Best Marshall ever?
By Bob Pletka 08/01/11
the years I have played thru just about every Marshall ever made and there are
those standout amps that you never forget, and then there are many more that
even when re-capped and setup right with good tubes, just don’t have the mojo…
The 800’s were the most inconsistent, where maybe two to three out of ten would sound really good. A lot of the early 60’s Marshalls and mid 70’s Mark II’s were more consistent where you would find most of them sounded great with an occasional dud.
Since I know the question will be asked about the standouts, the number one early Marshall for me was a 200 watt PA head. This particular amp would just give you Goosebumps at any volume. There have been a few 50 and 100 watt Plexi’s that really had the mojo, along with a couple Super Lead’s, one particular Super Bass, a Fawn colored 50 watt Mark II, a small handful of 800’s, a JTM45 head and an old Bluesbreaker (Tremolo 50) 4X10 Combo.
I’m sure we will review plenty of Marshall Amps here in the future because we tube so many of them, but in this review I want to focus on the original Silver Jubilee 2555 (photos in the “Silver Jubilee” album). These amps all belong on the “Standout list”, in my opinion they may be the “best ever” Marshall. Something happened in 1987 when the Silver Jubilee’s came out, they were like clones, you could line up ten of them and they all sounded great, in fact they sounded better than great, they all had the “mojo”.
They have a great clean tone and more gain than any 800 and you can set them up for a great clean and smokin drive, or a crunchy rhythm and smokin drive. In my 2555 I like running the JJ E34L’s for power which are deeper, tighter and punchier, so it’s a bit like adding an attitude to an amp that already has a BIG attitude! Even though the EQ is shared it’s never an issue to dial in a great tone, clean or driven with any guitar.
In my opinion the 2555 goes beyond the quintessential Rock guitar tone, the dense mids and copious harmonic content is difficult if not impossible to get from any other amp. The EQ is much more responsive than earlier Mark II and 800 Marshalls. While the 2555 doesn’t have the brutal low end my 5150 or Dual Rec has, it still has plenty of grunt for all but the heaviest genres.
Way back in the late 60’s a band mate of mine at the time played thru a 50 watt Plexi and an 8X10 Marshall cab. I loved the sound from that rig and over the years I acquired a couple of the 8X10 cabs. One of them has the original 10 watt Celestions which sound amazing and the other only had three original 10 watters. I harvested the three and have them tightly tucked away for spares when the day comes.
I decided to load the empty 8X10 with four Weber Alnico 30 watt silver 10’s and four Alnico 30 watt Blue Pup’s (photos in the Silver Jubilee album). I figured this would handle most any amp thrown at it with ease and I was really dying to know what they would sound like in one of these cabs! After we had the cab loaded and fired up right out of the gate there was no disappointment, it sounds glorious!
The Webers have a beautiful warm mid, chimey highs and eight of them can get real thumpy and stay nice and tight even at high volumes. We have used a number of amps with this cab but once the 2555 was set on top of it the combination was magical!
The 2555 found a mate! Even though the 2555 sounds incredible thru the old Marshall 8X10 cab I always wanted to find an original Silver Jubilee cab for it and it finally came along. A nice straight front 2551B. Here are a couple shots of it with some of my favorite guitars!