maybe I'm missing out with my current selection of less celebrated heads, I don't know. Do you have two or more Marshall heads, and really feel like there is a night and day difference?
     
  2. scelestus

    scelestus Tele-Meister

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    I think the DSL would probably be a more palatable TSL (that is, a little more pleasing to play), but if you like the TSL I don't think it'd make you want to spend the extra money. Guys would probably fight me for this but your 900 on the lower gain channel or about 2/3 up on the higher gain channel is pretty close to an 800. The 800 might sound drier or barkier or whatever, but if you like the 900 I also don't think an 800 will blow you away unless you play at Earth-shattering volume.

    The JTM45 is the most different of the ones you listed. I have one (and have had several of the others). It's like a fatter tweed Fender. Gorgeous cleans but kind of squishes and falls apart when cranked. Some guys like that, but you have to know what you want. When distorted (no master volume!), it won't have the immediate response or whomp of the others. It's a specialist kind of sound nowadays whereas the JCMs are more like what you'd expect from a Marshall.

    You didn't ask but a Plexi (1987 or 1959) is in the middle somewhere. The SS rectifier means it'll respond at volume and not sag like a JTM45, but they're more ragged sounding IME than a JCM which is a little more polished.

    This is all just my experience.
     
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  3. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Which JCM 900? If it is the Hi Gain Dual Reverb, it is a very different Marshall amp than anything that came before, and imho does not do true Marshall tones....it is full of solid state signal processing. I don’t really care for the other two amps you mention either. OMMV...I am sure.
    On the other hand, I have never heard a Marshall from 1979 on back that I could not like. I worked on a 1973 Md. 1987 that was a great amp, and the Md. 100 watt MV 2003 I had that sat on top of an early ‘70’s 8x10 full of Eminence ALK 1028s was a monster..both in size and sound.
     
  4. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the feedback, I just learned there's a difference between the modern DSL100 and the JCM-2000 DSL, so I'd have to figure out what that difference is about. I could believe the JVM and the DSL100 are close, so I think I'd look for the older JCM 2000 version, since I have more of an affinity for the TSL than the JVM.

    Regarding the JTM45, I has a 59 Bassman reissue, which I didn't mention because it's not a Marshall, but I suspect I have that base more or less covered. I hear the difference is mostly in the speakers. I think it's kind of funny that they're essentially clean amps UNLESS they're disgustingly loud, or attenuated, and yet that is all anyone really uses them for. I wonder how anyone really gigs with those amps.

    I haven't looked into the Plexi's as much though. I have a nice active attenuator on hand, so a lack of master volume is no problem.
     
  5. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The JCM 900 is the 100W Hi Gain Dual Reverb. I thought all the 900's had diode clipping. I don't mind the sound of that amp. I know it gets maligned, but nevertheless whenever I use it I think, "damn, that sounds really good", which is part of what makes me thing about JCM 800's, if I like a bad amp, it stands to reason I'll love a good one. The main problem with the 900 is that's been the least reliable.

    I've decided to go ahead and buy a JCM-2000 DSL, because they're relatively cheap at $600, in good condition, and a lot of people seem to agree they sound "better" than the TSL, and even if I end up with a second TSL or sorts, not the worst thing in the world. The JCM 800 and Plexi's are all starting around $1,000, in so so condition, so I'll have to ponder on those a little longer. And the Jubilee and JTM45 are upwards of $2,000 used.
     
  6. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    The DSLs got a bad name because early ones got a batch of bad PCB boards that turned conductive with heat.....result is predictable and involved horrible sounds and/or flames.

    They should all have been warrantied by now.

    Also, the speakers shipped in many late JCM800, JCM900-on them were rated poorly. You can find GT75s everywhere for pennies. You can get around that with EQ, IMO.

    The 9101 50 watt reverb combo is cool IMO and can be had for way less than the 4101 vertical input JCM800.

    Some people don't like the op amp in front of the preamp tubes in JCM900s.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  7. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I read that they fixed the issue in 2004, so I found a 2006 model. I like the TSL so much that I really like the idea of having the companion JCM 2000 100 watter.

    I came across a demo of the 800 vs the 900, I can tell they don't sound exactly alike, but at the same time, both are voiced like Marshalls. I think I worry more than anything that the JCM 800 is mostly hype, "the" 80's metal amp, and that the crunch channels of my existing heads is more or less the same tone.

    It's impossible to know, but I wonder if some of the bad opinions of these various heads are from people using them at room volume instead of stage volume. I know that "1 watt" mods have become a thing in the past decade for this very reason. When I bought my first Marshall head as a teenager I hated it, because I didn't realize it had to be a lot louder than my practice amp in order to sound the way it's supposed to, and I really couldn't crank it until months later when we got a dedicated rehearsal space.

     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  8. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    To me, a Marshall is a Marshall is a Marshall.

    Steve Lukather used a 4120 split channel 50 watt combo to record much of Toto's first album. Not a big Toto fan but righteous tones.

    First real dual channel amp with usable dirt tones with no fiddling.

    Old skool guys hate anything newer than Plexis. Even older skool guys hate anything past JTMs. Fair enough. But to me they are difficult to access unless you have a hangar to play in.

    JCM900s and DSLs made good music.

    I really love my Mini Jubilee and my 4120. I can make them sound Bluesbreaker or Accadacca. Or each other.
     
  9. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    I can see where the purists are coming from; the JCM 2000 TSL was supposed to be "modern", in response to the Dual Rectifier or something like that, and I like it because it's modern, it has a lot of range to it. Then the JVM was supposed to "do it all", and I'll concede that it doesn't really "do it all". I can see first hand that it doesn't exactly do what my JCM-900 does. Maybe the voicing is the same, but the attack is different, the EQ's are different, they move air differently.
     
  10. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    And, this part is everything.


    Your base capacity on the instrument, your level of ear training beyond "tone-ey-ness," your knowledge of their use in history and your versatility in the world of music open these doors.


    What does not open these doors is videos that make every amp sound the same (not that I dislike johan but let's be real) and sitting around thinking about the weekly flavor of crunch.

    I gig a Super Reverb and an early "Bluesbreaker" reissue all the time. I've used both in R&B, Country, and Rock settings. Both amps, with "appropriate" speakers start breaking up with some crunch around 4. With that said, they also have well rounded punchy clean/fat tones at lower volumes which many Marshall amps don't. Cranked? I don't crank them, period, that's not THE sound unless your objective is EVH or GnR child of the 80's super saturation etc.

    The bottom line here is if you listen to old records and the amps that made Marshall what it is today you find your initial observation grounded in realty: CLEAN. A 100w or 50w Plexi, or a JTM45, plugged into two 4x12 Cabs is headroom city as all that wattage/punch is dispersed into 8 speakers and if you listen closely to anyone live from the Allman Brothers to early AC/DC to Led Zeppelin to Jimi Hendrix (before he hits the fuzz) you'll find they have a little bit of hair on their sound back in the day and that's about it. They weren't all jumping the channels then diming every knob which the youtube guitarists do today.

    When people cover these bands they usually play with way more gain/hair than the original musicians did and that's considered "The Marshall Sound" I guess. At that point, all the new stuff gets the job done and I would know as I had a TSL for years starting in High School.

    So, for me, the original Marshall sound is a punchy cab with old school speakers, clean tone to a bit of rasp when you need it and most importantly a "feel" that is very different from the modern cabs loaded with stronger speakers which react more like a PA setup. They might get a crunchy/gainy tone but they sure don't feel the same in person. And, you only need to get your crunch based on the cabs/speakers you use.

    As for the inverse elitism of "price justification" nonsense I can also watch a dog chase it's tail all day just like everyone else. Buy what you want.
     
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  11. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    One of my studio tricks with guitarists who were using too much gain was to ask them this-

    "You know the Sabbath song 'Paranoid,' right? Try and hear it in your mind, ok? Now listen to this-"

    And I'd play them the album track.

    Generally, they'd get a shocked look on their face realizing how little gain Iommi was actually using.
     
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  12. knockeduptele

    knockeduptele Tele-Meister

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    I keep on setting out to buy another Marshall but for some reason get diverted into picking up something else instead (mainly because it is there) but apart from the latest AC 30, all have had the same generic bassman circuit - a Hiwatt, a Sound City, a Supersonic, a Sovtek even. All the different takes when lined up side by side sound completely different and do different things with different guitars.

    I am of an age that I stopped looking at Marshalls when the front panel went full width of the head cabinet and extra knobs like master volumes started appearing and on the later ones I find the knob array confusing so I am currently torn between a Bluesbreaker and an Artist combo both of which I have owned in the past - help me I will probably buy both - its that rectifier choice that is difficult

    and then there is that Superlead.............
     
  13. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Was he using some kind of compression? Listening to Paranoid, I think what makes me think of "gain" is how long the "hair" hangs on the notes as they ring out. Maybe it's some air pressure feedback sustaining the notes. Also the double guitar tracking, that sort of seems to double the clipping, in a way. I think some of the gain chasing is trying to duplicate studio magic without the studio.
     
  14. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Aside from various Fenders and Marshalls, I have an Orange Rockerverb and an Ibanez TSA30, but I think I come back to Marshalls because it's the sound of the music I like the most. I wish I wasn't such a creature of habit, but it seems that most guitarists are.
     
  15. knockeduptele

    knockeduptele Tele-Meister

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    It was actually a Laney - made in Birmingham and undoubtedly tape compression of needles in the red
     
  16. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Brand aside, if I'm using light gain with any give amp, the guitar turns clean after a few seconds, because the signal ceases to clip, but if you listen to the Paranoid tracks, the guitar is a buzz saw that sustains for a good long time.
     
  17. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Tony Iommi was using a Dallas Rangemaster (germanium treble booster, more like a fuzz than an EQ) into a Laney Supergroup. Even though it was one of the cornerstones of heavy metal, the tone on Paranoid is still a lot more open than the typical modern high gain tone.
     
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  18. knockeduptele

    knockeduptele Tele-Meister

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    It was a very different time - 4 guys fresh out of a van having driven from Birmingham to London that morning - stuck in a 20x20 foot studio (the pop groups were never allowed in the main room that was reserved for Mantovani or Joe Loss and his Orchestra and they had both of the studio compressors AND the EMT plate) given 3 hrs to record an album and on top of that playing at stage volumes with a first time producer - was bound to turn up something novel and it did
     
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  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    the High Gain Dual Reverb is full of TL072 IC’s that process signal....it is way beyond..considering solid state processing....having one diode clipping circuit, which was first used in some of the JCM 800 series amps.
     
  20. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    What- WHAT?


    -I'm- "Old School". I likes me a good JCM800, yes I do!

    Way less expensive than a Soldano.

    I've been restoring old Marshalls. And pointy guitars. And my hair is growing back!

    On my knuckles...

    :lol: :lol: :lol:

    A JCM800 2204 covers a lot of classic rock tones.

    My old Traynor YBA-1 covers the JTM45 / metal panel tones. It's a JTM45 with a solid state rectifier. Very early versions got a tube rectifier. Either way they're genuine vintage and dirt cheap compared to any kind of Marshall.

    I've had my YBA-1 for almost fifty years now. Had two of 'em. Hocked one. Dan Torres got it.
     
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