I have used Marshall tube amplification for more than 20 years. Though temperamental, I have found Marshalls to offer great tube distortion with maximum gain and crunch. I have found the Marshall JCM 2000 DSL great for both live recording and studio use. I have the 100-watt model.
So… how does it sound?
The the clean channel at low bedroom volumes sounds great. Also, driven at high, concert level volumes, the distortion and tube crunch is clear and punchy. NOTE: The unit reviewed is a 100-watt model and is really meant to be DRIVEN at high volumes and preferably with a tube pre-amp on the front end or through the effects loop.
- AMP: Marshall JCM 2000 DSL
- TUBES: JJ’s EL34
- CAB: Marshall JCM 900 Lead-1960
- SPEAKERS: Stock Celestions
- GUITAR: Charvel Custom Model 2
- PICK-UP: DiMarzio X2N with 1 Meg Volume Pot
This amp has tons of gain and the head offers four channels of distortion to choose from. Everything from AC/DC crunch to soaring death metal, mid-scooped distortion. If you like the sound of a Mesa then STAY AWAY. This amp is 100% Marshall JCM sounding.
Major Drawback: The Effects Loop
The effects loop is a little undesirable as you do not have a volume knob control, but rather a -/+ DB cut button that only offers you only two choices: loud and louder. You would have to run the effects loop like a power amp and control the amount of volume with an external volume control. This issue can be nasty in a small club or your apartment where you want to use the effects loop with low volumes, but not have to run an external volume control.
This amp is very versatile with four different channels of tube crunch to choose from. My 100-watt model has been rode hard and has been very reliable for both live concert and studio use over the years. The prices on these units have dropped into the mid $500’s on EBAY, so the price is very competitive verses a Soldano Hot Rod 50 or a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. If you can live with just a two volume options in the effects loop, or don’t use the effects loop at all, pick one of these units up and pair the head with a Marshall/Celestion cab. You won’t be disappointed.
— Johnny D.
Texas Rock Guitarist John E. Davis is the former CEO and Lead Music Instructor at the Texas Guitar School in Arlington, Texas.