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User Review

Excellent solid-state amp! - Reviews Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]

50W, 2 channels, solid-state.

9/10 because the footswitch is a bit light and not too practical for onstage.


It's very easy to get really good sounds, it's easy to dial in.

It's good to know that the amp has to be really driven to sound good. At low volumes it seems a bit soft and lacks dynamic response.

For the clean channel I set the volume to 7 to get a twangy and well-defined sound, pretty pristine for a Marshall. The master is never below 4, so it can't be easy if you have neighbors. Bass is set to 9 and treble to 5.

For the crunch channel, the gain is also set to 7 or 8 (depending on the guitar) and volume to 9.
The crunch makes the guitar sing with a lot of nuances.

The master goes from 4 (at home) to 5-6 with rehearsals with a drummer (soft) and 8 for gigs in venues.
Beyond that, the sound is overcompressed and has no musicality.

It's hard to explain but it behaves somewhat like a tube amp, it has to be really driven.


The clean channel is twangy and correct, it is very expressive, which is typical of Marshall amps.
You can easily play pop, ballads or funk with a Strat or a Tele. For blues it's best with a PRS or a Les Paul.

The crunch channel is much warmer and comes close to a real tube amp in terms of nuances and musicality. Although it does lack some thickness.

Compared to a tube Fender (I also have a champ 25 SE), it is just as good in terms of dynamic response but it sounds a little less thick and a little less expressive. Only when you compare them with an A/B switch can you tell the difference.
Compared to a Marshall Valvestate 8080 (I have two), it's like night and day: The 5210 has a very usable and rich clean sound. The valvestates sound too muddled and cold (despite the tube). On the other hand, they are more versatile and powerful.

Personally, I prefer to have a good basic clean sound and use a pedalboard (TS9, Delay DD3 and Proco Rat) for blues or rock solos.

I play Strat and PRS and the amp sounds fine with both types of guitars. It respects pretty well the tone and nuances of each instrument. And that's what matters most to my ear.
But, obviously, the better the guitar, the better the sound.

Important note: The amp has an excellent vintage sound for blues/rock, but it's hard to play metal with it, even with an adequate pedal: The tone of the amp is always present.


It's a model from 1984, I've had it for two years. I use it to practice, but also for rehearsals and the couple of gigs we've had.
Despite the mileage it has on it, it ages well. It's note heavy to carry around and satisfies my demanding ears.

By the way, I have a Blues jr, which I find too typical and compressed, a peavey classic 30 (sensitive to mics and not too versatile), a JCM 900 (good clean and good distortion but it breaks down too often), two Marshall 8080 (muddled and a bit cold, not to mention the crackling pots and the loose solder joints), a Vox VT30+ (too boxy, decent distortion, but hard to get a really clean sound).

Today, I scented a burning smell coming from my Fender champ 25 SE (surely the output transformer). I'll have it repaired because it's a very good amp.
At the $300 price point, it's a very good secondhand amp.
Fortunately, the 5210 is always reliable.