Marshall lead and bass 20

john archer

I just played a new 2061x marshall and it sounded great! I know there have been a few threads on this amp, but I was just really surprised how nice this amp sounded. I ran it through my '68 4x12 cab...a great low volume tone. The amp also took pedals very well...ran a ts808, delay, and reverb through it and got a sweet singing sustain, Eric Johnson type lead tone out of it with both volumes jumpered and set around 7. My question is if the reissue sounds this good, has anyone ever tried the originals? I am thinking of the '67-'69 models. What are the prices of the originals, and are they worth it? Should I just pick up a used reissue and swap out the transformers and tubes? Thanks in advance for your input.



Silver Supporting Member
Very cool little amps. I can't comment on the tone of a vintage, but I think that one day I will have to buy a vintage one just to say I have a vintage Marshall, and for me, it would be the most useable (volume wise).

I have seen originals go anywhere from $1500-$3500, but I am no expert.


I own an original '73 and it's the best sounding amp I have ever owned (just a hair above my '61 Deluxe). Sounds great through the entire volume range. Classic rock all the way.

Unfortunately, I cannot comment on the reissues as i've never played one. But from what I've read here and on other sites, the reissues are highly regarded.

I paid $1,000 for my all-original minty one in early 2000. Almost bought a second minty one in 2005 just after the release of the reissues - price was up to $2,000.

John Phillips

I've owned three originals from 1969 to 1974 (two were PAs actually, but the difference is one cap on the Lead channel of the L&B), and worked on several others. I've played the reissue a couple of times and it seems close, to me - maybe without quite the sweet 'old' tone of the originals, but not far off.

I've got another one - an earlier '68 PA - here for work at the moment, it will be interesting to see how it turns out too (it's a major rebuild/restoration).

Personally I don't think any of them sound like a small 50 or 100W Marshall though - they definitely sound 'Marshally', but they don't have the gain, complexity, crunch, thump and sheer explosive dynamic power (even allowing for the lower wattage) of the big amps. Not surprising, when the circuits are totally different. They have a more raw, middy, compressed, blues-rock sort of tone... which may be exactly what you want, but I wouldn't recommend one if you're trying to exactly duplicate the Plexi tone at lower levels. (A 50W through 4dB of attenuation is far better for that, and gives the same actual power to the speakers.) Running both channels linked with one set fairly bassy and the other trebly will give a bit more gain and a slightly wider, crunchier tone though.

FWIW, the 20W does get most of its overdrive from the power tubes, one of the relatively few amps which does. In fact, the bigger ones don't, which is one reason they sound different. I did like mine, but the reason I don't have them any more is exactly because they didn't give me that big-amp tone at lower volumes that I was looking for.


Silver Supporting Member
I bought the 2016x RI as a replacement for my dearly departed '73 L&B, which was stolen in early 2004. I consider the RI to be very, very close in sound and tone to the original. Add the 2061cx 2x12 cab, and it's just a great package.

Other than some tears, and the expense of replacing it, I don't actually miss my original in terms of sound. Reliability is something else. The RIs have had dodgy OPTs in the early runs (may still be dodgy, but mine's been fine). The RI has the very high plate voltages so watch for redplating with modern EL84 power tubes, but that's the same as the originals, which chronically ate modern tubes. That's where the tone comes from, I'm told.

The old ones are quite valuable now, but I think it's the collectability factor more than a clear sonic improvement versus the RI. That's fine; that's the market. If you're not a collector, I'd recommend getting the RI and maybe replacing the power tubes when they wear out, and the OPT only if it blows.

Give it a good listen before swapping components. If you've just gotta swap something, put in a Mullard 12AX7 into the first slot; it'll add 30 years to the sound - gives more mids at clipping, which (to me) is Classic Rawk.

John Phillips is right (as usual) in saying that the 20w is not exactly a scaled-down Plexi 50w. It won't have the girth and power and rage of its big brother, and at full crank you can tell the EL84's bottom end is kind of sizzly and bubbly. Its EL84 clean tone and headroom are surprisingly good, till surprisingly loud. Jumper the channels and it's classic rock all the way. It's a really fine Marshall amp.


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