Marhsall-type 18w vs 50w vs 100w

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by jonleecourage, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. jonleecourage

    jonleecourage Member

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    I realize no amp that's actually a different tube/circuit, etc is going to be the same, but I was wondering, tonally is the 18w Marshall clone in the same tone camp as the 50w Plexi type of Marshall?

    Another way of asking what I'm getting at is, if I like the 18w tone but want more volume and clean headroom, is the 50w Plexi what I'm after? (I do realize that there's a 36w version of the 18w clones also, so that answer I think is a bit more "obvious").

    Also, since I'm a big Zep and Hendrix (classic rock/blues in general) fan, and I know (I think) a lot of those guys used 100w Plexi's, is the 50w Plexi basically a lower volume version of the 100w? Is the 100w Plexi the same as the "Super Lead"? If they're two different things, which was used by who, for reference?
     
  2. goneracin

    goneracin Member

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    An 18 watt is a marshall flavored amp to be sure, but an el84 (18 watt) wont sound exactly like an el34 (50 and 100 watt). With some circuits you are in the same flavor, but not duplicates. And yes, the 36 watt is a "big" 18 watt, at least mine is, so if you like the 18 tone, that may be a good option for you.
    The 50 an 100 watters using el34's have more mid range focus to me than an 84, which has more clarity and high chime, not better or worse, just different.

    When you are talking about "plexi"s there are so many variations on that theme. A 50 watt is less volume, and less "thump" than a 100 watt, but the same basic tones.
    The older true plexis were slightly less "in your face" than the late 60's and the 70's metal panel amps due to a few small circuit changes. the 100 watter is the SL btw. I also think that Page used a major, which was a 200 watt amp to get the headroom way up there. Hendrix used normal SL amps, and Im sure someone here knows what year for certain. A general rule is the newer the model, the more aggressive they get, both in gain and brighter tones.
     
  3. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    A 50 or 100 watt is unusable. You cant get the tones you want without killing everyone. Although Nickcha has a cool plexi glass surround around his 50 watt Plexi and 4x12 cab. That seems to work pretty good.

    For me an 18 watt with two 8 ohm 12" speakers run at 4 ohms is pertnear loud enuff. Though a bit freakin heavy.

    18 or 30 but any more is just overkill. Though great amps.

    Now I'm talking about non master volume amps. :cool:
     
  4. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

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    +1 on 100 watters being hard to use. I've owned several through the years, and have always had trouble with the volume issue. Even a 50 watter can still be loud as billy hell.

    At the currnet I am using a 36 watt Reinhardt and it it can still get plenty loud with a 2 x or 4x12. Sometimes I pull 2 of the EL84's out and use it like an 18 watter to cut back on the volume. Still, I find it much easier to get the tubes cooking on a 36 watter v/s a 100 watt plexi.:)


    have a nice day:)


    -Rich
     
  5. jonleecourage

    jonleecourage Member

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    This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for... Thanks guys.
     
  6. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    The 18w Marshall (the reissue combo) is actually kind of chimey and swirly ... more Vox flavored. Neat sound and response, but not (IMO) the classic roar.

    If it's classic Marshall cranked tone you want, but at sane volume levels, look for the 20w reissue head. It is voiced to be surprisingly like the classic Marshall roar of the 50 watters at distortion levels.

    The 20w head and the new 2x12 vertical cab are a great, great combination. Expensive, but it definitely delivers! You'd be surprised how loud that 20 watts sounds into a 2x12 if you are playing with power-tube distortion.

    The 50watters are useful if you need clean headroom and/or play with pedals or on the edge of breakup. Beyond that, yeah, they are shatteringly loud. The 100 watters at full crank are simply frightening. Been in a room with one and it was memorable, but questions persist about whether it's really usable!

    Kiwi
     
  7. Dennis Rayburn

    Dennis Rayburn Supporting Member

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    To sidetrack the conversation a bit...

    I just got an Ultimate Attenuator. You'd have no problem cranking a 50W or 100W marshall through this and controlling the volume.

    I can play my Bruno Bulldog 45 (45W) or my Aiken Sabre (50W) no problem and dial it way down without a noticeable loss of tone. It's so much more effective than my Z-Brake (which is for sale now by the way).
     
  8. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    I think the 18W combo is still definitely classic Marshall, though obviously different from the 50-100W amps. I actually tried it side by side with one of the new Vox AC30CCs and they were very different tonewise. Both damn loud too.
     
  9. RichSZ

    RichSZ Member

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    I had a 50w plexi reissue for a very short time. It will blow your face off or destroy your hearing, it's a toss up as to which one comes first.

    I even used it with a Weber Mass and although still decent sounding, it just didn't have that "edge". It was totally unusable to me in any practical situation.

    My 18 watt on the other hand is one of my all time favorites. Awesome tone at very usable volumes. And my 18 watt sounds awesome in a band situation.

    Check out www.18watt.com or have Graydon build you one (www.gdsamps.com).

    -Rich
     
  10. Dennis Rayburn

    Dennis Rayburn Supporting Member

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    Man, you gotta try the Ultimate Attenuator. It's unbelievable.
     
  11. hogy

    hogy Member

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    Not to me. A big amp sounds big, a small amp sounds small. Take your pick.

    I have gigged with 100W Marshalls in bars and they still sound huge with the volume down a bit

    I also play a 100W at home, at practice volume, and it sounds great.

    There is a girth and a grand piano like range that comes with power, and it is there at pretty much all volumes.

    If I could have only one amp for all applications, it would be a 100 Watter, no doubt about it. They are very useable.

    Hogy
     
  12. Sonic Reducer

    Sonic Reducer Member

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    Just curious. How do your use a 100W at home practice volumes? Do you turn it up a little bit and then use a pedal for OD? Do you crank it up until it overdrives? Do you play it clean? Attenuator?

    I'm curious. What about live?
     
  13. tuna

    tuna Member

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    +1 on this statement. I have this setup and it is plenty loud for me. But, I pretty much just play at home. I have had it cranked a few times and it does get that classic tone. I usually use a Fulltone OCD in front of it and get a great tone at a usable volume.

    The other amp I would recommend if you go boutique is an Aiken. Great amps, I have an 18 watt Invader with built in attenuator. Alot of guys on here rave about the Tomcat which is 12 watts w/ an attenuator. Both amps are el-84 tubed. The only downside to this is that Aiken is currently in the process of ramping his business back up and has stated that these amps will no longer be produced. He makes a quality well built product.
     
  14. hogy

    hogy Member

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    I use different approaches. For a nice clean tone I like to turn up the amp a bit and roll down the guitar volume. Sounds better/fuller to me than guitar full up and amp way down.
    Adding an attenuator can help, not to get distortion from the amp, just to get it a bit further up on the volume.

    Sometimes I'll use pedals for distortion at home, mostly though I will run another fully cranked amp into a load, a line level signal from that into a bit of reverb/EQ and on into the power amp of a 100W Plexi stack. I control the volume either by adjusting line level or EQ output.

    Live I use a combination of less efficient speakers, attenuation, pedals, whatever it takes.
    The main point is to use the dynamic range you can get from a big amp by adjusting your playing style and using your guitar volume control.

    I'm used to this, maybe it requires some practice if you've never done it. I can play equally loud on a 30 Watter and a 100 Watter, only the 100 will sound more relaxed, bigger, more dynamic and deeper.

    I have a hard time understanding people who say any amp is "too loud". That's like saying a motorcycle has "too much power". Ain't no such thing, learn to use the throttle.

    Hogy
     
  15. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    Well me thinks if your wanting to have that sound of the amp cranked full boar with sag and all I havent heard that duplicated with a pedal and a volume knob.

    A good example of that is my little Tweed Proluxe. I cant think of any way to duplicate the sound of that amp wide open with so much sag kickin in and the amp damn near brown outing because of the demand on it. I havent heard a pedal that has the dynamics of the comression , sustain, sag, and the undescribable Mojo when this rig is full throttle and sounding like its fixing to fly apart.

    Now I'm sure you can get some good sounds from a 100 watt Marshall but I am a skeptic when you tell me you can duplicate the sound of that amp craked at full volume.

    However you sise it up an 18 watter such as my Balls M-18 2x12 combo is loads more flexable than a 50 or 100. I can crank it full boar get the tones I want (which are pretty incredable) and not have complaints from the club owner.


    I had been out of giggin for a while and after getting an out side gig at a private party for a Corperations 45th Anniversery which was a situation where we could crank it as loud as we wanted these folks wanted to Rock. Before the Gig I was thinking great! I can really crank my Marshall Plexi and get by with it and get the tone I want. In my band I run sound from the stage using a wireless so I can go out front and sound check. I set the sound for the occasion and found my Plexi barely on and we were outside!

    We were up on a Tractor Trailer Flatbed playing into a very large audience with wide open spaces. I was somewhat dissapointed not to be able to really crank it like I thought I could.

    Now however I have the tools I need to get the tones exactly as I want them at volume levels that dosent kill band mates and others.

    I'm currently using a Freakin SDG Vintage Proluxe 30 watt 1x12 combo (Tweed Deluxe with 6l6's). See Ted Webers sight I got the pleasure of naming his 6L6 Tweed Kit (Proluxe).

    A Balls M18 2x12 combo that words can not describe the glassy cruchy balls to the wall tone this thing puts out. I love the lead tone when this thing is cranked. Yes its distorted but retains this glassyness to it that sounds like Gold.

    And if need be I have a swiss army amp. Mesa Boogie 1x12 widebody Lonestar Classic. This thing is a freakin trip. Not a flavor of the week amp. Just a very sensable easy to use simple complex tone machine. This amp seems to address the wattage problem in a very intelligent manner. Allowing clean sounds to be 100 watt ss rectified and dirty sounds to be 50 watt tube rectified with a very good master volume.

    I'm not saying you cant get a good sound but you cant get my sound. :p

    We both just have different ways of floating down the river. Just my 2 cents and no harm intended. :)
     
  16. jonleecourage

    jonleecourage Member

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    Wow, I am learning a lot from these exchanges. Was originally afraid to post thinking "dense, obvious question will annoy the experienced guys" but looks like there's enough variance in opinions to keep it interesting.

    So, from the threads above, I definitely like the idea of a 50w Plexi with an attenuator - seems worth trying, although I once had an attenuator on a 50w and it sucked every ounce of tone right out - maybe it was a crap attenuator. I'll prob try one of the ultimates should I be able to swing a 50w plexi.

    Next, the 20w Marshall sounds very interesting. Plexi tones at lower volumes. Can anyone tell me how it compares to the 18w clones (I have an 18w head now that I really like, but have never played it in a band situation and haven't been able to crank it, although I bought it after hearing an 18w GDS nicely cranked).
     
  17. gkelm

    gkelm Supporting Member

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    I like 'em all...high & low wattage. :) However of late I'm leaning toward Hogy's deal. '75 JMP 50 with an Air Brake (nice unit)...just to get the thing working a bit more. Still use pedals cause I like them. I like the fuller sound of a 50(+) watt amp, most of the time, even attenuated, etc. A bigger cab can help a lower wattage amp sound bigger, but the girth from bigger bottles is like a big comfy sofa.

    I think the idea of high wattage amps being "unuseable" may come from the touchiness of the volume controls...they often go from too soft to too loud around 1 on the knob...that's where I think an attenuator helps.

    Greg
     
  18. mule train

    mule train Gold Supporting Member

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    Bravo!

    As "The Earl of Sound " once said ,"...very few people can handle the power of a Marshall."
    I'll forever remember him telling me this.
    The roar of a 100 watter changes players dynamics. I feel there has to be a level of confidence in your attack to handle one.
     
  19. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    What I'd like to try is Power Scaling on something like a 50-100W plexi. It works really well on my 15W Stephenson so I imagine it should work rather nicely in a Plexi as well.
     
  20. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Plus One to that - still not sure about the Attenuater.

    The other aspect is the sheer physicality of big amps - my heart says yes but my brain says a 20 to 30/40 watt 1x12 combo. I prefer to plug straight in too.

    Best, Pete.
     

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