Marshall DSL401
Marshall DSL401

DSL401, Tube Combo Guitar Amp from Marshall in the JCM2000 DSL series.

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All user reviews for the Marshall DSL401

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Average Score:4.0( 4/5 based on 28 reviews )
 16 reviews57 %
 4 reviews14 %
 3 reviews11 %
 2 reviews7 %
 3 reviews11 %
Audience: Anyone
Peter Quast08/13/2018

Peter Quast's review"Full Marshall Sound. "

Marshall DSL401
I traded a Fender Bass Amp for this. The bass amp had a value of $400. Since I never played the bass, I believe I came out on top. This amp is awesome. And every one of my friends that hear it can't believe the full marshall sound that comes out of this little amp. Don't let the size fool you. It is heavy. But small enough to be able to move it around with no problem. And it puts out a awesome sound that will make the basement windows rattle. The clean channel sounds great. All around great amp.

racerevlon's review"Marshall roar that won't tear the roof off"

Marshall DSL401
The Marshall DSL401 is a 4 x EL-84, 4 x 12AX7-powererd 1 x 12 combo amp that "officially" has two channels but really functions as a three-channel amp. The DSL401 has a clean channel and an overdrive channel. The DSL401 is rated at 40 watts and has a single 12" Marshall-designed 50-watt speaker specially designed to complement the DSL401. The Clean channel controls are simple: Gain, and the standard Bass, Middle, Treble controls. The Overdrive channel has the same controls and adds a channel master volume to allow you to better match the volume between channels when switching between channels. Then, there is an overall Master amp control section that consists of a Master volume, a Master reverb, and a Mix knob for the desired amount of effects coming from the effects loop. As noted there is an effects loop on the back with send and return controls. The FX loop is parallel, hence the Master FX control on the front. There is also a 1/4" speaker jack to connect an external speaker cabinet and there is a switch to choose between 8 and 16 ohms load. Even better, there is another 1/4" jack that is an emulated line out for going direct to a console or for recording, and in my opinion the Marshall emulated line out isn't half-bad. Other rear panel features include the mains input, fuse holders, and the 1/4" jack for the included 2-button foot switch that allows you to switch between the clean and overdrive channels, and switch between Overdrive 1 and Overdrive 2. The DSL401 is compact in stature and leads to a more compact, punchy feel, more than enough to play small-to-mid-sized venues, and larger venues either mic'ed up or with an extension cabinet. Overall, a great grab-and-go solution for when you have to have "that" Marshall sound.

I wish it had one more speaker output and a 4-ohm selection, but suppose that would be pushing it. If you need that much sound you should probably step up to the DSL50 head and 1/2 stack.


The operation of the amp is simple enough. There aren't so many controls as to make the amp difficult to use. The overdrive channel has two modes: OD1 and OD2. OD2 acts as a boost to OD1 and adds a good amount of gain to the mix, 20db to be exact, perfect for harder rock/metal or fluid leads.

In true Marshall fashion, cranking up the gain on the "clean" channel and pushing the global Master gets you that Marshall power tube saturation that just growls for days. It is conceivable that depending on the type of music you play you could crank up the gain and master and control everything via your volume knob. Beyond that, you have a myriad of tones available in this amp and are all easily accessible. The manual is downloadable from the web site but I really doubt you'll need it. This is an amp that sounds amazing right out of the box.


I mostly play Neal Moser and George Riszanyi custom guitars with a smattering of Ibanez and others thrown in for good measure. If you're looking for a truly classic rock 'n roll sound, plug in a Les Paul and let 'er rip. You won't be disappointed. Personally, I'm a HUGE fan of what I call the EL84 "grease" that comes with the overdrive channels. I haven't really heard a bad note come out of this amp, no matter what I plug into it. Even at extreme settings the amp never gets too much bass or treble--almost like they put in controls to prevent people from self-destructing. Make no mistake, though, you can take this amp from a small club gig, plug it into a 4 x 12, and play the 'bowl.


Before the new DSL 40-watt combo launched I did a comparison between the two Marshall 40-watt combos: the DSL401 and the HAZE 40. They're two completely different amps. The reason the DSL401 is more expensive with seemingly less functionality is because it's a true Dual Super Lead amp. This is not a boiled-down version or any type of compromise. This is a bona fide Made in England Marshall DSL Valve amplifier. The DSL401 is a no-frills rock machine but can handle any type of music. Roll back the gain on the clean channel and you've got yourself an awesome Jazz amp. If there's a type of music you can't do with this amp I'd be interested to hear about it. I don't know if Marshall is exporting the DSL401 to the States anymore, so this may become a collectible amp as well--I know I haven't seen it's little brother, the DSL201 in some time so keep your eyes open, and if you're looking for a versatile Marshall platform, the DSL401 is hard to beat.

I've heard and read about others having thermal issues with the DSL401 but I've never had ANY issues whatsoever with my DSL401. I guess the message here is that your mileage may vary, but I've never had any issues and although I can say that I would gig it without a backup the truth is I never gig without a backup rig. However, I can't buy into the claims of issues with this amp because I've not experienced any of them. If you can get your hands on one, and you're a "Marshall" player, I'd get one without hesitation.
King Loudness10/25/2011

King Loudness's review"Junk..."

Marshall DSL401
The Marshall DSL 401 is a 40 watt 1x12 combo version of the famed DSL head that is available in 50 or 100 watt models. It features two channels, a clean and a drive. The drive channel has two modes, OD1 which is more of a vintage voiced tone a-la the more classic Marshall amps, and OD2 which is more compressed and modern sounding. Each channel has its own EQ controls, and it's capped off with reverb, an effects loop with a mix control, and an overall master volume control. It is loaded with a single Celestion speaker and has the typical black and gold cosmetics throughout.


This amp is surprisingly difficult to dial in, to say the least. It seemed like no matter what I did to try and improve it, it just didn't have a tone that worked for my ears. The EQ is nearly useless and only serves to add brightness and make the tone harsher. The gain structure on this amp is downright awful as well. All it does is add obscene amounts of compressed buzziness as the controls are turned up and I found myself simply shaking my head at how awful the controls were on this amp. They serve only as very narrow adjustment and fail to make this amp sound good at all...


This amp really has three core sounds available, none of which are particularly pleasing to the ear. There's a brittle and sharp clean tone with razorblade highs and no midrange to speak of whatsoever. It also breaks up way too early for my liking and sounds very unnatural. The crunch tones are weak and anemic. There is no solid punch factor behind the tone, just a very thin and underpowered attempt at the traditional Marshall sound. The low end is nonexistent, and the highs tear your eardrums off at band volumes. The OD2 mode is so compressed and gainy that it's almost useless. It sounds like a buzzier and more compressed/gainy version of OD1. Due to the single "12 speaker the tones are very one dimensional and sound anything but Marshally.


I really don't like this amp, simple as that. They're unreliable, have a cheap set of parts, don't sound good at all regardless of how the amp is set, and are obscenely overpriced. They simply aren't even worth a look... there are so many better amps out there that make this seem like a $1500 doorstop. Don't bother, seriously.

MGR/Willy's review"Marshall JCM-2000 401 DSL"

Marshall DSL401
Been playing in a punk band for quite some time now

paid $1600 in adelaide, south australia

i love the sound it makes, other reviews of this unit note how dirty the OD2 channel is and thats why i like this amp. OD1 is good for some darker tones and the clean channel sounds sweet accourding to anybody who plays it.

after 2 - 3 years of on off flat out jamming the amp started cutting in and out. i got it repaired new valves, that did not solve the problem. it was as tho the unit did not have a constant power supply. over a month of backwards and forwards getting repaired a broken fuse holder, How the hell does that break.

ok i beleive it could be better, having the valves hanging cant be the best thing, when transporting it makes a fair few disturbing noises, dunno how fuse holder packs up??

i love it except for its fault, being my first quality valve amp if thought it would be constructed a little better.

This review was originally published on

MGR/JacKkk...'s review"Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 401"

Marshall DSL401
I got this off for £388 because I wanted some good built in distortion in my amp...

I like the sturdyness of this and the way you can have loads of different distortions and clean tones. I play punk/emo which it is good for however its good for pretty much anything.

I dont like the fact its only 40 watts and that the palm muting sounds weak in the full on distortion mode but i'm getting a 1936 marshall cabinet for it and probably a boss gt-6 to back up the distortion.

This thing seems very sturdy I mean I havent properly tested it but I trust Matt Bellamy in that marshall are built like a brick and Ive seen him stand on the 1960 cabinet and still play through it and im sure they're all built to pretty much the same standard.

I would suggest getting this but if you have any extra cash maybe get the dsl50 head as its not too much more and you can get a smaller cabinet for £200

This review was originally published on

MGR/Anonymous's review"Marshall Marshall DSL 401 Combo & Victoria Deluxe"

Marshall DSL401
Victoria Deluxe - Ebay - $900

Classic tone

Vintage quality

Classic tone in a small package.

This review was originally published on

MGR/jager's review"Marshall DSL-401"

Marshall DSL401
Purchased in 1999 for $550 new in a local shop. This was my first full tube amp. This amp is loud and has the signature Marshall sound however is ridden with quality flaws. See below for details.

That Marshall roar. It's distinct. Go for a dsl head though.

Known quality problems.

Some of this amp's flaws are due to design, some due to workmanship. For example let's start with the design flaws. This amp gets hot. Very hot. So hot you can warm up left-overs by placing them on the amp. Because it gets so hot this model has earned a reputation for solder joint cracks. Tube placement on the PCB is the cause of this. Another design flaw is the bias prongs are located directly on the PCB meaning you have to fight casing fit and tolex to get to it and then it's still a pain with a digital manometer. The best tubes I've found that will bias are svoltecs (forgive my spelling). Groove tubes will never bias right and with full twist will still be very cold. Ready for the workmanship flaws? I've typed enough so I'll just mention the spring reverb is barely screwed in to the casing and should have longer screws. And the footswitch has a faulty cable that will break VERY easily.

This is an amp that should've been more in quality. It was rushed to the masses. Before purchasing I highly suggest either saving for a dsl head/cabinet or going elsewhere. Just too many times this amp's let me down. Since you're reading this you're obviously online so do yourself a favor and search the amp reviews with sense.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Marko's review"Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 401 Valve Combo"

Marshall DSL401
I bought this unit in Canberra, Australia with my own hard-earned cash. I bought it because when tested it possessed the right tones and power that I needed. The cost was AU$1,750.

Great when working. Keeps up with the drums no worry. Good 3-independent channels.

After ONLY 2 months of using (not even that regularly) and sitting in the same place all that time, it died. It powered up but no sound!! I even had it fixed(?) and after 2 weeks without it, I got it back and surprise, surprise, it still didn't work!! I doubt the guys who were supposed to check it even touched it. NOT HAPPY!!

One word: Crap! Actually 2 words: REALLY CRAP!

BEWARE!! Don't buy unless you can't live without it. And this isn't the first time I've heard stuff going wrong with Marshall products (esp amps). I'm switching to Mesa Boogie.

This review was originally published on
MGR/Mike Moloy03/21/2004

MGR/Mike Moloy's review"Marshall DSL2000 401"

Marshall DSL401
I purchased this amp in December 2000 from Reno's music for $600 USD. I had an old Kustom solid state 130W head and 412 cabinet, but it was getting on in years and started to hum (probably a large cap failing). I was never able to get a good distortion sound out of it, and so I went after an all tube amp that I could try without investing a huge amount of money, in case I didn't get the sound I wanted.

I like the full tube sound, both clean and distortion channels are good. When running through my powered mixer witht the DI line out, I can really make it as big as I want. I have two 15" black widow wedge monitors that give this amp a huge bottom end, and I can use the mixer to adjust the highs through the crossover. It's like having any size amp you need for any gig. If you haven't used the DI, be sure to do so at some point. It's easier than using a close mic, and avoids the clutter.

I have had to have this unit serviced twice now for heat related cold solder joints caused by the lack of good ventilation to let the heat out of the chassis. I also have discovered that the additional spring can on the first preamp tube places an extreme amount of upward pressure and traps addtional heat on this tube which will cause it to go microphonic or decay after about an hour of heavy playing. This is most noticeable when I switch back to clean, the sound surges from thin and brittle to full and smooth, then back to thin and brittle. I removed the can to see if this will go away, and so far it has helped, but some tweaking of the controls is needed to get back some of the mid punch. This can also places a lot of pressure on the IC board that the tube socket is attached to. The spring could be about one third it's size and still work. I am considering installing both a fan and a top grill like the big heads have, to let the heat out. Probably will wait until the warranty runs out to make this mod, will use a remote fan until then.

Overall, the construction is acceptable and it's easy to tote around to gigs. I believe the speaker is a little thin, a greenback would probably give it a nicer edge, especially when running OD2 for heavy metal songs. I think Marshall should have done a better job of anticipating heat related issues and made better ventilation arrangements to the cabinet or chassis. The chassis is open at the top, so to put a vent in the top of the cabinet would have helped, but then dust and moisture intrusion has to be monitored (no brews on top of the amp!) I'm not big on using my amp as a drink holder anyway, it warms the beer to quick!

Overall, I think this is a great amp for it's price and size. I have a Marshall MG30FX backup practice amp, but I prefer the all tube sound. I've tried a lot of amplifiers and processors, but ultimately "I hear dead people" in those things! I can literally hear the processor doing it's thing and it's like listening to someone on a digital cell phone, it's real close but it's not the natural voice of analog cell signal.

This review was originally published on

MGR/Erik's review"Marshall JCM 2000 DSL 401 Dual Super Lead Combo"

Marshall DSL401
I paid roughly 800 dollars for it and beleive me it is not worth the money.

The clean channel is allright, not the best one I've heard but it's rather cool sounding for practicing at home.

However, when it comes to the dist channel, you might as well plug your guitar into a dishwasher and get a cleaner sound.
The lead channel of the amp is so dirty and distorted that you actually can't hear the notes on the first 2 strings of the guitar.
So if you wanna play good Van Halen tapping solos and so forth you're better off playing witout this amp. To be candid, it sounds like a crapy garage practice amp and I can't beleive Marshall issued such a bad amp. I now bought a 30Th anniversary combo for only 400 USD and beleive me this is the best amp in the world.

The amp looks good.

If you wanna use it as a practice amp gp for it (if you have 800 USD itching in your pocket) but if you're a real guitarist throw it away or use it as a chair in the bathroom.

You guys are welcome to contact me if you have questions or thoughts about the amp.

This review was originally published on