Keep the Marshall or start over?


I play in a three-piece (guitar,drum,bass) blues/Americana/roots rock band with an Epiphone Les Paul Standard with humbuckers. We play mostly small-medium sized bars. The sound I'm trying to achieve is a heavy, overdriven, dirty blues wail reminicient of the Black Keys, Jack White's less eccentric stuff, late 60's blues-rock etc., with thick, nasty bottom end but not so much that I can't co-exist peacefully with my talented bassist. I play both standard tuning and open D, E, G and I'm trying to get a handle on slide.

Right now I run my Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 401 Combo through a Marshall cab that isn't mine but is at our practice space. The cab provides added volume but I primarily use it to get a beefier low-end sound that my 1X12 combo can't give me. I typically play on the clean channel and use the MXR Micro-Amp and USA Big Muff. The tube sound is classic Marshall, and when the tubes are driven to 10, it screams pretty nicely. I can't complain too much about the quality when the amp isn't acting up. Right now, however, its just not the precise sound I'm looking for.

Additionally, the Marshall combo has been a diva lately with the typical overheating issues, and I'm not entirely happy with my current sound. So I'm debating whether to invest the time and money into furnishing this amp into my rig of the future or selling it and try to turn a profit (got it for cheap) and starting over with a new amp. Essentially my choices are:

1) Refurnish my Marshall DSL 401 with a new speaker (Celestion V30 or Hellatone60 have been recommended), spend some money on some cool pedals (possibly an EQ, MXR blue bog, Digitech Whammy, a better Fuzz than the US Big Muff, octaver, etc. etc.), and buy my own cab.

2) Sell my Marshall and buy a new Combo in the $500-800 price range. I'm looking to buy used, and from what I've seen/heard, a Fender Twin Reverb or Blues Deville may work, but Ampeg, Orange, Vox may be too expensive.

Basically, I'm looking for some advice on whether to stick with my Marshall which I got for a pretty good steal and putting money toward pedals/cab/upgrades, or use that good deal to sell the amp and turn it around into something else. Also, I need some advice on what brand of amp and what type of pedals I should be keeping an eye out for. I'm fairly confident/proud with my skills at guitar and have been playing for 6-7 years, but I'm not very knowledgeable at all in terms of how gear works, the quality of brand names, or what gear is best suited for me. I'm a graduate student in dental school, so all my free time not working in people's mouths is devoted to practicing, writing, or performing, not becoming a gear head.

Any suggestions would be awesome.

Gear Addict

Whoa....that's alot of general questions all at once that can elicit a wide variety of answers.

You gave alot of good info in your first paragraph but it would probably help you get the answers you looking for if you tried to describe what you dislike about the sound of the Marshall.


Yeah, try an older Marshall variant. The Keys, Stripes and 60's rock all use/d the older designs. You'll have a much more vintage tone.


sounds like your playing one of the earlier models of the DSL401, I noticed the problems and decided to get the mesa mark iv, though I personally love the DSL401 and picked mine up a couple years later when I noticed it did not die when I turned it on, that said all the marshalls I have owned were divas, but I pressoally love them, so turning the amps off during a break is not a bad idea, just makes them less likely to give you problems during the set, the marshalls sound good on their own when they are turned on, also the OD1 and OD2 are similar to my mark IV rhythm 2 and solo channels, which your not going to get with a lot of other amps.

that said the DSL401 is not pedal friendly the parallel effects loop can not use a pedal with a direct signal, and marshalls really not the cleanest amp in town, so pedals at the input kind of work, as I said I am a marshall addict, so it does not bother me.

if your looking to replace the amp for under a $1000 the fender hot rod deluxe and deville are great gig amps, used to own a deville, now I have a deluxe which came with a Vintage 30 speaker, its about as loud a my deville was, and being a 1x12 its so much easier to carry around, my deville was a 4x10, stupid but it sounded better than the 2x12 in the store, but getting good 10" speakers for it was frustrating, the 12" speakers are so much better, and replacing a couple instead of all 4 really kept the stock speakers in my HRDv,

the deluxe is around $600 and the deville around $800, they have OD and more OD, but the thing about them is the clean channels are so amazing, volume knobs are linear, but the 2nd channel inputs have attenuators so you can practice with the amps, the deville is 60 watts and the deluxe is 40 watts, there are other threads that discuss these, my deville was always my favorite gig amp, works well with cabinets, an the effects loop is great, this was great with my mesa v-twin pedal, actually sounded so much better than my mark iv TBH.


Dump the combo--good head, bad combo design. You can get away with the average production quality in the DSL head but in that box you will continue to have problems. Eventually, the board will warp and then you will be in for a heap 'o trouble.

The sound I'm trying to achieve is a heavy, overdriven, dirty blues wail reminicient of the Black Keys, Jack White's less eccentric stuff, late 60's blues-rock etc., with thick, nasty bottom end ... Right now, however, its just not the precise sound I'm looking for.

Nothing precise about Mr. White's tone...sorry had to say that.

Agreed on the grab and go Deluxe recommendation. It'll be lighter than the Marshall, and give you a better platform for whatever raunchy pedal you want to feed it. And get a Rat! And an OCD! And a TS9!

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