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edited about 2 years ago
Workhorse tour amp for large venues with THAT tone.
I had one of the '88 RI's as an integral part of my touring backline for years thru a tall cabinet with great old celestions in it. What a fine amp. I tweaked mine a little to sound better with a strat, but I recommend this amp stock for anyone who needs a lot of stage volume and plenty of treble on tap. She wasn't as reliable as a vintage blackface fender, but she never failed at a show and always sounded pretty solid unless the wall voltage was outta control high (I eventually started power conditioning or even running a variac). While I typically deplore working on PCBs, Marshall does a great job with their layouts and spacing. This amp was easy to repair, rebias and modify. Not the holy grail as some attest, but very very good
I have one more thing to say.... this amp will not be what you expect at less than theater-filling levels. If you do not tour then get a 50 watt JCM800 2204 or maybe an 18 watt. Still, this is THE Marshall sound you've always heard about. You may not find that sound easily, but its in there if to start in the right place. If you don't use overdrive or fuzz pedals, here is my advice:
Try setting the amp fairly flat (dime the mid and crank the treble to 10 or until it hurts your ears, add bass to suit your taste and cab) but keep the presence below 5. Don't jump channels like Hendrix, plug in the bright channel and dime it out, then add the normal channel to taste (there's crosstalk and subtle ghosting, but beware nosie and squeals at high presence settings). Then use your guitar volume control (yes, the knob next to the tone you don't use either) to vary between clean, crunch and lead. This amp does not respond like a hot rod deluxe or even the venerable tweed bassman that's in its DNA. I prefer an Amperex bugle boy ecc83 in V1 and an rca or ge 12ax7 in v2. The phase splitter sounds fine with ost any well made tube. In a pinch V1 sounds good with a well-tested tung-sol RI 12ax7. Alright, TMI
One of the best rock amps - period.
I own a 1997 35th Anniversary 1959SLP. Super Leads are "the" Marshall sound. Many say a one trick pony but responds great to your guitar controls and pick attack to give you quite a bit of variety. Paired with a 1960AX with Celestion Greenbacks - one of the greatest rock tones ever.
So much headroom
I've owned a few marshalls (JTM and JCM800) and without doubt this is the best one. Mine is slightly customised in that it's permanently jumpered.
My drives come from pedals so I need an amp that takes these well and provides spanky clean headroom when required. This has it spades.
The only downside is that the headroom comes at a volume cost...it's difficult to get this amp performing well at low volume levels.