The Best Marshall Amp Review 2017 – Everything You Need to Know

Our Top Pick
For our money, the Marshall Code 25 is the best value Marshall amp around at the moment. With so many great Marshall amps out there, picking a winner was difficult, but we think that this amp offers a perfect combination of power and flexibility. Small enough for the practice room, and yet just powerful enough to play small gigs. This amp’s modeling features also means that it has an effectively unlimited range of tone options, meaning you may never need to buy another amplifier.

When it comes to high-quality and intense brand appeal, Marshall is leaps and bounds over the competition. Legendary rock musicians have boldly used Marshall amps, and emerging musicians continue to follow in their footsteps.

There’s no doubt about it—Marshall has created an untouchable legacy, backed by years of quality and an amazing depth of sound.

No matter what genre a guitarist plays in, it’s incredibly likely that they prefer to use a Marshall amp. These amps tend to expand the sound, to make music sound inherently better, and to bring out that inner rock star from the surface of every guitarist.

When it comes to talking about the best Marshall amps, there are a few topics to consider first: the history of Marshall amps and the different technologies and constructions found within the best Marshall amps.

History of Marshall Amps

Marshall amplifiers are legendary for a reason: they completely changed the way that amplifiers were made, and in turn, they changed the sound of a guitar.history of marshall amps

In the early 60s, a musician named Jim Marshall—the company’s namesake—opened a drum shop in England. Soon, he found that the demand for higher-quality amps and fuller sound was increasing at incredible rates.

Rather than pay the high costs of importing amps from outside of the country, Jim Marshall decided to try making his own.

In 1962, the first Marshall amps were available for sale. By 1963, the design was becoming more standardized, featuring distortion coming from the tubes instead of the speakers.

This new sound became instrumental in the spread of rock music throughout the decades and came to define the origins of the genre itself.

Marshall amps are defined by bright, vibrant, hefty, palpable sound. They command attention and hold their quality even at full volume, and turn heads even when dimmed. It’s a respected and iconic brand, one which has held true to high manufacturing quality and performance.

Marshall Amps in Action

Over the decades, there have been plenty of guitarists who stay loyal to Marshall amps, increasing their popularity and reinforcing their value. A few of the most recognized musicians are:

  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Joe Perry- Aerosmith
  • Nita Strauss- Alice Cooper
  • Keith Nelson- Buckcherry
  • James Lynch- Dropkick Murphys
  • Dave Murray- Iron Maiden
  • Dave Navarro- Jane’s Addiction
  • Chris Wolstenholme- Muse
  • Winston Marshall- Mumford & Sons

Marshall amps have been used by past and contemporary artists alike, crossing boundaries and providing the best tonal quality across many different genres.

Buying Guide for Marshall Amps

There has been a wide array of changes throughout the years, which is certainly understandable given that half a century has passed since the first Marshall amp entered the music scene.

In turn, there are multiple options of Marshall amps to consider, ranging from the technology inside the amp itself to the size of the speaker cabinet.

For those who are looking to purchase their first Marshall amp, it may help to know how each of these components contributes to the overall sound and performance of the amplifier.

Types of Amplifier Technology

There are four different kinds of technology that Marshall uses to manufacture their amps:

Valve (Tube) Amps

This is the oldest design for Marshall amps, and it uses vacuum tubes to amplify sound. The majority of Marshall amps will be based on valves since this type of technology produces the warm, crisp tone that Marshall amps are famous for, similar to what you’d hear on a tube amp.

Solid-state Amps

Rather than using vacuum tubes, solid-state amps employ transistors for the power and pre-amp portions. This makes a clean sound more affordable and therefore more accessible to a greater range of musicians.

Digital Amps

Just as the name suggests, these Marshall amps operate solely through digital technology. Rather than relying on vacuum tubes or transistors, the same classic tonality can be achieved through digital programming.


What makes these Marshall amps particularly desirable is that they can be programmed to match a variety of different tones.

Hybrid Amps

For the best of both worlds, these are the most versatile Marshall amps to invest in. They use a combination of valves, vacuum tubes, and digital programming to create an amp that can work with multiple instruments and be used in multiple roles.

Types of Marshall Amp Cabinets

Aside from technological differences, there are important constructional differences to consider with Marshall amps. Consider these structures:

Head

These types of amps do not have a speaker cabinet, called head-only amps. Some of the most popular Marshall amps are head-only, mostly because these are the most powerful and are best suited for large venues.

That said, a head-only amp is most efficient when used in combination with a cabinet that has an equal amount of power.

Cabinet

A cabinet houses the speaker, and Marshall amps can either come with a speaker cabinet attached, or it can be purchased separately.

There are two main cabinet lines that Marshall offers—the MC and M412. Purchasing multiple cabinets is used to amplify sound for bigger venues.

Combo

Just as the name implies, a combo amplifier combines the head and the cabinet together in one package. The downfall is that the power is limited since musicians cannot add extra cabinets. The plus side, however, is that combo amps are much more convenient and more affordable.

The Best Marshall Amps

With so many different types of Marshall amps available, it’s hard to narrow down a series of “best” amps. This review will focus on the best-selling Marshall amps that are currently on the market. These amps have the highest purchase rates and the most positive customer reviews.

For those who are looking to purchase a Marshall amp, the top-rated amps are certainly a solid starting point.

1. EDITOR’S CHOICE – Marshall Code 25 – 25W 1×10″ Digital Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Marshall Code 25 - 25W 1x10 amplifier

  • Professional quality modeling of authentic Marshall tones
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 8 MST speaker cabinets
  • USB connectivity

As a digital combo amp, the Marshall Code 25 amp is the perfect combination of classic Marshall sound quality and digital technology. The Marshall Gateway software includes an iPhone or Android app to remotely control the app, making it the perfect addition for those who are digitally inclined.

The app comes with additional content, Add the USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and users can experience a powerful and technologically-advanced Marshall amp for both practice and performance.

True to form, this Marshall amp provides a wealth of tone, a variety of effects, and high performance to create one of the most valuable amps on the market. Marshall calls it their “most versatile and impressive digital product ever,” and based on the huge array of positive customer reviews; they might be right.

2. Marshall DSL Series DSL40C 40 Watt Valve 2 Channel Guitar Amplifier Combo

Key Features: picture of Marshall DSL Series DSL40C 40 amplifier

  • Two modes per channel for increased flexibility
  • Digital reverb & level control
  • Classic Gain & Ultra Gain channels
  • Treble, Middle, Bass, Presence, and Resonance EQ

This Marshall amplifier is incredibly popular based on its versatility, its inherent value, and its ratio of volume-to-size. For those looking for a compact tube amp that performs with all the quality of larger tube amps, this is a great model to consider.

With 40 watts of power, the sound is propelled from a 12-inch speaker and a total of two channels. A convenient foot switch allows users to effortlessly switch between Classic and Ultra for standard rhythms or dynamic solos.

The rich, deep tone quality is professional-grade, while the price tag is affordable enough for beginning musicians to get quality typically reserved for seasoned musicians. Suitable for all genres of music, the Marshall DL40C is one of the best Marshall amps to bring on stage.

3. Marshall MG30CFX MG Series 30-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Marshall MG30CFX amplifier

  • 30-watt power
  • 10” speaker
  • Digital reverb
  • Four storable channels

This powerful little combo amp comes with four storable channels to choose from, making it a versatile option for any beginning musician. Select Clean, Crunch, Overdrive 1, or Overdrive 2 to create the best possible tone.

Using the preset mode allows for these channels to be stored, recalling unique settings for each channel. Storing settings is easy since analog functions are digitally stored to make precise sound adjustments. As a combo, this Marshall amp combines the best of both worlds, offering dynamic tones and programmable features.

It also offers both reverb and digital effects, allowing users to choose between Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, or Delay. At slightly over 20 pounds, this Marshall amp is perfectly suited for boosting that classic electric guitar sound for a fraction of the price.

4. Marshall MG15CF MG Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp

Key Features: picture of Marshall MG15CF MG amplifier

  • 15 watts of power
  • 2 channels to choose from
  • MP3 input
  • 8-inch speaker

The Marshall MG series is one of the most coveted amp series for its reliability, tone quality, and performance. For those who are looking to purchase a high-quality Marshall amp—without breaking the bank—the 15-watt combo amp is the best Marshall amp to consider.

Beginning guitarists will appreciate the headphone and MP3 inputs, making it much easier to attach additional devices for playing along with a track. Two channels come standard for rhythm and solo performances.

Although the speaker is smaller than other Marshall amps, the sound quality is solid and features three-band EQ to enhance tonal control. Made of carbon-fiber, this amp packs a ton of power in a lightweight package. At only 16 pounds, this is one of the most portable—and efficient—amps for aspiring musicians to start out using.

The app comes with additional content, Add the USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and users can experience a powerful and technologically-advanced Marshall amp for both practice and performance.

True to form, this Marshall amp provides a wealth of tone, a variety of effects, and high performance to create one of the most valuable amps on the market. Marshall calls it their “most versatile and impressive digital product ever,” and based on the huge array of positive customer reviews; they might be right.

5. Marshall DSL5C 1×10″ 5-Watt 2-Channel Tube Combo Guitar Amp

Key Features: picture of Marshall DSL5C 1x10" 5-Watt 2-Channel

  • Switches between 1 or 5 watts
  • Classic Gain & Ultra Gain channels
  • Bass, Middle, and Treble EQ
  • Shift & deep switches for enhanced tonal capabilities

For those who are looking for the performance of the 40-Watt combo for a much more affordable price, then the DSLC 5-Watt Marshall amp is the perfect solution. It comes with many of the features that its 40-watt compatriot does, including two channels, deep tonal quality, and multiple EQs to choose from.

With a 10-inch speaker, this Marshall amp packs a powerful punch into a small package. While it might be smaller than other models, its versatility speaks for itself. The adjustable wattage makes it the perfect Marshall amp to transition between home practice and smaller shows.

As a combo amp, the Marshall DSL5C series allows users to recreate any classic Marshall tone, making it a great option for musicians who are serious about tone quality.

Editor’s Choice: Marshall Code 25 – 25W 1×10″ Digital Combo Amp

While all these Marshall amps have outperformed the competition in terms of performance, tone quality, and overall value, the Marshall Code 25 – 25W 1×10″ Digital Combo Amp is our pick for the Editor’s Choice.

For today’s aspiring musician, having a combo amp that features as much technological integration as possible is a must. Not only does the Marshall Code 25 come with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, but it also features a versatile and time-saving app to control the amp remotely.

This digital combo app also comes with an impressive 100 presets and 24 FX models, making it the perfect addition to a home or professional studio. With a wide range of capabilities, enhanced technology, and an incredibly affordable price, this Marshall amp comes with the best overall value and versatility.

Our Thoughts on the Top Marshall Amps for the Money

With decades of proven performance and quality, the Marshall brand has evolved into something much more than a name. Today, Marshall is synonymous with rock music, becoming a symbol of the very genre itself.

The rich, warm tone of a Marshall amp is second to none, and musicians all over the world are fiercely loyal to their Marshall equipment.

The inherent beauty behind Marshall amps is that there are plenty of models to choose from for all types of stages—whether your stage is located in the center of a stadium or in the center of your garage, Marshall has created the perfect amp for you.

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The Best Marshall
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