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View Full Version : What's the best Marshall 18 watt clone?


andyg
02-13-2006, 09:00 PM
lookin' for some of the better 18 watt Marshall clones...primarily will be used for recording. I want to get that classic rock tone at a sensible volume level....all suggestions welcome

jakins
02-13-2006, 09:03 PM
aiken tomcat is 12 watts...ive never recorded it, but if youve played one, you know it would have to record HUGE.

aleclee
02-13-2006, 09:07 PM
http://www.marshallamps.com/images/product_see_it/2061headfrontbig.jpg

59Vampire
02-13-2006, 09:10 PM
Mine was built by Richie/Plexi at the 18 watt communtiy center. utterly amazing amp . Sensible volume? Damn loud if you ask me! He is amaster builder and will customize to your needas mine is a tmb

Lerxst2112
02-13-2006, 09:24 PM
Aiken Invader. PHENOMENAL!

bug0711
02-13-2006, 09:29 PM
lookin' for some of the better 18 watt Marshall clones...primarily will be used for recording. I want to get that classic rock tone at a sensible volume level....all suggestions welcome

If you want one that is quasi-64 Marshall, look no further than the Blockhead Firstborn w/ 2 Blues. From the research I have done, it's as close to the originals as you're likely to find.

I believe that Procos just happens to have one on the Amp Emporium at this very moment.

rwe333
02-13-2006, 09:56 PM
Antonio Teixeira in Toronto does fine work:

http://capsulemusic.com/retail/detail.asp?ID=1473

http://12fret.com/new/teixeira_amplifiers_pg.html

http://12fret.com/new/teixeiraAmps.jpg

big mike
02-13-2006, 11:43 PM
http://www.marshallamps.com/images/product_see_it/2061headfrontbig.jpg


I think I've seen one of those before....:p

Wayne
02-14-2006, 03:15 AM
Aiken Invader. PHENOMENAL!

+1 on the Aiken Invader. It's in there!!

Roe
02-14-2006, 05:31 AM
cornell 18/20

Sharkey
02-14-2006, 05:35 AM
Aiken Invader. PHENOMENAL!

I'll second that.This amp sounds great all the way down to a whisper but as with all tube amps it sounds best CRANKED:dude

HeeHaw
02-14-2006, 05:43 AM
Bob Reinhardt can build you a killer TMB version of that 18 watt amp. I liked it far better than lots of amps I've tried, and far better than the handwired reissues. His website is www.reinhardtamps.com (http://www.reinhardtamps.com) . :cool:

-Rich

waylon
02-14-2006, 06:45 AM
I'll second the Reinhardt. I've had mine going on 3 years and it just keeps getting better and better. My desert island amp and I've been through a lot of the boutiques that are talked about on this site.

T.Wesley
02-14-2006, 07:59 AM
What Alec (and Big Mike) said. The Marshall 18W & 20W reissues are great amps. Why go clone?? :)

--chiba

hasserl
02-14-2006, 08:29 AM
What Alec (and Big Mike) said. The Marshall 18W & 20W reissues are great amps. Why go clone?? :)

--chiba

The Marshall 18 watt reissue I heard at last years LA Amp Show was missing that vibe that I've heard in many clones. Bob Reinhardt was there and his amps were a fine example of that, they sounded incredibly nice; the Marshall was just, I don't know, just blah. Nothing special at all, didn't have much gain goin on, not much character or harmonic content. I walked out of that room very dissapointed. Then I walked into the 65 amps room and was blown away. I realize the 65 London is not an 18 watt clone, but it's not far off the mark either. A later visit to the Reinhardt room revealed the same, incredibly good sounding amps that had that hard to describe tone these amps have that just hits the right spot for me. A friends recent 6M18 TMB head kit build has that same vibe.

The fact that the clones tend to cost about half of the Marshall, or less, makes them a great choice.

pirateflynn
02-14-2006, 08:29 AM
Blockhead Firstborn for me.

Richards
02-14-2006, 08:45 AM
another vote for the teixeira, great sounding amp!! I have played one several times and its more than convincing

jdsgilmour
02-14-2006, 09:19 AM
Bob Reinhardt can build you a killer TMB version of that 18 watt amp. I liked it far better than lots of amps I've tried, and far better than the handwired reissues. His website is www.reinhardtamps.com (http://www.reinhardtamps.com) . :cool:

-Rich

+1000 I love my Reinhardt 18. It rocks! :RoCkIn And I've had my share of boutique amps, too. Plus, Bob's (and Sue's) customer service is second to none.

John

Blueser
02-14-2006, 09:39 AM
Bob Reinhardt can build you a killer TMB version of that 18 watt amp. I liked it far better than lots of amps I've tried, and far better than the handwired reissues. His website is www.reinhardtamps.com (http://www.reinhardtamps.com) . :cool:

-Rich

This is where I would put my $$$ if I were in the market for an 18 watter. The best of the bunch that I have heard which includes Aiken, Savage, GDS, Marshall HWRI, etc.

bug0711
02-14-2006, 10:13 AM
Wasn't it one of Graydons amps that killed in the 18 watt shootout a few years ago? Anyone remember that scenario?

I'm just going by what little memory I have left at my disposal here :o

teddys
02-14-2006, 10:16 AM
GDS (Graydon Stuckey)
1 Input 'tone Fest" Special!!!!:RoCkIn

procos
02-14-2006, 10:20 AM
If you want an amp to sound exactly like a early to mid '60's 18 watt Marshall the Blockhead Firstborn is it. It is by far the best vintage sounding 18 Marshall style amp I have ever played. Bacino Amps makes a great one as well but I like the Firstborn a tad more. It sounds bigger and thicker than the Bacino.

If you want an amp that has similarities to the 18 watt Marshall but does it's own thing look at the London 65 because it is a killer amp with an AC15 type channel to go with the Marshall channel.

And yes I do have a Blockhead for sale but that wouldn't influence my suggestion because I really loved the Firstborn but decided the London 65 was more versatile and I also own a RSA 23 that can cover that ground as well. BTW the Firstborn takes pedals like no other amp I have tried.

Chuck

raz
02-14-2006, 10:30 AM
lookin' for some of the better 18 watt Marshall clones...primarily will be used for recording. I want to get that classic rock tone at a sensible volume level....all suggestions welcome

Okay, first...don't expect any 18-Watt amp to be quiet. Do the math, and all that, yadda yadda yadda. They may be a sixth of the watts, but the difference from a 100-watt is about 3-4 db. That's noticable, but not that profound a difference. An 18-Watt can put the hurt on the old ears.

Second, there's a certain amount of cork-sniffing on this thread...not that there's anything wrong with that :). All the amps suggested are great amps. But for any one clone of the Marshall 18-watt to sound significantly better than another clone something has to be modified. Sure, there can theoretically be some accumulated variance in componentry within spec between identical circuits. The cork-sniffers will say they can hear it, and I wouldn't presume to contradict. That can't be debated. But if someone says an Aiken is better than, say, a Rocca, then you have to ask what the magic dust is...and at that point you start crossing out of clone territory and into the individual expertise of those builders.

I'm most familiar with the GDS, since I built one. I chose it because I could afford it, and because it has all the right values and specs, and custom-built transformers to replicate the originals as closely as possible. It was intended to be as authentic a clone as possible, at least in terms of component values, given that the originals had some variance. I hand tested all the components with a high-quality multimeter before assembling, to make sure they were all within spec. I had an experienced amp-builder assist me so I could get it exactly right. It's a great amp, and I love it.

So if you're looking for the best sounding 18-Watt amp, then you've got a lot of amps to try out and see what you like, and all of the suggestions here are great.

If you're looking for the best 18-Watt clone, then the name on the front is meaningless. All that matters is whether the right values are in there. Once you're there, the amp-to-amp variance becomes a crapshoot.

BTW, a TMB amp may be great, but it's not a clone. I'm thinking seriously of modding mine for TMB, but I entertain no notion that it will remain a clone at that point. It's going to be different.

Of course, if you really want to be particular, you get an original. But that's a crapshoot too because of the manufacturing variance. Same for the amp the Marshall 18 was based on, the Watkins Dominator.

ripoffriffs
02-14-2006, 10:47 AM
I finally bought Marshall's 18W reissue after lusting for it for over a year since I heard of its release. It's one of the biggest disappointments of my amp-buying life. This amp with only 2 preamp tubes does not have enough gain. Now I am not looking for saturated gain like nu-metal/mesa rectifier gain.

What I was expecting was something along the lines of it's big brothers JTM-45 or 1987X. Those amps when turned to max (volume controlled by an attenuator) have enough gain to duplicate Michael Schenker's UFO & Solo classics from the 80's. With the help of a Fulltone OCD or Fulldrive, I can get into Metallica 'Kill 'em All' gain.

The 18 Watt cannot come close. Not even with the aforementioned overdrive pedals. I should've known when there were only 2 preamp tubes. You know Aiken made an 18 Watt Invader with plenty of gain. It had more than 2 pream tubes. This is a warning to potential buyers of the Marshall 2061X or any low watage amp with only 2 preamp tubes.

Lucky for me the store I bought it from allowed returns.

lgehrig4
02-14-2006, 11:06 AM
lookin' for some of the better 18 watt Marshall clones...primarily will be used for recording. I want to get that classic rock tone at a sensible volume level....all suggestions welcome

I have a Rockytop 18 watt combo that I'm going to be selling. From what I understand, it faithfully represents the original 18watt with only a few changes added for safety and performance.

I don't know what your idea of reasonable volume is, but o me it's still pretty loud, especially if you want it to grind.

There are a lot of good ones out there. During my research I came across the ones already mentioned as well as the Roccaforte custom 18, Gabriel Voxer which haven't been mentioned yet. Soundclips are offered on both of their sites.

Good luck!
Jeff

raz
02-14-2006, 11:12 AM
The 18 Watt cannot come close. Not even with the aforementioned overdrive pedals.


I forget that not everybody has seen the threads that hashed this fact to death: the Marshall 18-Watt and its clones are not, I repeat, NOT low wattage Plexis or JCM's. They are an entirely different animal. They don't sound like 'em, they don't feel like 'em, they don't smell like 'em.

If you want a low-wattage Plexi, Ben Fargen makes some amps like that and they're guaranteed to induce a bad case of GAS.

<urp> See what I mean?

tonedaddy
02-14-2006, 11:25 AM
Wasn't it one of Graydons amps that killed in the 18 watt shootout a few years ago? Anyone remember that scenario?

I'm just going by what little memory I have left at my disposal here :oI'm not familiar with the 18 watt shootout, but I own the red GDS 18 that was ranked at the top of the low wattage amps at the first Tampa Tonefest. Great 18 watt tones.

But there are a lot of great 18 watters out there. I also have a Roccforte 18, early 70's Marshall PA20, Cage 18/00, and sold an original Cornell Plexi 20 (to TGP member waggclan, who seems to dig it bigtime).

There are a lot of great 18/20 watters out there, each with their own taste of the 18 watt tones, but I wouldn't dream of saying any one of them was "best", even comparing between them. All the ones I've played do the classic rock tone, but have a subtle, unique flavor, and I'm betting that there are probably a dozen other brands I could be happy with. So I wouldn't worry so much about finding the "best", as that title will depend on the judge.

My recommendation:
Try as many as you can personally to get the feel for the 18 watt tones, then pick one (whether or not you can try it personally) that fits your budget. Buy used if you can, and find out if it works for you. If it doesn't, move along to the next brand until you find one that does.

Roccaforte Amps
02-14-2006, 11:47 AM
I have a Rockytop 18 watt combo that I'm going to be selling. From what I understand, it faithfully represents the original 18watt with only a few changes added for safety and performance.

I don't know what your idea of reasonable volume is, but o me it's still pretty loud, especially if you want it to grind.

There are a lot of good ones out there. During my research I came across the ones already mentioned as well as the Roccaforte custom 18, Gabriel Voxer which haven't been mentioned yet. Soundclips are offered on both of their sites.

Good luck!
Jeff








The Roccaforte Custom 18 is not a clone of the Marshall 18watt,
its more based on the 20watt lead. However, its not a clone of it either.
Doug

spikeRI
02-14-2006, 11:57 AM
Tomcats (tho not a 18 watt clone) only have 2 preamp tubes and offer plenty of gain, don't make your judgement on # of tubes YMMV

procos
02-14-2006, 12:11 PM
Tomcats (tho not a 18 watt clone) only have 2 preamp tubes and offer plenty of gain, don't make your judgement on # of tubes YMMV

I agree 100%. The Tomcat has enough gain to take paint off a car.

Chuck

Tag
02-14-2006, 12:20 PM
Second, there's a certain amount of cork-sniffing on this thread...not that there's anything wrong with that :). All the amps suggested are great amps. But for any one clone of the Marshall 18-watt to sound significantly better than another clone something has to be modified. Sure, there can theoretically be some accumulated variance in componentry within spec between identical circuits. The cork-sniffers will say they can hear it, and I wouldn't presume to contradict. That can't be debated. But if someone says an Aiken is better than, say, a Rocca, then you have to ask what the magic dust is...and at that point you start crossing out of clone territory and into the individual expertise of those builders.




Great post. Agree 100%. If you want a Marshall clone, buy a Marshall.

jdsgilmour
02-14-2006, 12:26 PM
Perhaps I misunderstood the question posed. If you are looking for an 18-watt clone, the Reinhardt is only 1/2 that animal (Volume/Tone side) to my understanding (and I agree an 18-watt Marshall sounds very different than a plexi). The tremolo side has been replaced with TMB and Master Volume, which does sound somewhat like a hot-rodded plexi, and you can get into ali/jcm800 territory when you put an overdrive pedal in front of it. I really dig it, but that's my taste. YMMV. See if you can try a bunch out and make your choice.

John

lgehrig4
02-14-2006, 12:42 PM
The Roccaforte Custom 18 is not a clone of the Marshall 18watt,
its more based on the 20watt lead. However, its not a clone of it either.
Doug

Sorry if I made it sound that way. I was just listing other potential prospects to his search. The Gabriel, is not a clone either.

Woodshed
02-14-2006, 01:41 PM
Blockhead Firstborn for me.

+1!!! Killer 18 watt Marshall tone and serious vibe to boot. The only other amp like this I would say I like better is the Germino Masonette, but it's not really a 18 watt circuit, doesn't use EL84's, etc. I like the smoothness of the gain for slide applications

Scott

kccheers
02-14-2006, 01:54 PM
Ok, what's a cork sniffer......

tybone
02-14-2006, 02:02 PM
Cork sniffer is a wine tasting reference.

My favourte 18 watt style amp is the Trinity 18 sIII variant. This is why.

1) It gets the tone. Gobs of it when you hook it up to a scumbag.

2) The TMB channel has a little less gain and a lot less noise than some of the others. This lets you roll back the volume on the guitar and clean it up very nicely.

3) You can jumper the channels for a sweetness and complexity you can't get from the Marshall 18 watt trem (cuz the channels on the marshall are out of phase).

HeeHaw
02-14-2006, 02:14 PM
Perhaps I misunderstood the question posed. If you are looking for an 18-watt clone, the Reinhardt is only 1/2 that animal (Volume/Tone side) to my understanding (and I agree an 18-watt Marshall sounds very different than a plexi). The tremolo side has been replaced with TMB and Master Volume, which does sound somewhat like a hot-rodded plexi, and you can get into ali/jcm800 territory when you put an overdrive pedal in front of it. I really dig it, but that's my taste. YMMV. See if you can try a bunch out and make your choice.

John

My Reinhardts don't require a pedal in front.:D

tonefreak
02-14-2006, 02:14 PM
I'm for whatever John Suhr comes up with later this year!! I'm down with the Suhr Badger... his own name sake tone, which comes out in 4-6 weeks. To follow are two more 18 watters... a Marshall-ish and Fender-ish.

SlyStrat
02-14-2006, 03:19 PM
I'm glad I don't prefer the tone of these 18 watt amps. Expensive.
I'd rather have an older Marshall.

Jack Briggs
02-14-2006, 03:39 PM
Reinhardt!!!!


http://www.steelbender.com/spotlightreinhardt.html



:AOK

raz
02-14-2006, 04:13 PM
I'm glad I don't prefer the tone of these 18 watt amps. Expensive.


My GDS kit cost me $800 and about two days of work. If you want to figure the two days at my normal rate of pay, then yeah, it was expensive. If you figure that the two days came out of paid days off, then it's damned cheap, not to mention I learned a lot.

In any case, the cash outlay was low.

Now, the Swanson 2x12 cabinet full of Celestion Blues...THAT was expensive.

SReynolds
02-14-2006, 04:20 PM
Aiken Invader:BEER

Denyle_Guitars
02-14-2006, 04:33 PM
The Roccaforte Custom 18 is not a clone of the Marshall 18watt,
its more based on the 20watt lead. However, its not a clone of it either.
Doug

But it does do a remarkable job at sounding like most 70's rock albums.

59Vampire
02-14-2006, 07:24 PM
Alot of good points have been touched upon in this post. Yes it is not a mini plexi. Yes a clone is not a marshall. However, my modified clone will nail the Zeppelin houses of the holy tone, ACDC, Darkness black shuck, and ZZtop tone in spades. Since it is a TMB i can scoop the mids to get a wider variety of tones. mine is also in a 2 x 12 blues breaker cab so it spreads a bit more. The builder of mine mmodded the TMB channel so that it can be used to slightly boost the reg channel and put the tone stack into it further aiding its tweakability.

For ME, this is what i was looking for in a rock amp. For you or Sly or whomever, if you are considering this amp, play one, its got one basic goal and thats to ROCK. No crystal cleans here!

ngtubeamper
02-14-2006, 07:28 PM
Fargen Mini Plex and Nick Greer Cam 18
Not Clones just TONE ! Very different from each other too ! :BEER

JackD
02-14-2006, 07:55 PM
Andyg:

I hate to turn this into an ad, but I am selling my GDS 18 watter. It's a wonderful amp, but I'm just not using it. I am spending most of my time playing my GDS 100 W D*mble clone.

Anyway, I have the 18 watt head with the T/M/B tone stack option. I also have a 2X12 cabinet with a Celestian G12H30 and a Eminence Red Fang.

If you want to learn more and get a photo, you can email me at:

jfdifranco@comcast.net

Thanks

JackD

Red Planet
02-14-2006, 07:58 PM
There can be only one. :p

http://www.ballsamps.com/

The baddest little 18 watter North or South of the Mason Dixon Line.

phsyconoodler
02-14-2006, 08:00 PM
As a builder of 18 watt clones,I have to say that the 18 watt marshall is a unique sounding amp and comparisons are not really accurate.There are many top notch builders,but the real 18 watt marshalls that we clone from are what we are trying to duplicate.The circuit is really simple and is actually a clone too! It is a copy of a Watkins dominator amp curcuit almost to a "T". the one thing about EL-84's that is different than other amps is the gain factor of the tube itself.As the volume inbcreases it adds gain to the circuit.There are no other output tubes like the EL-84 and that is the vibe of the 18 watt.It sounds best when it's up around '10' and has plenty of gain and crunch.the TMB version has even more gain and is controlable with a master volume.Other amps that are cleaner sounding than the 18 watt,are bypassing the sweet overdriven tones of the EL-84.
Every builder has their own tweaks to make it sound the way they like it.The beauty of any hand-wired amp is that it can be changed to suit the owner and can be changed back if desired.Try that with a mass-produced PC based amp!As to what builder makes the best,we have to realize that GDS was the pioneer here with an accurate replcation of the 18 watt transformers.There are many variations in the circuit,but most of the quality of sound comes from the output transformer.Just for everyone's info,a hammond 125 series OT sounds as good,it's just different sounding.The goal was to make it sound as close to the original as possible.Whether that is the 'best' sound is in your ears.

ngtubeamper
02-14-2006, 08:06 PM
I agree , Transformers make all the differnce and saturating them , and the OUTPUT tubes , which is why everyone loves the low watt:moon ers these days . Nick Greer designs all his amps on this theory !

FredW
02-14-2006, 08:56 PM
+1 for Reinhardt. I played the 1974x and a friends GDS head. The GDS was killer but I really wanted the TMB and master. I have his combo with a weber alnico blue dog and love it. The bright channel screams and I can get it to sound much thicker than the 1974x with humbuckers. Great amp

SLG
02-15-2006, 05:43 AM
If you were interested in the best sounding AND historically correct 18watt Marshall clone I would recommend the GDS (Graydon Stuckey) amp. The GDS amps do a great job of reproducing all the great tones and idiosyncracies of the time honored Marshall design. Every one I've tried has sounded far superior to any of the hand-wired Marshall reissues.

If historical accuracy is of least importance, I recommend and own a Reinhardt TMB 18 watt amp. I prefer the TMB channel over the original tremolo channel that was on the vintage Marshall 18 watters. My Reinhardt amp is extremely quiet, much more so than the original 18 watt designed amps. Bob Reinhardt builds a great amp, and will work with you to get the custom voicing from both channels that you desire. My amp has a wonderful Vox tone in the normal channel, and a higher gain configuration in the TMB channel. It makes for a great sounding and versatile amp that covers most of the Vox-Marshall territory.

I've not tried any of Bob's higher powered amps, however if I were looking to buy another 18 watt amp, I wouldn't hesitate to give Bob a call.

chrisjw5
02-15-2006, 07:14 AM
Sorry to ask such a basic question, but I've been reading up as much as I can about amps lately, especially early Marshall and Marshall-type designs.

I've been following this quite well, and am learning a lot, but I have to ask, what is a TMB option? I understand that it has to do with taking out the tremolo and replacing it to get more gain, but with what? What does TMB stand for?

Thanks.

SLG
02-15-2006, 07:37 AM
The TMB stands for Treble-Middle-Bass. As a variation, the traditional tremolo channel on the 18 watt Marshall is replaced with the standard cathode follower tone stack that is on most Marshall amps. You lose the tremelo, but gain the added tone controls. Many builders voice the TMB channel different from the normal channel often making it into a higher gain, lead channel.

Don L
02-15-2006, 08:07 AM
Reinhardt is my favorite as well. Just got mine last week, and I love what Bob did to "enhance" the original design. The look ain't so bad either! :dude

http://mywebpages.comcast.net/dhl67/rh7.jpg

Roe
02-15-2006, 08:30 AM
have anyone tried the cornell 18/20?

gkelm
02-15-2006, 09:05 AM
As a builder of 18 watt clones,I have to say that the 18 watt marshall is a unique sounding amp and comparisons are not really accurate.There are many top notch builders,but the real 18 watt marshalls that we clone from are what we are trying to duplicate.The circuit is really simple and is actually a clone too! It is a copy of a Watkins dominator amp curcuit almost to a "T". the one thing about EL-84's that is different than other amps is the gain factor of the tube itself.As the volume inbcreases it adds gain to the circuit.There are no other output tubes like the EL-84 and that is the vibe of the 18 watt.It sounds best when it's up around '10' and has plenty of gain and crunch.the TMB version has even more gain and is controlable with a master volume.Other amps that are cleaner sounding than the 18 watt,are bypassing the sweet overdriven tones of the EL-84.
Every builder has their own tweaks to make it sound the way they like it.The beauty of any hand-wired amp is that it can be changed to suit the owner and can be changed back if desired.Try that with a mass-produced PC based amp!As to what builder makes the best,we have to realize that GDS was the pioneer here with an accurate replcation of the 18 watt transformers.There are many variations in the circuit,but most of the quality of sound comes from the output transformer.Just for everyone's info,a hammond 125 series OT sounds as good,it's just different sounding.The goal was to make it sound as close to the original as possible.Whether that is the 'best' sound is in your ears.

Well stated...it is indeed a simple curcuit. I have a 2x12 clone built by Glenn Gertis who hangs around at 18watt.com...Heyboer trannys, etc. I had planned to build one myself (novice with capital "N"), but found this one on ebay a couple years ago, and pulled the trigger. It's in a Mojo cab with Mojo greenback clones (go the whole clone route!)...it sounds just great, and a couple local guys with experienced ears like the amp as well. There are so many to choose from...I'm not sure there is a quintessential "best"...it's a matter of tweaks & flavor.
Greg

SLG
02-17-2006, 06:24 AM
have anyone tried the cornell 18/20?

I have played the Cornell 18/20 and it was a great sounding amp. The build quality was top notch. The only one I've seen was at the Tonefest a couple of years ago. I see the higher wattage Cornell amps for sale on a regular basis, but there doesn't seem to be as many of the lower wattage amps around in the marketplace. Perhaps, people just tend to keep them rather than sell them.