A Marshall JCM question!


I have finally narrowed my search down for my next amp. Yes I have jumped on the Marshall bandwagon.

I presently have a 40w Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. I mainly play at home on a decent volume. Im starting to not believe in "bedroom amps" as I can play a 40w amp on a pleasant volume in my room.

Now the main debate for me at the moment is

A JCM 800 (Combo 50w or Head 50w

or a JCM 900 SL-X Hi Gain 50w

I mainly play classic rock, such as camel, pink floyd, led zepplin, Journey, and even slash. Also play blues or clean or dirtied up. I improvise alot and look for the classic 80's rock tone.

Now its quite difficult to find a Marshall 800 50w head online (second hand). Apart form the MAIN question of JCM 800 or JCM 900 SL-X, is there a signficant sound difference between the HEAD version of the JCM 800 as opposed to the combo JCM 800?

Also is there a significant different between JCM800 and JCM 900 SL-X tone wise? Im guessing alot to waver for the JCM 800, is so which?, but both are pretty hard to find for me and theres a 900 sl-x available, so Im just wondering if the JCM800 is worth the hold off with my money til i can get on.

Many Thanks.


I'd go for a half stack over a combo. I think they sound better. And they're a lot easier to haul into the repair shop when you need to re-tube them.

The SL-X has more distortion than the JCM 800.


From your choices, I'd go with a JCM800 2204 (head) for sure.

Haven't heard or played a JCM900 I liked.

With that said, for added versatility I really like some of Marshalls later models such as the JCM2000 DSL 50 or 100. I especially like the new JVM models as well, prefer the JVM410 version. Also, as far as a combo goes, the JVM is the only one I like, otherwise I'm not a big fan of Marshalls combos, other than the 1974x RI.


Silver Supporting Member
Wait for the 800. I know there are 900 believers out there but in my travels and searches, I could not find one that measured up. Joey Santiago somehow makes his 900s sound ok, but they're probably modded up. The 800s almost always sound beefier and just have more oomph. More of that tearing sheet metal thing.

Also, unless you find a combo that really floats your boat, stick with the head/cab config. A 2x12 will sound fine (but a 4x12 is better).


Platinum Supporting Member
Theres a big difference between a regular 900 and a 900SL-X. Bob

Tidewater Custom Shop

Performance Enhancing Guitarworks
Silver Supporting Member
I like my '87 JCM800 2205 channel switcher head. Never played a 900 series.

IMO, the boost side does that famous Marshall gain nicely - rightly voiced, everything I want in distortion (enveloping and throaty), and not too much of it.

The normal channel is good, but not as chunky clean like some other versions of the JCM800, and def not Fender clean (after all, it is NOT a Fender). I run pedals on this side.

I used to drive a 2x12 1936 cab until I discovered a 4x12 1960B pushing air with Greenbacks. The true beauty of this beast is found past 12 o'clock on the MV.


Silver Supporting Member
Theres a big difference between a regular 900 and a 900SL-X. Bob

Yes, and big difference between 2204 and 2205.

I'd like to try an SL-X, you don't see them around much and they have kind of a cult following. They're mostly used by the hard core / thrash players. They seem to do the lower voiced rhythm thudding thing very well.


On combo vs. head.....JCM 800 combo's are the same amps as the head versions. The obvious difference would be cab/speaker config.


JCM 800, the heads with the vertical inputs have more capacitors in the power section, and maybe a better sound. I forget when they changed this, 1985?

Are these the Mark Twos or the Super Leads? Read up at plexi palace forum.

Jef Bardsley

The 900 series was Marshall's attempt to compete with high gain amps like the Mesas. The preamp was designed to sound good through a dimed power section, so I don't think you'd be happy with one at a "pleasant volume" (I use an attenuator with mine).

The 800's from the early '80s are likely going to give you the tone your looking for. Be warned, though, they'll still need to be louder than your Fender to sound like they should. The good news is, they take pedals very well.


+1 on, at the very least, checking out a new JVM. If I were looking for something like this I would have one.


I just found a new condition 1988 JCM800 combo, 1-12" for $900. I drove 350 miles through a blizzard at 25-40 miles per hour to pick it up.

I LOVE it. :)

Just bought a 1-12" extension speaker for it today, so now I have 2-12". Can't wait to hear it.

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