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User Review

The original rock god. - Reviews Marshall 2204 JCM800 Master Volume Lead [1981-1989]

The Marshall JCM800 50w head is the smaller of the two iconic original single channel 800s. They have been used by many noted rock and metal players both in stick and modded form. It has a very simple layout of controls that includes 2 volumes, bass, middle, treble and presence. Players would sometimes mod these for more gain or effects but the amp in it's stock form is a firebreather, rest assured. It is loaded with EL34s in the power section and puts out 50 watts. Pretty simple, it's worked for the best of the best and that was validation enough for me. No reverb or effects with this one but you can get pedals to that job or just let 'er rip as is!


Getting a good sound out of this rig is simple in some respects, difficult in others. There aren't many controls to work with so if you're looking for super flexibility you won't find it here. The controls have a narrower range than many modern high gainers and that can be difficult to deal with if you are used to modern amps. Also, these are fairly loud amps, and need the volume to get the saturated tones that many expect. The point here is that these aren't really the mega high gain rig, so in that respect it is harder to dial in. However if you have one of these amps in a good loud environment with a band, prepare for some fun.


This amp was THE tone of the eighties, to put it simply. They have that classic Brit sizzle on the top end with a focused mids and nice crunchy lows. Since it's single channel there isn't much to say about it's clean tones but you can get away with use of the guitar volume knob for passable cleans. This amp lives for classic crunchy rock and early metal tones. Used with a Les Paul gets KILLER rhythm sounds and a nice thick lead tone with fat in all the right places... Switching over to a superstrat or Strat thins out the tone but brings that awesome high end sizzle RIGHT to the fore for LA style lead tones galore! These amps also take well to being boosted with a TS9 or BOSS SD1 to bring the gain up to even closer to modern levels. Very cool.


All in all I think this amp is a pretty fantastic way to get those killer eighties tones in the real deal package. Sure it doesn't have the versatility or tweaking functions of some modern rigs, but when you get 'er cranked in the right setting it flat out KILLS. whether you're playing hard rock or more modern stuff with the amp boosted you can't go wrong if you need that slice of British fury. These can be had used for under a grand if you look which is an awesome deal. Many were modded too over time so look for one of them if you desire more gain. Happy hunting!