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View Full Version : Marshall 20 watt head vs the 18 watt


retrobob
01-16-2006, 06:16 PM
Any experienced Marshall 20w users here?
How do the 20 watters compare to the 18 watters?
I use Les Pauls with humbuckers or P90s.
Thinking of getting a 20 watt marshall head. Hopefully they deliver the traditional Marshall tone at a lower volume level.

JES1680
01-16-2006, 06:58 PM
I tried both and ended up with the 1974x. The 74 breaks up more and has a warmer tone to me. I tried the 2061x through a few different cabs, Orange 2x12, Marshall 4x12. I wanted to like the 20 watter more as it was cheaper and I've got cabs to use. It didn't have as much gain. It was tighter than the 18 but not by much. The cleans are better on the 18. This is just my opinion, but the 18 with the vol on 9 or so is inspiring with Fenders or Gibs. The 20 watter just didn't do much for me. Also, the 20 is significantly louder than the 18 (especially with 2x12 or 4x12 cab). It was too loud for normal basement use without some attenuation. The 74 is much better for my use.

T.Wesley
01-16-2006, 07:04 PM
All the reasons JES states for preferring the 1974X are the same reasons I preferred the 2061X! Although I do have to disagree on the gain thing - the 2061X has lots of gain if you jump the channels together. Wicked cool - classic Marshall at bearable levels. I gigged mine for a year before I sold it so I could buy another amp.

--chiba

GasMask
01-16-2006, 07:06 PM
Here is Guitar Player Magazines review of the two:

http://archive.guitarplayer.com/1204/1204_BenchTests2.htm

JES1680
01-16-2006, 07:13 PM
I wonder if the 2106 I tried was "ok" because it had significantly less gain than the 74. Makes you wonder how much variation there is between units in the hand wired series.....

57special
01-16-2006, 08:52 PM
I don't know about the new ones, but the old 18 watters had more gain than the 20 watters that i've played or owned. A lot of the old 20 watters get modded to sound really nice.

zach5150
01-16-2006, 09:56 PM
I wonder if the 2106 I tried was "ok" because it had significantly less gain than the 74. Makes you wonder how much variation there is between units in the hand wired series.....

Was it brand new or used? Maybe someone stuck a 12AT7 in V1 to get more headroom so they could use pedals.....just a thought....

Swarty
01-17-2006, 08:25 AM
I've got 2 circa '69 20w heads as well as older bigger heads (50s & 100s). The 20w does the older darkish plexi sound wonderfully and at volumes that will stave off tinitus and keep you from getting fired. I've not play a 2061, but have played several boutique clones and I prefer my heads, they just sound more Marshally.

DrJamie
01-17-2006, 09:43 AM
The 2061 I demoed for a week was very clean. Had to be dimed to sing with humbuckers, but what a great sound, to my ears. I think it would need a pedal to drive it at less volume. I also loved the clean tone. I'd get the 2061 if I didn't have a Bloodhound to cover lots of those bases. Of course I have attenuators for the damn thing.

Swarty
01-17-2006, 10:11 AM
I've got 2 circa '69 20w heads as well as older bigger heads (50s & 100s). The 20w does the older darkish plexi sound wonderfully and at volumes that will stave off tinitus and keep you from getting fired. I've not play a 2061, but have played several boutique clones and I prefer my heads, they just sound more Marshally.

I should have said I've never played a 1974 but have played some 18w clones...

I have played a 2061 and was very impressed.

retrobob
01-17-2006, 01:59 PM
I don't know about the new ones, but the old 18 watters had more gain than the 20 watters that i've played or owned. A lot of the old 20 watters get modded to sound really nice.


What (reversable) mods you can do to make the 20 watt amps sound better?
Also, I'm steering toward an original rather than a re-issue.

Kiwi
01-17-2006, 02:15 PM
What (reversable) mods you can do to make the 20 watt amps sound better?
Also, I'm steering toward an original rather than a re-issue.

The 20w amps (old and RI) are more like the classic 50w Marshall roar, at sane volume levels. The RI is very, very close to the originals. I thought it sounded the same. The matching 2x12 they make for it is terrific, too.

The 18w RI that I played had a lovely chime and ring, with some swirl to the notes - like some Vox had been stirred into it. Just depends on what you're after. Neat amps.

RetroBob - may I tactfully suggest that you NOT mod an old 20w amp?

- They sound fine as is. If they don't sound fine to you, don't mod it ... get a different amp that does sound good to you. The supply of older untouched amps is shrinking every year.

- Mods hurt the value of a vintage amp like that, even reversible ones. Don't hack it up. (The exception is stuff that needs replacing over time like caps, or installing 3-wire grounded power cords.) For what you'll have to spend to get an older 20w amp, think long and hard before modding it.

- The 20w RI sounds and behaves identically to the old 20w that I used to own, in my opinion. Good for Marshall! Do your mods to a RI, if you have to.

I bought a 1973 (last year of production) 20w amp in 1999 that had been modded years earlier to cascade the channels for much higher gain. One trick pony. I had to pay again to get it un-modded and taken back to stock, when its true charm and mad skillz were revealed. (It got stolen a couple years ago, and I'd happily buy the RI as a replacement.)

One concern about the 2061x: Recent reports of transformer failures. Check out the Les Paul Forum/Amplifiers page. Marshall seems to be aware of the situation.

http://www.lespaulforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=105978


Kiwi

The Golden Boy
01-17-2006, 03:17 PM
RetroBob - may I tactfully suggest that you NOT mod an old 20w amp?

- They sound fine as is. If they don't sound fine to you, don't mod it ... get a different amp that does sound good to you. The supply of older untouched amps is shrinking every year.

- Mods hurt the value of a vintage amp like that, even reversible ones. Don't hack it up. (The exception is stuff that needs replacing over time like caps, or installing 3-wire grounded power cords.) For what you'll have to spend to get an older 20w amp, think long and hard before modding it.

- The 20w RI sounds and behaves identically to the old 20w that I used to own, in my opinion. Good for Marshall! Do your mods to a RI, if you have to.

I bought a 1973 (last year of production) 20w amp in 1999 that had been modded years earlier to cascade the channels for much higher gain. One trick pony. I had to pay again to get it un-modded and taken back to stock, when its true charm and mad skillz were revealed. (It got stolen a couple years ago, and I'd happily buy the RI as a replacement.)

Kiwi
Wise words that are going to raise someone's ire. Sort of like 1950's LP "conversions."

rastaman
01-17-2006, 06:38 PM
I played both and chose the 2061X. It's interesting that some people hear more gain in the 1974X because I did not. I hear the 2061X as ACDC, Free, some Zep etc. etc. Very killer clean tone + has a great response to pick attack.


The funny thing is (the wife doesn't think so at all though) now I want a 1974X to ABY with the 2061X so I can have the best of both worlds :dude. I may go w/ a SDG Vintage to knock down some dough. A VERY reliable source says they sound fookin' killer.:RoCkIn

Red Planet
01-17-2006, 06:56 PM
Yes I be loving those SDG Vintage Amps. Havent heard Steves 18 watter (yet) though in all fairness I love my 18 watter. My SDG with its new set of JJ 6V6's and NOS Sylvania 5Y3 is frightening.


One day in the very near Future I just know Rastaman is gonna tell his Wife hes going to the Beasley Manner and bringing the 20 watter so I can freakin hear it!

:horse :horse :horse :horse :horse :horse :horse :horse

JES1680
01-17-2006, 07:21 PM
Strange, the 2061 was new. Compared the amps in the same room. Tried the 2061 attenuated and wide open with multiple cabs. The 74 was just more my thing. Definately had more gain. The 2061 seemed dry and lifeless. I wonder if it had a bad preamp tube. Oh well I LOVE my 1974x.:)

rastaman
01-17-2006, 07:21 PM
:AOK

I deserved that.. :o :D

tuna
01-19-2006, 08:30 PM
I have both amps and the 1974 CX extension cabinet. They are definitely a little different sounding. I think the pre-aged Greenbacks in the 1974X have something to do with that. The 1974X will start growling back at you a lower volumes than the 2061. I love the extension cabinet and think it adds alot to the overall tone. Fat warm tones if you want and it can get jangly too. I have the channels jumped the way the owners manual instructs you to do. I have read that this amp sounds more blusey and I have to agree.

The 2061 w/2061CX cabinet is classic Plexi to my ears. What a killer looking head and cabinet. All of your favorite old rock band tones, ABB, Led Zep, ACDC amd more. It is a loud amp in your house and has to be pretty much cranked to get that cool overdriven sound unless you use an OD pedal. This amp has a tighter sound than the 1974, my guess would be the diode rectifier in this amp versus the tube rectifier in the 1974X, as well as the non aged Celestions. (I think the new ones are coming with the new preaged G-12H.)

I use an Fulltone OCD and an RC Boost with both amps and they work great for my tastes.

I guess if I had to choose one over the other, I would keep the 1974X, but that 2061X with the 2-12 cab looks and sounds so damn good...

tonedawg
10-24-2009, 06:24 AM
Well I thought I would chime in here... you can get vintage PA 20s for a reasonable cost
and they have solid state rectifiers... which means tighter bass and more punch... I own many tube rectified amps but I prefer solid state... they handle much more voltage which gives more to the plate voltage of the tubes. Has anyone ever played or seen a vintage 1974... so you can get a vintage 2061 or 1917 which I think is a better choice than either the new ones which I heard had tranny problems and the vintage ones sound better they are known as "baby plexis" for their laydown power tranformers which is key ingredient to a plexi amp

tonedawg
10-24-2009, 06:28 AM
Oh the vintage ones I have are dead quiet, almost as much as my McIntosh MC-30 no other vintage amp comes close, cranked it has enough gain to overdrive the power tubes and give you the fat lady singing tone... and its marshalls most portable amp remember most Marshall amps are boat anchors... 60 lbs or more, I own a plexi they
are heavy

koss59
10-24-2009, 10:14 AM
Both great amps! I have both, the 1974x is great for rehearsals and small jazz/blues gigs the 2061x through a 4-12 is amazing and holds its own easily with a loud rock band, all those classic tones are there. I can see people using the 1974x a bit in home but never the 2061x as it's just too loud.
Here's some clips of both amps if your interested.
http://www.youtube.com/user/koss59

DustyBaker
12-10-2009, 10:10 PM
Im ordering my 2061x TOMAROW! oh and Koss.... You totally Stole my Goldtop. lol
Those vids are seriously kick ass

Billion81
12-10-2009, 10:19 PM
Im ordering my 2061x TOMAROW! oh and Koss.... You totally Stole my Goldtop. lol
Those vids are seriously kick ass

I'm getting ready to throw mine up on the Emporium- I'll throw a PM out as well. Killer little amp. 2061X over the 1974X Brit Spank

Loop-Master
12-10-2009, 10:39 PM
I have both and the 2061 can be balls to the wall AC/DC whereas the 1974X is more like a Bluesbreaker. Just my opinion

shane88
12-10-2009, 10:59 PM
the 18w have valve recs and the 20w ss so even that would indicate less headroom on the 18

http://www.18watt.com/

http://www.drtube.com/marshall.htm#JTM50 scroll down

Dirtydenny
10-03-2014, 12:29 AM
I am very fortunate to have a Brian Cox 1974x clone I have in a 2x10 cab I have 2 celestion G10 golds in it and I run them in series to get a 16 ohm load they sound best at 16 gives you more headroom and better harmonics. Tubes are very critical in these amps and I'm not talking about a fresh set of JJ's. You must run some vintage Amperex Telefunken Brimar or the real Blackburn Mullards. Plus the same thing with the preamp tubes. Tubes are VERY important. The 20 watters have a solid state rectifier which gives them a hard sound. I'm a tone Junkie and have done much experimentation. I use a SE-5 Speaker Emulator Simulator DI Box and run the output into a 4x8 custom built super reverb I built out of a Fender Bandmaster reverb and blend them via the reverb channel on the Fender.
I have finally discovered the fountain of tone I plug straight in and get my tone from my hands and pick technique no pedals. A good cable is a must too. This rig
sounds better than anything I've ever tried out and I'm 60 years old and have had just about everything you could imagine.