Some names are intrinsic to the history of modern music, and rock music in particular. Fender and Gibson made the classic guitars that are venerated by guitarists everywhere, and there is no brand of amps more iconic than Marshall. Although Jim Marshall started making amps that were copies of Fender amps, which were difficult to get hold of in England in the 1960s, they quickly gained their own voice and their own place in rock history, with artists like The Who and Eric Clapton plastering them across their stages.
For me, occasions to visit guitar shops and test gear don’t come along very often, and there’s always a long list of things that I want to try. It took me quite some time – years – before I had the opportunity to go along to a shop specifically to try out some Marshall amps. I wasn’t intending to buy an amp (and I didn’t); this was really just curiosity, since I’d never played a Marshall and this was obviously a big gap in my guitar-playing experience.
I was staying near Exeter and so I went into Mansons Guitar Shop to see which Marshalls they had in stock and try a few of them. Despite the efforts of some forum members to persuade me to buy a secondhand JCM800, which is rather overkill for home use, I was more interested in the DLS series of amps. They are cheaper, and there are amps at wattages that are better suited to home use, like the 5-watt DSL5C or the 15-watt DSL15C or DSL15H (Head or Cab).
I briefly played a secondhand JCM800 and also a Silver Jubilee 2555X, but I was more focused on the DSLs. I thought that the DSL5C was a good sounding amp but it has rather limited features, and the 8-inch speaker was a disadvantage as it certainly didn’t sound as good as its larger brethren. The DSL40C is a famous modern classic, powerful enough to play small gigs and rather versatile with two channels, each of which has two distinct sounds. I thought the DSL40C sounded superb.
I tried the DSL15C and the DSL15H too, and they sounded goood too, although the combo has a 10-inch speaker and so it suffers a bit in comparison with the DSL40C and its 12-inch speaker. If I was to get a Marshall, though, I would much prefer a head since I already had the Harley Benton cab, and I don’t want to build a collection of huge amplifiers. Unfortunately, the 15H has neither reverb nor an FX-loop, which in combination made a significant disadvantage.
I returned the next day to try some more amps. I’d have liked to have tried the 2525H but it had only recently been announced, and there was no stock available. As a small thank-you to the shop for letting me try the amps, I did buy a couple of packs of strings.
Again, I went back home and thought about these amps for a few weeks, and discussed them on the forums. If there had been a head version of the DSL40, that would have been an obvious choice, but for some reason Marshall doesn’t make that. The next best choice seemed to be the new Mini Silver Jubilee head, the 2525H, which I’d heard at the British Guitar Show in February 2016 and had sounded rather good (albeit with a fantastic player!). That amp was rather expensive, though, and so I held fire.
Before going on this trip to England, I had contacted my mortgage broker to see if it was worth our while replacing our current mortgage. A couple of weeks after we returned, she got back to us with good news, and to cut a long story short we will be knocking 4 years off our mortgage, and I will save €16,000 in interest payments. I thought that this was an excellent excuse for a bit of self-indulgence, and so I lashed out on the 2525H. I hadn’t played it, but I was fairly sure from the video reviews I’d seen that it would sound great – and indeed it does!
I do find that the controls are not laid out particularly well – my Line 6 DT25 is much better in this respect. However, this amp produces some great, classic rock sounds, and in combination with my Victory V40 and my pedalboard, I think it gives me a great range of top notch guitar sounds.
More videos will follow!