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What year Marshall JCM 800 should I buy? Electric Guitar Amplification
Old 13th July 2018
Gear Head

What year Marshall JCM 800 should I buy?

I am looking to buy a Marshall JCM 800 head. What year head would be the best sounding one? I know old ones do not have effects loop built in . I would like an effects loop because I do use a few delay and chorus pedals. So 2 questions.

1. What Marshall JCM 800 head sounds the best for a Guns & Roses Slash, Whitesnake type Doug Aldrich sound?

2. What Marshall JCM 800 head that has an effects loop sound best for a Guns & Roses, Whitesnake Doug Aldrich sound?

I already know that this head is strictly only for a dirty rock crunch sound and not clean.
Old 13th July 2018
Lives for gear
RiF's Avatar
There are basically two flavors of JCM 800: The 2203 100W head and the newer 2205(50W)/2210(100W) heads. The 2203's are considered the better sounding ones, but Tom Morello might think differently about this.

The original 2203 and the Kerry King signature model don't have an FX loop.
The 2203 Zakk Wylde signature model does have an FX loop.
The current 2203 Reissue does have an FX loop.

All 2205/2210 have an FX loop.

I want to mention the 2555X Silver Jubilee which is a great sounding amp and has an FX loop as well. There's a Slash signature model, so it should be good for GnR tones.

So if you want an FX loop, the 2203 Reissue, the Zakk Wylde or the Silver Jubilee should go on your shortlist.
Old 21st July 2018
Here for the gear
The 100 w heads are kinda loud. I know that people are going to tell you that they are only 3db louder than the 50 W, but they are still hitting your ears twice as hard even though your brain is only telling you that they are just barely perceptable a little louder. A 100W is OK if you are running it through a load box for recording or some other of reamper live. So I'd go for the 50 watter 2204. Now I believe that these amps first appeared right around in 1981-1983 with vertical inputs that are connected to the board by wires. That's the one I would buy. Then around 1984 the 2204 (and also the 2203) appeared with horizontal inputs which were directly soldered to the board. I think that the controls also became directly soldered to the main board. I think that the earlier vertical input amps are therefore more robust and less susceptible for solder connections to break at the board where they are directly soldered. The horizontal input amps have the same great sound. If you can't find a decent JCM800 you can also look for late 70's Marshall JMP heads which are great too. The JCM800 is basically a continuing slight evolution of the JMP heads. I don't hear much difference between JMP or JCM800 amps except that the speakers were evolving also and are more likely the source of slight changes in tone. Some people prefer the horizontal input amps and say that they are a little louder. I like the vertical input Marshall amps. The tube amp 50W and 100W amps are also available as combos, are considerably cheaper, and come with a speaker(s), and much the same amp but with only 4 ohm and 8 ohm selector. The heads have a speaker switch for 4 ohm, 8 ohm, and 16 ohms.
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