By Andrew Catania
So, you pick up that guitar and plug it into the amplifier. And the amp is the best there is. A Marshall amp. Have you ever wondered how the Marshall has become whatever it is today? A name, a brand that is synonymous with respect, of music, and of dedication to quality?
Jim Marshall (1923-2012), despite his childhood being spent in a hospital due to tuberculosis of bones, was a successful drummer, and a musician by heart. He taught many students, who went on to become famous drummers.
After saving up money from his musical career, he decided to assist other musicians. Although he had a successful music store which sold guitars and drums in Hanvell, repeated comments by his customers about their need for an amplifier which was “bigger and louder” drove Jim Marshall to found Marshall Amplification, in 1962.
Jim and his partners started work on modifying the Fender Bassman. They changed the circuit and used higher gain ECC83 valves so that the amplifier broke into overdrive at lower settings of the volume control, hence helping the guitarists have a louder overdrive sound. This amplifier was the first to be an official Marshall product and was named ‘JTM 45’.
The iconic Marshall stack was created when Marshall produced an 8×12” cabinet on which the amp head was placed. Soon, a band’s status and standing were recognized by the size of the Marshall stack “wall,” sometimes even consisting of hundreds of cabinets. These stacks had 100-watt amps, which was made possible to construct by doubling the output valves; and adding additional output transformers and larger power transformers.
Many other developments were made with changing times-valves were tinkered with, circuitry was modified, and all the while, the amps were always towards a more aggressive sound.
The master volume knob, which is almost a given in the present times, was developed and introduced by Marshall Amplification through the ‘MV’ series. Earlier, overdrive was “cranked” up by the volume control, but it limited the volume of the distortion. The ‘MV’ series used a dual-volume control, one for going into overdrive, the other for regulating its volume.
Subsequently, several series were released by Marshall; the JCM800, the Jubilee series, JCM900 and the 30th Anniversary 6100 series. All of these amplifiers had significant modifications, be it channel switching; solid-state diode amps; semi-split channels; amongst more aesthetically pleasing faceplates and liveries; for each series. But Marshall has never lost its sound. The Marshall sound.
In the present years, Marshall Amplification continues to produce amplifiers, along with a broad range of different audio accessories and lifestyle accessories, which are all a lifeline to a musician. Be it your FX pedal(s), your customized cabinet or your shades, Marshall is there. From Headphones to Speakers, Marshall is always striving for that perfect sound, the perfect mix, and always in step with the latest and the best. Marshall is a way of life now.