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My JCM 800 review: I get it now

 
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Wardo



Joined: 21 Feb 2007
Posts: 1012
Location: Ottawa

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:50 pm    Post subject: My JCM 800 review: I get it now Reply with quote

As I mentioned in another thread, I took home a 1983 JCM800 combo. It's got a lone 12" speaker, which I like for portability, and EL34's because it's the Canadian version of this amp. I understand it's basically the 2204 head turned upside down and mounted into a combo cabinet.

I've spent 12 years playing music through a Blues Junior + pedals, and a Peavey 5150 for rock tones.

The Peavey was ALWAYS too much for me. Brutalizing power, uncontrollable drive for home listening levels. Plus I didn't like the EQ's. No mids. I regard it a little like a crazy uncle with bi-polar disorder - something you keep in the corner of the room and sometimes attempt to interact with, and always come away overwhelmed by the experience.

The Blues Junior was always a nice little amp, but had only a bit of dirt to it and never really came through with the tones I wanted. Not at all times, anyway. For a more limited range of tones, the amp did the trick, but came up short in other significant ways. For me.

This morning, I went down to the basement, and plugged in the JCM and let the tubes warm, and plugged in a humbucker-loaded Jazzmaster I have, cranked the pre-amp to 10, dimed the mids and upped the bass. I struck and open E. *BWAHHHHH!!!* And - wow! THIS is the sound! THIS is what I always wanted to hear! You know on Back to the Future, when that guy was like, "It's your cousin, Marvin Berry! You know that sound you been lookin' for? Well, listen to this!" That's what it was like this morning. That snotty, rich midrange, the the clarity, the bass response - it was all there! I banged out some songs and butchered solo work for a while, and then gave my Strat a try.

And - shades of Scorpius! What a Strat amp! Chimey highs, the woman tone, the crispy drive...every record I ever listened to in high school it was IN THIS BOX! Aerosmith is in this box. AC/DC, GnR. The gang's all here!

Why didn't I get a Marshall a decade ago?!

This amp has torn (ravaged, really) tolex and I discovered to my annoyance that one of the little feet on the bottom fell off someplace, so it's kind of tilted to the side. The faceplace is worn silver in places. It has a replacement carry handle: A collectible beauty queen this is not.

I'm stunned though at how great this sounds. This is all the rock tone I ever wanted. I haven't tried any pedals though it yet, but...I've never had an amp that sounded great with a Strat AND a humbuckered guitar. It was made for either one. Inserting into the "low" input and you've got dirty blues.

This is old news for anybody, I'm sure. But my search for tone is over. I'll never need a boutique amp costing an arm and a leg.

I don't know if modern Marshall's sound the same, but gee whiz. I don't understand why the company would ever stop building these. Everybody should own one!
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Vince



Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 11429
Location: Decatur IL

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome to my world! Laughing

The reason it is so tattered is because that puppy had been used! Wink
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Graunke



Joined: 20 Nov 2008
Posts: 2218
Location: Buffalo, MN

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

None of the modern marshalls that I"m aware of, sound as good as the old 800's. Save a few of the 900's that just have something special.

I run a JCM 900 Dual Reverb into a Fender Tonemaster 2x12 (vin 30) cab. It is a beautiful beast. Back the vol off just a bit, and she shimmers like the angels above, let it breath, and it's like the hells angels.

Congratulations on finding your tone!!!

For an added treat, get yourself an overdrive pedal, turn the gain down on it, and use it to fatten up the mids and tighten the bottom!
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Wardo



Joined: 21 Feb 2007
Posts: 1012
Location: Ottawa

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 4:25 pm    Post subject: re Reply with quote

Well, I have a Boss Turbo overdrive and a Keeley modded Blues Driver. I'm sure I'll get to those sometime with the amp, but...I am just enjoying how it sounds now.

All this makes me fear the re-capping process. It's almost 30 years old, so it needs it...what if it spoils the tone I like?
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S.O.S



Joined: 08 Jul 2010
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have one that I bought back in the 80's and will never part with it. It's actually in near showroom condition. My dad is an amp builder, semi retired now, and he hot rodded the pre-amp, freakin awesome. I put a Celestian Sidewinder in it, also have a 2X12 cab that makes the walls shake.
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smoss469



Joined: 22 Sep 2007
Posts: 4940
Location: West Virginia

PostPosted: Sat Jul 10, 2010 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been keeping my eye out for a nicely priced JCM900. There was 1 on FeeBay not too long ago for like $200 BIN that didn't work. If I knew anything about Amps, I'd jump all over that.
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Structo



Joined: 21 Nov 2004
Posts: 26415
Location: Salem, OR

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great review of a great amp.
I believe my brother had a 212 JCM 800 for years.
I remember plugging into it once and like you said, tone for days.

It's always a cool thing when we happen on the amp or guitar that answers the tone quest we have been on.

Congrats on the amp and I'm sure it will give you enjoyment for years to come.

(I would recap it soon)
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Vince



Joined: 10 May 2007
Posts: 11429
Location: Decatur IL

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2010 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have had my share of JCM800's and I love them to death. Recently I bought a Marshall JMD 100 watt head. It has 16 preamps and you can program 28 presets. It is an amazing amplifier. It has a 4 EL34 config for the power amp section and a digital preamp section that was developed by Softube. I don't think you could tell the difference but one thing about it is that the tone is consistant.

The JCM800 is my favorite all around, all tube Marshall though...
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aquietcabin



Joined: 20 Mar 2010
Posts: 4200
Location: Crystal Lake, IL.

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

always wanted a jcm600 combo
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dlocke



Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 827
Location: Maine

PostPosted: Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here you go.
http://cgi.ebay.com/Marshall-JCM-900-50W-Hi-Gain-/120594067317?cmd=ViewItem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c13f76f75
DJL
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Mike Aimer



Joined: 03 Jun 2008
Posts: 333
Location: Watching your set

PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No matter how much I need the money, I'll never let go of my JCM 800.

It's not always my first choice, but when you need "that sound", there's only one way to get it.
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tangelolemon



Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 2691
Location: Brooklyn, NY

PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Companies always try to fix what ain't broke. The original JCM800 is worthy enough to be considered a "classic" by this point. Enjoy it in good health!
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