What Marshall am I looking for?


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Feb 11, 2020
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First post here. Sorry for the novel. I've been wanting a new amp for a while and I've always wanted a Marshall (since age 16 or so in 1986), but always thought they were too expensive and even cliche. I've gotten to a point in my life where my attitude is...f*ck it, I want a Marshall!

I'm currently playing through a mid 90's Peavey Classic 50 head into a 4 x 12. Last summer, the wife got me a Katana 100c for my b-day as well. The Katana is great as an easy practice amp with some cool features and a great form factor, but can't say I'm overwhelmed by the sound. And the Peavey, while it does have tube thump and nice crunch, I'm looking for something that go from cleans to crunch to massive gain. My only experience with Marshalls is from 20 years ago or so when I'd go to rehearsal studios and play through JCM800/900's. I liked them, but found I'd need more than what the amp could provide in gain and would have to use a pedal for that extra gain. Rather I'd be running the clean channel and use effects for the gain sounds, which didn't have me using the amp's gain sounds.

Last weekend, went to GC to look at a Boss GT1000 as a potential amp replacement. Never actually got to play with it since, when walking into the GC, I saw a guy playing a Les Paul through an amp with a glorious sound. It was a Marshall DSL40CR. I don't remember the JCM800/900's sounding like that. When the guy was done, I grabbed a Charvel DK24 and plugged into the DSL. Fantastic!!!!! This is the sound I want.

I did a lot of research on Marshalls for the duration of the weekend. Went through a bunch of pages on GC online, looking for deals in their used section. A bunch of other amps have no come on radar. I'm learning about new amp features and capabilities and how they fit into what I play and what scenarios I play in.

I haven't played out in a LOOOOONNNNGGG time, however, an old band mate got me involved in an original project that I'm really enjoying. So far, it's practicing in an attic with plans to eventually play out (if we can find a place that still supports original bands). Point being, the amp would need to accommodate playing in a 2 guitar band with a loud bass player and drummer, up to doing gigs for up to 1,000 people (I'll probably never play for 1,000 people, but ya never know, and hey, this is my fantasy so work with me here). I've been using the Katana so far for this project, and it's holding it's own, but it's not "it".

Features I would want...
At least 2 channels
FX loop without drama
Preferably, lighter is better, but know a 100w head and a 4x12 aint light
Flexibility in size for location (go from a combo to a half stack with the addition of another cabinet)
From nice cleans to dirt to high gain
Budget of around $1k

Marshall Amps I've been researching....
JVM205 (both head and combo)
JVM410 (both head and combo)

....and what I've researched
DSL40CR - Get an additional 2x12 and this would cover a lot of bases for me. Presumably, the volume can get low enough with the 20w switch enabled, that this could be used for practice, but with the additional cab, could handle small to medium venues. I've read the reverb is very weak (this is also my experience with this amp in GC). I've read some folks have issues with the FX loop, and the 6way channel switcher on can cause delays in the switching. This amp needs to come as a head also.
JCM2000/DSL100/H/HR - Since I already have a 4x12, this could work (however, I want to replace my 4x12 as well). I've read on the H and HR models, these amps have power scaling down to 50w and they all have a good master volume. Concerns of overkill here with 100w and gets away from the "lighter is better" philosophy. I've read the reverb is better on this model than the 40CR, however the switching problems from the 6 channel switch are problematic on the HR model. Have read many raves on the JCM2000 model too, however prior to 2001, have the circuit boards replaced with a newer version.
DSL50 - Haven't come across any used ones, but all reviews suggest the 50w unit sounds better than the 100w variant.
JVM205 (both head and combo) - I find this one very intriguing. 50w is the ideal max for what I'm looking for (at least I think so). There are A LOT of these in the used section on GC, ranging from $825 or so to $1,025 or so for the head, and just over $1k for the combo (is it a bad sign seeing so many of these for sale?). I have not heard this amp, but research suggests that DSL sounds can be repeated wit this amp, as well as having more "modern" sounds (not sure what that exactly means, but hey, more features is betterer). Also, zero issues with channel switching, a great reverb and very very flexible in tones with 2 FX loops. I like the idea of the combo as well. Can then also get a 2x12 to create a half stack as needed. I've read on more than 1 post though, that people who experience with this amp and the JVM410, prefer the 410 for it's tonal options. Realistically, this amp, the DSL40CR and DSL100H/HR are my leading choices currently.
JVM410 (both head and combo) - The lead guitar player in my friend's cover band uses the JS version of the head. I find the head sounds fantastic. I've never actually played through one, and not sure how much he uses all the available channel switching. Seems overkill at 100w, but there are some decent deals out there for this one. How different sounding is the non JS variant of this amp? For my purposes, should I be looking at this over the JVM205?

And then the 20w amps. Didn't really give these guys much consideration, but have read repeatedly, they will work in a band setting with a loud drummer. I'm not as well versed on the 20w'ers and not sure on the differnces between them outside of the DSL20CR, which I've played through at GC, and found it decent. Am I limiting myself using one of these vs the more powerful amps listed above? How are these distinguished from each other?

Other amps I was considering
Peavey 6150
EVH 5150III 50w

Which amp would you recommend and why?

Very much appreciated.....thanks!
play the mini jubilee, any jvm, and any dsl, comoare them and see which you prefer


Mar 14, 2011
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Here's my vote for your amp search !!
Of course i'm a little biased toward these amps as I've been playing them for years ...

But at the end of the day you can't argue with the facts , the 6101 is flat out KILLER !
If a single 12 combo is what your after , then i see no reason to settle for a "Lesser" amp .

Bottom line , these have it ALL , and do it ALL !

I second this. I have the head and a 1960 cabinet. It has the 3 channels he wants. Is more than loud enough. Channels can also be easily switch with the provided pedal or simple MIDI pedal. I also have an Yngwie head but that might be more than he's looking for. Also no easily switched channel . It's similar to an old plexi. You can change configurations by hand, and it has a pedal to switch gain but not 3 selectable channels like the 30rh anniversary. ...

Rusty Strings

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Sep 28, 2015
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You probably did the maths yourself.
Through the same speaker, the 40watter will be only 3db louder than 20watter. Then 80watter will be louder by 6db than 20watter.
Regarding a speaker with high sensitivity/efficiency or SPL or whatever it is called:
Example: if Greenbacks in a cab as well as the Celestion VType in the DSL40CR have 97db SPL and you put in some Eminence 102db SPL, then theoretically you can make even the 20watter sound a lot more powerful.
If you go the DSL20HR route, make sure you get one not made in late 2017, I had 2 made in december 2017 and both had issues with volume knobs not working on Emulated out, tube noise, both returned and one had powerswitch replaced 2x. My third is from October or November 2019 and all is working as intended. But I use it at home on 10w setting with webber mass attenuator, so I have the opposite concerns regarding volume.
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Feb 3, 2021
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I just bought a jcm2000 50w dsl, I may have had a similar thought process as you in deciding what to buy. For me, I made a great score. I am not bothered about an effects loop so my choice is different to yours. I think what i am trying to say is, buy a marshall, there are the icon they are for a reason.


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Apr 2, 2017
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Ok so you like the dsl40cr. I would get it but forget used. After you get 15% off at GC you’ll get a brand new one with warranty for same price.
Keep in mind that GC doesn’t warranty the Marshall amps. You have to go to a certified Marshall repair shop and some of them are really flaky.