Attack of the Marshall clones

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by riverastoasters, Apr 25, 2005.


  1. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    They aren't that different from tweed Fenders but they really are different sounding.

    Yesterday Lou Rosano came over with my new Louis Electric JTM45 style and a new 412 cab and a 100 Watt plexi style he made for another customer. The guy that wound the speakers (Jim) also came over.

    So in trying out the 412 (which are these hand wound greenback style speakers) we compared the JTM45 style with the tweed Twin style head Lou built for me a couple years ago. They aren't that different a circuit, but man they sound different. I totally prefer the tweed Twin style, but the JTM45 style has that Marshall sound. Sounds like early Clapton (no surprise there).

    Then we compared the Germino Headroom 100 to Lou's 100 Watt plexi version. All of this was at high volume in the living room complete with the rest of the family going out up by the barn and passing remarks about the windows shaking and stuff. So we really let these amps stretch out, as opposed to using my cab in the isolation room that I usually use.

    It was actually surprising to me how different the Germino Headroom 100 was from the Louis Electric 100 Watt plexi style. Yeah, old Marshalls varied a lot, and these are two amps that are supposed to be old Marshalls built right. Lou had a special copy of a Drake output transformer in his version and the Germino has a different transformer.

    The Germino was much rounder and smoother, and had less sustain. The Louis Electric was hairier and hotter in the upper mids and it has sustain for miles. We did quick A/B between the two heads. We all heard the same thing between the two amps. I liked the Germino tone more and the Louis Electric sustain more. Lou thought about revoicing the Louis Electric, but I think he's just always revising his work - there was nothing bad about that head. Jim made the comment that Ken Fisher would not think the Germino sounded like a good plexi. Apparently they know Ken Fisher, and his ideas about how a plexi should sound.

    I don't know. The Germino has a big muscular sound which is round and thick. It's got more sag that the Louis plexi and much smoother. It's like the Germino had the compression on the leading edge of the note and the Louis had the compression on the trailing edge. The Louis had much more of the hairy aspect and somewhat more buzz in the tone. Sounded slightly modern. I don't know if I could make the call which was better in general. It would depend a lot on what style you played. But to my ear the Germino had better tone, although it could use a tad more sustain in comparison.

    The Louis plexi is made for another customer who is going to sit in with a very loud band in a big venue which is why he wants the 100 Watts. When Lou is done revoicing it for the customer it will probably be different than what I heard.

    Finally Jim had never come across a Dumble, so we plugged that in the cab. They mostly were trying to figure out whether they can make an amp that people would pay $30,000 for. Jim suspects that the output stage has positive feedback. I'm mildly surprised by that but it is not out of the question - you would just have to filter it to keep the amp stable.

    Dealing with Lou is a pleasure, and I love his tweed Twin-ish head (an astonishingly good amp), and the JTM45 style is a solid amp.
     
  2. HHB

    HHB Member

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    I met and spent a good deal of time w/ Greg Germino and his amps. I did not hear a headroom 100 but his take on the 45 is amazing. it's very cool to speak w/ the builders and get things tweaked. I guess I just thought so much of Greg and his amps that I had to respond, sorry Ken Fisher would not approve, but me and everyone in the room at the Triangle Tonefest felt he had the Marshall thing covered in spades, 100%. I'm sold and now the mad gear scramble has begun :D
     
  3. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    We should keep in mind that Ken Fisher didn't actually make that comment. I think Jim was referring to a notion of Marshall sound that he attributes to Ken Fisher. These guys know Ken Fisher, and maybe they take their lead from him in terms of plexi tone - although I think Lou has his own personal ideas.

    One of the things it suggests to me is how much range there is in the plexi family of tones. Seems to me that when you say "blackface Fender clean" then that is a relatively narrow piece of the tone spectrum. But when you say "hard driven plexi" then that could be a lot of things.

    I didn't mind that Jim wasn't that impressed with the Germino - I like it fine. I'll tell you straight up that tone in the Germino was more to my taste than the Louis plexi. But I think that's just taste. Lots of room for taste.
     
  4. rwe333

    rwe333 Supporting Member

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    I have a JTM45 repro built by Toronto's Total-Tone here - just lovin' this thing...
     
  5. HHB

    HHB Member

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    yeah, sorry for the defensive tone of this post, I'm still buzzing from yesterdays tonefest and Gregs amps. Brian from Tophat was there and commenteing on just that, the range of what you are going after can be radically different from year to year model to model, sounds like you had a fun day too, and I'm sure the Louis is a great amp as well
     
  6. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    I had a chance to play the JTM45 some more. (Lou took the 412 and the 100 Watt for the other customers back with him). I'm thinking that this amp would be a really nice drive channel and A/B it with something with a shiny clean sound.

    I spoke to Lou today - I wondered what kind of KT66s were in there and I couldn't identify them. Turns out they are GT-KT66-HP but Lou likes to remove all the identifying marks from the power tubes (!?) from his new amps.

    Lou mentioned that he actually likes 6L6GCs in there but for reasons of historical accuracy he put the KT66s in it. I'm a little hazy on why that would have happened since I didn't order a JTM45 clone, I just asked for another head that he felt like building that would be different from the tweed Twin style head.
     
  7. Souled Out

    Souled Out Member

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    I have always been curious about Marshall Clones, Fender Clones Etc. In this day of lawsuit infringments. How does Marshall or Fender feel about the clones. Gibson sued and I believe won over PRS Singlecut vs LP. In my opinion, they aren't even close to the same guitar. Could it be the international thing with Marshall. Some of the Marshall clones, Cornell for example look and sound exactly (or better) than orginal Marshalls. Sorry for the derail, but was hoping someone could enlighten me.
     
  8. jivebaby

    jivebaby Member

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    Any lawyers here? I think the length of a patent is 45 years on a mechanical device but if the patent holder no longer makes the design anyone can produce it. I think there are too many little amp guys building clones to go and sue all of them. Marshall seems to be on the ball and is just producing great repros of their most desirable products. I prefer the support and quality of the little guy building clones.

    Mike
     
  9. pokey

    pokey Supporting Member

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    read this
     
  10. kindburro

    kindburro Member

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    Well...thats right! Old Marshall 100 watters changed quite a bit between 66 and 69 in the glory years of plexi production.

    I would say most often when folks refer to a plexi 100 watter or have a "tone reference" in their head of an old plexi 100 they would be thinking of the earlier circuit (a la JTM-45) which is the flatter frequency response, rounder tone and different gain character as compared to say the refined "Super Lead" circuit that was in full use on the SL's by late 68 and early 69. Earlier amps 67 thru 68 it didn't matter if was a Super Lead/Super Bass/Super Trem they were all voiced with the early circuit. Now, even as early as 67 they (Marshall) were playing around with the "Super Lead" voicing and I have seen a few stock early examples with the "Lead" circuit changes. In combination with this you have the many transformers that were used during the period from 66-69 which consisted of at least 4 different P/T's and 4-5 different O/T's made by two different companies, Drake and Dagnall. You can see that there is a wide variation in parts/circuit and as end result, a wide variation in tone.

    I have heard only great things about Lou Rosano's amps and I respect him and his work. My guess is that he has the earleir circuit in his plexi creation with perhaps Drake replica iron.
    The HR-100 that you have riverastoasters is the early to mid 69 circuit with Dagnall replica iron. If you compared originall amps from the respective different time periods it is most likely you would have the same variance between them as well.

    Recognizing the wide array of early 100 watt tones I have offered the Monterey Classic for close to year which is the early "Super Amp" w/KT-66's and the early circuit which I use in my Classic 45 and Club 40 models. Also in the works for some time now is a very accurate early 67 model with the early circuit and transfomers from this time period. I feel that these models will offer anyone the entire range of tones from these early years of plexi production.

    For history's sake remember that the Super Bass amps were the early circuit and that circuit remained untouched thruout production on that model. Tranny changes were made as with the other models. Of special importance, filtering changes were made thru the years which has a profound effect on how these early amps respond and sound.

    Best to all,
    Greg Germino
     
  11. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    One of the interesting things about the way amps get used with us is that players that don't really have "references" for a lot of them get to use these amps. A lot of the bands we work with are first or second time doing serious recording, and they don't have big gear collections or long experience. For example we just lent out a Blues Pearl Bluesmaster head and nobody in the session really knew what it was or what it was "supposed to be" - it was just an amp, they plugged in, and liked it. I expect very few of the people that will use the HR-100 will have much grasp of plexi history (although it is always nice to know). But if they get the sound they need with it then "that purple amp" will probably be on a lot of tracks. Some people that we work with are true gear scholars, but usually they have their own stuff and don't use that much of ours.
     
  12. IPlayHamers

    IPlayHamers Member

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    I'd like to know what you guys or anyone else might say about the Blockhead BLK100. It's supposed to be an exact clone of a very sweet 67 Plexi.

    Just curious as to how it holds up.
     
  13. carlygtr56

    carlygtr56 Guest

    You compared a JTM-45 style"head (probably 35 watts) a first-attempt made by a guy building Fender style amps, I believe....to a Germino Headroom-100 (likely 100 watts plus) and commenting the Germino has a lack of sustain? The 45 is going to sustain alot earlier on. The 100 is a HEADROOM-100. You wouldn't be able to stand in the room by time the SOB goes into overload sustain:D



    KF? ...his own latest design lacks bottom end and is bright......IMO..........What he thinks a Plexi should sound like is of no interest to a guy like me. I'd rather hear the guy speak for himself rather than what "Jim" thought KF might say.

    As a Marshall player since '72, my Germino Monterey-100 is closest to going back in a time machine and snatching Jimi's amp off the stage at Monterey....and I owned the BH-100, many Marshall RI's, etc.
     
  14. MikeyG

    MikeyG Supporting Member

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    Anyone had a chance to compare the Maven Peal Ganesha to the other Plexi-style amps out there??? Warren Haynes is using one now on tour. Apparently he has asked for a midrange mod to the amp .... maybe David will comment.

    It's been a while since I've heard a Germino. I'll have to bug my friend to dig his out for our Saturday get togethers.
     
  15. ericb

    ericb Silver Supporting Member

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    He used his Soldano Slo100 and Diaz when I saw him in Burlington Sunday nite Mike (it was a Mule show) (but maybe the MP was hidden from my view) I was right in front of him and this was the 1st show I'd seen of his that my ears didn't hurt! But of course all the people soaked up the sound pretty well
    ERIC
     
  16. JPenn

    JPenn Member

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    Maybe they were talking about Ken Fisher!!:D
     
  17. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Mostly we compared the HR-100 to the Louis Electric 100 Watt plexi with the Drake replica transformer.

    The JTM45 was there, and we played it, but it's pretty much a straightforward early Marshall sound, KT-66s and all. Like early Clapton.

    We also had a Louis Electric amp which is pretty much a tweed twin head. It's a related amp to these too.
     
  18. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    Lou didn't say that about the Germino. The guy who said it was Jim, (forget his last name). Jim is the guy that wound the speakers in the Louis Electric 412 that we were using.
     
  19. pirateflynn

    pirateflynn Supporting Member

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    I have not tried any 100 watt amps as I have no need for something quite that loud but I've owned both The Germino Masonette and Classic 45 and they are great amps. Greg offers so many Marshall style amps now that it can sometimes get confusing for the (consumer/ player) but for the amp historian it is a dream come true! I definately fit into the catogory of "player", not expert or historian and so my opinions are based solely on my experiance and how I hear things not on any need to have a specific replica of a famous amp. Having said that I don't think Greg Germino's amps are direct clones. I believe that they are inspired by the Marshall amps he loves with some personal refinements made to better insure consistancy, reliablity and good tone with less noise (of course Greg could elaborate or even correct me if I am wrong).
    There are many good builders out there. Every time you turn around there's a new product and guru along with a rush of enthusiasum. Predictably, you find these amps for sale used within a couple of months on forums such as this or eBay. Sometimes the companies survive, sometimes not.
    My advice is, once you have found the tone you are looking for, buy from a company that has been around for awhile to protect your investment. I have been using Germino amps for almost 2 1/2 years now with excellent results. Because of Greg's ear for tone, pricing and his commitment to customer service Germino Amps has developed a great deal of momentum and will likely survive a long time.
    For me, when it comes to Marshall style tone, it's Germino.


    :cool: [​IMG]
     
  20. riverastoasters

    riverastoasters Member

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    I've only played the Blockhead 50 Watt. It seemed like a nice Marshall amp but since I already had the Headroom 100 and I knew I was getting the Louis JTM45 I wasn't sure that we were going to need any more Marshall-style coverage.
     

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