Please help me decide...Marshall 4210 or JTM-60??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Troy T. Blues, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. Troy T. Blues

    Troy T. Blues Comstock Station

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    Hi guys!

    I have a local store bringing in a Marshall JCM 800 4210 1 x 12 for me to check out. I think it was made in 1984?? I know that the serial number starts with a "S"... I also know that it does have EL34's. I used to own a 4210 going back a few years ago, but it had problems and it had 6550's...I didn't give it much of a chance. I much prefer EL34's as well...

    I currently own the Marshall JTM-60 2 x 12. I like it, but I don't really LOVE it. It can sound a bit brash, for lack of a better word...It really doesn't knock me out and I certainly hate the tube layout and I know they are prone to problems.

    I'm not going to keep both, so I would like to get your opinions as to which one you would prefer (tonally).... I may be in the minority, but I do prefer Marshalls that have channel switching, reverb, amp drive and combos..so the 4210 is right up my alley to compare with the JTM-60.

    I know, they are not the greatest amps..I'm really a Fender guy just wanting a descent Marshall combo from what I have to choose from. :)

    Thanks so much for your help!
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    This is the devil and the deep blue sea...

    I think the JTM60 does sound better in terms of detail, and is slightly more versatile having a mid control on the clean channel and separate reverb levels, but also sounds a bit thin. The 4210 sounds more solid and powerful (and it may even put out more actual power) but it's a cruder, harder kind of tone with less subtlety. If you're into loud rock/metal I'd take the 4210; the JTM60 is better if you're into more vintage/modern-blues tones and actually sounds pretty good for alt/new-country - I know a guy who swears by his 1x15" version (with a Les Paul, mainly!) for that. Unfortunately I've had to fix it a few times...

    Build quality-wise there is no comparison. The 4210 is like an armored vehicle, the JTM60 is like a Fiat. If you think you had problems with your 4210 you haven't experienced the fun of working on a JTM60 yet :). It's a pretty flimsy amp that simply won't survive in the long term. The only real long-term issues with the 4210 are in the IC-controlled switching system.

    I'd have the 4210 - but I'd put a different speaker in (I don't think any of the stock ones really suit it, I'd go for a Classic Lead 80 or possibly a V30) and fit it with a functioning presence control instead of having it preset inside. Even then it's not my ideal Marshall... I don't know what is really, they've never made a modern combo I've really liked.
     
  3. clunk

    clunk Member

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    The "S" in the serial # does make it a 1984. The only thing to watch for in the channel switching marshalls from this era is "channel bleed". Not all, but some from this era had this problem. Just make sure you really give the amp a good thourough test before you buy. Other than this the EL 34 equipped marshalls are IMO the better sounding ones than the 6550's for this particular amp, although the 6550's do sound good too. The JCM 800's from the early 80's up to, and including '84, were excellent amps. Personally i avoid any 800's built from 85' and up. Also wanted to add that the early 80's 800's are based on the same circuitry as the master volume JMP's of the late 70's. At least the single channel 800's are. Only difference is the 800's are a slightly brighter sounding amp than the JMP's.

    Clunk
     
  4. JohnnyL

    JohnnyL Member

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    I very recently acquired a 1987 4210/EL34s and I really like it. I picked it up for a good deal at a pawn shop and it looked unabused and sounded good even though one of the tubes was burning orange. I then placed it in the hands of a good tech. He replaced the caps and some resistors, installed new tubes and a bias. I now have a really good sounding Marshall that does exactly what I bought it for; Marshall crunch for various classic rock tones! I use it with a strat and Les Paul setting the eq accordingly. The channels switching on this one is quiet with no bleeding at all. The clean channel is usable however, I stay on the boost channel when I'm playing. The presence control John Phillips suggests would be a nice feature to have. I plan to experiment with some nice NOS tubes I have and speakers as time goes by. I think this weekend I run it through my K212 cab!

    Go check out the Marshall Amp Forum. There is some good information there.

    Try the amp out. If you like it, get it. If not, then pass on it and move on. I'm glad I found this one. It rocks!

    Good Luck.
     
  5. Laroosco!

    Laroosco! Member

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  6. Troy T. Blues

    Troy T. Blues Comstock Station

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    Thanks guys, really appreciate your thoughts.

    John,

    The JTM60 sounds good with humbuckers, but I don't like it with single coils, it sounds raspy, metallic..can't find the right words. If I remember correctly, I did like the 4210 with almost every type of guitar. The tone was abit warmer/darker, but it really sang. I don't mind the diode thing at all, I use OD's in front of my Fender amps anyways. I play Blues and always use some degree of overdrive, I rarely play "clean". I agree the JTM60 is flimsy in alot of areas. It's not a bad sounding amp and it sure is kinda cool looking too.

    Still not too sure about what to do and unfortunatly I won't have a real good opportunity to compare them.
     
  7. clunk

    clunk Member

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    I wanted to clarify. Any 50W 800 model generally sounded the same from 81 up to 91. However, in 85 Marshall went through cost cutting measures so the wiring changed someswhat. It is the 100W versions i would avoid from 85 and up. The 50W models of 800's always used 3 elecrolytic caps. The 81-84 100W models all used 6 caps. In 85' they changed the 100W models to only 3 caps. The crunch and sound signature was still there but the overall richness of tone and punch went out the window. It's these 3 cap 100W versions i would avoid. Also this use of 3 caps carried over to the 100W JCM 900 series of amps too.

    Clunk
     
  8. rooster

    rooster Member

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    Another thing to watch out for -- when they made the channel switching 800's, there were 2 different versions. The original version sucked SO HARD that Marshall stopped making it and redesigned it into the newer 800 channel switcher that we all know and loathe. The second circuit was pretty bad, but the first one was even worse. My vote would be for a 4010 combo (single channel 1x12 that sounds GREAT) and a good distortion pedal.

    rooster.
     
  9. clunk

    clunk Member

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    Yes you're right about that too Rooster. Personally i was never a big fan of the channel switching 800's. All the 800's i have owned have always been single channel. I set the preamp volume as low as possible to get the best possible clean sound then all my distortion or overdrive always have come from pedals. In this way they are a very pedal freindly amp. I have found that any overdrive and distortion pedals sound great with this amp.

    Clunk
     
  10. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I think there is a big misconception about this. The later models certainly used less caps, but they have more filtering. Confused? ;)

    The early ones use two single 100uF 350V caps in series in each of the first two filter stages. This is because the B+ voltage is typically 475V and the highest-rated caps Marshall had access to at the time they were designed were 450V. But caps in series have the same combination rule as resistors in parallel - two the same value have half the capacitance of either one - so the effective capacitance of each filter stack is only 50uF.

    The later ones switched to dual 50+50uF 500V caps, but because each cap is capable of taking the full voltage, they don't need to be stacked and are instead paralleled - which with capacitors adds the values - giving an effective capacitance for each filter stage of 100uF. So the later ones actually have twice the filtering of the early ones, even though there are only two cap cans in the main filter network not four - which is why they could reduce the preamp filtering from two caps to one as well.

    I agree that the later ones don't have the richness of tone, but I completely disagree that they don't have the punch - they have more of it. They're stiffer and harder-sounding and actually even more powerful in measured terms. If you want a hard-as-nails and slightly more scooped tone (because the bass holds up better at high volume) you want the later ones.

    The 50s didn't change because the B+ voltage was never high enough to require stacking the caps in the first place.
     
  11. dogg

    dogg Member

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    Never buy JTM60!

    JCM800 4210 is head&shoulder better
    than short-lived unhappy 600series

    V.
     
  12. clunk

    clunk Member

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    John I'm just going by what i hear. A few years ago i bought an 85' 2203. At the same time i owned an 82' 2203 which i still own now. At the time i bought it i knew nothing about this change that marshall had made to their circuitry, so i assumed that since it was an 800 they all sound the same. When i plugged it in and listened it reminded me exactly of that jcm 900 sound on clean channel, which i also owned one of these in the early 90's. I could not figure out why it was more weak and distant sounding than the 82' i own.
    I had freinds come over and they all agreed on the same thing. The 82' is deffinatly richer more up front and pushed than the latter 80's models. Just all around a more powerfull sounding amp in all ways. The 82 simply has more bass punch than the 85. In fact the 85 was overall more brighter sounding if anything. Due to the thiness of its sound it had more of that high frequency ice pick sound at higher volumes. But as far as bass their was no comparrison. The 82' beat it hands down, just like it does in comparing the 900 series to it. Im no electronics expert by any means but like i say im just going based on what i hear and what others have agreed on that have heard the comparison between these two amps.

    Clunk
     
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Interesting... I've had the two versions side-by-side (and in pieces) as well.

    The later ones do sound brighter, but also punchier, and the bass is deeper - it's a much harder sort of tone, almost more solid-state like in some ways, and you get more 'chunk' at the bottom end. I'm almost certain it is mainly due to the filtering making the power supply stiffer. It's interesting to measure the output power - they're about the same in RMS terms (usually up to 140W!) but in sustained continuous distortion the late models are significantly higher - most will hold 220W :eek: wheres the early ones seem to not go over about 190. This is because when the output section is being driven into a near square-wave, the filtering makes quite a difference.

    These late 800s are really hard on the tubes too, as you can probably imagine from those power levels - it isn't unusual for the screen resistors to smoke under that sort of abuse, even if the tubes don't blow - and you do have to bias them a bit colder to stand it, which also makes them sound harder of course.

    I certainly agree that the early ones have more 'guts' to the tone, and it's more complex, and maybe in a band situation that would come through more... which is what matters of course. I've never actually played an 800 that loud with a band, so I'm just going on what I've heard and measured in isolation.

    I also totally agree that the 900s sound thin and weak - but that's nothing to do with the filter cap arrangement, it's everything else in the amp. They're a fair definition of a hybrid amp (especially the reverb models) and nowhere near as well built in any way. They're also far less powerful, so much so it's almost funny. The 900s and 2000s I've bench tested don't produce much more power fully distorted than the 800s do RMS... which must be down to the transformers I think.
     
  14. Troy T. Blues

    Troy T. Blues Comstock Station

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    John,

    Thanks for all the great info...holy smokes! :)
    BTW, I dig the clips of you band, nice stuff there.

    Looks like I'm leaning towards the 4210..Of course, I'll have to check it out first. Thanks for the replies!
     
  15. Troy T. Blues

    Troy T. Blues Comstock Station

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    Got a chance to check out the 4210 yesterday. I played through it for about an hour and I was very, very impressed. I mainly used the drive channel since I rarely use a "clean" foundation. Checked it out with a Strat, which had a humbucker in the bridge. Man, this thing kills in with a bridge humbucker! I think the drive sounded great and IMO, it was much sweeter than the JTM60.

    The JTM60 sounds more brash and spikey for lack of better words...The 4210 sounds warmer and more pleasing, the tone was real nice. A Strat sounded much better than with the JTM60 with either single coils or a humbucker. I put a deposit on it and I should be able to pick up up within a week....The JTM60 is gone.
     
  16. clunk

    clunk Member

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    Hope you enjoy. I know the 800's have been one of my main amps for a while now.

    Clunk
     
  17. Swarty

    Swarty Member

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    Just a couple of things that did not get mentioned. The very early models of this amp (1983) had a post PI master, and were capable of a more saturated/overdriven tone at low volume due to the PI being overdriven. When they went through the new board design in '84/'85 they also added a supressor cap on the front end to kill oscillation...Take this cap out and the amps whistle. They can be removed, but you need to shield the input lead...which is about the same as putting a suppresor cap in.
     
  18. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I'm probably one of the few people that actually prefers the earliest version. It has less gain but a more open, gritty and 'chunky' tone IMO. Not only did it have a post-PI MV, it also had a cathode-follower stage on the dirty channel, which IMO is critical to the real Marshall tone. The later ones have much more gain but are flatter-sounding and buzzier, to me. The early ones do often have more of a problem with bleed-through of the dirty sound into the clean (although the later ones aren't totally immune either), but at least the switching is discrete-transistor rather than IC so it doesn't tend to fail completely. The early version with a G12-80 is the best of the lot IMO - they also came with 65s, 70s and 75s at various times.

    You can easily tell which version you've got - they look identical from the outside - by plugging your guitar directly into the FX Return. If the MV control works, you've got a first version, if it doesn't you've got a later one.
     
  19. jpagey

    jpagey Supporting Member

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    I had a Marshall JTM60 1x12 combo and it was usable only with the treble off. Maybe with a 1x15 speaker I could reccomend it, but I think any all tube combo by Marshall would sound better.
     

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