Questions for those who’ve owned multiple vintage or classic Marshalls…

FleshOnGear

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Which one was/is your favorite? Why? What do you know about values of the components in that amp, its transformers, mods, or anything else that affected the tone?

I’m just curious because I’m about to receive my first vintage Marshall, and I have a feeling it won’t be my last. I want to learn about what makes different vintages sound different, how those differences change the tone, and how to spot the differences. Thanks, folks!
 

Mastershon

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I’ve owned just about every Marshall made at some point or another, and many other amp brands as well. For me the 1959 and 2203 are the bomb. Wish I would’ve had them 30 years ago instead of wasting time and money on everything else along the way.
 

FleshOnGear

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I’ve owned just about every Marshall made at some point or another, and many other amp brands as well. For me the 1959 and 2203 are the bomb. Wish I would’ve had them 30 years ago instead of wasting time and money on everything else along the way.
What years are yours?
 

Matthews Guitars

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The JTM45 has ONE OF the classic Marshall sounds. There just isn't ONE Marshall classic sound.

The 45 has a rougher, rawer, bassier tone than the Superleads that followed it. I personally prefer the Superlead's tighter bass but I do what I can to tame the treble, which can easily be overwhelming for me. I wish to protect my hearing, especially my high frequency sensitivity.

My rebuilt 1969 Plexi with a large value bright cap (6800 pf in my case) gives me a huge dose of what I seek in the ideal amp. It's shockingly explosive, for sure, and has to be approached with hearing protection in mind. (And neighbor complaints....) Hit it in the face with a Tube Screamer set to max clean boost and I've got the 1200 pound gorilla Marshall tone and I don't even have the volumes up to 3 yet. It's that scary. I couldn't be much happier with that tone. Well...maybe if it was a bit less amazingly LOUD....but the variac helps and so does the Power Brake.
 

Chris-in-LA

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I’m retiring next summer and plan on building a JTM45. Hoping it delivers that classic Marshall sound!
A great amp, sounds great, punchy and in your face. Bass response is fine, just not really heavy. Great pedal platform, works with Les Pauls, Teles and Strats. Beautiful cleans. Listen to the Beano album, that’s pretty representative of how it will sound. The volume is more manageable than a 50 or 100 watt Plexi.
 

sct13

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Agreed… Jtm45, the 1959 and the 2203 are the defined Marshall sounds… I have a 1969 1987 that kicks ass… a 1986 is also killer…

There are small differences between them… the 2203 is a lot of pre amp type gain…

The 1959 needs to be cranked for max fire breathing … so does the 1987… but that’s nearly all power tubes…
 

FutureProf88

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I've owned a '71 Superlead, '77 Superbass, and a modified '88 2204. Of the three, the '77 Superbass was my favorite. I've played several other vintage Marshalls, and interestingly enough my other favorite was a '78 2203. I don't know what the component values were but I have heard and played several late 70's Marshalls that just sounded fantastic (and felt fantastic if I was playing them).
 

David Rivers

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Which one was/is your favorite? Why? What do you know about values of the components in that amp, its transformers, mods, or anything else that affected the tone?

I’m just curious because I’m about to receive my first vintage Marshall, and I have a feeling it won’t be my last. I want to learn about what makes different vintages sound different, how those differences change the tone, and how to spot the differences. Thanks, folks!
the ones i remember regarding the early Marshalls had the highly regarded drake transformers late 60's and dagnal later..in the 100 watts...both were great trannies
 

FleshOnGear

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I've owned a '71 Superlead, '77 Superbass, and a modified '88 2204. Of the three, the '77 Superbass was my favorite. I've played several other vintage Marshalls, and interestingly enough my other favorite was a '78 2203. I don't know what the component values were but I have heard and played several late 70's Marshalls that just sounded fantastic (and felt fantastic if I was playing them).
Do you think there’s something about the late 70’s vintage? Or was your preference more because it was a Super Bass?
 

uselessoldman

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Where its a JTM45 or say the JCM/JMP 2003 there all true Marshall thoroughbreds. Difference is the JTM45 is more user friendly at 30 watts you can use a big single or twin speaker cab whilst the bigger 100 watts monsters beasts can drive a full stack. The JTM45 is loud enough for most situations and too loud for the rest whilst the beasts are plain too heavy for most and far to heavy to lump around for the rest. Would I specifically recommend any one of them over the other? For your first amp maybe start on the JTM45 and only half the town will know you cant play whilst the big brothers are for those who can play and want everyone to know it whether they like what they are playing or not !!
 

Ralf_M.

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I dont think you need more than that really. Had serveral vintage marshals over the years and agree. JCM/JMP 2203, 1959 and JTM 45 is the shit
Hi,

I think a lot depends on where your heart beats. Jimi Hendrix was a big influence on me, but being born in 1966, I'm a child of the '80s crossover myself, hence the JCM 800. But beware of old dreams. Should I lug this thing around and wait? Can I play it where I play the most, maybe at home? I recently bought an Amp1 BluGuitar Iridium. I still can't form a definitive opinion, other than maybe that it can't replace an old Marshall, but it definitely sounds better than amp sims for my needs and certainly better than many newer, real amps, too. But yes, I would get these if everything was perfect, 1. a JCM 800 and 2. one close to Jimi Hendrix. Collecting amps like stamps wouldn't be my thing, even if I could. A third amp from another company for clean sounds would be nice, too.

My 2 cents,
Ralf
 

JamminJeff

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This won't directly answer your question, but after years of chasing amp tones, I'm now convinced it all begins with the Transformer (Iron) and ends with the speaker. Of course the quality of the components and the circuit design matter, but original vintage transformers are hard to acquire and near impossible to replicate or so I'm told. I just play the damn things.

Some will say "big iron" transformers are where it's at and I can't argue with that, but what the iron is made from and how it is assembled seems to be a ongoing topic of discussion.

It's not some mystical thing either. It has something to do with the type of metal that was manufactured and specifically used in vintage amps, especially Marshall. Again, I'm a player, not a tech so maybe someone can explain this better.

Speakers are a can of worms probably best left unopened, but that's where the noise comes out of so there must be something to it.

Have fun !
 

Bluewill1988

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I own a 1959 plexi, 1987x, Bluesbreaker, JTM45, and a JCM2000. I will say the amp I love the most is my 100w plexi. It’s got the level of clean overdrive that sounds too good to not love dearly. The amp gig with the most is the 1987x bc of the effects loop and the fact it’s sonically close, it’s lighter to carry, and it sits will with my 2x12 rig. Although the JCM2000 gets close to the sound, has the built in reverb, and is easier to manage at gig levels with the master volume, it stays on the shelf mostly. An attenuator and an extra speaker cable makes the perfect case to bring one of the plexi’s every gig
 
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Starting with a Vintage Modern and making my way back through a DSL2000, JCM900 & now have a 2550 & a 50w JMP I have to say they all rule & if I could afforded it I would of kept them all. I don’t use pedals so can’t comment there. It is ultimately your amp & do what you wish BUT please don’t mod a vintage marshall if you don’t have to, if you can only have one or two amps, I would say try some pedals first or perhaps a different style of amp for other sounds if you can (a marshall/fender stereo rig to me is just the best setup on earth) but regular maintenance & replacing of old parts is of course non-negotiable for using them.
 

Jay Doherty

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Which one was/is your favorite? Why? What do you know about values of the components in that amp, its transformers, mods, or anything else that affected the tone?

I’m just curious because I’m about to receive my first vintage Marshall, and I have a feeling it won’t be my last. I want to learn about what makes different vintages sound different, how those differences change the tone, and how to spot the differences. Thanks, folks!
I’ve owned multiple early 70’s 1959’s and 1 1987. Right now I run a ‘72 SL thru a 50watt Fryette power station for sane volume. This SL had been modded to a super bass at some point. I’ve owned this one for about 30 years. I had it put back to SL specs w/ out bright cap. I’ve wondered at times if it was a factory mistake b/c all the SB components seemed original including mustards with SB values that seemed like they were there from the start. . Otherwise, it’s un modded. They’ve all sounded a little different. Owned a ‘71 and another ‘72 SL at different times. I had a reissue JTM45 which had a great clean. Never owned the real deal plexi. I built an 18 watt which I still have and also has great clean, but different. The 1959s are my fav vs the 1987, love the headroom and punch. But the 1987s have an awesome growl. I love these amps b/c they will reward you with amazing tones when your technique deserves it and punish you when doesnt. Nowhere to hide sloppiness in a pool of mushy gain with these.
 

FleshOnGear

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I’ve owned multiple early 70’s 1959’s and 1 1987. Right now I run a ‘72 SL thru a 50watt Fryette power station for sane volume. This SL had been modded to a super bass at some point. I’ve owned this one for about 30 years. I had it put back to SL specs w/ out bright cap. I’ve wondered at times if it was a factory mistake b/c all the SB components seemed original including mustards with SB values that seemed like they were there from the start. . Otherwise, it’s un modded. They’ve all sounded a little different. Owned a ‘71 and another ‘72 SL at different times. I had a reissue JTM45 which had a great clean. Never owned the real deal plexi. I built an 18 watt which I still have and also has great clean, but different. The 1959s are my fav vs the 1987, love the headroom and punch. But the 1987s have an awesome growl. I love these amps b/c they will reward you with amazing tones when your technique deserves it and punish you when doesnt. Nowhere to hide sloppiness in a pool of mushy gain with these.
:welcome: to the forum, Jay! I appreciate hearing about your experience with those classic amps. I just got my first vintage Marshall, a ‘72 1987, and it’s great. But I have no other vintage Marshall experiences to compare.
 

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