Marshall JCM 900 Dual Reverb with 5881 Power Tubes (Full Review)
This particular head was manufactured in 1997 made in the good ole U.K.. I got this head used of course on a trade and it came with some minor cosmetic issues. The usual tears on the tolex, but overall it was in great condition. I was really surprised that his model had the options to either operate on 100w (High power) or 50w (Low Power) with just a flick of a switch on the back of the amp. The weight of the head wasn't too bad, but felt that the narrowness of the head cabinet is prone to tipping over or it can easily slide off on a 3rd party speaker cabinet. The potentiometers felt a bit wobbly but surprisingly weren't scratchy. The knobs felt extremely cheap to the touch and the locking nuts used to keep the 1/4 in jacks in place came loose fairly easily. The back plate used to protect the innards was made out of a heavy grade galvanized steel. So I'll give them kudos for that.
Features & Tonal Qualities:
I'd recommended using a darker sounding speaker/cabinet when dialing in tones with the JCM 900. If you were to use V30s or any other speaker that concentrates on accentuating the top end. The overall tone will be very harsh and brittle even when dialing out the presence knob. The JCM 900 is tight on the lowend with a pronounce mid range that cuts through in a mix without any issues. Speakers I recommend with the JCM 900 are the G12T-75 by Celestion or a combination of EM12 Legends mixed with CV-75 by Eminence Speakers. Even though the JCM 900 is using a solid state clipping diode for it's gain stages. It sounds pretty damn good with more of an aggressive/metallic like overdrive in comparison with the favored JCM 800 that goes for a more round/warmer tone. This amp really opens up when the volume is set past 2 O Clock. The reverb is decent, but nothing to really rave about but it gets the job done. I would've preferred the head not being in a "Dual Reverb" configuration but instead have a master volume, master reverb, and with a foot-switchable fx-loop. The JCM 900 also takes well to overdrives in the front end of the amp giving you even more GAIN!!! I personally like it boosted with a germanium based overdrive like the "Fortin Facepunch" or the Keeley Germanium Red Dirt OD. I also recommend a smoother/slightly compressed OD like the TS808 or the Blackstar LT drive to tame the top end even further. The low end is extremely punchy and not flubby at all most likely due to the 5881 power-tube configuration. I also noticed that it is very dynamic even with active EMGs. The clean channel is not exactly a full on clean signal but it has rich harmonic properties with grit. It's thick but glassy, and sounds amazing with a Fender Strat. It really is a unique sound that you can only get from a Marshall JCM 900 and works great for the metal genre. Overall I rate this amp a:
7 out of 10
LTD EX-307 (EMG 81-7 bridge 707 Neck)
Ibanez TS808 mini
ISP Decimator II
Marshall JCM 900
Omega Alpha Extended 2x12 (CV-75 In The Mix)
Shure SM57 (Positioned right outside of the dust cap)
Presonus Studio One 2.0 DAW
End Of Signal Chain
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