JCM2000 DSL50 tone?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by SlyStrat, Mar 10, 2006.


  1. SlyStrat

    SlyStrat Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Are these heads any good? Can you get vintage tone? Like Jimmy Page live? Tell me about it. I love the tone I get from my JCM800 4103 combo. I want another Marshall.
     
  2. alguit

    alguit Guest

    I owned one of these for quite some time and really liked it; I just couldn't turn it up loud enough in most places to get the tone I wanted on the Ultra channel. In the vintage/classic modes, Led Zeppelin-like tones are within reach. I used it for some recordings in that vein, and the people for whom I was laying down tracks loved it.

    Jeff Beck is probably one of the better-known users of the DSL 50-it's all over his last three albums, and I saw him live using one. He winds up the amp and rolls back his guitars tone knob and gets such a fat, sustaining sound.
     
  3. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

    Messages:
    6,887
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Location:
    St Louis, Missouri
    Man, the DSL50 is one of my all time favorite amps. I've owned tons of Marshalls (new and old) and some highly respected heads (Bogner Uberschall, VHT 50CL, Mesa Stiletto, Mesa Mark III, etc...) and I have to say that the DSL50 can hold it's own with any of them.

    I had a DSL50, then went to a DSL100 and now I'm back to a DSL50 again. I've determined that I like the 50-watter more, as it has this sweet midrange thing going on that I can't describe. It just sounds better to me.

    It's also very versatile. On the green channel, you can get sparkling warm clean tones all the way up to Zep or Black Crowes stuff with the "crunch" switch engaged. Sounds like a JCM800, but has a more beefy low end. This channel works EXTREMELY well with an OD pedal to push it into tight high gain territory. Crazy nice sounding.

    The red channel has less low end, but has more gain and a slightly more modern tone. It doesn't sound like a recto or anything like that, but it is a high gain Marshall head that's voiced to do modern rock and metal very well.

    Awesome, awesome amp.

    Chris
     
  4. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Armchair Rocket Scientist Graffiti Existentialist Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,095
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Jeff Beck toured with his constantly, and Gary Moore toured with them for a couple of years as well. Not a bad endorsement if you ask me.
     
  5. Flah

    Flah Member

    Messages:
    69
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Awesome tone. I think it covers all the classic Marshall sounds really well. I love my DSL50. Incredible clean sound too.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    Beck's and Moore's are not stock from what I've heard, and I would find it surprising if they were.

    I used to really hate the sound of them, but then I tried one through decent speakers (ie not the Chinese G12T-75s in the matching Marshall cabs) and thought it didn't sound anywhere near as bad. I still don't think they sound like a classic Marshall though - too much boom at the bottom end and an odd hollowness in the mids that you can't seem to dial out with the EQ or the switches.

    They are also IMO quite poorly built by Marshall standards and not particularly reliable. I'm sure that as usual some people will post that they've had their for years without any problems and done a world tour with it or whatever... but the fact is that they're simply not as physically robust as the older amps (especially the pots, which are a common source of trouble) and seem to have a tendency to blow output transformers - I've replaced several (the earlier Drake ones seem worse than the later Dagnalls). Luckily replacing the OT is a breeze on this amp... four bolts and the wires are just held on by push-connectors :) :(. There are other problems too. I think they're marginally more reliable than the 900 series was, but it's a close call, and they're nowhere near in the same league as anything they built before 1990.

    I'm not saying they're terrible, and of course not everyone's breaks, but IMO they are not a top-quality amp despite the company name and history.

    Just my opinion.
     
  7. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

    Messages:
    2,569
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Location:
    Ards, Northern Ireland
    I bought one brand new, after 11 hours useage the transformer blew. A DSL100 I had before it blew after 4 months.

    would I recommend a DSL to you ?

    Not in a million years bro. Find a used JMP50 or early JCM800 2204 a different beast altogether and killer tones as well.

    Jimmy
     
  8. RGN

    RGN Member

    Messages:
    116
    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2005
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    I bought a DSL50 and a DSL100 in '98 and had no problems with either of them. I had the same tubes in the DSL50 the entire time (sold it in early 2005). Both gigged a lot and were in the back seat of my car riding around quite a bit.

    I like the DSL50 a lot. I kept it a long time but since I owned other amps by Diezel, Bogner and VHT it just wasn't getting used enough to stay around. For the $$, I think is about the best rock amp in its price range. I guess maybe I'd take an ENGL Screamer 50 head over the DSL50 but I think the DSL is a fine amp. I'd recommend one with no hesitiation at all. You can find them used for under $750- what a steal.
     
  9. SlyStrat

    SlyStrat Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,084
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I found one for $650. Like new. Thats why I'm asking about them.
     
  10. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,262
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    They're good amps. Used to have one, was too loud for my purposes though. The only thing I don't like is that they come with AWFUL preamp tubes. The Marshall branded preamp tubes that were in mine would suck life out of any amp, simply horrible. The stock Svetlana/SED powertubes are good though.

    They're very versatile, which IMO can't be said about all Marshalls. Of course, they always sound like Marshalls but you can get anything from decent clean to death metal tones. No, they're not the best built amps ever but I had no problems with mine and the bottom line is that they do sound good - after you change those preamp tubes that is.

    I wish Marshall made a DSL50 combo version instead of that totally crap DSL401.
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    Ha! :) That just shows it's all down to taste... I wish they made the DSL401 as a head with a 2-EL34 power section instead of the (IMO) hollow-sounding and less flexible DSL50.

    I much prefer the DSL401's fully footswitchable two true channels and partial third channel instead of the compromise of the 50 which isn't even really two channels, since they share the same EQ - it just has four modes, only two of which are footswitchable. I also like the 401's overall (post-PI) master volume.

    But if you've only heard a DSL401 with its stock speaker I can understand your opinion. Why they put that tin frisbee in ANY amp is totally beyond me. Utter crap... it completely ruins the tone of the dirty channel in particular - not quite so bad on the clean. In fact, I have a very strong suspicion that this amp was not developed with that speaker in mind, but it was chosen later to keep the cost down... because if you hear one through a decent speaker (eg V30, or a cab with G12M-25s), not only does it sound ten times better and twice as loud, the tonal balance between the two channels is almost perfect as well - with the stock speaker the dirty side is painfully thin and bright compared to the clean - which makes me think it was designed like that.

    You still can't do anything about the crappy MDF cabinet, and there are also known reliability problems with it, but IMO the DSL combos can be made into quite good amps - I've put a vintage 25W Celestion into a DSL201 as well with great results.

    I really don't understand Marshall's insistence on using such bad speakers in their standard modern amps - the DSL201's G12E-50 is the worst 12" speaker I've ever heard, and even the 75 is a poor choice, to me... I assume they're relying on the average buyer not knowing how much difference they make and being happy with anything that says Celestion on it. It's very interesting to compare a DSL401 to a Mesa F-30. Despite being only 22W RMS really to the Marshall's 40, the Mesa is far more punchy-sounding than a stock 401 and actually louder... because it comes stock with a V30.

    I really wish someone at Marshall would wake up. I used to love their amps... in the 1980s :(.
     
  12. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

    Messages:
    2,569
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Location:
    Ards, Northern Ireland

    good words john, though if it were down to me , I say get the jmp50 (70s marshall) dang it, that is a fine head.

    Jimmy
     
  13. JasonP

    JasonP Member

    Messages:
    132
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    Location:
    Somerset, Wisconsin
    I agree with you. I've had a Mesa Mark IV, Rectifier, 5150/5150II, TSL and I think the DSL holds it own against all of these amps. Personally I think it's a great amp for the money used and awesome tone as well.
     
  14. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

    Messages:
    6,887
    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2004
    Location:
    St Louis, Missouri
    I forgot to say that it's quite popular nowadays to say that the newer Marshalls are unreliable and don't sound as good as the old Marshalls. :rolleyes:

    Check one out and use your ears. Come to your own conclusion, instead of following the popular trend. I absolutely consider myself a Marshall guy and I've owned the following (that I can remember):

    '77 SuperBass
    '79 Master Volume 2203
    '79 Master Volume 2204
    '84 JCM800 2203
    '85 JCM800 4104 (combo)
    1959 Reissue
    1987x Reissue
    DSL50
    DSL100
    DSL50
    JCM900 SLX 2500
    JCM900 High Gain Mark III 2100
    6100LM 30th Anniversary (head)

    After owning all of those amps (which were all very good sounding), I still prefer the DSL50.

    Chris
     
    Tunesketcher likes this.
  15. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    I'm not following a 'popular trend', I'm basing what I said on twenty years of experience with Marshalls of all models from JTM45s up to the present, both as an owner of many (although not of anything made since 1990) and as a professional repair tech.

    The new Marshalls ARE unreliable and don't sound as good as the old ones IMO, and I did come to that conclusion entirely by myself from listening to them and from working on them, I don't need other people's opinions to base it on - in fact I reached it even before I ever came here or anywhere else on the net.

    You may prefer the sound of the DSL. Each to their own. You cannot sensibly equate the build quality of one with a 70s or 80s model though... nor the reliability in my experience.

    I was a 'Marshall guy' too BTW, until the first day I saw inside a dead JCM900 and was shocked and horrified by what the company I thought made the best amps around had done.

    For the record, a DSL50 is the only amp I have ever had blow up (blown OT) on a bench test, that was apparently working correctly beforehand - and that's including every one of the couple of hundred or so older Marshalls (which are allegedly unreliable) that I've worked on. Yes, that's only one single incident and it proves nothing really... but it goes with the rest of my experience.
     
  16. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,262
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    I guess so because I didn't find the DSL50 hollow sounding at all (I used a 1x12 with a G12H-100 with it) but all the DSL401 combos I've tried have sounded totally crap. Thin and weak even when cranked. On one of them the channel switching broke after I pressed the channel switch button ONCE. For a nearly 900€ amp that doesn't exactly give an impression of reliability.

    In any case the DSL combos were my pick for "the worst tube amp I played in 2004" along with the Peavey Triple XXX.
     
  17. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

    Messages:
    13,080
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2002
    Location:
    Scotland
    I totally agree. They really do sound thin and weak with the stock speaker. It's almost impossible to overstate how much difference it makes if you hear one through something decent.

    FWIW, the build and component quality of the combos and heads is identical.
     
  18. LaXu

    LaXu Member

    Messages:
    2,262
    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2004
    Location:
    Finland
    Isn't everything on the DSL401 mounted on a single big PCB? While DSL heads have multiple PCBs with the power tubes mounted on the chassis if I remember correctly. In any case the DSL combos are known for overheating (apparently fixed in newer ones) that causes all kinds of problems.

    At nearly 900€ I can think of many combos that I'd rather have that don't cost much more, for example the Orange Rocker 30.
     
  19. GuitslingerTim

    GuitslingerTim Member

    Messages:
    2,178
    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    I bought a DSL50 new in 1998. I had one problem with a loose connection and had the boards resoldered for $60, and have had zero problems with it since.

    Like many of the reviewers in this thread, I hated the sound of mine when I first bought it new along with a 1960A cab. I was convinced MF had sold me a lemon so I made them swap it for another, which may have sounded even worse. As it turned out, the bias settings were set way too high--one tube set at 55mV, the other was set at 67mV. The heat coming off that sucker was unreal. I eventually found out the factory bias specs are 45mV per tube, which helped some once it was lowered. Having discussed the problem with many JCM2000 owners, Marshall appears (or at least appeared) to ship their heads without setting the bias on them, which probably has much to do with the premature failures.

    I also changed out speakers to V30s, and realized the wire used to wire my cab up was extremely small, learning that Marshall had recalled some cabs for that very reason. I rewired the cab with 14 gauge, which helped, but it left one option for finally getting some great sounds out of it--I lowered the bias settings below factory specs and suddenly had a new amp on my hands.

    If you get a DSL50 learn how set the bias yourself and put some decent tubes in it. I'm using SED power tubes and EH preamp tubes. I suggest 40mV per tube for the bias settings.
     
  20. yannis

    yannis Member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    Greece
    Well to be honest, LaXu did help me not to get the DSL401 in the past, and i opted for a Laney LC30 instead, much better tone (imho) and much better construction. What i did like though on the DSL401 was the features. It had an amazing list of features, 2 channels + boost, 2 MVs PPIMV...

    I just wish some company made a reliable and well made EL34 amp with the features of the DSL401.
     

Share This Page