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NAD - Marshall Vintage Modern


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I've done fine on guitars - actually have fewer than when I started the year.  However, amps are a hard habit to break...

I decided to try out one of the Marshall Vintage Moderns, an amp that has fallen so thoroughly off the radar that I didn't even know it was a different amp altogether from the JVMs.

It's a KT66 amp that was, according to designer Steve Dawson, made to be a bit like a hot rodded JTM 45/100.  It was also a bit of an effort by Dawson to take the Jimi Hendrix signature 45/100 Super 100 (how in the hell does a dead man have a "signature amp"?), add a few modern conveniences like a PPIMV and FX loop, and use a PCB to knock the price down.

I'm on a bit of a Marshall kick as of late, but options are limited.  Any of the classic stuff - JTM45, 1987, 800, reissue or not - is way expensive.  Even JCM 900s are expensive-ish these days. I never liked the JCM 2000 DSL.  I am the one person on earth who liked the TSL a lot, but I think I got lucky with mine and never had the PCB issue.  That's just a whole can of worms I didn't want to get into. 

However, these are still going for $1k +/- $150 if you keep an eye out. I'm assuming that they didn't sell well because "vintage" guys tend to be snobs about PCBs and "modern" guys probably didn't get the amp. 

It has two modes, basically a low and high gain mode. "Low dynamic range" is very JTM-45.  "High" sounds like the love child of a Super Lead that was raised for part of its childhood by a JCM 800.  It has way more gain than a plexi, so there is that more modern aspect, but it feels a lot like a plexi. There is a mid switch that I take it most people use for strats, but I like the growl it gives LP style guitars. 

There's a reverb.  I much prefer my verbs on my board though. 

The problem with the "modern" in the moniker is that it just isn't.  It's not made to be a two-channel amp.  The two channels don't really balance that well.  Even the higher gain mode plays really, really well with the volume knob on the guitar, honestly better than any amp I own.  It goes from a really respectable, chimy clean to full-on Angus roar with just the volume knob. As if that isn't confusing enough to those of us raised on channel-switchers, it also functions like a patched four-holer. The amp has two preamp volumes, one called "Detail" and the other "Body."  This is 100% just the high and low preamp volumed found on any four-holer. The final cherry on top is that, like all PPIMV circuits, the master works great! ...until it doesn't.  I'm sure it's great for turning down from large-gig volume to small-gig volume, but not so great for small-gig to bedroom. What you end up with is an amp that is too modern for the JTM45/1959 crowd but too vintage for someone used to Dual Recs and 5150s to make heads or tails of.

One upside to the KT66s is that, even at the rated 100 watts, it's not as savage as Plexi or 800.  I thought it was really giving up the goods at around 110-115 dB a foot in front of the 4x12, which is still way fucking loud, but not crossing into the 120+ territory I've seen 1959s and 2203s get into. I imagine you could roll another 10db or so off with the master before radically changing the tone and feel. 

I personally think it's really cool myself. The KT66s - even the pseudo KT66 design JJ uses, brings something different to the table. Definitely a vintage feeling amp with some sensible modern appointments and a bit more gain on tap. Scratches a bit of the JCM 800 itch and a lot of the 1959 itch in a British-made Marshall for around $1k. 

 


 

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I presume that this was the head version you purchased versus the half-ton combo version?  I've never played through one, but I've seen them gigged live and they sound killer.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Biz Prof said:

I presume that this was the head version you purchased versus the half-ton combo version?  I've never played through one, but I've seen them gigged live and they sound killer.

Yeah, I got the head.  

The more I play it, the more impressed I am with it. It's a really touch-sensitive, easy to use, great sounding amp.  The only "flaw" it has is that I wish the mid boost was switchable. If had the option to click that on during solos with a foot, this amp would be damn near perfect.

Marshall gets a bad rap I think.  They definitely have made some missteps, like the PCB issue in early TSLs, but I've learned over the years that if you want a great sounding Marshall, maybe just start by looking for a great sounding Marshall as you first step. 

The Friedman sounds fantastic and does sound like a Marshall, but this amp, the Jube, SV20, and SC20 all sound more like each other than the Friedman sounds like any one of them. I've also got about as much in all four of them as I do that one BE-50, and three were purchased new. 

Edited by LucSulla
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40 minutes ago, LucSulla said:

Marshall gets a bad wrap I think.  They definitely have made some missteps, like the PCB issue in early TSLs, but I've learned over the years that if you want a great sounding Marshall, maybe just start by looking for a great sounding Marshall as you first step. 

Well, there's no overcoming the yuge QC issues some of those ultra high gain Marshall amps had, although they made a gazillion of them, and many of those gazillion are still out there being played regularly.  For me, I think Ken Bran, Dudley Craven (and in the very early days, Ken Underwood) got it right when they collaboratively rendered the Marshall branded versions of Leo's Bassman circuit. The JTM 45, 1959, 1987 (as well as the 1992 Super Bass versions) and later 2203/2204 circuits were elegant simplicity.  If you've played one, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And if you don't, you owe to yourself to try one at its sweet spot (and with proper hearing protection).  It's fucking glorious.

Edited by Biz Prof
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Those seems cool. They get a bit slagged of by the Marshall know hows. I have never tried one, but the sounds I've heard in sound clips sound good. I regret not buying a 50 watter for 550 $ last year. I guess it might have been a good deal.

But I found a 4210 JCM800 in great condition for 550$ on New Years eve. I love this little combo. It sounds absolutely great and it´s a great alternative to my 2204. The 2204 being a little rawer, think nwobhm versus the 4210(2205) whish is more 1980's LA. But also great blues tones and classic Marshall tones with less gain added. The Normal channel is very close to the 2204 and JMP tones. If I stick an eq in the loop I think I can nail the 2204 tones. 

This is the 100w combo version of the same amp, but I get pretty much the same sounds out of mine:

 

An awesome tone machine. It can do tones like the clip above, to Schenker tones to scooped early Metallica trash tones.
Zakk Wylde recorded the No Rest for the Wicked album with one of these combos.

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6 hours ago, Disturber said:

Those seems cool. They get a bit slagged of by the Marshall know hows. I have never tried one, but the sounds I've heard in sound clips sound good. I regret not buying a 50 watter for 550 $ last year. I guess it might have been a good deal.

But I found a 4210 JCM800 in great condition for 550$ on New Years eve. I love this little combo. It sounds absolutely great and it´s a great alternative to my 2204. The 2204 being a little rawer, think nwobhm versus the 4210(2205) whish is more 1980's LA. But also great blues tones and classic Marshall tones with less gain added. The Normal channel is very close to the 2204 and JMP tones. If I stick an eq in the loop I think I can nail the 2204 tones. 

This is the 100w combo version of the same amp, but I get pretty much the same sounds out of mine:

 

An awesome tone machine. It can do tones like the clip above, to Schenker tones to scooped early Metallica trash tones.
Zakk Wylde recorded the No Rest for the Wicked album with one of these combos.

The forum gossip is that the 50 watt loses something, but that is forum gossip. Site unseen, I went with the 100 watt just in case, but I would still want to hear them side by side before believing that for certain. 

I wish I had kept my 2205. That's probably as close as I'm ever going to get to a 2203. I perhaps let the diode argument bias me a bit. I also wasn't gigging as much. It's funny how actually dealing with amps in a mix really shakes out what is good and what isn't. I find the smooth, darker character a lot of Marshall-esque boutique amps go for sounds great at home but just kind of gets lost playing in a band.  Maybe there was a reason for all that brightness...

I bought that whole half stack locally for $800, including a Marshall British Vintage 30 cab. There's a lot of gear I rolled through from 2016-2018 I wish I had kept really. The channel switching JCM 800s have gotten pricey as well.

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12 minutes ago, LucSulla said:

I find the smooth, darker character a lot of Marshall-esque boutique amps go for sounds great at home but just kind of gets lost playing in a band.  Maybe there was a reason for all that brightness...

I totally hear you there. I’ve HATED the Duncan JB pickup every time I’ve tried it. Had one from the 80’s, and several from the 90’s, one from the 2000’s. Never liked it. But I can see why it’s Duncan’s best selling pickup. With its upper midrange spike it really cuts thru and that’s what’ll get you noticed in the mix. Seems reasonable that the same goes for an amp…

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1 hour ago, Travis said:

I totally hear you there. I’ve HATED the Duncan JB pickup every time I’ve tried it. Had one from the 80’s, and several from the 90’s, one from the 2000’s. Never liked it. But I can see why it’s Duncan’s best selling pickup. With its upper midrange spike it really cuts thru and that’s what’ll get you noticed in the mix. Seems reasonable that the same goes for an amp…

I've had a love/hate relationship with the venerable JB since I got my first Charvel in the late '80s.  Mine are sitting in a box now, but I will admit that my best sounding recorded fills/solos were all done using a guitar with a JB in the bridge position. I suspect that the boutique higher-gain Marshall-based amps are similar. Great in the studio; and also nice (but not quite as awesome) in a live music mix.

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3 hours ago, LucSulla said:

  It's funny how actually dealing with amps in a mix really shakes out what is good and what isn't. I find the smooth, darker character a lot of Marshall-esque boutique amps go for sounds great at home but just kind of gets lost playing in a band.  Maybe there was a reason for all that brightness...

That is very true. When I am down in our rehersal room alone playing my 2204 or JMP I dial in a sound that I think sounds great, when I stand in front of the speakers. Then the other guys comes down and we start to play together I get lost in the mix and I have to change the set up of the amp. Then when I am down there alone again I think it sounds way bright, so I twist the knobs again. 

What is the difference between the 50 watt DSL and TSL 2000 marshalls? Would a 2003 made in UK JCM2000 DSL be any good?

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18 minutes ago, Disturber said:

Would a 2003 made in UK JCM2000 DSL be any good?

There's a guitar store owner/Hamer aficionado near the Charlotte metro area who swears by the JCM 2000 DSLs as one of the best modern Marshall circuits.  And this dude has owned/owns a metric shitload of vintage amps. 

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50 minutes ago, Biz Prof said:

There's a guitar store owner/Hamer aficionado near the Charlotte metro area who swears by the JCM 2000 DSLs as one of the best modern Marshall circuits.  And this dude has owned/owns a metric shitload of vintage amps. 

The UK made DSLs have a pretty good reputation amongst many.  Far more so than the TSLs ever had.

I like Euge Valovirta's channel for modern Marshall comparisons. Instead of dialing everything the same, he actually tries to dial other amps to sound like what he is comparing them too, which is almost always a 2203. His main amp is a 2203.
 

Leon Todd is good too, and he is just the opposite. His favorite Marshall is the JCM 2000 DSL. 
 

While the amps sound different between the users, the actual amount of variation between the 2203 and the DSL within clips is about the same.  That makes me feel there is a good bit of reliability in this variation between the two amps despite the recording sounding somewhat different. To my ear, the DSL is a little more compressed and has a little less meat.  Overall, it sounds pretty good though I think.

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Gigged this thing last Tuesday, and it was great! If the reliability is there, I think this was truly one of Marshall's best efforts at newly-designed, made in the U.K. production amp. 

Because of that PPIMV, you really do have to crank it up to 7 or so to make it do it's thing.  It isn't as savage as a 100 watt Plexi or 2203, but it's definitely not a bedroom amp. Once again, maybe some of the issue.  But if you have a good attenuator or play rooms big enough for it, it's just a really great amp.  
 

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Actually, I have a TSL 60, and I played it live for several years before going rack-based. For what it was - it worked great (shame about the foot switchers though). I played one of those 20/5/1 watt new version of the 1959 (SC20? SV20?) - amazed at how close to a 100W super lead it was, frankly. If I was in the market for another amp - that'd be the way I'd go, tbh...

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15 hours ago, BillW said:

Actually, I have a TSL 60, and I played it live for several years before going rack-based. For what it was - it worked great (shame about the foot switchers though). I played one of those 20/5/1 watt new version of the 1959 (SC20? SV20?) - amazed at how close to a 100W super lead it was, frankly. If I was in the market for another amp - that'd be the way I'd go, tbh...

SV20 is the 1959. 
SC20 is the JCM 800. 

I have both, and they both are both great. If I'm going the 20 watt route, it basically comes down to if I'm feeling more 70s rock or 80s metal that night as far as which I grab. 

That damned TSL 60 foot switch is how I learned to solder, haha. The last time I fixed mine, I put enough JB Weld around where the cable went through the switch housing to make sure the cable would never pull on the solder points again.  Never had another issue.

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20 hours ago, LucSulla said:

The last time I fixed mine, I put enough JB Weld around where the cable went through the switch housing to make sure the cable would never pull on the solder points again.  Never had another issue.

You know, there's many different specialties in engineering:  chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, etc.  In the South, we've long featured a somewhat unique, homegrown, comprehensive program of study:  Shadetree Engineering (often mispronounced "jerry-rigging").  This discipline is not offered at any of the Tier 1 research institutions in our region (GIT, NCSU, VPI, etc.), but formal instruction is administered by grandfathers, fathers, uncles, older brothers, male cousins, or neighbors-down-the-road in venues such as feed barns, mechanic shops, tool cribs, back yards, and the shoulders of unpaved roads.   The essential tools of this particular variant of engineering include baling wire, duct tape, JB Weld, WD40, rope, a wire coat hanger, an old Case folding knife with the tip of one blade broken off, Channel Lock pliers, a claw hammer, and a disposable lighter.   Measuring tools such as calculators, tapes, rulers, squares, calipers, or plumb bobs are neither permitted nor needed.   The use of printed instructions is strictly prohibited and punishable by excommunication. The levels of mastery in this discipline are indicated not by degree credentials, but rather by the number of broken bones, missing digits, and scars the practitioner has earned, the person's facility in using profane language, as well as by the number of unfinished repair/fabrication/modification experiments prominently displayed in the yards surrounding the individual's place of residence or venue of occupational practice. 

 

 

Edited by Biz Prof
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18 minutes ago, Biz Prof said:

 The levels of mastery in this discipline are indicated not by degree credentials, but rather by the number of broken bones, missing digits, and scars the practitioner has earned, the person's facility in using profane language, as well as by the number of unfinished repair/fabrication/modification experiments prominently displayed in the yards surrounding the individual's place of residence or venue of occupational practice. 

True story -

Back in high school, while replacing the starter on the 67 Chevelle I had then, I had a real issue with one bolt in particular, over which I was using as many variations of "fuck" as my anger could muster.  Unbeknownst to me, my father had walked outside and was standing next to the car. 

"Jason!" I hear from underneath the car.  I slide out, assuming I'm soon to be scolded for such language. 

"You don't say 'fuck'...  at least not that quickly. Try starting off with a 'damn' or a 'son of a bitch.' If it still won't get loose, maybe try a few 'shits.' If that doesn't work, then escalate through your 'fucks' to 'motherfucker.'

If you start with 'motherfucker' at the first sign of trouble, you're going have nothing left in your arsenal to get a bolt loose if it doesn't brake right then and there."

He is 100% correct. Profanity escalation as a torque catalyst is absolutely where science and art collide. 

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Your old man was on-point, by the way.  When my kids were younger, I adopted the more sanitized, "GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!", often growled through gritted teeth.  But historically, my  cursing escalates almost exactly as your dad suggested and typically climaxes with a screamed coup de grâce, "Son-of-a-God-damned-motherfucking-bitch!"  Makes me feel slightly better and the ubiquitous bleeding digit eventually stops throbbing.

Oh, and I'll bet that bothersome bolt on your Chevelle's starter was the one up next to the block.  Been there; done that. 

 

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1 minute ago, Biz Prof said:

Oh, and I'll bet that bothersome bolt on your Chevelle's starter was the one up next to the block.  Been there; done that. 

 

LOL! Bingo!

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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

Got to run this through a 4x12 last night damn near wide open. Jesus, these amps are killer when you get to open them up in a bigger venue. It's like a JCM 800 and a JTM 45 had a baby. Through a Marshall 4x12 with vintage 30s, it's got balls for days. Only amp I've ever liked through V30s.

It's not as loud as a plexi or 800.  KT66s don't have quite the juice. I do think it's the best amp Marshall has made in the last 20 years though by a fair margin. 

It's getting harder and harder to justify this Friedman. It's a better built amp, but for what I like, I just can't say it's a better sounding amp.
 

Edited by LucSulla
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hmmm   Designer Steve Dawson?    is it this Steve Dawson?

the bass player from Saxon who is more famously known as the

inspiration for Derek Smalls

 

english-rock-musician-steve-dawson-of-gr

 

b1fed11bbdd3a22858a17a149984e623.jpg

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On 8/28/2022 at 8:31 PM, LucSulla said:

 

It's not as loud as a plexi or 800.  KT88s don't have quite the juice. 
 

Do you run it with KT88's now? I thought they had a lot of juice... Or is it a typo, still running with KT66's?

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7 hours ago, Disturber said:

Do you run it with KT88's now? I thought they had a lot of juice... Or is it a typo, still running with KT66's?

Typo. Window shopping while posting, haha.

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