This guitar amp is great for deep metal rhythm tones and searing leads. I’ve read a lot about these only being a classic-rock amplifier, but I’ve experienced otherwise. Technically, it’s a four channel amp. The Marshall DSL 100 features two separate voicings (Classic and Ultra) both of which can heavily saturated, yet controllable. The Ultra option seems to offer more gain than will ever be needed, but that one my favorite things about the amp. The “Deep” option drops the lower resonant frequencies of the amplifier, and at times it seems almost too low for the Marshall 1960AV cabinet to handle. Swap out with a Mesa cab and all is well again. The “Tone Shift” option is almost the same mid-scoop option found on most modern amps, and seems almost unneeded as it seems to be voiced with a natural dip in the mid range section. Marshall claims this amp to have a more “Nashville” clean channel, and it seems to deliver for the most part. I did find it odd that the clean channel is also grouped with the more classic rock setting on the “Classic” channel via the Clean/Crunch button. The crunch option had a fair sound to it, but it didn’t match the Ultra channel like the clean channel did. Overall, Marshall JCM2000 DSL100 really shines in the heavily distorted range, and makes a great alternative to the Mesa Rectifier line.
Reliability problems started occurring in this amp a few months after my review. It started with the tubes running much warmer than any other tube amp I’ve ran before. The mass amounts of heat were causing the amp to shut down on occasions to save itself. Unfortunately, those occasions weren’t the best times for me, the player. After retubing the DSL and adjusting the bias to run the amp a little cooler, not much of a difference was showing. I now have to run a small fan behind the Marshall head to pull away the excess heat. Not much of a pain, but it seems like Marshall should look into this.
To make matters worse, the 4 & 8 ohm speaker output jacks quit sending out signal. If you don’t know by now, powering up a tube guitar amplifier without a speaker load connected is very, very bad. I’m not sure if the problem was related to the excessive heat generated by the DSL, but the 16 ohm output jack had become permanently engaged. A feature (term used loosely) found on the DSL100 causes the 4 & 8 ohm speaker jacks to disengage. Since my favorite cabinet is a Mesa, only having a 16 ohm output was quite limiting.
- by Aaron Chabak 10/10/2008