|Marshall Amplification plc.
|Denbigh Rd., Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK1 1DQ, United Kingdom
|Fender, Line 6, Peavey, Vox Amplification
Marshall Amplification plc. is a British company which designs and manufactures electric guitar amplifiers.
The company employs about 200 people.
Marshall amplifiers are well known and highly popular among guitarists. To this day, top-line Marshall amplifiers still use valve preamp and poweramp stages instead of solid-state devices (transistors), although Marshall also manufactures cheaper solid-state or hybrid devices.
Vacuum tube amplifiers (known as "valve amplifiers" in the UK) are generally considered to exhibit a "warmer" tone than that of transistors, particularly when overdriven; instead of abruptly clipping off the signal at cut-off and saturation levels, the signal is smoothly rounded off. Vacuum tubes also exhibit different harmonic effects than transistors (see tube sound for more about the sonic differences between transitors and vacuum tubes).
Marshall Amplification was founded in 1962 by Jim Marshall in a small shop in London.
Initial products were 45 watt amplifiers, very similar in both design and tone to Fender products of the day. Early customers included Pete Townshend and John Entwistle of The Who, whose search for extra volume led Marshall to design the classic 100 watt valve amplifier.
Additionally, a switch to the European EL34 poweramp valve increased the product's potential for overdrive. Marshall's profile was further raised by one of the amplifiers appearing on the cover of the John Mayall's Bluesbreakers LP which featured Eric Clapton.
As the 1960s drew to a close, the overdriven tone of the Marshall was further exploited by guitarists such as Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page. Amplifiers from this era, known as "plexis" because of their plexiglas front panel, now have significant collector value and can command high prices.
Amplifiers from the 1970s onwards can be distinguished most easily by their brushed metal front panel.
In the mid-1970s, Marshall introduced the "master volume" series - these amplifiers claimed to offer the overdriven tone of the earlier products, but at a much lower volume. This was achieved by limiting the output of the preamp stage; unfortunately, this results in a less pleasing overdriven tone, as much of the smooth, singing sustain of a classic valve amplifier comes from the poweramp tubes. Marshall continued to offer the earlier models, but many players agree that earlier amplifiers are still better.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Marshall continued to introduce new series of amplifiers which offered more gain and overdrive at low volumes - successively, the JCM800, JCM900 and JCM2000 series.