MGL 50 from Mark's Guitar Loft...what a KILLER amp!

CDaughtry

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My good friend Mark Bishop has come out with a KILLER new amp...the MGL 50. He was nice enough to send one of the first ones down to me for a test drive. To say I am mightily impressed would be an understatement.
It's platform is based around Mark's favorite mid-70s master volume Marshall, but it is so much more than that.
It has a Classic/Modern switch on the back which switches between two different resistor values in the feedback loop. When flipping between them you will immediately notice that in the modern position, it gets a bit louder, brighter and more aggressive.
There's a mini-switch on the front by the inputs that switches the bright cap on the pre-amp pot in and out. Turning the pre-amp down to around 5-6 and then switching back and forth reveals a plethora of classic rock tones.
The master volume though, is really the beautiful and unique feature of this amp. Most Marshall based amps sound good when cranked. However, I've found that most sound like a buzzy mess when their master volumes are turned down low.
Yesterday I was playing, literally at bedroom volume and this thing sounded GREAT!:dude:
Oh...did I mention that the cabinet is absolutely gorgeous?

I give this amp a hearty 5 out of 5 rating. If you're looking for great Marshall tones that are usable at your house or at a small club gig, this is the amp for you. If you have the luxury of being able to crank it up, this thing ROARS!

Mark...you've outdone yourself my friend!


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deltaboy

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What really astonishes me is he designs a one off amp and it's better from a total package perspective than many products from full blown amp manufacturers (no offense intended to the boutique amp world)
 

Leftyman

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This sounds exactly like the Germino Greg made earlier this year. Greg did a limited run of what he called an MGL50 that was exactly this. A clone of Mark's master volume Marshall from the late 70's. I have to be honest now that that the run and hype over the amp is done. I had a very early version of Greg's MGL50 and sent it back because I was not impressed. I did a direct comparison with some other amps I had including a Germino Lead 55LV and like the Lead 55LV better. I think Greg makes great amps regardless.

EDIT: After reading Mark's comment below, it does appear this amp is somewhat different than the Germino.
 
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ufguy73

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This sounds exactly like the Germino Greg made earlier this year. Greg did a limited run of what he called an MGL50 that was exactly this. A clone of Mark's master volume Marshall from the late 70's. I have to be honest now that that the run and hype over the amp is done. I had a very early version of Greg's MGL50 and sent it back because I was not impressed. I did a direct with comparison with some other amps I had including a Germino Lead 55LV and like the Lead 55LV better. I think Greg makes great amps regardless.

not saying i disagree - but this amp isnt 'exactly' that, right?

i dont recall that greg version having the switches. cant speak to how impactful those changes are but it would seem like the idea is to get some additional tones, beyond what was there in the pure replica of mark's 2204.
 

ledzep618

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5,143
It does sound darker than a standard 2204 but clips can be deceiving.

This is definitely in the same vein as the Germino collaboration but clearly different, Gregs did not have any of the vintage/modern switching options.
 

deltaboy

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Don't think Greg's had the Merren OT (could be the biggest difference maker), loop, or the switches. Full PEC pots are an interesting addition as well.
 

markguitar

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Don't think Greg's had the Merren OT (could be the biggest difference maker), loop, or the switches. Full PEC pots are an interesting addition as well.

Who is making this run?

The run that Greg built were great amps but these are a good bit different. My original amp is a little darker and warmer than most 2204's. Plus has lower voltage. So this new amp has matching lower voltage and we spent endless hours with choosing parts and voicing the amp. 4 different output transformers were tried and listened to. The Merren was hands down the favorite. Warmer, sweeter and more musical. It also seems to have a lot to do with the amp cleaning up so well by just rolling down the guitar volume. And also made the amp sound the best at very low volume. The builder is a good local friend who has been building on the side for years. We also had help from another close friend, Evan Cantor, who was half owner and the designer for Bedrock Amps.
 

CDaughtry

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Who is making this run?


Here's what it says on Mark's website:

So about 5 months ago I decided to do a new version of the amp myself along with some long time local friends. First is Guy Harvey who has been building amps on the side for local customers for years and he will be doing the actual builds. My other friend, Evan Cantor, who was half owner and designer for Bedrock amps years ago has been a great help and advisor. Another long time friend and guitar player is a furniture and cabinet builder so he will be making the hardwood head boxes. And Jeff Swanson of Swanson Cabinets will be making the tolexed head boxes and matching speaker cabs. The amp is based on my personal Marshall 2204 that I've owned for over 20 years. My amp has always had lower voltage than a typical amp from that period and it has a lot to do with the warmer, fatter and creamy tone that it has. Between my store and personally I've probably had about 75 of the JMP 50w master volume heads and none of them had the voice of this amp. We spent endless hours choosing parts and listening side by side with my original amp. we sourced a lower voltage mains transformer which is producing within a few volts of specs of the original. Listened to a number of the top replacement 784-139 output transformers and decided to use the hand wound Chris Merren version which will be stock in the amp. Chris makes amazing sounding transformers! I had a local metal shop help with the layout and then make custom .090" aluminum chassis with welded and finished ground corners. Then another local business took care of black powder coating and silk screening. The Metropoulos "Zero Loss" effects loop comes stock along with a couple of other extra switches. The mini switch on the front next to the preamp knob allows you to remove the .001 cap on the preamp pot from the circuit. This switch can also be used as an optional gain switch that will switch between 2 different gain structures, one position is the stock 2204 value and the other position adds a fair amount of gain. This option is available for an upcharge of $50.00. The "Voicing" switch on the back allows you to choose between 2 different negative feedback resistors. The "Classic" position voices the amp like my original and in the "Modern" position it gets a little more aggressive, brighter and a bit more gain. all hand wired and all made locally right here in New Hampshire. Amps will come with reissue Mullard EL34 power tubes and NOS Chinese 12AX7 preamp tubes. I also have a small stash of German Siemens EL34's and will offer a pair of them as a $125.00 upgrade. I have added a few pictures of the completed circuit and the hardwood head box. Here's a build component list: Custom made .090" aluminum chassis that is powder coated gloss black and then silkscreened with metallic gold ink, Low voltage mains power transformer, hand wound Merren Audio output transformer, mil spec teflon coated 18 AWG stranded silver plated copper wire, JJ filter caps, NOS Amphenol power tube sockets, Belton preamp tube sockets with gold anodized shields, PEC 2W mil spec pots, 9 SoZo caps and 1 Mallory, mostly 1w carbon film resistors, real UK Cliff jacks, Metropoulos "Zero Loss" effects loop, gold plated and knurled brass knobs.
 

ufguy73

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not saying it would preclude me from purchasing one - but, mark, the amp is so damn gorgeous...except the logo - tweak that a bit and drop dead sexy! lol
 

markguitar

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not saying it would preclude me from purchasing one - but, mark, the amp is so damn gorgeous...except the logo - tweak that a bit and drop dead sexy! lol
The logo is in the same font as used on the chassis text. Just personal preference. Many have said they really like it. Some may not. You can't make everyone happy. I like it and it's staying as is.
 

Braciola

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6,453
Used to have a Germino MGL50.
Waiting for someone who has/had both to give there take on both (besides the added feature of the new versions, how do the basic tones compare, and which you prefer)
 

markguitar

Silver Supporting Member
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151
Some video clips from Fil at SolloDallas that were recently finished. I sent him an amp because he offered to do some sound clips for me. But before we even spoke about the clips he wanted the amp and bought it. He will be touring with some past members of AC/DC doing a tribute and the MGL50 will be going out with him.


 




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