History of the

Class 5

Posted: 24th March 2023

We sat down with former design engineer Steve Dawson and product specialist Steve Smith in the Marshall Museum and had a look at the Class 5 five-watt all-valve combo amp, of which Dawson had a hand in designing.

Read time: 2 minutes

History behind the Class 5

Back in the late 2010’s several companies had released five-watt amps, however, Marshall had yet to do so since the release of the Mercury 2060 in the early seventies and Dawson admitted that we hadn’t really considered creating another one until they were gaining popularity again.

Valve amps were typically big rigs and a lot of combos the size of the Class 5 tended to be used as just practice amps, but Dawson wanted to get the sound of a cooking plexi in a five-watt format to meet customer demand and capture Marshall’s classic vintage sounds.


Built with EL84 valves on the output, ECC83’s in the preamp and 10-inch Celestion speakers, the Class 5 was created so people could crank it up without blowing their eardrums out. At five-watts it’s generally not considered a house amp due to being half as loud as a 50-watt amp, but the Class 5 has settings and a low power button to change it to a house volume. When turned on, the low power button drops it down to roughly 0.2-watts which is much more realistic for those that want to rock out at home.

With the classic Marshall vintage vibe and created in the legendary Bluesbreaker style, Dawson and Smith both expressed the importance of the Class 5 being hand built and assembled at our factory in Bletchley, England.

Ways to play the Class 5

While you may not get much of a solo boost from the Class 5, you can connect it to 4x12 cab or if you fancy playing rhythm it will happily hold its own. The Class 5 is much more suited for playing crunchy and overdriven lead tones, so if you’re after more of a clean sound then the Class 5 may not be suited for your playing style with only five-watts of headroom before the clean sound begins to distort.

Hear it for yourself

Listen to Steve Smith play through the Class 5 below in our From The Museum series on YouTube. In the series we look back at original Marshall amps in our archives and discuss how these amps came to be. Hear them for yourself as product specialist Steve Smith plays these iconic amps that have shaped Marshall Amplification into what it is now.