Posted: 30 April 2019
When it comes to iconic Marshall tone through history there’s three amps that truly stand out. The first of these is the JMP 1959SLP ‘Plexi’, famed for providing Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Biffy Clyro and countless others with their classic signature rock sound. Another of our most revered amps is the JCM800 2203, which defined heavy metal with its easily recognisable roar, and is wielded by Slayer, Metallica and Bring Me The Horizon. The final one of this towering trio is the Silver Jubilee, famed for adding extra gain in a controlled, consistent manner, making it supremely versatile and the tool of choice for Slash, Joe Bonamassa, John Frusciante amongst countless other guitar heroes.
These amps were first designed to meet the needs of a new generation of musician. Players wanted larger amps that could go louder and produce more gain, and Marshall doesn’t just make noise, we also listen to what players want. Fast forward to modern day and these amps still sound jaw-droppingly brilliant, but at 100 watts are perhaps more suited to a stadium than at a club gig or in your home.
Marshall are still listening intently to its customers today. Musicians worldwide have been requesting to transform these rock and roll giants from history into something suitable for the modern guitarist. Something lightweight and portable, that took up less space, and had a lower output in terms of watts and volume. The Studio series was born.
Producing these amps was not a simple process. Along with half a century of history comes a thorough understanding of the structure, mechanics and sound that had to be perfectly recreated. The expectations were sky high and so the Studio range needed to be accurate reproductions of the most important amps we’ve ever built.
The biggest issue was recreating the tone produced by 100watts, but with only 20watts to play with. This meant endless hours in development, with constant miniscule tweaks leading to wildly varying tones. Everything was sound-tested thousands of times, to tune each element to the exact point required.
Another potential problem was that the original full-sized amps featured large components. Since they were first designed technology has progressed, leading to some components no longer being available, or no longer offering the same sonic properties as when they were first used. This led to a marrying of modern mechanics with traditional designs and techniques, meaning the Studio series includes some hand-soldering and even an identical circuit design to its bigger, older brothers.
But every element that was faithfully recreated in the design process led to small changes in the final sound, some of which led away from the classic sound each amp was known for. One such instance was the speaker in the combo versions of the Studio Classic and Vintage, which when coupled with the reduced wattage led to inconsistencies in the sound and failed to replicate the original tones of the 1959SLP and JCM800 2203 accurately. As a result of many hours in the development lab these combo’s now feature 10-inch speakers as they were much more honest when it comes to reproducing those original, iconic tones.
So, it’s time to ask the big question, ‘How well does the Studio series recreate those tones?’. Well we asked Lee Malia of Bring Me The Horizon what he thought of the Studio Classic and he said it sounds exactly like his original JCM800 2203. Since being launched at NAMM 2019 the demand has been unprecedented and the opportunity to capture those classic sounds at lower volumes has made many musicians very happy.
Sounds like we’re doing what we’re best known for. It sounds like we’re making noise whilst at the same time listening to our customers. It sounds like a definitive Marshall amp, just not how you’d originally picture it… and that sounds good to us.