Marshall amps have been celebrated by some of the world's greatest bands and musicians including: Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, slash, Oasis, Muse, Gorillaz and bring me The Horizon. We can be seen on tour with artists like Justin Timberlake, Kendrick Lamar and Lana del rey. However, none of this would be possible without founder and revolutionary Jim Marshall OBE and his son Terry.

After more than 20 years of playing on the road on July 7, 1960, Jim opened a family music store with his wife Violet and son Terry called "Jim Marshall and Son" at 76 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, London. Today you will find a plaque on the sidewalk outside to celebrate our humble beginnings.

The store sold a variety of musical instruments and attracted many young emerging talents, such as Pete Townshend, Ritchie Blackmore, John Entwistle and Big Jim Sullivan, who were friends of Terry and knew the music store from the students. in Jim's drums, such as Keith Moon.

 

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

 

Marshall guitar amplifiers are among the most recognized in the world. Their signature sound, characterized by sizzling distortion and 'crunch', was devised by Marshall after guitarists, such as Pete Townshend, visited Marshall's drum shop complaining that guitar amps then on the market were did not have the right sound or enough volume.

After gaining a lot of publicity, Marshall guitar amps and speaker cabinets were sought after by guitarists for this new sound and increased volume.

 

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

 

Many current and re-released Marshall guitar amps continue to use vacuum tubes (also called valves in Great Britain and some other areas), as is common in this industry. Marshall also makes less expensive solid-state, hybrid (vacuum tube and solid-state) and modeling amps.

 

Marshall's story

The origins

After a successful career as a drummer and teacher of drumming technique, Jim Marshall went into business in 1962 with a small shop in Hanwell, London, selling drums, cymbals and related drums accessories; Marshall himself also gave drums lessons.

According to Jim, Ritchie Blackmore, Big Jim Sullivan, and Pete Townshend were the top three guitarists who would often come into the store and push Marshall to make guitar amps and tell him what sound and design they wanted. [6] Marshall Ltd. then expanded, hired designers, and began manufacturing guitar amps to compete with existing amps, the most notable of which at the time was the Fender amps imported from America.

These were popular with guitarists and bassists, but they were very expensive. The three guitarists were among the first customers of the first 23 Marshall amps manufactured.

 

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

 

Jim Marshall wanted someone to produce a cheaper alternative to the guitar amps made in the USA, but because he had limited experience in electrical engineering, he called in his shop repairman, Ken Bran, a technician from Pan American Airways, Dudley Craven, an IME apprentice.

most liked the sound of the Fender Bassman 4 × 10 inch and made several prototypes using the Fender Bassman amplifier as a model. The sixth prototype produced, in Jim's words, the "Marshall Sound", although at that time Jim's only involvement was selling the amps on commission in his store.

As business grew, Marshall asked the three to work for him in his workshop, as he had more space and capital to grow.

 

MARSHALL amps: the story of a myth

 

 

The original idea was brought up late on a Friday night in early 1963 at a Wimpy bar in Ealing in west London by three amateur radio enthusiasts after being at their weekly Greenford Radio Club meeting, callsign Dudley's call was G3PUN, Ken Bran's was G3UDC, and Ken Underwood was G3SDW.

When Dudley died in 1998 and Ken Bran died in 2018, the only original individual was Ken Underwood.

The first six production units were assembled at Ken Bran, Dudley Craven and Ken Underwood garden sheds that same year in Heston, Hanwell and Hayes, all in West London. They were almost copies of the Bassman circuit, with US military surplus 5881 power valves, a relative of the 6L6.

Few speakers were then able to handle more than 15 watts, which meant that an amplifier approaching 50 watts had to use four speakers.

 

MARSHALL amps

 

For their Bassman, Fender used four Jensen speakers in the same cabinet as the amplifier, but Marshall chose to separate the amplifier from the speakers and placed four 12-inch Celestion speakers in a separate closed cabinet. instead of the four 10-inch ones. Jensens in an open back combo.

Other crucial differences included the use of higher gain ECC83 valves throughout the preamp and the introduction of a capacitor / resistor filter after the volume control. These circuit changes gave the amp more gain, which allowed it to overdrive earlier on the volume control than the Bassman, and increased the high frequencies.

This new amplifier, tentatively called the "Mark II", was eventually named the "JTM 45", after Jim and his son Terry Marshall and the maximum power of the amplifier.

Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and other groups based on the blues rock from the late 1960s such as Free used Marshall stacks both in the studio and on stage, making it one of the most sought-after and popular amps in the industry.

 

MARSHALL amps

 

The Marshall Distribution Agreement

Marshall entered into a 15-year distribution agreement with British company Rose-Morris in 1965, which gave it the capital to expand its manufacturing operations, although this would prove to be costly.

In retrospect, Marshall admitted that the Rose-Morris deal was “the biggest mistake I have ever made. Rose-Morris didn't really have a clue. For export they added 55% to my price which put us out of the world. walked for a long time. "

 

Amplification of Marshall Park

The new contract deprived many former Marshall amp distributors of their rights, including his old friend Johnny Jones. Marshall's contract didn't stop him from building amps outside the company, so Marshall launched the Park brand name, which was inspired by Jones' wife's maiden name.

To comply with his contract stipulations, these amps had minor circuit changes compared to regular Marshalls amps and minor changes to the appearance.

marshall 7 amps

 

For example, often the pens had silver or black front panels instead of the gold ones on Marshall amps, some of the enclosures were taller or differently shaped, and the controls were laid out and labeled differently.

Beginning in early 1965, Park produced a number of amplifiers, including a 45 watt head. Most of them had a Marshall layout and components, although some unusual amplifiers were made, such as a 75 watt keyboard amplifier with KT88 tubes.

A 2 × 12 inch combo had the ability to send the first channel into the second, probably inspired by Marshall users doing the same with a patch cable. The 1972 Park 75 produced approximately 100 watts using two KT88s, while the comparable 50-watt 1987 model of the day used two EL34 tubes.

In 1982, Park came to an end, although Marshall later relaunched the brand for certain transistor amplifiers made in Asia. [9] Parks made from the mid-1960s to about 1974 (the "golden years"), with point-to-point wiring - rumored to be "a little warmer" than regular Marshalls - fetch prices. higher than the "real" ones comparable to Marshalls amps of the same period.

 

 

Other Marshall brand names

Wall of Marshall Fridge: Refrigerator products using the Marshall brand.
Other brand names that Marshall Amplification had used for various business reasons included Big M (for the West German market at the time), Kitchen / Marshall (for the Kitchen Music retail chain in north London), Narb (Ken Bran's last name spelled backwards) and CMI (Cleartone Musical Instruments).

Amplifiers sold under these brands are quite rare and sell for high prices to collectors.

marshall 9 amps

The first amp models

The Bluesbreaker

To cut costs, Marshall began sourcing parts from the UK. This led to the use of transformers made by Dagnall and Drake and a switch to the KT66 valve instead of the 6L6 tubing commonly used in the United States.

The changes gave the Marshall amps a more aggressive voice, which quickly found favor with players like Eric Clapton, who sat in Jim's shop to practice. Clapton commissioned Jim Marshall to produce a combo amp with tremolo that would fit in the trunk of his car, and one of Marshall's most famous amps was born, the "Bluesbreaker" amp.

It was the amplifier, in tandem with his 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard (the “Beano”), that gave Clapton that famous tone on the 1966 John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers Album, Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton.

Marshall's Plexi facade

Marshall amps from this era are easily identifiable by their acrylic glass front (aka Plexiglas), which earned them the nickname "Plexi". In 1967, Marshall released a 50-watt version of the 100-watt Superlead known as the 1987 model. In 1969, the plexiglass panel was replaced with a brushed metal front panel.

Other early customers included The Who's Pete Townshend and John Entwistle, whose search for extra volume led Marshall to design the classic 100-watt tube amplifier.

 

Marshall's developers Ken Bran and Dudley Craven doubled the number of output valves, added a larger power transformer, and an additional output transformer. Four of these marshall amps were built and delivered to Pete Townshend, and the Marshall Super Lead Model 1959, the original Plexi, was born in 1965. At Pete Townshend's request, Marshall produced an 8 × 12 inch cabinet (soon to be replaced). by a pair of 4 × 12 inch cabinets) on which the 1959 amplifier head was placed, giving rise to the Marshall stack, an iconic image of rock and roll.

Marshall's battery wall size "soon became an indicator of the condition of the group," even when obsolete by improved sound systems; in fact, many of the "ridiculously huge paintings of heads and booths" included mannequins.

Still, most modern 100-watt heads have roots in Marshall's design, although they often contain a lot more features (or different tubes, such as the more American 6L6 tubes).

 

Mid 1970s and 1980s models

The Marshall JMPS

After 1973, to streamline production, labor-intensive manual wiring was discontinued and Marshall valve amps were replaced with printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Much of the debate over the difference in tone between Marshall plexiglass and aluminum panel amps dates back to 1974, when a number of circuit changes were made to the amps of 1959 and 1987; with the addition of "mkII" added to the name "Super Lead" on the rear panel and "JMP" ("Jim Marshall Products") added to the left of the power switch on the front panel.

The US distributor of Marshall Unicord also asked them to replace all amps sold in the US and Japan with the much more rugged General Electric 6550 instead of the EL34 output tube.

The combined effect of different tubes and a modified circuit gave these mid-1970s Marshalls a very bright and aggressive sound that was more punchy than the EL34 sound, but not as rich, compressed and had less distortion. the power amplifier.

In late 1975, Marshall introduced the "Master Volume" ("MV") series with the 100W 2203, followed in 1976 by the 50W 2204. This was an attempt to control the volume level of all amps. retaining the saturated distortion tones that had become synonymous with the Marshall brand.

To do this, the Marshall designers connected the two input stages in series rather than parallel on the 2203, but not initially on the 2204, and modified the gain stage circuit to preserve the tonal characteristics of the its "crank plexi" and have converted the now obsolete. Volume control of the second channel to a Master Volume by connecting it between the preamp and the EQ circuit. The 2204 followed suit in early 1977 and changed its preamp circuit to match the (then) more popular 2203.

By Rick Reinckens, who was a short-term electronics technician employed by Unicord who tested the first units upon arrival from England, Tony Frank, the chief engineer of Unicord, came up with the idea of a check double volume (a preamp gain and a main volume).

The circuit modifications were optimized to reproduce the sound of previous non-MV Marshalls with the master volume control set to “low”, but players quickly realized that “throwing” the MV of these new Marshall amps would produce even more. of overdrive distortion, the tone of which was more cutting and edgy, and then found favor with players such as Randy Rhoads, Zakk Wylde and Slash.

The 1959 and 1987 non-master volume models also continued under the JMP line until 1982.

The Marshall JCM 800

Shortly after the Rose-Morris deal ended in late 1980, Marshall reconditioned two MV models, the 2203 and 2204 (at 100 and 50 watts, respectively), as well as the 1959 and 1987 Super Lead. non-master in a new box. with a new panel, and called it the "JCM800" series (named after his initials and the license plate of his car). [18] Marshall made several amps under the name JCM800.

 

The Marshall Jubilee

A landmark year for Jim Marshall was 1987. It marked 25 years in the amp industry and 50 years in music. This was celebrated with the release of the Silver Jubilee amp series. The Silver Jubilee series included the 2555 (100 watt head), 2550 (50 watt head) as well as other 255x model numbers naming various combos and even a "short head".

The Jubilee amps were heavily based on the JCM800s of the day, with a very similar output section with a new preamp. Their most publicized feature was the half-power switching, which is activated by a third toggle switch next to the standard “power” and “standby” switches.

On the 50-watt model, this was reflected in the numbering - 2550 is switchable from 25 to 50 watts - and also reflected the 25th anniversary of the Marshall amps and Jim Marshall's 50 years in music. The amps were covered with a silver coating and had a shiny silver faceplate, as well as a commemorative plaque.

The Jubilee also featured a “half-split channel” design, in which two different input gain levels could be set, going through the same stack of sounds and the same master volume control. This allowed a "classic Marshall" gain level to be foot-switched to a modern, medium to high gain sound, slightly darker and higher in gain than the more brutal JCM800 sound that characterized 1980s rock music.

“The sound of these Marshall amps is particularly thick and dark, even at the Marshall scale. The gain compared to current standards is average. [19] The distortion sound of the Jubilee range is characterized by Slash's live work with Guns N 'Roses. He rarely used anything else live, but oddly enough, Jubilee didn't appear on any Guns N 'Appetite for Destruction (1987) and a modified JCM800 on subsequent albums.

It can be heard on some of the Velvet Revolver materials. Jubilee amps also featured a “pull out” button that activated a diode clipping circuit (similar to boosting the amp's input with an overdrive pedal).

Other notable users of Jubilee include the Black Crowes, John Frusciante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Alex Lifeson (Rush), who used him extensively in the recording of Rush's Clockwork Angels (2012) album.

After the Jubilee year, production of the Marshall 25xx series amps continued for another year (with no internal changes), but reverted to a standard Marshall livery of black and gold. These are sometimes referred to as the JCM800 Custom Amps.

 

Mid 1980s and 1990s models

Competition from American amplifier companies

Marshall began to see more competition from American amplification companies such as Mesa Boogie and Soldano. Marshall then updated the JCM800 range with additional models and new features like “channel switching,” which meant players could switch between clean and distorted sounds with the flip of a foot switch.

This feature debuted in the 2205 (50 watts) and 2210 (100 watts) series and these Marshall amps contained more preamp gain than ever thanks to a new innovation; diode cut. This meant that a solid-state diode added additional distortion to the signal path, similar to adding a distortion pedal.

As such, the shared-channel JCM800 were the highest gain Marshalls ever built - “When first released, many players were shocked (some were even put off) by its brilliant and intense distortion - much more. than any other amp of the time. "

Although heavily criticized today by tube purists, these amps were more popular than ever, finding massive acceptance within the hard rock community and still used by many today.

 

The shared channel JCM800s are still used by Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave) and have been played exclusively by Michael Schenker (UFO) for many years.

Marshall at this time began other experiments with solid-state amplifiers, the quality of which was improving more and more due to technological innovations, but which were still considered entry-level equipment.

Either way, solid-state product lines bearing the Marshall name have been and still are a fierce (albeit critically priced) success for the company, allowing novice guitarists to play the same brand of. amp as their heroes.

A particularly successful entry-level Marshall was the Lead 12 / Reverb 12 series combo, which featured a preamp section very similar to a JCM800, and a particularly smooth output section. These amps were actually used on record by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, and are now in high demand.

1990s

The Marshall JCM 900

In the 1990s, Marshall again updated its product line with the JCM900 series. Reviewed by the Guitarist magazine in the UK and given the 'Shredders here's an amp you won't need to tweak' line, this Marshall decision was again an outgrowth of musicians' desires, more distorted than ever and still popular. aspects of the latest JCM800 models.

However, despite these marketing claims, they weren't as good as advertised and used solid-state components for much of the distortion in some models - something many guitarists didn't like.

Yet if not with shredders, the JCM900 line has been well received by young players associated with the pop, rock, punk and grunge which was prevalent in the early 1990s.

There are three different variations of the JCM900. The most common models are the “Dual Reverb” models 4100 (100 watts) and 4500 (50 watts), which are a descendant of the JCM800 2210/2205 model. These models feature two channels, a solid state preamp and a diode distortion.

The 2100/2500 Mark III are essentially JCM800 2203/2204 with additional diode clipping controllable via a button on the front panel and an effects loop. These are quite rare and weren't in production for a long time before being replaced by the 2100/2500 SL-X, which replaced the Mk III's diode clipping with another 12AX7 / ECC83 preamp tube. These are easily the highest distortion of the three variants.

A number of these were shipped with Sovtek 5881vannes, a rugged variant of the 6L6 family of outlet valves, due to a lack of EL34 of appropriate quality. Most of the JCM900 and 6100 built between 1994 and 1998 left the factory with the 5881.

At that time, he released a few “special edition” Marshall amps in this line, including a “Slash Signature” model, a first for the company. This was actually a reissue of the older Silver Jubilee 2555 amplifier, with identical internals, a standard $ look and a Slash logo. This amp has retained EL34s and 3,000 units were produced from 1996 to 1997.

 

The Marshall 30th Anniversary 6100 Series

1993 marked 30 years in the amp industry. To commemorate this milestone, Marshall released the 30th Anniversary amp series, the 6100LE powered by EL34 with a commemorative blue coating and gold faceplate, which was followed by the 6100 (in blue tolex and still powered by EL34) then in 1994 the 6100LM (as standard Marshall livery but now 5881 powered like the JCM900 of the time).

All versions of the 6100 had three channels; clean, crunch and lead. The clean channel featured a mid shift, which offered the option of a more “Fender-like” sound, and the crunch channel featured three modes recreating all of Marshall's classic crunch sounds of the past three decades.

 


The main channel featured switchable gain gain and a mid-range contour switch, which gave it the tone and gain levels, which Marshall's engineers hoped would remain competitive in the high-gain world of the. early to mid-90s. In fact, some players felt that the main channel was perhaps the weakest link in the amplifier's arsenal, and it was overhauled in the third year of production ( LM stands for "Lead Mod").

This revision presented an even higher gain.

The Anniversary series found a prominent place with Joe Satriani in particular, who favored the early EL34 powered versions and only used the live clean channel with his Vox Satchurator distortion pedal which is based on his old Boss DS- 1 amended. Satriani used these old Boss pedals almost exclusively for live work and on a number of studio albums including The Extremist (1992) until the early 2000s.

The Anniversary models were arguably the most complicated Marshalls of all time (aside from maybe the last JVM), with MIDI channel selection, half power switching, pentode / triode switching, adjustable speaker excursion and trim switch. low volume.

Despite all this complication, the amps had a pure signal path that did not share the preamp tubes between channels (unlike later designs like the TSL and JVM). Other famous 6100 users include Alex Lifeson on Rush's album Test for Echo (1996) and Ocean Color Scene (OCS) guitarist Steve Cradock.

Current Marshall models

Marshall currently produces a number of amplifiers, which are a mix of modern designs and vintage re-releases. Most models attempt to include the "classic" Marshall "roar".

 

Modern series

Starting in 2012, Marshall produced a wide range of amps with the look and sound of the Marshall tube amp. The oldest of these models is the JCM2000 range, which is divided into two and three channel series, called Dual and Triple Super Leads.

These amps are a continuation of the JCM800 and 900 series, although the controversial diode clipping circuit used in the later 800 and 900 amps has been removed in favor of additional valve gain stages. Although grouped together as JCM2000 models, DSL and TSL have different circuitry and are further apart than the model line suggests.

Marshall turned to a new flagship to nail all the compromises of previous models, the JVM, made in a variety of models and ranges.

 

 Marshall Vintage Series

Marshall Vintage Reissue Amps

In 2001, Marshall reissued several of his earlier amps, such as the Model 1959-SLP, which is designed to be a reissue of the "Plexi" amplifier from the late 1960s, but which are actually reissues of the Super Lead. post-1973 models in that they use circuit boards internally to reduce manufacturing costs.

The original design used hand-wired circuitry on turret boards, which are now available for a premium in the "hand-wired" series. Other reissues are designed similarly on printed circuit boards, even when the originals were wired by hand, unless explicitly stated.

 

Solid State Amplifier

The “Valvestate” amplifiers contained a hybrid of valve and solid state technology. Currently referred to as the "AVT series" (although these are now out of production, replaced by the "AVT tribute" for a short time), there are a number of different models, all less expensive than their valve counterparts.

This is the current line of “hybrid” Marshall amps, with a 12AX7 preamp tube used in the preamp (to “warm up” the signal) as well as solid-state components, with a solid-state power amp. -conductors. These are considered and marketed as mid-level equipment to bridge the gap between the upper range of valves and the lower range MG series.

In January 2009, Marshall released their latest variant of the MG amplifier line. Replacing the MG3 range, the MG4 was designed to offer the guitarist a multitude of features while keeping control of the amplifier simple.

 

 Marshall Bass Series

Marshall currently makes a professional valve bass rig called the VBA400. It houses eight 6550 power valves plus three ECC83 preamp valves and one ECC82.

The input receives both active bass and passive pick-up; there is also an XLR DI output for full recording with ground lift (grounding) and Pre / Post EQ switches.

Recently, Marshall honored Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister with his very first signature bass amp head, based on his 100-watt “Murder One” super bass.

There are also solid-state models called MB series ranging from 15 watts to 450 watts and expansion cabinets.

marshall amps 1

 

Marshall Bluetooth headphones and speakers

in 2010, Marshall started a partnership with Zound industries to manufacture bluetooth headphones and speakers, Zound industries is best known its Urbanears headphones and has a simulare partnership with Adidas to manufacture audio products for them.

In August 2018, Marshall announced two smart speakers that run Amazon Alexa.

The Marshall Legacy

The classic Marshall Stack consists of a head containing the actual amplifier, on top of two stacked 4 × 12s, which are enclosures each containing four 12-inch speakers arranged in a square. The top cabinet has the top two speakers tilted slightly upward, giving the stack a distinctive appearance. When a single cabinet is used, the entire unit is called a half stack.

From the early to mid-1960s, The Who's Pete Townshend and John Entwistle were responsible for the creation and widespread use of stacked Marshall cabinets. Townshend later noticed that Entwistle had started using Stacks to get along on Keith Moon Townshend's drums and Townshend himself also had to use them to get his voice heard on Entwistle.

In fact, the very first 100-watt amps were created specifically for Entwistle and Townshend when they were looking to replace certain equipment that had been stolen from them. They approached Jim to ask if it was possible for him to make their new rigs more powerful than the ones they had lost, to which they were told the cabinets would have to double in size. They agreed and six platforms of this prototype were made, two of which were donated to Townshend and Entwistle and one to Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott of The Small Faces.

These new "double" speakers (each containing 8 enclosures) turned out to be too heavy and awkward to be practically transported, so The Who returned to Marshall asking if they could be cut in half and stacked, and although the dual speakers were Left intact, the existing speakers Single speaker models (each containing 4 speakers) were modified for stacking, which became the norm for years.

Entwistle and Townshend both continued to develop and experiment with their rigs, until (at a time when most bands were still using 50-100W Marshall amps with single speakers) they both used Dual batteries, each battery powered by a new experimental prototype 200W amps, each connected to the guitar via a Y-splitter.

This, in turn, also had a strong influence on the band's contemporaries at the time, with Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Led Zeppelin suite.

However, due to the cost of transportation, the Who could not afford to take their complete rigs with them for their first overseas tours, so Cream and Hendrix were the first to use this setup on a large scale. , especially in America. Ironically, although The Who pioneered and directly contributed to the development of the "classic" sound and setup, with their gear built and tuned to their personal specifications, they only used the Marshalls for a few years before moving on. the use of Hiwatt equipment. Cream, and in particular Hendrix, would be widely credited with inventing Marshall Stacks.

The search for volume has been taken to its next logical step with the advent of "daisy chaining" two or more Marshall amps together. Since most amplification channels have two inputs, with the guitar signal present on both jacks, the crafty musician hooked the spare input of one channel to an input of another amp. In 1969, Hendrix connected four batteries in series, incorporating both Marshall and Sound City amps, as Townshend recommended.

This competition for more volume and greater extremes was taken even further in the early 1970s by the group Blue Öyster Cult, which used an entire wall of full-stack Marshall amps as their backdrop. (BÖC also referred to the Marshalls in the songs "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll" and "The Marshall Plan").

Artists such as Slayer and Yngwie Malmsteen also use Marshalls walls; Slayer's two Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman would often be seen playing in front of a total of 24 cabinets. Malmsteen toured with 30 heads and 28 cabinets, and in 2011 said he would use 60 full stacks on his next tour.

However, many of these speakers used by rock bands are dummies, and many performers who don't even use Marshall amps have the dummy batteries on stage.

 

 


 

Eric CANTO Photographer: Concert photos, portraits, album covers.

 

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