Sunday, December 23, 2007

Guitar Lore: The Marshall Mystique

I recently went to visit my good buddy at Guitar Center on a quest to add a Marshall amp to my gear collection. " want a piece of the Marshall Mystique", he says, which conjured up images of Jimi Hendrix with a backplane of Marshall stacks behind him as he burned his guitar at the Monterey Festival. Just seeing the logo is enough to do that. I had to get a Marshall stack of my own to tap into the mystique.

My salesman outlined the history of tube amps, why they sound like they do, and demoed spring reverb by shaking the unit. Cool! Of course, I wanted to get the stack, even though my primary use would be in my home but he talked me out of it. Something about if you put the volume to a level where it would warm up enough to get good tone; you wouldn't have any paint left on your walls.

With that said, he pointed me to the Marshall DSL 401, a 1 X 12 all tube combo amp. At 40 watts it is the smallest of the JCM 2000 family. “Not much mystique in this” I recall thinking to myself even while acknowledging I had no place to store a stack much less be able to play it with family and neighbors around. He recommended I try it out and set me up in a back room and let me go at it.

Mystique! Somehow this amp channels the Marshall Mystique. Between use of gain on the clean and overdrive channels and use of your guitar volume you can get some great tones out of this amp. Best of all, you can get all this at near bedroom volumes if you need it.

I gave it a home of course. The mystique isn't the stack; it's the tone! Once you hear that tone you feel a direct connect to Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, and of course, Jimi. That’s some mystique!

Doesn't mean I still don't want a Marshall stack....