DSL401 or JTM30?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by johnh, Jan 11, 2008.


  1. johnh

    johnh Silver Supporting Member

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    I kind of fancy re-introducing a bit of Marshall back into my line up. Problem is that the old 100W Marshall volume levels are a non starter in my current band.

    As far as I can see, if I want a reasonably priced, reasonably powered Marshall either a new DSL401 or a used JTM30 are my best options. I'd love a 20W 1974 head and cab but can't justify the expense.

    What do you guys think would be the best of these two amps?
     
  2. Allthumbs56

    Allthumbs56 Member

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    I have a DSL401 that I quite like. It's gets quite "Marshally" for my purposes. There are a few known problems with them: The earlier versions had overheating problems, the speaker is considered to be less-than-optimal, and the effects loop is parallel. New, the price was ridiculous but they can be had used for a good price.

    When I bought mine, I swapped the speaker for a V30 and had a heatsink installed on the bridge rectifier. The amp has decent tone and features in an easy to lug package and I've had no problems with it since I bought it.
     
  3. rockbutt

    rockbutt Member

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    A little over a year ago I did a short side by side comparison between a DSL401 and a JTM30 that had been lying around the store for about 10 years. I played with my Les Paul Std.

    Cosmetically, the 401 looks a better built amp. Soundwise, I preferred the clean sound of the JTM30. and in the distortion mode both sounded pretty bad.

    The following day I ended up buying a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and use an original Bluesbreaker pedal in front.
     
  4. JimH

    JimH Member

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    I know this isn't the answer you want but those amps aren't the answer to wanting marshall sounds. I'd rather have a Peavey classic30 than either. I've got one - and a 20W marshall-type head.
     
  5. UMT

    UMT Member

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    Love my DSL401 after I replaced the speaker with a V30. Then switched to a Classic Lead 80. If I was going to use it by itself all the time, I would probably lean towards the V30.

    I installed a plastic grill from a Marshall MG50 in the top of the cab to vent the amp. It never overheated on me but it got hot enough to have me concerned. The vent cost 15.00 from my local dealer and was a piece of cake to install in the amp. Any overheating issue was cured. (Thanks, JP for all your help!)

    If you are going to pair it with a ext cab like I did, that brings up another issue regarding power distribution. If you want any details, Private Mail me and I won't waste the forums' time.

    I can tell you that mine is one tough little amp. I tripped on my guitar cord and pulled the amp and cabinet over on it's face. That's about a 3 ft drop for the DSL. Pushed the guitar cord jack right into the amp. I thought I was going to have serious issues. Pulled the amp out. Replaced the input jack, plugged it back in and WALLAH! Use it regularly and have never had a problem.

    Plenty of volume. I'm not fond of pedals but I didn't like the OD2 channel as it was very narly and there is no control over it so I bought a Marshall Bluesbreaker pedal and primarily just use the clean boost function and solved that issue. So I have a clean channel, a distorted channel (OD1) and use the BB pedal to give it a boost on lead parts on both channels.

    I originally bought a combo so I could just take the amp to the smaller gatherings and not have to worry about lugging cabinets around. I do use it by itself on occasion. There is no doubt that you are listening to a Marshall tube amp when it's played.

    You can buy them used on Ebay for around the 500.00 area pretty easy....

    UMT
     
  6. Miles

    Miles Member

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    I had some really horrible reliability issues with my DSL401. Bad solder joints, things frying, and in the end I couldn't take it.

    For the price, I'm really not crazy about them or the JCM2000 line in general.

    However, They sound warmer than the DSL100 and they have that good marshall crunch and a pretty good clean channel, for a marshall.

    I am not familiar with the JTM30, although I would take a JTM45 ANY day over the DSL401.

    Miles
     
  7. Ray Gianelli

    Ray Gianelli Member

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    I have had to replace several output transformers in JTM30's for friends.
     
  8. UMT

    UMT Member

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    Regarding the cost issue: I bought mine used. If I was going to spend 11-1200.00 for a new one, I'ld probably look into something else.
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    A JTM30 and a JTM45 are not remotely the same thing :). They share nothing at all in common apart from the tube types and the name on the front.

    Of the two, I would buy the DSL unless the clean tone is more important than the dirty. (In which case, you probably aren't looking for a Marshall...)

    The DSL has proper independent channels, better build quality, is more reliable, and sounds more like a classic Marshall.

    It does need a better speaker to get the best out of it (on the dirty channel especially) as UMT will confirm ;). And it does have a slight problem with that overheating bridge rectifier - which they're supposed to have cured now, although I'm not sure how, but can be fixed relatively easily anyway if you're not afraid to take it apart.

    The JTM30 is not terrible though. It's just not really a classic Marshall.
     
  10. Echo Are

    Echo Are Member

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    I had a JTM 30, the 2 X 10 version, that I bought used, and, man, what a planned-obsolescence design: a tube cage big enough to hold only "wafer-base" 6L6s, no vent to allow heat from tubes to escape the chassis, scary! Too bad, because the clean channel sounded nice. The dirty side was boxy and strangled.
     
  11. Darkburst

    Darkburst Member

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    Both amps aren't worthy of the Marshall name IMO. My DSL401 sounded harsh and thin even with different tubes and speakers. My friends JTM30 has died several times... not sure if it was the OT or not. Not that it matters since I thought it sounded pretty weak anyway.

    If you're on a budget go check out Ceriatone's 2061 or 1974 clones.
     
  12. Leonardo

    Leonardo Member

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    I've had a bad experience with the DSL401 as far as reliability goes. What a headache! Not sure if the JTM30 is much better...
    My DSL401 blew the power tubes just after I bought it (second hand). After I got it fixed and installed the NOS Tungsram EL84, it did sound fine though. Then the reverb stopped working...

    Have you considered other options? Maybe a Marshall Studio 15? Or building one of those DIY amp kits? There was a thread about a 2061 kit under $700 a few days ago... I think they also offered a 1974 combo kit.
     
  13. johnh

    johnh Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the help guys. I'm getting the opportunity to try out a DSL401 tomorrow in my music room with a drummer and bassist friend at gig type volumes.

    That will tell if it's worth buying (I'm getting a pretty good deal on a new one - sort of NOS) or if I should stick with my Blues Jnrs with my Reezafratzitz.

    I do own a Peavey Classic 30, but I'm pretty much committed to selling it. I've had good value out of it, but it just doesn't get Fendery enough on the clean channel or Marshally enough on the dirt channel for me now. If I don't buy the Marshall I'll probably buy a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue and continue using pedals for "Marshall in a box" moments.
     
  14. Roe

    Roe Member

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    get a ceriatone 20w
     
  15. dk_ace

    dk_ace Member

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    I bought the 401 for exactly the same reason you're considering it, and please hear me when I tell you it was the worst gear mistake I ever made. For the first day, I kind of liked it. After that, I woke up and realized what a POS I just bought. Noted, I got mine used in a trade so I wasn't out a lot of money.

    I tried different preamp tubes, power tubes, speakers, wiring mods, etc. There is nothing in that amp worth having IMHO. If you want a Marshall flavored amp in that price range, please look at the other amps that have been mentioned and save yourself from the dsl401 headache. The PV classic 30 and 50 amps are far superior IMO. I haven't played a lot of the other amps recommended, but I can guarantee you that you can find a much better amp for your purposes within your budget than the dsl401.

    I'm practically begging you not to buy one! I've never felt so strongly about a piece of gear. I never got one single sound out of that amp that I was totally happy with. It just isn't worth the headache.

    D
     
  16. jtm622

    jtm622 Member

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    I own a both a DSL401 and a JTM60 (60 watt 2x12).

    I actually like the sound of the JTM a little better... (maybe it's those EL34 tubes)...

    The DSL401 is a lot more flexible, tonewise, however.
    If you buy a DSL401, make sure it was built 2004 or later - Marshall supposedly resolved the overheating issues in that year's model.
     
  17. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Senior Member

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    I got a new 401 in 2005 and it's been a pretty good amp. No overheating issues, but they are known to have weak/cold solder joints. Took mine in, after using it with no problems for two years, and for around a 100 bucks, the tech touched up about a 100 solder joints, retubed/biased, etc. He said they come biased too cold from the factory.

    I've done some tube/speaker swapping with pretty good success. I really like a pre rola greenback in it, but then you gotta be cool on the mv. I stay under 5 generally.

    Pretty decent bedroom amp imo...
     
  18. BBQLS1

    BBQLS1 Member

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    I prefer the DSLs. I think you can make them sound pretty good stock. Nothing awesome!, but you can get good tones out of them. I did have the heater circuit act up in mine, but I gigged it/played it regularly for quite a few years.

    They like to be turned up about half way and preamp to taste. They act a little different than what most people think as far as tweaking the knobs goes.
     
  19. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    JTM 30s were biased too hot from the factory and consequently went through the 5881 tubes they were designed for (not 6L6s) sooner than do when they are biased correctly. The cure is to install a bias pot and have it set correctly for your tubes. This way you can even chose to use other tubes. The tube cage can be bent or removed entirely to allow for bigger tube. The sound will improve greatly too.

    Biasing hot and having power tubes burn out is also bad of the little output transformer. Installing a Mercury Magnetics OT will make a huge improvement. I used their Axiom OT made for and original JTM 45 Plexi and the amp put out 40 watts. The cleans were outstanding and I got a great range of distortion from raw country or Blues grind to some more typical Marshall sounds. It made for a great little, versatile grab and go combo but when all was said and done, I had about $750.00 into it. It was worth it for the sound it had but I took a $250.00 hit when I sold it.
     
  20. johnh

    johnh Silver Supporting Member

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    Well,

    I've just had a high volume, 1 hour session in my music room with a friend who is a really loud drummer and the bass player from my band.

    I repeatedly went back and forward between my two blues jnrs with a Keeley BD2 and an EMMA Reezafratzitz, and the DSL401.

    After the dust settled all 3 of us were of the same opinion - the Blues Jnrs with the pedals were much better sounding than the Marshall, although the Marshall was substantially louder. The DSL had a surprisingly good clean sound, but next to the Blues Jnr is just wasn't quite so round and chunky. The OD1 channel sounded brittle and very sharp, but was passable for bright low gain rhythm. The OD2 was quite warm sounding, but it was almost impossible to balance to the two - you had to keep the gain turned down in order to stop OD2 from being totally over the top.

    My conclusion is that the 2 x Blues Jnrs is an excellent sound, but with a really loud environment they do run out of steam. I'm wondering about augmenting my setup with a Blues Deluxe instead which would give me more headroom. The only problem is that at the kind of volume where my 2 Blues Jnrs are not enough, I think my hearing is in danger!

    So I'm disappointed with the DSL. It didn't give me that Gary Moore - Blues For Greeney sound I was seeking. Next to the Marshall, the Rezafratzitz through the Blues Jnrs sounded smooth, warm and full, as well aas very adaptable, so it looks like my current set up will stay.
     

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