Marshall 18 watt HW and others

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by larrylover, May 8, 2005.


  1. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    At the local GC, I played a Marshall handwired 18 watt combo with a single celestion g12m speaker this afternoon. Also in the room, a used Gibson 30 combo with two celestion vintage 30's in it (sorry I can't remember the exact name of the Gibson. This is a recent amp -- made during the 21st century, I think custom shop amps, and I think they have been recently discontinued) and a used Dr. Z Maz Jr.

    I was very excited to play the Marshall. It had "high" and "low" inputs. The low input had a single tone control and a volume control. the high imput had a single tone control and a volume control and two tremolo controls -- speed and intensity.

    Maybe I expected too much. It was a very one trick pony. (Used a LP with humbuckers). Cleans were very very ordinary, maybe even less than that. The only thing that made the cleans listenable was using the tremolo which was nice sounding so long as the speed was below 5. And the cleans didn't last very long. The bluesy dirt was also ho-hum. The only time the amp gave up anything to recommend it was when the the tone and volume controls on the high input were dimed. At that point the amp allowed a bit of sustain and some Marshall squawk. But that was about it. Opened up like that all notes on the E-D strings were muddy. No thump. I found it seriously lacking inspiration. I would say I need a 50 watter to get my heart beating but Mr. Z ghia, Alessandro Beagle and the Maz Jr., at the risk of skipping ahead, showed this not to be the case. The Marshall is just an ordinary, ordinary amp at extraordinary prices.

    The Gibson was far more interesting. A 4 XEl84 amp, it had nice vox-style cleans, and vox-style overdrive with the bright switch on and plugged into "high" input. With the bright switch and plugged into the "low' input, had a nice fender-style clean, but not the shimmer that you get with black face. Very good for funk stuff.

    The maz jr. was the best. Inspiring cleans and nice dirt and great overdrive. lack of time prevents me from going into more detail. Great master volume. Very nice amp.
     
  2. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    Has exactly the same experience at another store

    the 18 just don't excite me. Not bad, but my Aiken trumps it in every way
     
  3. DestroyAllGuitars

    DestroyAllGuitars Member

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    Don't feel bad about the 18watter. It was a failure for Marshall
    the 1st time around, and they have only re-introduced it to cash
    in on the stupid runaway buzz that has been created as of late.
    The original 18 watter was a bad copy of the 17watt Watkins
    Dominator which is the amp you hear on all the early classic
    British invasion group's albums. By the time Marshall introduced
    their 18 watter, all the British players had their Watkins and the
    US market was more interested in the heavier sounds of Jimi etc...
    Thus the El34 based amps took off here and the lowly 18 watter was abandoned.

    There is nothing wrong with the sound of a low powered EL84
    based circuit, in fact there are many incredible ones available.
    I have a few of them that I love. I just think it's silly that so
    many people are overpaying for the mythical "incredible
    Marshall 18watter". It's one thing if you truly like the tone of
    the 18watt Marshall, but I know that many have been sold based
    solely on a myth.

    Why clone a mistake when you could use that time to create
    a new success?
     
  4. DannyDay

    DannyDay Member

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    Add one more to the list...

    Perhaps I tested a faulty one, but I wasn't all that thrilled with the 18 watter ot the 20 for that matter. I just coudn't coax any of that Marshall goodness out of it. It just had that high-mid spike without the phatness.

    I suspect the amp was an anomaly. I'll try again next time.

    DD.
     
  5. GDS Racing

    GDS Racing Member

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    This may sound funny but don't judge all 18 watt amps by the Marshall reissue.
     
  6. tombo

    tombo Member

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    I love the 18 watt Marshall! So much so, I bought it. For any of you considering buying an 18 watt handwired amp, consider it. As I said in another post, tone is subjective. It may not be your cup of tea, and if it's not your idea of a good 18 watt amp, then fine. We're lucky in that we're not only in a golden age of guitar building, but also amp building. There are plenty of makers out there, go and find the one that builds **your** idea of the ideal 18 watt amp.

    In the meantime, there's no need to slog the Marshall HW 1974X through the mud. Guitar Ampifier Magazine article on the Marshall 1974X

    edited to add: I've tried the GDS amps here in Japan before making my purchase. To be fair, it was made from a kit, and not wired by GDS.
     
  7. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    No question that we are in the midst of tremendous golden age of guitar and amp building. There is tremendous variety and quality at all price points. And, yes, reasonable minds can differ on sound preference. I know what I heard, however. And having played a number of amps by many perpetrators of the golden age -- Dr. Z, Alessandro, Aiken, Blues Peal, Maven Peal, custom shop Fender -- all I can say is that there is no reason at all to have any bias towards Marshall. At least on this model. None.
     
  8. tombo

    tombo Member

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    I don't understand what you mean here. Can you clarify it? I'm not being silly here. Do you mean "Hey if you like it, go for it!" or do you mean "the other 18 watt amps I tried destroy that amp so stay away from it like the plague."

    edited to add: When I used a *beautiful* new Tokai Les Paul copy through the Marshall 1974X (I'm lucky enough to live really close to the Tokai factory and my friend's shop is a "preferred shop" in that they get all kinds of prototypes in that most stores don't)..we were able to get great Zeppelin-like and AC/DC like tones. We even put my store-owner friend's '59 RI Tom Murphy LP through it's paces, and sweet tones were abound (albeit a bit darker than the Tokai).Anyway, we coaxed all kinds of nice tones out of that amp/LP guitar combination.

    When trying the 1974X with a strat, my audiophile head friend (who's also dying for an 18 watt amp) remarked "you know, the Savage Macht 12 that you had was a beautiful amp. Lovely in every way, but this Marshall.........".......as he had his own personal eargasm with the tremelo channel. Then we cranked up the normal channel and his jaw dropped. Then I told him it'd be my amp in a couple weeks and he wanted to kill me.

    Tone is subjective. I put asterisks on the words that are subjective.

    Happy 18 watt hunting.

    *edited for grammar.
     
  9. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    Fortunately, buying this Marshall will not kill you, as the plague can. Nor is the Marshall so expensive -- like, say, a Two Rock custom reverb signature -- that buying it might make you wish you were dead. So I would never say anything like your second option.

    In case my opening post was not clear, however, I did not like the Marshall. I don't think there is much there there. For the same money, you can get far more interesting and much better sounding amps. I would buy many production amps at far lower cost over this amp.

    My view is, as with any amp, try it and if you like it, get it. But I would not get it without trying alternatives. For example, the used Dr. Z Maz Jr. 1 X12 combo I tried at the same time was listed at $1350 (and this was a typical GC far too expensive price) sounded so much better than the Marshall from clean to mean and all in between superior to the Marshall, it was laughable. And I bet if you compare the Marshall to almost anything else at any price -- say a Vox Valvetronix, for example -- the Valvetronix will prove to be more versatile and sound better at everything, even the wide open sound that this Marshall did best.
     
  10. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    the Marshall 18 watt handwired is a nice amp...

    but after owning a GDS 18 watter, Carmen Ghia, a Mojave Coyote, the marshall made stuff does seem rather bland in comparison.
     
  11. tombo

    tombo Member

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    Viva le difference.

    No use in trying to justify my purchase. Plenty of players on TGP love the 1974X, even compared to much costlier amps. Others don't like it. Heck, I'll admit it - I love Tom Anderson guitars too, and they don't get a lot of respect here on The Gear Page.
     
  12. HHB

    HHB Member

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    I just played a series of gigs w/ the HW 18 watt Marshall, I liked it alot, jumping channels makes a huge difference , took me a few gigs to discover that. IMO if your running humbuckers it's a great straight in amp that sounds very "Marshally" to me. I do prefer a more "Fender"style amp in the long run but enjoyed my gigs w/ the 1974X
     
  13. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    I have the 20 Watt L&B on order. As long as the one trick is the "Marshall" tone, I have an A/B box to the Z28 for everything else. Sorry you didn't dig the 1974X larrylover. Bummer. Interesting comparison though, thanks for sharing.
     
  14. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I am here as you are here as you are me and we are
    One amp.
    Two different players.
    Two different results.

    If these kinds of results show anything, it's that buying amps based on any reviews will only take you so far.

    Imagine if either one of the reviewers would have made a purchase decision based on contrary reviews. One would have ended up deeply disappointed, and one might have missed an amp that he would have enjoyed.

    Nothing beats playing an amp and deciding for yourself what works for you.
     
  15. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    Very well said. BIG +1
     
  16. RichSZ

    RichSZ Member

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    You may have gotten some phase cancellation going on by jumpering the channels. The trem channel is out of phase with the normal channel so you would get phase cancellation at certain frequencies. I believe the London 65 also has the same issues and some sort of phase reveral A+B box was mentioned in another post.

    FWIW, try that 1974x with a Zakk Wylde OD...get's it a little heavier without spiking the mids to unpleasant levels.

    -Rich
     
  17. mrmojorisin

    mrmojorisin Member

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    1) Even with the same make/model amp there are good ones and there are lemons. There is a LOT of variability. Play two or three of the same thing and you'll find no two are alike.

    2) A GOOD Marshall 18 clone (make/model + mojo ) is a joy to behold. When you find a really good one, DONT EVER SELL IT.

    3) I've been through as many 18 watt amps as perhaps anyone on this board (except the guys that make them!) and I have been fortunate to find (and KEEP) some very good ones.

    4) With a Marshall 18 clone speakers are hugely important...you haven't really heard a Marshall 18 until you run one through a pair of Cel Blues at 8 ohm wired in series.

    5) As for jumpering, I don't. It screws up the input impedance. I use a y-cord (under $5 from Radio Shack) and plug into the hi inputs of both channels. This causes my Blockhead First Born 18 to just scream...

    6) Marshall 18 circuits just LOVE the old Valvo EL84's. They "stiffen" the amp up a bit compared to Mullards, a good thing IMHO when you are running an EZ81 rectifier.

    C.
     
  18. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    I believe the trem channel and the normal are in phase on the 1974X. Each input on the normal side has it's own triode and the trem channel has one triode (shared between inputs) for amplification and one for the oscillator. Neither channel has a second stage before the PI.

    Since the normal channel does not share inputs, you would need to jumper from the trem side, with the guitar plugged into the trem side. Otherwise, there is no signal path between inputs on the normal side.
     
  19. John Bell

    John Bell Member

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    Fullerplast....could you e-mail me please?
    Thanks.
     
  20. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    You got it John...I'll take a look.
     

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