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Marshall Guitar Amplifiers

Jim Josselyn
Marshall amplifiers on Garnic festival stage

Marshall is the quintessential guitar amp for rock players who want to wail and "crank it to eleven." Marshall amplifiers have become as iconic in the music industry as Gibson guitars or Steinway pianos and the wonderful musicians who play them.

A Brief History

The success of Marshall is the classic story of business success: One visionary has a passion for something, identifies a problem to solve or a need to be filled, and fulfills the dream. Add in a touch of luck with a bit of right place, right time and you have the story of Marshall.

The Beginning

Jim Marshall came to music by way of dance, which his father suggested to help strengthen his legs after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. After 20 years playing gigs as a drummer on the road, Jim settled in a small section of London called Hanwell and opened his first business, a music store called Marshall and Son. In 1962 at the behest of local guitarists and would-be legends Pete Townshend and Ritchie Blackmore who were on a quest for more volume, Jim put together a group of people and built the first of many JTM45 amps. By 1965, the 100 watt Super amplifier was developed and after some tinkering, the accompanying cabinets or now famous "Marshall Stack" were born.

A Few Select Models

Here's a select list of the many, many available Marshalls:

  • The Marshall MG10G 10 watt is a great, inexpensive way to get started with the Marshall sound. This small amp is excellent for home or practice at music schools and studios. For about $80 and coming with a ten-inch speaker, overdrive, and clean channels and line and headphone inputs for playing and quiet practice, you can't go wrong for a beginner model.

  • The Marshall 25 watt digital combo amp is a big step up in features for not such a big step up in price. Retailing for about $200, this 25 watt amp is great for small performances and recording. The modeling technology in the amp allows for fourteen different amp sounds, eight speaker emulations, and twenty-five digital sound effects. It's quite a bang for the buck and for intermediate level players.

  • With Marshall's 50 watt digital combo amp you get everything included in the 25 plus 25 extra watts of power. Great for performing at bigger venues, this is a professional level amp for about $250.

  • The MG50GFX 50 watt combo amp also has 50 watts suitable for musicians playing larger club gigs and four channels for various tones, reverb, delay, and digital effects, presets for recalling sounds, and a switchable effects loop. It costs around $400.

  • Marshalls MG102CFX is 100 watts with two twelve inch speakers, four channels, multiple effects, and has everything the MG50GFX has plus 50 more watts of power. This amp is suitable for use by guitarists playing large concert halls and recording professionally. It starts at about $600.

What People Are Saying

As noted engineer Mark Mullen at Best Amps says, "For our money, the Marshall Code 25 is the best value Marshall amp around at the moment." Mullen also says the amp has a great combo of flxeibility and power, and he loves the size and eatures that offer, " effectively unlimited range of tone options, meaning you may never need to buy another amplifier."

The guys at Song Simian think the world of the Marshall 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp. In their words "This all-tube combo amp packs a lot of punch without using a lot of power...all the interior hardware that you need to rock out."

Over at Guitar Verdict the verdict is in: Get the Marshall DSL5C. "The Marshall DSL5C amp is a cheap way to access Marshall tube power in a no-frills, traditional way."

Experts Corner

Marshall amps have been a consistent part of popular music since the 1960's. There are many great companies that make amplifiers including Fender, Mesa Boogie, Ampeg, Vox, and many others. While Marshalls are not best suited for use in a jazz club, coffee house, country roadhouse, or classical concert hall, when it comes to straight ahead rock guitar music played with an edge and at an extremely loud volume, Marshall stands above the competition.

Marshall Guitar Amplifiers