Marshall JCM 900 Hi Gain Dual Reverb 4500 - opinions?

mightypudge

Member
Messages
680
I never said the 900 doesn't have enough gain. I just said it may not be the right gain for what you need for your style. The 900 came out when guitar players in the 80's were taking overdrive pedals to their 800's to get more gain. So Marshall designed an amp around that.

I owned a 900 and IMO it sounded great for 80's metal/rock. However I did not think it stood up well to detuning. It lacked low end thump and didn't have the Marshall aggressiveness that the 800's had. I felt it was weak in a band setting, didn't cut well, and didn't have the authority of other amps. My personal favorite for Marshall crunch in a metal type role is the Rivera Knucklehead Tre. But that's a bit pricer than a used 900. But totally worth it.

I didn't make a recommendation because frankly there are SO MANY CHOICES and you have to find the perfect one for you, and your budget.
 
Messages
5,109
I never said the 900 doesn't have enough gain. I just said it may not be the right gain for what you need for your style. The 900 came out when guitar players in the 80's were taking overdrive pedals to their 800's to get more gain. So Marshall designed an amp around that.

I owned a 900 and IMO it sounded great for 80's metal/rock. However I did not think it stood up well to detuning. It lacked low end thump and didn't have the Marshall aggressiveness that the 800's had. I felt it was weak in a band setting, didn't cut well, and didn't have the authority of other amps. My personal favorite for Marshall crunch in a metal type role is the Rivera Knucklehead Tre. But that's a bit pricer than a used 900. But totally worth it.

I didn't make a recommendation because frankly there are SO MANY CHOICES and you have to find the perfect one for you, and your budget.
Look, that's some well-thought and stated facts about how you experienced a 900. It's always a hassle to find a new amp, so I really appreciate your input on this!

And yes, there are plenty of options, too many, almost ..
 

mightypudge

Member
Messages
680
I'll also highly recommend the ENGL line of amps. Especially the Powerball or Fireball. My Powerball was absolutely killer for hard rock or metal, even at lower gain settings. It just had major authority.
 
Messages
146
Alright man, I'm gonna share my long time experience with my JCM 900's. What I've experienced is surely a tough, reliable amp, with less than mediocre cleans and a dirt channel that's crap for anything else but Motley Crue covers. Pedals in the front end of the amp don't work so well, especially dirt pedals. And one of the few little tricks to get more oomph out of the 900 is to jump the effects loop with the level cranked all the way up, and that won't do you no good since you need your effects loop. However, considering the price, i've seen them as low as $250, it's one hell of a backup amp. But if you're looking for something to replace your Koch I think you might be disappointed. FWIW I traded my 900 + some cash for a Mesa Rectoverb and haven't looked back since.
 
Messages
5,109
I'll also highly recommend the ENGL line of amps. Especially the Powerball or Fireball. My Powerball was absolutely killer for hard rock or metal, even at lower gain settings. It just had major authority.
Yeah, I've heard those in live settings. They're quite brutal, absolutely. But the .. gain sound of it isn't really pleasing to me. They DO have a nice attack and thump but it lacked some mid-warmth (which might be possible to EQ in).
 
Messages
5,109
Alright man, I'm gonna share my long time experience with my JCM 900's. What I've experienced is surely a tough, reliable amp, with less than mediocre cleans and a dirt channel that's crap for anything else but Motley Crue covers. Pedals in the front end of the amp don't work so well, especially dirt pedals. And one of the few little tricks to get more oomph out of the 900 is to jump the effects loop with the level cranked all the way up, and that won't do you no good since you need your effects loop. However, considering the price, i've seen them as low as $250, it's one hell of a backup amp. But if you're looking for something to replace your Koch I think you might be disappointed. FWIW I traded my 900 + some cash for a Mesa Rectoverb and haven't looked back since.
Oh yes, if I had the chance, I'd get a Rectoverb or a Dual Rec! That might be an idea, seeing if someone wants to do a trade for the Koch + some cash.

The Dual Rec has been my dream amp but I'm not sure if it's gonna work with the G-System. I've heard A LOT of issues with the older Dual Rec's in combination with the G-System, so I'm kinda anxious going that way.

Thanks for the words on the 900. I never expected them to give these kinds of problems!
 

EL 34 X2

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,293
I bought a 900 4501 DR combo new in 1991. It's been my main amp since. It replaced a 1980 Mesa Boogie MK.IIb. I felt it did lack a bit of bass gerth. But, after adding another 12" speaker in a closed back cab, it gave the bass more overall punch.

I play mostly classic rock and blues and, as the metal tones aren't my bag, can't speak to the higher gain tones in a live setting. It's been a solid and versatile amp for me. While I've gone through about 20 different guitars during the time I've had it, all of which IMO sounded very good, I've never found another amp I felt drawn enough to to replace it.

The 900 series have never been very well regarded on TGP. So, perhaps I managed to luck into a particularly good one.
 
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5,109
The 900 series have never been very well regarded on TGP. So, perhaps I managed to luck into a particularly good one.
Or it's because of your application? Classic rock, blues? Perhaps people expect this amp to do things it can't deliver (including me, perhaps, ironically?).
 

EL 34 X2

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,293
Well, Marshall was touting the 900 series as a higher gain from the factory solution to the trend of players having amp techs mod stock amplifiers. In that regard, the 900 series didn't live up to the expectations of the ad hype. I've read there were reliability issues as well.

Your point about my application is well taken. I bought the amp with no need for the high gain. But, I did find the cleans to be better than expected and no reliability problems. That's what I was refering to when I said "I managed to luck into a particularly good one."
 
Messages
5,109
Well, Marshall was touting the 900 series as a higher gain from the factory solution to the trend of players having amp techs mod stock amplifiers. In that regard, the 900 series didn't live up to the expectations of the ad hype. I've read there were reliability issues as well.

Your point about my application is well taken. I bought the amp with no need for the high gain. But, I did find the cleans to be better than expected and no reliability problems. That's what I was refering to when I said "I managed to luck into a particularly good one."
Well, the reviews I read on HC were all pretty positive in regards to reliability. So, I wasn't really worried about that anyways. We'll see. I'll try one out this Tuesday.
 
Messages
2,176
I've had a DSL50 for 12 years, and had a friend who owned the JCM900/4500 Dual Reverb for many years. There's really no comparison as far as tone is concerned, the DSL50 is much better hands down. The JCM900 is all about volume, and without it there are few good tones to be had from the 900. The one impressive thing about the 900 is they were built tough and designed to be operated wide open, which my friend did frequently for years without any damage to the amp. The 900 series were made as a platform for effects-laden metal tones. The DSL50 sounds better at lower volume settings, has much more gain, and has better clean tones.
 
Messages
5,109
I've had a DSL50 for 12 years, and had a friend who owned the JCM900/4500 Dual Reverb for many years. There's really no comparison as far as tone is concerned, the DSL50 is much better hands down. The JCM900 is all about volume, and without it there are few good tones to be had from the 900. The one impressive thing about the 900 is they were built tough and designed to be operated wide open, which my friend did frequently for years without any damage to the amp. The 900 series were made as a platform for effects-laden metal tones. The DSL50 sounds better at lower volume settings, has much more gain, and has better clean tones.
Okay! Thanks for your insight! If all goes well, I can try them both out tomorrow.

I'm now also considering a 5150 though I can't try that one out, sadly.

Sigh. The hunt for amps and tone; it's a bitch.
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
I've had a few dsls, a tsl, a 5150 and a4500 (among many others)

I found....

The 4500, had that late 80's early 90's marshall sound, but I think the reverb and clean both sucked.

The DSL50 was by FAR my favorite. great tones, good cleans and the verb was good.
The DSL100 i liked less, since it felt a little stiff until you cranked it a little louder, which was too loud most of the time

The TSL, meh. IT had lots of features but i didn't like the tone as much as the DSL.

the 5150 was fun, but the cleans were horrible. replaceing the first preamp tube with an at7 or au7 reduced the gain so the cleans were a little more passable, and still had chainsaw gain on tap.

had a few boogies and H&K's too as well as a koch.

personally i really liked the sound of the koch, but 120 watts is a lot of power if you have to play quiet. last metal band iw as in i played the Dual rectifier, and we downtuned a step (you crazy kids and your low B tuning!) and drop tuned that ocasionally. agai it had lots of options, but i didn't dig the tone will i put el34's in it. then it sounded "right" to my marshall fanboy ears.


Truth be told, my FAVORITE was the Mesa Stiletto Ace. It's their version of a 50 watt marshall, and it sounds FANTASTIC! I probably miss that one the most.
 
Messages
5,109
I've had a few dsls, a tsl, a 5150 and a4500 (among many others)

I found....

The 4500, had that late 80's early 90's marshall sound, but I think the reverb and clean both sucked.

The DSL50 was by FAR my favorite. great tones, good cleans and the verb was good.
The DSL100 i liked less, since it felt a little stiff until you cranked it a little louder, which was too loud most of the time

The TSL, meh. IT had lots of features but i didn't like the tone as much as the DSL.

the 5150 was fun, but the cleans were horrible. replaceing the first preamp tube with an at7 or au7 reduced the gain so the cleans were a little more passable, and still had chainsaw gain on tap.

had a few boogies and H&K's too as well as a koch.

personally i really liked the sound of the koch, but 120 watts is a lot of power if you have to play quiet. last metal band iw as in i played the Dual rectifier, and we downtuned a step (you crazy kids and your low B tuning!) and drop tuned that ocasionally. agai it had lots of options, but i didn't dig the tone will i put el34's in it. then it sounded "right" to my marshall fanboy ears.


Truth be told, my FAVORITE was the Mesa Stiletto Ace. It's their version of a 50 watt marshall, and it sounds FANTASTIC! I probably miss that one the most.
Thanks for the extensive review! This makes me want to try the JCM 900 even less. I might just try to start with the DSL50 and if I end up not liking it, try to pop in the JCM 900 to see if I, for some reason, do end up liking it.

The TSL is off the list due to the Parallel FX loop(s), so yeah.

About the Koch, which one did you try? The other guy in my band uses a Powertone II which is way more fine-tunable and sounds a lot better! The first version is a lot more brittle to my taste.

I'm sadly realizing that it's always gonna be:
good gain, sucky cleans
good clean, sucky gain
mediocre clean, mediocre gain

It's the story of my life ..
 




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