When musicians start talking about the Marshall JCM 800 2203 Lead Series amp it’s like when a group of Italians might get together and start discussing the Pope. What you’ll usually hear is almost like reverence, mixed with a healthy dose of respect and coupled with at times just downright awe. Oh Yeah. The amp is just that fricking good. There is no debate on this issue. You want to rock loud? You want to use what the big boys use? Then you invest in the JCM 800 amp and set the room on fire!
Oh yeah, it’s an investment and we’re not making any bones about it. This amp isn’t some cheap knock off from a third world sweatshop. Oh hell no! It’s an amp the pros have used for decades and there’s plenty of reasons that they do. One of the biggest reasons, besides the name, besides its toughness and durability is the legendary sound that this beast can produce. So think about that when it’s time to upgrade your current gear . What’s your sound worth to you? Hopefully, you at least give this amp a look see before you answer that question.
The History Behind The Marshall JCM 800 Amp
The next time you’re out on a gig and you’re chatting up some hottie during a break between sets who thinks your playing absolutely kicks a** , take the opportunity to wow her with the knowledge that you possess on the history of Marshall amplifiers. Good idea, right? What do you mean “No”? Ok, Ok, Ok. I’ll let that slide.
But indulge me here for just a little bit and let me pass on a little history of Marshall amps because it truly is one of those stories that can almost be classified as a true rags to riches saga. At the very least, it’s a story about a man who started to build amplifiers back in the early 60′s that gave rock it’s early sound of loud (underscore loud), raw power and still does to this very day.
All you need to know to verify this is take a look at some of the biggest acts in rock today and see what is sitting on their stage. So with that said, here is the story of Marshall amplifiers. And I promise I’ll make it the Readers Digest version!
Jim Marshall always had his heart in music. He was a drummer and was also a drum teacher until he had the notion to go into business for himself and open up a quaint music shop in London in 1960. And no, that’s not when he started to build amps. That would come a few years later when a customers of his, guys like Pete Townsend (The Who) and Ritchie Blackmore convinced Marshall that there was a need for less expensive guitar amps that had a more unique sound.
And so the journey began.
At the time, Fender amps were king of the hill but that was soon to change. Using a Fender amp as his model, it took Marshall 5 times getting it wrong before he finally succeeded on try number 6 building the amp that was going to launch Marshall amps. Naturally, Townsend, Blackmore and a few others were his first customers as only 23 amps were initially built. From this point forward, Marshall amps were soon to be the go to amps of some of the greatest guitar players who ever set foot on the planet.
So where does the Marshall JCM 800 fit into all of this? Well, that’s next in our little history lesson.
The Debut Of The Marshall JCM 800 Series Amplifiers
The year was 1981 and the JCM 800 2203 amplifier was introduced so that Marshall could compete more globally with emphasis on the United States. And just so you know, the first batch of these amps were actually earlier “Master Volume” amps with a few tweaks and new front panel. But all that is really irrelevant because the JCM 800 2203 series soon became the standard amp for many of the bands in the 1980′s Heavy Metal movement. Sure, I could list a who’s who here that used these amps, but that might take a little while and you probably already know anyway or you wouldn’t be here in the first place.
What many question though is why the company retired this series in 1991 in favor of the JCM 900. But here is where you have to give a tip of the hat to Marshall Amps as they actually listened to their customers. Granted, it took them awhile to react and bring back the Marshall JCM 800 2203, but I guess you can chalk it up to the old saying of “better late than never” and so now you have the reissue back on the market.
As stated earlier, this bad boy is not the least expensive amp that currently exists in today marketplace. But those who end up buying the Marshall Jcm 800 2203 Lead Series Amps usually are after that distinctive roar and edginess that have become their calling card. Maybe that’s you, maybe it’s not but you should at least give it a look and weigh your options.