Marshall DSL50
Marshall DSL50

DSL50, Tube Guitar Amp Head from Marshall in the JCM2000 DSL series.

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All user reviews of 3/5 for the Marshall DSL50

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Average Score:4.5( 4.5/5 based on 11 reviews )
 7 reviews64 %
 3 reviews27 %
 1 user review9 %
Value For Money : Excellent
King Loudness05/01/2011

King Loudness's review"Marshall... where'd you go?"

Marshall DSL50
The Marshall DSL50 is a 2 channel amp that was designed to pick up where the JCM900 series of amps left off. It is a 2 channel amp with 2 modes per channel, as well as well as onboard reverb and an effects loop. The full list of specs is as follows:

100% pure valve signal path using Svetlana EL34 valves [when not using the Reverb or Effects Loop].
Two channels - Classic Gain and Ultra Gain.
Crystal Clean to massive Crunch switching on the Classic Gain channel.
Lead 1 to Lead 2 switching on the Ultra Gain channel.
Tone Shift switch to reconfigure the way the tone section [particularly the
Middle control] works.
Deep Switch which introduces unique Marshall resonance circuitry for increased bottom end.
Effects Loop with level selection switch.

Technical Info
Output: 50 watts
Channels: 2
Modes per channel: 2
Tone Shift
Deep Switch
Effects Loop
Pre-Amp Valves: 4x ECC83
Power Amp Valves: 2x EL34

It's essentially meant to cover a wide variety of Marshall tones in one convenient package. It's not quite as versatile as the Marshall JVM or a Mesa Rectifier/Mark Five as far as features but it has a decent number of tones available, great for someone who just wants a basic set of Marshall tones.


Getting a good tone of this amp is not as easy as Marshall makes it sound. Marshall amps as of late have an inherent buzziness and compression to them that can't be dialed out very easily, and that's unfortunately why I can't get into them for the most part. I love classic British rock tones, but there are more boutique companies that do a better job at those tones to me.

The clean channel is not too bad. It has a nice lushness to it that is especially apparent with single coil pickups. It was enjoyable to mess around with, though it was definitely a tad too scooped for my liking. The crunch mode on this channel was nice... good for bluesier tones and AC/DC raunch but again, it was very scooped in nature I found.

The overdrive channel has two modes, OD1 and OD2. Of the two, I found OD1 to be the better sounding one. I preferred to turn the gain close to fully up as well as the midrange for a cool British rock sort of tone. It wasn't nearly as strong a tone as the Splawn Quick Rod that I owned, but it had a nice snarl to it when you really dug in with the pick. OD2 was decent as well, but it was a bit too gainy and compressed for my liking, so it was really only useful for solos that were meant to sound totally wild.


I've tried a few of these and used them with various humbucker loaded guitars (Parker Fly, various Gibsons), as well as a Strat, and I've come to the same opinions about the tones each time. The amp sounds decent enough, but really, there is too much of a scooped nature and too much compression for my taste. This is less apparent on the first channel (clean), but it is still there. I'm a huge proponent of midrange and a nice rounded frequency range and this amp does not have that vibe to me.

In a live setting, the amp's shining point was OD1 mode, albeit with some very carefully arranged settings boosting the midrange tones and using reverb to help the sustain along. I generally would only use OD1 and switch to clean, eschewing the other two modes altogether because of the compression issue. For most people the amp seems to work. However I'm a pretty big fan of Mesa Mark series amps so the scooped/compressed nature is just not for me.


I have to wonder where Marshall's gone in the last 25 years... they've gone from producing killer amps like the JMP, JCM800 2203/2204 and Silver Jubliee to overcompressed buzzy amps like the DSL, TSL, and the abomination that was the Mode Four. They're starting to get it again with amps like the Vintage Modern, which is FINALLY a true contender against the classic Marshalls or boutique takes like the Splawn Quick Rod or Ceriatone Chupacabra... but amps like the DSL just baffle me. There are some good tones, sure, but the overall nature of the amp is very un-Marshally and just turns me off. For the $1,300 they sell for new, save the $$ and grab either a Marshall Vintage Modern (if you want good tones) or a used Splawn Quick Rod (if you want good tones and channel switching versatility.)