1 Channel, 100 watts, 4 EL34's, Standard EQ section with master volume, FX loop with true bypass switch, 4/ 8/ 16 ohm speaker out selector
The JCM800 should need to introduction. There are so many amps based off of its design, it's not even funny. They have been a platform for modifications since the early 80's. Very easy to dial in for that classic rock sound. It's one of those amps that will work for anything. Toss a boost pedal in front and it can do metal. Back off the gain and it does a great clean.
The reissues have a built in FX loop, which you can bypass, which makes the reissue the one to get in my opinion. There were many many variations of the 800, but the reissue is a recreation of the famed vertical input 2203.
Soundswise, this is a very versatile amplifier. Sure it only has one channel, but you can get anything for crystal clean to classic rock overdrive. The thing I really like about this amp, is that whatever guitar you use sounds like itself. Some amps tend to make every guitar sound kinda similar, but the 800 really shows off each guitar's personality. A Strat will sound very stratty, a les Paul will sound very Les Paul like.
The 800 takes boost pedal very well, which is a huge plus. It can also sound killer very clean, which I honestly didn't expect. And it shines with a Strat!
My only real complaint about this amp is that it tends to be on the brighter side. I like amps to sound great with everything set at 12 o'clock (except for maybe gain and volume). With the 800, I find myself turning off the treble and turning the presence way down. I do tend to like amps that are somewhat dark, but not too dark.
The FX loop is good, but you tend to loose a little bit of 'something' when it is engaged. It's not a deal breaker or anything, but I would definitely not keep it engaged if I wasn't using it.
The amp itself is very loud. It's 100 watts is definitely loud.
Overall, this is a very solid amp. It's an instrument in of itself and is excellent at showing of each of you guitars' unique voice. I have wanted on of these for years and years, and I am very excited to have on in the collection. I own lot's of great amps, and the 800 will remain in the stable.
I have been playing guitar for 20 years now. I teach guitar to 40+ students weekly. I have recorded/ performed/ gigged with national recording artists and currently gig local in FLA. and teach.
I like aggressive blues, old school funk, heavy groove, alt tunings, psychedelic, guitar instrumental music, brazilian, fusion, shred, egyptian and radio format, retro and RNB soul music.
I acquired this latest JCM800 2203 through an ad I placed looking for this particualr amp on the Marshall forum and the Gear Page. I paid $1,350 and the price is rising for an 81' Mint with Daly caps and Dagnell/ Drake trannies and choke. I have been playing these amps almost exclusively for 20 years only deviating to Bogner and Lee Jackson along the way. Just got a 1959HW plexi to thats on the way that im gonna run alongside this rig. Ill never sell this amp EVER!
I love everything about it. It is a simple one channel circuit. Perfect balance of Frequencies. Great Damping and sag. Perfect picking attack tone. Inspirational tone from this amp which everyone is always asking about. My personal favorite tone from any amp in existence from Diezels to Bogners to Fenders to Marshalls and on and on. This is the one!
It is built like a tank. You know the old addage they dont build um like they used to. It s true. The reissue is nice but this is the REAL DEAL !
If you are looking for a FIRST MArshall to buy definitely take a look at this one. It is forgiving to your play (ALthough mine needs none, LOL:> And takes to pedals like Rocky Balboa does to a prize fight. The most inspirationa lsound ever from one amp and its all here! Get an 81 to 84' nothing post 84' and your safe!
I have owned 3 of these over the years. I let them go and then I come back to them. I always come back to them. The quintessential rock n roll amp if there ever was one. This amp has been featured on countless records over the years from anyone and everyone. Granted most of them have been hot rodded up but that it the fun of it too. These amps are so great when you get them to an amp guru who can add a little muscle to the amp. Or keep it unmodified and get a classic hard rock tone.
The attack is snappy and quick. There is only 6 knobs so its not to hard to figure out. But you have to have the gain on 10.
4 EL34s in the power stage
3 ECC83s in the preamp
True bypass series FX loop
It is a great rock tone that can be bland but cranked it gets sweet. There is a very warm tone from this amp when paired with the right speaker and cab. But if you don't want to shell out $700 to get it modified then slap a Boss Sd-1 in front of it and you'll get some killer hard rock tones. If you want to get this thing sizzeling then you need to throw a pedal in front of it preferably a clean boost pedal with just a hint of gain was all that I needed.
I had a Wolfgang style guitar and an Boss SD-1 in front with just a hit of gain but the level all the way up going in to a vintage Marshall 4x12 with Blackbacks and a another 4x12 with GT75's. It was a gain experience! I needed a noise gate because this thing was cranking some noise.
At new you can pick these amps up for right at around $2300. That is a bit of a hefty price for a single channel amp. I suggest going with a used one fro right around $850 or so. I have even score for for right at $650. The newer reissues will fetch a higher check but no more than $1100 for a used one of these. If someone is asking for more just reminds them in a few weeks when they don't sell it that you will take it for around $1000 at a favor to them.
The Marshall 2203x is a reissue of the amp that was THE big cheese head in the eighties for rock or metal. Whether you had a stock one or a modded one, anybody who had one had great tone. It took the Master Volume JMP and kicked things up a notch with a fresh cosmetic look and a trend towards higher gain sounds. It still featured the single channel layout with the gain/volume setup and the single four band EQ. The 2203x is a reissue of that iconic 100 watt, EL34 powered tube head. It features an effects loop for added versatility to suit today's modern player which is very cool.
Getting a good sound out of this amp is pretty simple for sure. Like the JMP before it, this amp really needs to be turned up loud to get the tones happening, but otherwise it is very easy to dial in and sounds just like a Marshall should. The simple single channel layout offers users a very intuitive interface that is receptive to tonal changes, especially at higher volumes. I particularly like these amps when they're modified for more gain and saturation. Doing this gives the amp a bit more punch and attack. Boosting the amp with an overdrive pedal yields good results too.
I've tried this amp with many different guitars. I find that it responds better to hotter pickups like humbuckers and P90s. This gives the amp a bit more bite and allows the crunch to be more apparent. Single loaded guitars are decent too, but can tend to sound thin and underpowered depending on the context. The amp responds well to volume roll off too, which is great for adding a sense of versatility to this single channel amp. The tones are great, but definitely not high gain by today's standards. It would need to be modified to get some of the great high gain British voiced tones we all know and love. It basically is an accurate representation of what the hard rock amp of the eighties was, so if you need a more modern high gain tone, get a modded one or look to another amp.
All in all I think this amp is a great and fairly faithful reproduction of the famed 2203. The effects loop is a nice added touch and it sounds pretty close to the originals. It's priced way too high at about $2300 new... An original 2203 can be had for far less... especially if it isn't mint. However the 2203x can be found for reasonable prices on the used market which could make it attractive to someone wanting a good reissue of the eighties hard rock amp.