JCM 800 50w Head owners...may I have a word with you???

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by clay49, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

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    Welcome to The Gear Page, Monotremata! Stick around and you'll be amazed at what you can pickup that will really help you achieve "your sound."
     
  2. Monotremata

    Monotremata Member

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    Thanks clay! Its funny how sometimes little simple suggestions make you run off and try something and you fall in love with it all over again haha.
    For now I dont think the JCM800 is going anywhere. I was about to blow away my halfstack on Craigslist for $1100 and flat out replace it with the 2x12 AC15 since my job situation as of a week ago (or lack of now) put a stop to me dropping my tax return on an AC15C1 (and my GAS knows no bounds!) but luckily this thread has put some faith in the range of what I can do with my good old 2204. I still want those Vox chimey cleans which the Marshall cant do, but at least now I have cleans I can use and with the silly amount of dirt pedals Ive collected over the years maybe I can find the 'I wish I had Pete Townshends Hiwatt rig from 1969' range of clean-grind Im wanting now! Still probably gonna grab one of the AC4s for home playing/recording purposes cause that 2204 no matter how I use it is TOO loud (I miss my rehearsal space I had before I moved down here in 2010). One of those sounds like it will give me what I want without breaking the bank or having to actually sell the Marshall or a kidney to get a bigger one.. And if I need the power for a live show, that JCM will work fine.
    This whole time all I had to do was plug into that stupid 'other' input jack and actually turn the preamp all the way up for it to finally work right.

    Now off to search through threads and figure out the next dilemma. AC4 head? AC4 10" combo? AC4C1 Top Boost model?? AC4C1 in blue or green?? Just say screw it and sell the kidney for an AC30?? Oh the agony!!!! :D
     
  3. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    I highlighted the "I don't play loud" comment, and I feel that is significant. In my opinion the JCM800 would not make a good pedal platform. It's a loud amp that sounds best, well, loud!

    Sure, you can use the low input, and ans you've read here some folks do that with success. It doesn't work for me. Also, an amp with a good effects loop would be better suited as a pedal platform because some effects just don't sound all that good into the front of an amp

    just my 2 cents :)
     
  4. clay49

    clay49 Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks, I appreciate that! I actually tried a Dr. Z Maz 18 head. Set it up semi clean, three my Barber unLimiTeD dual pedal in front of it and "Hello Marshall plexi-JCM 800 and 900 without destroying my hearing!" It's what I've been looking for and all from an EL83 power section, too!!!
     
  5. Zingeroo

    Zingeroo Member

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    I'd set up a 2204 for a basic crunch - no pedal will get that "Marshall" tone better. Use your volume knob to clean up - then get a good overdrive pedal to goose that crunch into lead land.
     
  6. KrisHayes

    KrisHayes Member

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    The low input on an 800 does sound great. I owned a 2204 for years, and I just ended up finding that there were plenty of amps out there that were modeled after an 800, and fixed its shortcomings - lack of low end, shrill top, etc.

    I just think if you're primarily getting your sound on the floor, a plexi-style will provide you with a harmonically richer platform. Just my take. Nothing against 800's. Like I said, owned one for years.
     
  7. thefyn

    thefyn Member

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    I recorded this last night, it's clean with a modded rat:

    https://soundcloud.com/tock-1/rat-loose

    I have an early 80's 50 watter with vert inputs.

    Speakers were g12t-75's mic'd direct center. it's 2 tracks, left and right. There is flange on one side and some room verb/compression added via VST.
     
  8. StudioRat320

    StudioRat320 Member

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    I got a 2205 with Drakes and it's one of my fave amps. as a matter of fact, I have a Triptik on the way for a tour and if I don't like it, the 800 and some sort of Fender clean amp is coming with me. Killer amps and they can suit many styles.
     
  9. michael.e

    michael.e Member

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    Lack of low end and a shrill top end are not two characteristics that I think about or hear when playing my amp. I have had my share of 800 type/gainier heads. I ended up with Marshall. My main amp is a '75 Superbass. If I had a same year 2203 as my 2204, I would be using that one more, but it would be redundant as a pedal platform. My 2203 is my low watt rig, which is why I use my SB more. Tonally, I am for want of nothing when I plug in to the 2204.
     
  10. michael.e

    michael.e Member

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    That sounds great! Wonder if I should keep my 75's that I pulled out of my early '80's 1936 JCM800.
     
  11. michael.e

    michael.e Member

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    That is how I run mine for gigging. I keep the pre at about 4 as well as the master. At this preamp setting, the amp is not as thick, as, say if you dimed the preamp volume. But it sits in a live mix perfectly. I can back off on my guitar and get some great cleans, then hit it with various boxes for some gain.
     
  12. doghouseman

    doghouseman Member

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    My only advice is that it is hard to play a Marshall quietly. Especially a 800 50 watt. I think they always sound better wide open and with a band. I have spent a lot of time playing them quietly and sometimes I think they suck. Then I turn them up and get with a band, and I say - Ah... that is what I was missing. Marshall Roar.
     
  13. thefyn

    thefyn Member

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    If they are vented, I know a guy who will buy them from you.

    They have a little mesh cap in the middle:

    [​IMG]

    But I am in love with mine..Like yours they are a few decades old, made in england but they have been played to hell and back so are broken in to perfection.
     
  14. Schafrocks

    Schafrocks Supporting Member

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    Just to note, the circuitry never changed on the 2204's between the vertical and horizontal input models like they did with the 2203's. As a matter of fact I had an 82 and an 86 at the same time. I actually prefered the way the 86 sounded. Lots of people try to make them out like their one trick pony's. It's just not true. Between the gain inputs, using different OD's, boosts, guitars, and pickups....you can cover almost anything with them. I actually put a Metro loop in mine and it made it even more versitile.

    And unlike most, I actually prefer this amp with the 75's.

    And if anybody is telling you they are running one of these thing wide open in a bar band is full of sh*t. These things will rip your face off at 2 on the MV if your in the high input and the preamp is dimed.
     
  15. el34power

    el34power Member

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    I run an MI audio tube zone into an 84 2203's low input. an OCD as a first solo boost after the TZ, and a Barber Small Fry after that so i can have a more singing type solo boost to choose from.
    Into a 2x12 H55 scummie/M25 75hz Weber.

    Been thinking about a JTM RI though!!!!
     
  16. sambodious

    sambodious Member

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    '79 2204 here, which is not much (any?) different than the JCM 800 2204's.

    Everybody here is right on. The low-input is unbelievably good. I'm a Les Paul player with a heavy right hand, and the low-input still stays pretty freaking clean. I like a low/med gain overdrive (Barber LTD) set LOUD and with the gain below noon to get some breakup happening. Reverbs and delays play really nicely.

    I've also found that the low-input on the 2204 is about as great of a place as I've ever seen to use a good quality aggressive distortion. My other amp is a Dr. Z MAZ JR NR w/ 1x12 cab. The MAZ amps are FANTASTIC pedal platforms!!... But they just don't hold up to a true distortion pedal like 50w of clean Marshall into a 4x12 (Greenbacks for me). The extended highs and lows on distortion pedals don't play nice with the MAZ, but on the Marshall... Whoa. For example, the MAZ loves my Full Drive II... but it lacks punch on the 2204's clean side. My theory is that chimey high end on the Dr. Z needs a more mid-focused pedal to push it. With the right pedal, you can totally get a "Marshall crunch" through the 2204 and then kick the pedal off for great clean, and enjoy verb, delay, etc behind your dist/OD.

    And although the OP is interested in a 2204 mainly for a pedal platform... Lets not forget... Behind the high-input of that amp lives one of the most legit, crunchy, no-apologies, rock oriented amp circuits ever put together. It's authentic Marshall roar available on tap in spades. Buying a 2204 for its low-input is buying one for its second most attractive attribute. You will likely find yourself looking for excuses to play the thing thru the high-input.

    Cheers
     
  17. redchapterjubilee

    redchapterjubilee Supporting Member

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    I just took in a dirt cheap JCM800 over the weekend.

    [​IMG]

    100w 2203 from 1990. It is my first experience playing a Marshall. I spent about an hour with it Saturday through the backbreaker of a Peavey 4x12 that came with it. And then Sunday night at practice through the 2x10 in the photo. Both times with Jazzmasters. At first I found this amp to be bright to the point of distraction. At practice I wound up playing in the hi input side and trying to use dirt on the floor and after two hours of practice my ears rang rather unpleasantly. Thought that I was just not going to be able to use this amp at all.

    So I then hit up my other guitar playing friends and former bandmates on Facebook and asked for some help and I figured out how to make it work for me. Basically as a pedal platform on the low side with the gain cranked, master to taste, treble & presence rolled off entirely, low mids and cranked bass. With the Jazzmasters that is just right. With the humbucker guitars I can raise the treble and presence a bit. Makes for an interestingpedal platform on this side, though I have to change pedal settings for it. My Mark I I can set the preamp to edge of breaking up and use the pedals to make it break up. Since the JCM800 is cranked it won't break up by just pushing it, it just gets louder so I have to use a little more gain on the floor. Since i use an RC boost and a Rat, it's easy to just turn up more dirt and less volume on the floor to compensate.

    I know this is the wrong way to use a JCM800 but I like how it sounds. It sounds like to me what I'd think an older Marshall would sound like. With my SG and ES347 it can get that AC/DC sort of thing. I guess that is the "sizzle" you guys are referring to. But I can't figure out the hi gain side at all. It has more gain than what I can use, but at lower gain settings it sounds fizzy and has zero bottom. The only way to fix that is to turn it up beyond my capacity to use it, and it still sounds too top heavy. Like I'm in Ratt or Dokken, which I guess is the idea, right?! I've read about the mods people do to these, and I realize I'd benefit from having different speakers in it (I'm using Fender-y Eminence Patriots in that 2x10 and the stock Blue Marvels in my 4x10) but I don't know if it's worth tracking down and spending $$$ getting a 1960 cab or loading a 2x12 with something similar (no way I'm using this Peavey 4x12 as it's nearly as heavy as our 4x10 SVT cab). Perplexing. Gotta spend more time with it.
     
  18. V-man

    V-man Member

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    Congratulations and HNAD! You certainly dove head first into the realm of Marshall with that choice.

    the JCM800 is a bright amp, plain and simple. It's part of the magic that allowed the amp to work so well as a rhythm AND lead amp. Also, as you have experienced, using dirt on the high side may not be as preferable to the low side, depending on the pedal and the style of music.





    There are other ways. Perhaps there are better ways, but there isn't a "wrong" way in the pursuit of tone. Lots of people cut the treble and presence on these, so that's not new, nor is the low input. As for the Dirt over distortion, maybe that works for you. Tom Warrior in Celtic Frost slammed an 800 with a Tube Screamer and then cut the treble by rolling back the guitar's tone control. Since you have a RAT, you can also try bringing the filter back over to 3:00 or so, then starting with the gain at 9:00 and the volume at 3:00, increase gain and decrease volume incrementally and simultaneously until you hit the sweet spot.


    There is a legendary tone to the amp, and that tone is derived by VOLUME. That is simply the nature of these 100w beasts. The best thing you can have at your disposal for just about any 50w/100w Marshall built up to the 2000s is have an attenuator if you can't play full bore. The next best thing (or great complement to the full bore/attenuated head) is to have the right pedal. I have heard complaints by some that some of the JCM800s have fizz... perhaps it comes from those kind of lower volume settings and/or the marriage to certain pedals.

    Some people may disagree with me, but I think mods to the 2203 is largely a mistake (at least for many cases). There are tons of other amps based off 2203s to choose instead, and even more pedals to shape tone without invading the amp's integrity, and even kits to build your own ground-up 2203 to molest how you wish. 2203s are classic and getting rarer. They aren't exactly Fabrege eggs in terms of rarity thus far but it makes far more sense to molest a hacked 2203 than hack one of the remaining originals, IMO. Some have removed the bright caps and have regretted this for loss of dynamics that came with it.

    My advice (assuming you have fresh tubes and perhaps a cap job) is to run straight into the amp, full bore. Play with the gain and the EQ and see how the voicing works for you. Assuming it does somewhere (and it darned well should), figure out how to eq/boost with pedals to get something reminiscent or usable at lower volumes and consider saving for an attenuator so you can get a closer sound to that cranked tone you came to discover and love.

    Speakers make a difference. Greenbacks, Vintage 30s, and GTs are the speakers that have classically accompanied the 2203. 10" speakers add punch, and the amp is bright, aggressive and punchy as is (especially when driven by a chirpy RAT), so some other speakers sound like a much better match for your rig. If you do load that Peavey with a mix of V30s and GTs it will be a backbreaker for sure, but it will probably be worth the hernia. The lows and mids from those speakers into that slab of wood should be astounding.
     
  19. batsbrew

    batsbrew Member

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    several manufacturers have recently brought out models created specifically to be good pedal platforms...


    dr z,
    victoria,
    bogner,
    suhr,
    and of course, fender blackface and clones will work great..


    marshalls are really all about the grind, eh?
     
  20. sanrico

    sanrico Member

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    I agree with this statement. After owning two 2204's, I have to say they were meant to roar like thunder. I don't mind them quiet, but the master volume knob is SO touchy that it's difficult to dial in your precise volume. It goes from off to loud with a gentle micro-turn of the knob.
     

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