Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]

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5210 [1981-1991], Solid-State Combo Guitar Amp from Marshall in the JCM800 Solid State series.

9 user reviews
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Marshall 5210 [1981-1991] tech. sheet

  • Manufacturer: Marshall
  • Model: 5210 [1981-1991]
  • Series: JCM800 Solid State
  • Category: Solid-State Combo Guitar Amps
  • Added in our database on: 12/11/2004

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Marshall 5210 [1981-1991] user reviews

Average Score:4.9( 4.9/5 based on 9 reviews )
 9 reviews100 %
Value For Money :

tof84's review"Excellent solid-state amp!"

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
50W, 2 channels, solid-state.

9/10 because the footswitch is a bit light and not too practical for onstage.


It's very easy to get really good sounds, it's easy to dial in.

It's good to know that the amp has to be really driven to sound good. At low volumes it seems a bit soft and lacks dynamic response.

For the clean channel I set the volume to 7 to get a twangy and well-defined sound, pretty pristine for a Marshall. The master is never below 4, so it can't be easy if you have neighbors. Bass is set to 9 and treble to 5.

For the crunch channel, the gain is also set to 7 or 8 (depending on the guitar) and volume to 9.
The crunch makes the guitar sing with a lot of nuances.

The master goes from 4 (at home) to 5-6 with rehearsals with a drummer (soft) and 8 for gigs in venues.
Beyond that, the sound is overcompressed and has no musicality.

It's hard to explain but it behaves somewhat like a tube amp, it has to be really driven.


The clean channel is twangy and correct, it is very expressive, which is typical of Marshall amps.
You can easily play pop, ballads or funk with a Strat or a Tele. For blues it's best with a PRS or a Les Paul.

The crunch channel is much warmer and comes close to a real tube amp in terms of nuances and musicality. Although it does lack some thickness.

Compared to a tube Fender (I also have a champ 25 SE), it is just as good in terms of dynamic response but it sounds a little less thick and a little less expressive. Only when you compare them with an A/B switch can you tell the difference.
Compared to a Marshall Valvestate 8080 (I have two), it's like night and day: The 5210 has a very usable and rich clean sound. The valvestates sound too muddled and cold (despite the tube). On the other hand, they are more versatile and powerful.

Personally, I prefer to have a good basic clean sound and use a pedalboard (TS9, Delay DD3 and Proco Rat) for blues or rock solos.

I play Strat and PRS and the amp sounds fine with both types of guitars. It respects pretty well the tone and nuances of each instrument. And that's what matters most to my ear.
But, obviously, the better the guitar, the better the sound.

Important note: The amp has an excellent vintage sound for blues/rock, but it's hard to play metal with it, even with an adequate pedal: The tone of the amp is always present.


It's a model from 1984, I've had it for two years. I use it to practice, but also for rehearsals and the couple of gigs we've had.
Despite the mileage it has on it, it ages well. It's note heavy to carry around and satisfies my demanding ears.

By the way, I have a Blues jr, which I find too typical and compressed, a peavey classic 30 (sensitive to mics and not too versatile), a JCM 900 (good clean and good distortion but it breaks down too often), two Marshall 8080 (muddled and a bit cold, not to mention the crackling pots and the loose solder joints), a Vox VT30+ (too boxy, decent distortion, but hard to get a really clean sound).

Today, I scented a burning smell coming from my Fender champ 25 SE (surely the output transformer). I'll have it repaired because it's a very good amp.
At the $300 price point, it's a very good secondhand amp.
Fortunately, the 5210 is always reliable.

Minimok's review

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
Solid-state amp with 50W Celestion speaker, I bought it in the '80s. It is powerful enough, even for rehearsals with a band. Onstage, I think miking through the PA is indispensable.
2 channels: The first ones is clean, nice, but not comprehensive enough (volume, bass and treble), as for the second channel, it's a "Boost" with more possibilities (Gain, volume, treble, middle, bass). Plus a Master section to adjust the overall volume and the reverb for the two channels.
An all-plastic pedal to toggle between the clean and the distorted sound (overdrive, at least), and it also allows you to activate the reverb.
Spring reverb.


Yes, it's easy to use, except for the loads of jacks on the rear, because they are not labeled (yes, the first one on the right is to plug the footswitch) => The user's manual can be downloaded here:, and it makes everything easier!
However, the sound is very good, the clean channel has a good dynamic response and the second channel has a nice overdrive. You can tell the brand's touch, even if it's a solid-state amp.
The pots have a tendency to crackle a bit, like on all old amps.
I got no manual although I bought it new!


I'm using it again now because some time ago I opted for a software Guitar Rig-type solution, which offers a wider array of sound possibilities, but finally, nothing can replace a real amp. Very '70/'80s pop/rock and even hard rock (which is normal given its age!). The sound is not modern at all, but rather "vintage."
It's perfect for a Fender Strat or a Gibson Les Paul.


Excellent entry-level amp back then. I found it secondhand online for a very decent price. But do be careful with the crackling pots, although I think it's something pretty common to all Marshalls!

frankyp's review

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
50 W solid-state marshall, very reliable, UNLIKE THE MARSHALLS BEFORE 1985/86
2 channels: The distortion channel is very good but not as versatile as the clean in terms of settings.


Good sound: Taken from the JCM 800
SOLID and easy to use!


I don't have it anymore! And even if it surprises some people, I regret having sold it!!
It used to bear with me without complaining no matter how hard the task, always providing me a recognizable marshall sound.
Sine I only play with bands now, I only have all-tube amps:
A Fender hot rod USA (1999) and a Mesa Boogie/Marshall stack, which is awesome, obviously!
But I miss the 5210 for dirty jobs....


I don't have it anymore!
I've had a bit of everything (Marshall JCM, Orange, Ibanez, Yamaha Peavy classic 30, Fenders ...and now Mesa Boogie)
And I regret a bit not having kept the 5210 as a complement to my tube amps, for jam sessions, for example.

VINCEB77's review"One of the best solid-state Marshalls"

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
Solid-state, 50 watts, everything has been said already....
On the back panel there's a sticker where the connection scheme is explained. Otherwise, from left to right: headphone, return (loop), send (loop), footswitch .
A good old spring reverb, a must.
Speaker: Celestion G12M-70, very nice.
Looks like a tube JCM 800 from the good days.


Easy setup, since it only has two channels.
You can only switch from the clean to the boost channel with the footswitch, the same applies if you want to control the reverb, so you're stuck with the small plastic box (which fortunately is sturdier than it seems...)
No need to pull your hair to get a good sound with this type of classic amp.


I love it!!!
I simply love its clean sound (a paradox for a Marshall?), which the spring reverb embellishes superbly.... To be honest, I have tried 2 or 3 Fender tube amps (including some of the most emblematic models) and my good old solid-state Marshall was never eclipsed by them. I would even say that, being used to the excellence of transistors, the tube amps were not up to my expectations.
Now the boost channel: Depending on the position of the gain pot, you go from a warm-colored clean sound, to a crunch (better than the chocolate bar), a very British overdrive, and a classic-rock distortion with the classic Marshall grit. The cherry on the cake: If you connect a Marshall bluesbreaker pedal (first generation) to the effects loop. you can make the sound warmer, which is awesome!!!
From my three guitars, the LAG Roxanne is the one that suits it better.
Do note that it's an amp that sounds decisively classic rock and it is excellent in that domain. To sound more modern, you can add to it a multi-effects, but in that case you'd better use another amp. With a Gibson-type guitar (humbucker, mahogany, set neck), it is a real treat to play blues-rock, without the hassle of the tubes.


I bought my 1984 model secondhand in the early '90s.
I renovated it last year (changed all pots, 2 diodes, 3 transistors) to restore its youth, for $230. Given the repair quote I hesitated replacing it with a modern equivalent, but everything I tested was rubbish against it, so I don't regret anything and will never part with it.
It is excellent in its domain, but if you want more modern sounds, you'd better get a modeling amp, which is what I did, complementing it with a small Roland Cube 20-X .
Not the slightest regret, but rather pure happiness for not having missed this great amp. It's a solid-state Marshall from the great days, not like the current made-in-India ones, which aren't comparable. If you see one, don't let it go!

Marshall 5210 [1981-1991] images

  • Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
  • Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
  • Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]
  • Marshall 5210 [1981-1991]

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Other names: 5210 [1981 1991], 5210[19811991], 5210 , 5210

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