When I was a young man… actually, not a man yet… I somehow found myself eyeing a Marshall Major (200 watts!) amp and an 8 X 10 cab at my local store. “This would look great in my basement!” And it did! Unfortunately, something was wrong – the amp was about as loud as the TV set! “This is not right!” I thought. Anyway, I have no idea what happened after that, but the amp disappears from my gear chronology soon after. I did other questionable things (like we all did) – like trading the ’57 Strat I had bought for $200 (I bought it because I had spent endless hours looking at the maple necked Strat on the back of the Layla album) for a “Mansfield” SG copy. Ouch! But I digress!
Anyway, back to those amps created by “The Father of Loud”, Jim Marshall (BTW, I am sure you know that Jimi Hendrix was always amused by the fact that his first 2 names were the same as Jim Marshall’s… but I digress…again!). I have always had a love/ hate with Marshall amps. Especially the big ones. Now that I play a lot more classic rock, they seem appropriate. But I often find 2 issues with the big boys… they’re too loud for any of the bars that we play in and often the bottom end is just too big to sit right in a 3 piece classic rock trio. My 18 watt 1974X (with replaced Mercury Magnetics trannies) is not particularly glorious on it’s own, but there’s something about that smooth break-up and narrow frequency response that just works with a band! I also have an 18 watt Retro King “Plexi 18” that I have used for a few years… and it just kills!
It now seems appropriate to “feel my way” back into the Marshall 50 watter waters – although I might need an attenuator to play them. I have a very meticulously wired JTM-45 “Offset” clone on it’s way to me. This is the very early Marshall design… with a tube rectifier rather than the slightly later diode rectifier design that was in those classic Hendrix amps. The JTM-45 will be tubed with Kt-66 power tubes – and that essentially makes it the same amp as the one that Clapton made famous on the “John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers” album (also referred to as the “Beano” album… look at the cover… Clapton is reading a Beano comic). Anyway, GET THIS RECORD if you don’t have it! But you know that anyway!!!
So this will be an experiment… but that’s what it’s all about anyway. As long as you’re learning and practicing your instrument, these gear excursions just feed the fire and act as catalysts and inspiration to learn and practice even more!
And on a final note, I picked up a Marshal JCM2000 DSL50 – at one time favoured by Jeff Beck amongst others – for less than $700. Now that’ll be a fun romp! Just gotta wait for the man in the little brown shorts to show up with it!!!