There’s been a lot of online press about this new Marshall amp this week, but here’s a review from a local guitar player who has had hands on experience of this amp.
I finally got to play and also have a good listen to the brand new Marshall Class 5 amp. I LURVE IT!
It’s about as basic as an amp could possibly be. No FX loop, no other bonus features, with the exception of a 3-way by-pass switch on the back of the amp (mid position-normal, far left-headphone only, far right-16 ohm exstension cab). The main control knobs are all mounted on the top of the amp (not the front) and they consist simply of volume, bass, mid, treble.
The amp is essentially a single-channel 5-watt combo, but where it might compete in the market place with other class ‘A’ valve amplifiers of a similar style is that this one has a beautiful pure unadulturated tone that is to die for.
5 watts may not seem a lot, but honestly this is a fierce little beasty that would still p*** all your neighbours off if played on full. Steve Dawson the amp’s designer was good enough to invite me round to his workplace to try out a pre-production model, and the amp lived up to all that he had told me. He just rolled his hand across the top and put all the controls cranked on full. The end result was a lush rich sound from such a small box of tricks, yet it still had plenty of bite & edge to compliment a rock-orientated player.
The 10″ speaker has been specially commissioned and designed for this particular amp, and I was stunned at how warm the tone was, with plenty of bass response that you would never expect from such a small package. I’m not a man of many styles (ha-ha) as I just like to crank amps up and bash the strings etc (subtlety is not my forte), but in the hands of another chap (a very highly experienced player) then this amp really started to sing very sweetly.
I was already pretty much sold on this amp, but then Steve hooked it through a Marshall 4 x 12 and suddenly I was grinning my face off. The sound just grew enormously, sounded way louder again (although in truth it wasn’t), and the depth of tone from the cab’s natural resonance was splendid!
To be honest, I could have happily gigged with that sound. Fair enough the cab would have to be miked and put through a PA rig, and I’d probably ask for a little bit of the guitar sound to be fed back through my monitor, but the natural drive and tone of the amp flat out was quite magnificent.
This isn’t going to be everybody’s cup of tea because this is not a high-gain amp. It was designed with ‘tone’ as it’s prime consideration, and in that department then this amp scores massively. Yet it still has enough drive & edge for AC/DC styled rock, or any classic retro Scorps/Schenker 80’s rock British valve-amp sound.
The Class 5 is officially on the market sometime in September. I’ll definitely be ordering myself one as this is exactly what I was looking for. Don’t be put off by the clip on the official Marshall website, or by any negative chit-chat by people on various other muso forums. The only way to see if this amp is ideal for the sound that you want, is to go and try one out yourself when they become available. Video and audio clips downloaded on a PC can’t possibly compare to having a guitar in your hands and hearing the amp ‘breathe’ from first-hand experience of using it.
I was well-impressed, and a huge thanks to Steve Dawson for letting me try it out. Marshall’s South Shields’ division comes up trumps yet again.
Thanks Colin – let us know when you take delivery of your new amp!