plexi-voiced amps

bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 594
edited October 17 in Amplifier Discussion
a recent thread about “chainsaw” guitar tones got me thinking about guitar amps, and Marshalls in particular.  when i was growing up, if you were able to lay your eyes on a Marshall amp, outside of a big name rock show, you were a very lucky individual.  this was the pre-Korg days, where, i believe, Marshalls were distributed in the USA by Rose Morris.  they were very rare stateside, and at the time, the conventional wisdom was, the older the Marshall, the thicker, the more dynamic, the better.  thus, JCM800s were not as well regarded as the late ‘70s JMPs, or especially, Plexis.  when Korg became the stateside distributor, you’d see smaller combos here and there, mostly transistor garbage, but every once in awhile you’d find a proper 50w or 100w top.  after ‘87 or ‘88, the shortage of vacuum tubes caused Marshall to switch to 6L6 power for US export amps, and these sucked.  everybody was using racks and shit anyway.  all fine and good if you liked thin, compressed, cheesedick guitar sounds.  this continued into the JCM900 era.  900s weren’t bad sounding amps, but they weren’t in the same ballpark as a Jubilee or vintage JMP at all.  it wasn’t until the JCM2000, with its amazing green channel, that real improvement was made.  damn that amp was incredible.  i had 3, two 50w and one 100w.  i thought this was the be all end all, until i heard the Bogner Ecstacy blue channel.  that amp changed everything.  the Ecstasy was really the first new amp that Marshall players, by and large, preferred over vintage Plexis and the mid ‘70s metal fronts.  now look where we are at!  if you have the money, you can have a Bogner, a Friedman, a Wizard, a Splawn, etc.  any one of which is going to sound better than 99% of the old stuff, with the added benefit of being much more flexible and recordable.  lots of companies are making Plexi flavored 6V6 powered 25w combos, too.  Wizard, Dr Z, Germino, Divided by 13, etc, i’m sure there are others.  if you’re a Plexi lover, what a time to be alive!
Post edited by bourbonsamurai on
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Comments

  • Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 16,008
    edited October 17
    There are indeed many great options now.  I have one -- the Fargen -- EL34 at 12 watts, and it also has a JCM800 channel, and that's awesome.

    Maybe I'm a little older than you, Cary, or maybe it's because of where I grew up -- Boston, I remember it differently. I started getting into playing and gear around 1980. At that time, there were PLENTY of Marshalls around Boston. You could ALWAYS pick up a used head or 4x12 cab for about $400 in The Want Advertiser magazine -- which was basically the print version equivalent of Craigslist. That was the going rate throughout the 80s for used Marshall gear, and as I say, you could ALWAYS find heads and cabs that said Marshall on the front. 

    The issue, as you suggest, was knowing which ones -- of both heads and cabs -- were the good ones.  That took someone who was in the know. The more experienced players knew which ones were good, and which ones were not.  And as we've discussed many times here on DRG, Marshall's history is full of as many terrible designs and decisions as Gibsons, and like Gibson, the company changed hands a lot, and each parent company seemed hell bent on making the product cheaper and crappier. The company fell ass-backwards into success. But they fucked up PLENTY. 

    Fortunately for me, my guitar teacher was one of the very experienced players, and he mentored me on my way to all things tonal. He's 9 years older than me and has been my life-long brother.  He's the guy who insisted I buy my 54 Les Paul, the guy who introduced me to my guitar tech, Richard Stanley, my amp tech, etc.  He was a working guitarist around Boston throughout the 70s.

    Anyway, what I remember of what he taught me was as follows:

    • The Marshalls from 68-72 -- the Plexis and Superleads were the best. I think some people put that date at 68-74, but I seem to remember being told to avoid the 73-74s -- can't remember why. Anyway, you'd get one early ones and install an attenuator because you HAD to run them on 10 to get the sound. This was a very common mod in those days.   AS such, you'd often see a fan installed as well. Or you could also take a desk fan and blow it on the back of the amp. Because if you ran them full out without a fan for long periods, the amp would actually blow up.  It's hard to imagine that now because amps are so well-built now, but it was quite common back then.  When I found my 71 Superlead 100, someone had already installed a nice attenuator on it. 
    • The mid 70s Marshals changed (I can't remember which year). At one point they briefly switched from EL34s to 6550s I think (due to a tube shortage or whatever), and they wouldn't distort much on their own. Sales tanked, and Marshall switched back to EL34s, but if you bought one of those with the 6550s cause you didn't know better, you were really screwed -- they wouldn't take the EL34s. 
    • The Mk IIs were to be avoided. The first Master Volume Marshalls were to be avoided. I don't remember the technical reasons why, but none of them would produce the same poweramp saturation you could get from the early ones. 
    • The first run of JCM800s also would NOT give you poweramp saturation. There was a level of preamp gain you could NOT dial out to get that old sound.  They fixed that on subsequent models. Perhaps as Metal was getting more popular, it didn't matter as much. 
    • The early 4x12 cabs were also better.  They were constructed with marine plywood.  By the mid 70s, they started making cabs of chipboard that looked the same, but didn't sound the same, and certainly weren't as rugged. They had plastic handles instead of metal.  The speakers that came with them began to change as well. The old ones usually had 30 watt G12H Celestions (not "Vintage 30s") or the 25 watt Greenbacks. Most Dino guys preferred the old 30 watters (and still do), but Marshall kept changing them over the years. 

    Anyway, you had to know this stuff to get the right sounds -- the sounds your guitar heroes got (they certainly knew which were good and which weren't). A handful of older players in Boston who'd lived through it and learned -- they knew.  But most guys didn't know -- certainly most guys my age didn't know.  There were no web forums. Just word-of-mouth.  They just figured a Marshall is a Marshall, a Gibson is a Gibson, etc. Some guys who bought used gear, got lucky and got the right thing by happy accident. Most didn't, and the ones who had to buy NEW Marshalls typically sounded the worst in those years. The first JCM800s were $800. Twice the going rate for a used Marshall head.  The good news for the players who did know, was that in those days, the older the gear was, the cheaper it was. The plexis were starting to become collectable (you might pay $500-$600) and  But early Superleads were everywhere and cheap, because idiots would flip them to get whatever was newer.  

    Same with the cabs. You'd see an ad -- Marshall 4x12 straight cab, $400. And you'd call the guy and start asking questions.

    What year is it from?
    I don't know.
    Is the logo gold or white? (if he said gold, you were on your way over cash in hand.)
    White.
    Are the letters small white or big white? (if he said small, you were on your way over cash in hand.)
    Big white.
    Is the grill cloth this or that? etc.

    By knowing what you were looking for you could narrow it down and figure out if it was one of the good ones. If it was promising, you'd go see it and pop the back off, make sure the cab was marine ply, and inspect the speakers. Some guys who knew what they were doing would keep the G12H speakers and put something else in cabs they were flipping. 

    My guitar teacher did that, one-better.  He worked in a mom and pop guitar store, and every time a used Marshall cab came in, he'd pop the back and check the speakers, and if they were better than what were in his cabs, he swapped them. So he ended up with two late 60s cabs with the best hand-picked speakers he could find. They sounded amazing. He doesn't use them anymore (he only teaches)  but he still has them. He has them supporting a paint spray booth in his workshop.  They sounded so good, that when I moved back to Boston in 08, I tried to get him to let me keep one in my studio for recording. But he wouldn't do it. 


    But yeah.  Today, you can just buy a Friedman, a Splawn, a Fargen -- any number of companies making plexi clones (including good ones from Marshall)  at various wattages, and they'll be consistently good, and they don't blow up.

    The thing I like about the Fargen is that it uses the EL34 (the low-wattage Friedmans, do not), and though you typically don't notice unless you're comparing them back-to-back, there's a low-end depth you get from that tube that's not there with EL84s and 6v6s.  
    Post edited by Dinosaur David B on
    Life is easier, so much easier, life is easier now.
  • gqn_angelgqn_angel Posts: 1,289
    This is good stuff guys--love hearing from others' experiences.
  • mr_crowleymr_crowley Posts: 6,158
    On a related note, just found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKTi8l8Yuxg 16 different guitarists, some really good ones like Pete Thorn, Morgensen from TC and Phil X and some really shabby ones but all with a glorious tone. A Marshall SLP with everything turned up to 10! Enjoy! :) 


    • The Marshalls from 68-72 -- the Plexis and Superleads were the best. I think some people put that date at 68-74, but I seem to remember being told to avoid the 73-74s -- can't remember why. Anyway, you'd get one early ones and install an attenuator because you HAD to run them on 10 to get the sound. This was a very common mod in those days.   AS such, you'd often see a fan installed as well. Or you could also take a desk fan and blow it on the back of the amp. Because if you ran them full out without a fan for long periods, the amp would actually blow up.  It's hard to imagine that now because amps are so well-built now, but it was quite common back then.  When I found my 71 Superlead 100, someone had already installed a nice attenuator on it. 
    • The mid 70s Marshals changed (I can't remember which year). At one point they briefly switched from EL34s to 6550s I think (due to a tube shortage or whatever), and they wouldn't distort much on their own. Sales tanked, and Marshall switched back to EL34s, but if you bought one of those with the 6550s cause you didn't know better, you were really screwed -- they wouldn't take the EL34s. 
    • The Mk IIs were to be avoided. The first Master Volume Marshalls were to be avoided. I don't remember the technical reasons why, but none of them would produce the same poweramp saturation you could get from the early ones. 
    • The first run of JCM800s also would NOT give you poweramp saturation. There was a level of preamp gain you could NOT dial out to get that old sound.  They fixed that on subsequent models. Perhaps as Metal was getting more popular, it didn't matter as much. 
    • The early 4x12 cabs were also better.  They were constructed with marine plywood.  By the mid 70s, they started making cabs of chipboard that looked the same, but didn't sound the same, and certainly weren't as rugged. They had plastic handles instead of metal.  The speakers that came with them began to change as well. The old ones usually had 30 watt G12H Celestions (not "Vintage 30s") or the 25 watt Greenbacks. Most Dino guys preferred the old 30 watters (and still do), but Marshall kept changing them over the years. 


    I am too young to have lived or experienced all this stuff first hand. I gotta admit, I learned a lot of stuff from this site, as well as from the Legendary Tones (their articles on old Marshalls proved invaluable to me.)

    To the best of my knowledge, the reason people were told to avoid the 73-74 ones are because those are the first years that marshall used printed circuit boards, instead of point to point wiring. My guess is they were still perfecting the process and the quaility was low.

    In my town, back in the 90's people had JCM 900s and that was it. I tracked a 69 superbass and a 71 superlead (like yours Dave) basically from older guys who didn't know what they had and wanted to get rid of them. I wish somebody had told me about the need of a fan... I blew a power transformer in my superlead and I haven't been able to get one since then.

    I have told this story before, I was checking on the classifieds on the paper and saw the sign: sell Marshall heads. I drove there and turned out the guy was a gigging musician that had just upgraded to a JCM 2000, and he wanted to get rid of his 900. I noticed the other head in the back, and he didn't make a big deal out of it. That old thing hasn't been used in ages and it's a bass amp anyway were his words. He was surprised I wanted it. I drove home to do a double check on the Legendary Tones website (no smartphones then) and confirmed it was a great amp, the 69 superbass I mentioned, and drove back with cash in hand. I couldn't believe my luck. I paid 200 dollars for it. This was the early 2000s, and the plexi fever was in full rage by then. A year later I got the superlead on a similar scenario.

    You guys wouldn't believe how many offers I have gotten for them on recent years from local guitar players. But I don't think I would ever get rid of them unless I were to trade them for a high quality boutique clone of pretty much the same thing...

    That said, I would also like a 2203 jcm 800. And of course, I lust for a splawn, a metro or a friedman on a daily basis...
  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 594
    edited October 17
    There are indeed many great options now.  I have one -- the Fargen -- EL34 at 12 watts, and it also has a JCM800 channel, and that's awesome.

    Maybe I'm a little older than you, Cary, or maybe it's because of where I grew up -- Boston, I remember it differently. I started getting into playing and gear around 1980. At that time, there were PLENTY of Marshalls around Boston. You could ALWAYS pick up a used head or 4x12 cab for about $400 in The Want Advertiser magazine -- which was basically the print version equivalent of Craigslist. That was the going rate throughout the 80s for used Marshall gear, and as I say, you could ALWAYS find heads and cabs that said Marshall on the front. 

    The issue, as you suggest, was knowing which ones -- of both heads and cabs -- were the good ones.  That took someone who was in the know. The more experienced players knew which ones were good, and which ones were not.  And as we've discussed many times here on DRG, Marshall's history is full of as many terrible designs and decisions as Gibsons, and like Gibson, the company changed hands a lot, and each parent company seemed hell bent on making the product cheaper and crappier. The company fell ass-backwards into success. But they fucked up PLENTY. 

    Fortunately for me, my guitar teacher was one of the very experienced players, and he mentored me on my way to all things tonal. He's 9 years older than me and has been my life-long brother.  He's the guy who insisted I buy my 54 Les Paul, the guy who introduced me to my guitar tech, Richard Stanley, my amp tech, etc.  He was a working guitarist around Boston throughout the 70s.

    Anyway, what I remember of what he taught me was as follows:

    • The Marshalls from 68-72 -- the Plexis and Superleads were the best. I think some people put that date at 68-74, but I seem to remember being told to avoid the 73-74s -- can't remember why. Anyway, you'd get one early ones and install an attenuator because you HAD to run them on 10 to get the sound. This was a very common mod in those days.   AS such, you'd often see a fan installed as well. Or you could also take a desk fan and blow it on the back of the amp. Because if you ran them full out without a fan for long periods, the amp would actually blow up.  It's hard to imagine that now because amps are so well-built now, but it was quite common back then.  When I found my 71 Superlead 100, someone had already installed a nice attenuator on it. 
    • The mid 70s Marshals changed (I can't remember which year). At one point they briefly switched from EL34s to 6550s I think (due to a tube shortage or whatever), and they wouldn't distort much on their own. Sales tanked, and Marshall switched back to EL34s, but if you bought one of those with the 6550s cause you didn't know better, you were really screwed -- they wouldn't take the EL34s. 
    • The Mk IIs were to be avoided. The first Master Volume Marshalls were to be avoided. I don't remember the technical reasons why, but none of them would produce the same poweramp saturation you could get from the early ones. 
    • The first run of JCM800s also would NOT give you poweramp saturation. There was a level of preamp gain you could NOT dial out to get that old sound.  They fixed that on subsequent models. Perhaps as Metal was getting more popular, it didn't matter as much. 
    • The early 4x12 cabs were also better.  They were constructed with marine plywood.  By the mid 70s, they started making cabs of chipboard that looked the same, but didn't sound the same, and certainly weren't as rugged. They had plastic handles instead of metal.  The speakers that came with them began to change as well. The old ones usually had 30 watt G12H Celestions (not "Vintage 30s") or the 25 watt Greenbacks. Most Dino guys preferred the old 30 watters (and still do), but Marshall kept changing them over the years. 

    Anyway, you had to know this stuff to get the right sounds -- the sounds your guitar heroes got (they certainly knew which were good and which weren't). A handful of older players in Boston who'd lived through it and learned -- they knew.  But most guys didn't know -- certainly most guys my age didn't know.  There were no web forums. Just word-of-mouth.  They just figured a Marshall is a Marshall, a Gibson is a Gibson, etc. Some guys who bought used gear, got lucky and got the right thing by happy accident. Most didn't, and the ones who had to buy NEW Marshalls typically sounded the worst in those years. The first JCM800s were $800. Twice the going rate for a used Marshall head.  The good news for the players who did know, was that in those days, the older the gear was, the cheaper it was. The plexis were starting to become collectable (you might pay $500-$600) and  But early Superleads were everywhere and cheap, because idiots would flip them to get whatever was newer.  

    Same with the cabs. You'd see an ad -- Marshall 4x12 straight cab, $400. And you'd call the guy and start asking questions.

    What year is it from?
    I don't know.
    Is the logo gold or white? (if he said gold, you were on your way over cash in hand.)
    White.
    Are the letters small white or big white? (if he said small, you were on your way over cash in hand.)
    Big white.
    Is the grill cloth this or that? etc.

    By knowing what you were looking for you could narrow it down and figure out if it was one of the good ones. If it was promising, you'd go see it and pop the back off, make sure the cab was marine ply, and inspect the speakers. Some guys who knew what they were doing would keep the G12H speakers and put something else in cabs they were flipping. 

    My guitar teacher did that, one-better.  He worked in a mom and pop guitar store, and every time a used Marshall cab came in, he'd pop the back and check the speakers, and if they were better than what were in his cabs, he swapped them. So he ended up with two late 60s cabs with the best hand-picked speakers he could find. They sounded amazing. He doesn't use them anymore (he only teaches)  but he still has them. He has them supporting a paint spray booth in his workshop.  They sounded so good, that when I moved back to Boston in 08, I tried to get him to let me keep one in my studio for recording. But he wouldn't do it. 


    But yeah.  Today, you can just buy a Friedman, a Splawn, a Fargen -- any number of companies making plexi clones (including good ones from Marshall)  at various wattages, and they'll be consistently good, and they don't blow up.

    The thing I like about the Fargen is that it uses the EL34 (the low-wattage Friedmans, do not), and though you typically don't notice unless you're comparing them back-to-back, there's a low-end depth you get from that tube that's not there with EL84s and 6v6s.  
    the difference for us is geographic.  i’m from the midwest.  for us farm kids, buying a Marshall meant a trip to Chicago..  lol  and then, all the stuff you’re talking about came into play, but on a much more limited basis.  Hartley Peavey built his empire on filling the music stores in flyover states like mine, simply beacause the imported shit never made it very far outside of the large coastal cities.  even into the late ‘80s, when i lived in Oceanside, if i wanted to check out a few Marshall heads, it meant a trip to LA, if i wanted to see more than one in a single store.

    as far as cabinets, i hear ya on the speakers, though i definitely prefer the g12-65 to the g12h.  that speaker is SUPER in a 4x12.  my favorite, and by a long way.

    one cabinet that doesn’t get its due, mainly because its so goddamned heavy, is the mid ‘80s Mesa/Boogie.  they’re front-loaded, have 90w Celestions, or EVM12s(!), and have this sort of metal fence instead of grillecloth.
    Post edited by bourbonsamurai on


  • this shit right here.  if you were willing to carry this sonofabitch, you had yourself a fucking HOWITZER.  lol  the late ‘80s-early ‘90s Carvin cabinets were the same, and i had two of those, with my favored g12-65 speakers.  FUCK.  i’m pretty sure two of my herniated discs came from those cabinets.  there was a local venue called Rock n Bowl that had a TWO STORY staircase, and it was the only way in or out..  lol  fuck that shit.  but they sounded magnificent.
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 747
    I think the trick with Marshall in the US was being lucky enough to be in proximity with a so-so network of dealers. Based on what I know from when I worked in local shops, Marshalls started showing up in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the mid 70s. What comes up on the used market bears that out as well. 

    One thing I've always found a little entertaining is what I call the "vintage treadmill", in which everything magically sounds better when it's 25 years old, and a "pure tube path" for some reason matters to people who still run their signal through stompboxes. I remember when everybody hated MV Marshalls, and then they got old enough and BAM! "Vintage Tone, man. The real bad ones started with the JCM 800s". Then, when those hit 25 years, BAM!!! "Vintage Tone, man. The real bad ones started with the JCM 900s"...and so on. The cool thing was that this meant that the used market was fantastic. I wish I had bought a few 800s when they were pieces of crap, because now that they're filled with Vintage Mojo(tm), they cost too much. 



  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 594
    edited October 18
    TravisW said:
    I think the trick with Marshall in the US was being lucky enough to be in proximity with a so-so network of dealers. Based on what I know from when I worked in local shops, Marshalls started showing up in the Fargo-Moorhead area in the mid 70s. What comes up on the used market bears that out as well. 

    One thing I've always found a little entertaining is what I call the "vintage treadmill", in which everything magically sounds better when it's 25 years old, and a "pure tube path" for some reason matters to people who still run their signal through stompboxes. I remember when everybody hated MV Marshalls, and then they got old enough and BAM! "Vintage Tone, man. The real bad ones started with the JCM 800s". Then, when those hit 25 years, BAM!!! "Vintage Tone, man. The real bad ones started with the JCM 900s"...and so on. The cool thing was that this meant that the used market was fantastic. I wish I had bought a few 800s when they were pieces of crap, because now that they're filled with Vintage Mojo(tm), they cost too much. 



    yr comments about “vintage tone” are spot on.. lol  when i sold vintage guitars and amps for a living, the circle was apparent, to say the least.  after a few years, though, you start to figure out what’s what.
    Post edited by bourbonsamurai on
  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 747
    A buddy of mine had G12 65s in an early 80s Marshall slant cab. Those speakers sounded fantastic. I toyed around with trying to get a 2x12 with a set, but haven't gotten to that yet. 
  • TravisW said:
    A buddy of mine had G12 65s in an early 80s Marshall slant cab. Those speakers sounded fantastic. I toyed around with trying to get a 2x12 with a set, but haven't gotten to that yet. 
    they are the fucking very tits, and they sound equally good in a blackface Fender combo as a 4x12 or 2x12 cabinet.  
  • inmyhandsinmyhands Posts: 11,117
    Dave's dead on with the '68 to '72 being the cream of the crop. That said ..... The "Plexi" front was only used for the first two / two and a half years of this period while the important internal components in the latter '70 and '71 and '72 models were exactly the same. If you're searching for an excellent vintage Marshall the later '70, '71, '72 models sell for less but are no different from the "plexi" front plate models from the late '60s.

    In '73, especially on amps built by Marshall for sale in the U.S.A., the slow downhill side began.

    Note. I'm not against all master valve Marshall's. Marshall just had a learning curve to go through. The earliest were terrible, yet, those released just prior to the JCM 800's were excellent amps.

    A '73 Marshall is a "maybe" amp. Why. During the production of the '73s Marshall switched from point to point hand wired to "circuit boards, (PCBs). For those who wonder about the difference between "Point to point hand wired" and "PCB printed circuit board" internals, the switch from the quality of the '68 to '72 and then the '73 and beyond models are the most perfect example of this "cost saving build upgrade" for hard rock guitarists.

    Many folks including a few members here have questioned why I so focus on Hand Wired Point To Point. This post offered me the most perfect example. Both of my Fender Concerts in my stereo set up were built in '83 / '84 and are the last "production" point to point hand wired amps Fender produced. I'm willing to pay an extra $50 to $100 dollars for point to point hand wired pedals and other accessories. There is a difference and the change from Marshall '68 to '72 and Marshall '73 going forward is an "in your face" example.

    By the late '70s Marshall made a lot of adjustments to make "modern tech PCB's" a usable cost savings technology, but, isn't it interesting that, continuing on to the present day in late 2017, the '68 to '72 point to point hand wired models are considered Marshalls "Best of the Best".
  • bourbonsamuraibourbonsamurai Posts: 594
    edited October 24
    inmyhands said:
    Dave's dead on with the '68 to '72 being the cream of the crop. That said ..... The "Plexi" front was only used for the first two / two and a half years of this period while the important internal components in the latter '70 and '71 and '72 models were exactly the same. If you're searching for an excellent vintage Marshall the later '70, '71, '72 models sell for less but are no different from the "plexi" front plate models from the late '60s.

    In '73, especially on amps built by Marshall for sale in the U.S.A., the slow downhill side began.

    Note. I'm not against all master valve Marshall's. Marshall just had a learning curve to go through. The earliest were terrible, yet, those released just prior to the JCM 800's were excellent amps.

    A '73 Marshall is a "maybe" amp. Why. During the production of the '73s Marshall switched from point to point hand wired to "circuit boards, (PCBs). For those who wonder about the difference between "Point to point hand wired" and "PCB printed circuit board" internals, the switch from the quality of the '68 to '72 and then the '73 and beyond models are the most perfect example of this "cost saving build upgrade" for hard rock guitarists.

    Many folks including a few members here have questioned why I so focus on Hand Wired Point To Point. This post offered me the most perfect example. Both of my Fender Concerts in my stereo set up were built in '83 / '84 and are the last "production" point to point hand wired amps Fender produced. I'm willing to pay an extra $50 to $100 dollars for point to point hand wired pedals and other accessories. There is a difference and the change from Marshall '68 to '72 and Marshall '73 going forward is an "in your face" example.

    By the late '70s Marshall made a lot of adjustments to make "modern tech PCB's" a usable cost savings technology, but, isn't it interesting that, continuing on to the present day in late 2017, the '68 to '72 point to point hand wired models are considered Marshalls "Best of the Best".
    i agree that a well engineered ptp amp is usually going to be better than a PCB amp, but, given the EXHORBITANT cost of modern handwired amps, i wonder whether the real world value is worth the money spent.  for example, i owned three JCM2000s in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.  they sounded fucking spectacular, and i ran the living FUCK out of them.  ESPECIALLY my two DSL50s.  the PCB construction on these amps wasn’t particularly noteworthy, and CERTAINLY not up to the standards of Mesa and Soldano, but my DSLs never gave me a minute’s trouble, and i ran my power tubes HOT, waay over specification.  this alone should have caused trouble, if you believe the internet forums, because the power tubes were PCB mounted, plastic sockets, basically all the shit “experts” dislike.

    i never even put a fan on ‘em man, and they really never let me down.  not once.  i don’t doubt that a handwired amp is a better amp, but money is money.  
    Post edited by bourbonsamurai on
  • I think many PCB amps are fine. Bogner, for example, doesn't do hand-wired point to point, and they're great amps.  But I used to have an old, off-year Hiwatt combo made around 1980 (at a time where the company had been sold and they were cutting costs), that had a PCB board, and when you ran it loud enough to roar and rumble, it could (and did) shake the solder joints loose on the PCB (as well as other parts). The amp sounded pretty good when it worked, but it just wasn't built well.  That's an extreme. I think Rick's right that there are some advantages to hand wired, but I also think these days, the PCB technology is pretty reliable.  

    As for the price on modern, hand-wired amps. Eh. Some boutiques do it standard, some don't.

    Just remember -- we're waxing poetic here about 40-50 year-old amps that sounded GREAT when you ran them at earsplitting volumes, that required attenuators to calm them and distortion pedals to boost the gain, and were way too loud for venues smaller than stadiums, and literally blew up if you didn't keep them cool. 


    We are ONLY NOW -- in THIS DECADE -- living in the true GOLDEN AGE of tube amps. Where pretty much even those on a budget can afford a reliable, high-quality tube amp of just about any brand/flavor that will finally give you power amp saturation at reasonable volumes anything from 7 to 100 watts. This was proverbial holy grail in the 70s -- we dreamed of having this  . . . someday. And that day finally came around 2008.  You can get a Tiny Terror or similar for $600, or you can buy a $4000+ boutique. You can find any tube combination that suits you, and a lot of heads -- like my Fargen, will let you mix and match tube types without rebiasing.   Yeah, hand-wired may cost you more, but so what?  It's at least available for those that care about it, and those that don't have plenty of other options. 

    We have no business bitching about the cost or quality of amps in 2017. Amps have never been better, more consistent, or versatile. 
    Life is easier, so much easier, life is easier now.
  • Seven MoonsSeven Moons Posts: 7,972

    We are ONLY NOW -- in THIS DECADE -- living in the true GOLDEN AGE of tube amps. Where pretty much even those on a budget can afford a reliable, high-quality tube amp of just about any brand/flavor that will finally give you power amp saturation at reasonable volumes anything from 7 to 100 watts. This was proverbial holy grail in the 70s -- we dreamed of having this  . . . someday. And that day finally came around 2008.  You can get a Tiny Terror or similar for $600, or you can buy a $4000+ boutique. You can find any tube combination that suits you, and a lot of heads -- like my Fargen, will let you mix and match tube types without rebiasing.   Yeah, hand-wired may cost you more, but so what?  It's at least available for those that care about it, and those that don't have plenty of other options. 

    We have no business bitching about the cost or quality of amps in 2017. Amps have never been better, more consistent, or versatile. 
    This, exactly.  And, to some extent, this is valid for guitars as well. These days I think it's MUCH easier to get an honest guitar for 500-600€, than it was 35 years ago, for an equivalent sum.   
  • SirionSirion Posts: 2,875
    I don't have the knowledge to have too much of an opinion on the PCB vs. hand-wired, but PCB certainly has ONE advocate who dares to speak up:

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