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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
And i have to admit, this is the first marshall i've played in a long time that i liked the sound of. It wasn't too fizzy, it had some depth to it, the crunch mode was a pleasant change after about two years of mesa chugging, but i could still get a warm, singing lead tone if i cranked the mids. I'm seriously considering the thing- i've got a guy willing to buy my Mesa Rocket-44 for $500, and this was $700. Gotta go back tomorrow with the 2027 and see how it handles the extra low end (i was playing a crappy squier fat strat; first thing at hand).

So, any of you guys had any experience with this thing? For a college student, it's perfect- fairly versatile (i was able to get some jazzy clean sounds out of it; clearly not intended for that, but it's tolerable), small enough to fit in a dorm room and get some decent tones without killing anyone, etc. All i'd want different would be independant volume, gain, and tone controls for the crunch overdrive mode... which is where the 601 comes in, i guess. Doubt i can swing the cash for that just now, though. Any thoughts?

-Drew
 

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the Marshall DSl 401 is one of the better amps i own. if you enjoy the tone of this amp on its default tubes, you'll enjoy it more with Electro Harmonics 12AX7 & Tesla EL84s.

you'll read countless claims on the amp's reliability hiccups in other forums (& maybe here too), especially the overheating issue. i own this amp & it has not broken down since day 1. yes the amp does get hot very easily, but if you invest in a cheap table fan & aim at the DSL 401's rear while in use, it won't fail you.

what i like about this amp is its exceptionally impressive clean channel (nope, it's not a fender sparkling clean tone). 8)
 

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well i have a dsl 401 and i like it alot i do use efects with it as well, but the amp od is very warm and pleasent.

ive always been very happy with what it does. i get a pretty good tone out of it so thats cool with me
 

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The DSL401 is a great amp and seems to sell very well. The price ain't bad either. It has a very different sound than the other Marshall JCM2000 series (the family to which it belongs) amps produce.

My favorite combo is the TSL601 (1x12 60w). It's pricier and only $100.00US (list price) less than the 602 (2x12). But considering the convenience of its size-I was blown away. This sounded many times fuller and warmer than any other 1x12 I've ever heard in my life. The DSL401 and TSL601 are both great and very different. They are both worth checking out.

Mike Haug
 

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My main amp is a Rivera 55-12. Most stores do not have one of these fine amps, so when test driving a guitar in-store I use the 401. Not that it approximates the tone of the Rivera - they are different beasts, but I found the 401 to be an amp that most stores have in stock. It sounds great, it's priced reasonably, it's a Marshall, and I'm left wondering why I don't have one at home.
 

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I have the TSL 100, basically a DSL with an extra channel thrown in. Regarding the comment on different tubes, I agree that different tubes make a big difference in these amps, also the biasing from the factory can be a little on the cold side.

These are good amps but they become great amps with some basic tweaking. They can be had for a good deal as well. I highly recommend them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, went back to the place the next day with my 2027, and put it through its paces for about an hour. I liked it. Went home, and plugged into my Mesa Rocket-44 to compare.

30 seconds later, i'd decided agaisnt buying the Marshall. It just sounds "fizzy" compared to my mesa... And i mean, it's not like the Rocket series is exactly the best Mesa/Boogie's ever put out, yet this thing sounded warmer and fuller and smoother at whisper volumes than the marshall did at any setting i tried it at (in its defence, i never really got the master above 4 with the channel cranked in the store, but i was playing my Mesa at like 1 when i compared the two, so...)

I guess i just don't like marshalls.

I'm still looking for something a little more flexible than the Rocket-44- that and my strat sounds VERY hendrix-y (think "Blues" or "Band of Gypsys"), which is great, but it doesn't "agree" with my 7's quite as much, and while its rhythm tone can just kill, the character of the distortion never really varies much. I'm thinking of looking into selling it and going for a Nomad-45. I know there's a place a half hour up the road that carries them, so i guess i need to do some road tripping.

Anything else you guys would suggest on a sub-$800 budget? I've mentioned this elsewhere, but my benchmark tone was petrucci's G3 sound- heavy, yet SO warm and defined. I guess that's a Mark IIC+, but the odds of finding one in the middle of Vermont are sorta stacked agaisnt me... ;)

-Drew
 

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Hey Drew,

I won't try to talk you into an amp you don't want but your definition of the marshall's tone as fizzy is spot on. I agree one hundred percent. My TSL was the same, except I had two channels of fizzy distortion. I posted a review of my Voodoo Amps mods to my TSL in this section of the forum. It might blow your budget, but if you can find a decent head at a good price, these guys can hook you up with the tone you want.

The long and the short of it is that my TSL kills now and I play seven strings as well as a strat, but mainly my 2027. It's more Vai than Petrucci sounding, it's got Alien Love Secrets and PAW covered in spades. I wanted my Lead Channel more Petrucci sounding and it gets pretty close but it needs to be cranked up to get the compression required.

Just an option for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Gresh,

Yeah, i read your review... and the idea of getting that kind of tone out of a 40-watt combo has me drooling at the thought. However, that's going to have to wait till after college, at least- i could afford the 401 on its own. the TSL head is definately out of my budget though, and either plus the costs of modifications, well, i'd be selling kidneys to science or something.

Incidentally, if you've got the gear to do this, i'd love to hear a sound clip of the thing, going for kind of a live petrucci and/or "Die to Live" sort of vibe...

Anyway, thanks for the suggestion- maybe one day. ;)

-Drew
 

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Well, unfortunately I managed to drop my amp from a decent height and now it's in the shop. My clean channel just went ape on me. Hopefully it's just some cracked solder or something simple.

When I get it back I'll see what I can do to get something recorded...I normally just use my POD Pro for that stuff so it'll be fun rigging up to record with a real microphone. I'm looking at a couple of weeks before I get her back though, what a bummer.
 

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I just got my Voodoo-modded JCM800 back last week.

It sounds horrible, like I'm playing through slashed/blown speakers, at any volume. Grainy distortion, no definition, the bottom end is twice as muddy as it was before I sent it off. I don't see how anyone could think this amp sounds good, and I'm debating on sending it back to him to get 'un'-modded, or just trying to sell it as is.

I'm glad he did a good job on yours, but I'm totally unsatisfied with mine; I just picked up a new DSL 50 and put some Electro-Harmonix preamp tubes in, and plan to throw in some Svetlana power tubes in in the near future.

Wish I had done that in the first place.. :evil:
 

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Be sure you let Trace know, he'll make it right...or at least I hope he will. It is also possible that something got whacked in shipping.

Mine got banged up in shipping, wrecked most of the tubes and killed the reverb pan. So I had to completely retube it as well. It sounded like crap prior to retubing so there was something terribly wrong. The new tubes brought it back to life...then of course I dropped it from about 5 feet.

Let him know you aren't happy for sure and see what he tells you. He walked me through getting mine back up and running and sent me a new reverb pan. He'll make it right.
 

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You may want to try some different pickups. My buddy plays his RG7(not sure what model but it is the first year that they started making RG7s) through a mesa dual rectifier, and a mesa 4X12 cab. The low B sounded pretty muddy with the Blaze humbuckers. He switched to 2 single coil blazes and it sounds much better in every aspect. He had to get a custom pickgaurd made, which looks really sweet. The lows are much more pronounced... Might be worth a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
No, Bogus, you missed my point. I LIKE my current pickups, the way they react, and the tone they give me plugged into my Mesa. It's just i want something subtly different and a bit more flexible.

After digging around the Mesa site a lot, the Rectifier 50 combo (either Solo or Rect-O-Verb -the reverb would be nice, but for playing live and recording it isn't mandatory, and can always be added later) is beginning to look VERY appealing. I remember seeing one at the place i bought my current mesa- think it mighthave been around $900, and while the clean channel seemed pretty good, i didn't play it much because the distrortion channel was totally blown- no real output at all, and what it was was a slightly fizzy cleanish sound. Someone'd blown the tubes, i think, and they just never retubed it in the shop it was in. A Falcetti's Music, for anyone in Mass who's dealt with them before.

Haven't exactly been impressed with any dealing i've ever had with Falcetti's, incidentally. (i had some issues with the original Rocket-44 i bought from them too- when you turned the clean channel up past a certian point, suddenly it'd short out. Didn't notice this at first because i did a volume test on the one i ended up buying, and didn't see the other one until one of the sales people said, "hey, maybe you want this one, it isn't as dusty," and i only gave it a cursury check. Never again. ;)) I wouldn't even shop there, but they're the only Mesa dealer within a 2 or three hour drive i know of from where i live. Course, there's one a half hour up the road in burlington i've been meaning to visit- don't know if they're liscensed or not, but they have a bunch of mesas. We'll see.

Anyway, back to the books.

-Drew
 

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the thing about the DSL 401's overdrive is that it's more fuzz (or fizz, whatever) than distortion. drew got that right.

that's the reson why those who enjoy Marshall's valvestates states that the VSs have more punch & definition. that's also the reason why i choose to acquire an amp that has a more 'American' type definition, mainly it's due to the 6L6 type tubes fixed into these units. hence my new amp is a Peavey Ultra Plus head...

but the 401 is a bargain for a combo at that kinda asking price
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
k, had myself another "near-Marshall" experience last night. I was playing at this "battle of the bands" deal on campus, and between the cramped stage and the short set chances, the sound guy wanted us to minimize the number of amps that would be used. Since the pink floyd cover band (and eventual winners- they DID rock) had already set up by the time we got there, and since their guitarist had already gotten his DSL-201 going on stage, he strongly recommended i just used his amp, rather than trying to get my mesa onstage. I hesitated a bit, then finally went up, plugged into it, and gave it a run.

It was running fairly hot, so while it was still a little "fizzy" to my tastes, it at least had some balls to the sound. I screwed around for a while, and finally just said to myself, "whatever, it's just a gig, at least it's got tubes." Since he was using a digitech effects processor for his lead tones, he gave me free reign to set the distorted channel however i wanted, so i dialed up a tone i was at least comfortable with, and just went for it.

Playing report? It's an AMAZINGLY dynamic amp- rather than justr eaching down and diving at the channel switch whenever i needed to get a clean sound (he didn't bring the footswitch, because he didn't think he'd need it), i just backed off the gain and went to a single coil whenever i needed a clean rhythm tone (which was quite a lot- the ensemble i was playing with included a djembe player, a tenor sax, a bassist, and two acoustic guitars (plus me, on a 7-string ibanez. ;)), and the songwriter was big into Dave Matthews- in fact, we closed with a suprisingly cool rendition of "ants marching"), and while it wasn't perfectly clean, i liked the slightly gritty tones i was dialing up. The bass response was MUCH tighter than my mesa, and had a very "compressed" feel, both in the clean channel and in the distorted one. It was cool.

What impressed me the most though was how good it sounded in the mix. This thing cut through like it was nobody's buisness- it was clear and defined on rhythm, and when i went for a lead, i had great attack and clarity. Not suprisingly, it was very Satch-like. Tones that i found myself being at best ambigious to when i was noodling away getting a feel for the thing (and i REALLY turned some heads doing so- the guitarist whose amp i was playing had never heard me play before, and i don't think he'd actually SEEN anyone sweep-pick or "shred" in person (if i can use the term- i personally call myself a "quasi-shredder," in deference to the millions of better guys out there)) suddenly were singing, defined, and "alive" with a full band behind me. As much as i love my Mesa, i gotta admit that it didn't sound THAT good with a band around it- it's nice, but it gets lost in the mix a lot easier than the marshall.

And there was a TON of gain on tap; he had it set with the gain on like 4.5 when i started, and i figured it must have been most of the way up. I upped it to maybe 6.5, and felt like i didn't need anything more than that. Impressive... and at 20 watts, you can really push the thing... yet it has a full-sized speaker. sweet.

Dammit, i may be buying one of these things yet... anyone have any experience with tube swaps on these? what will a different set of preamp and/or poweramp tubes do to the sound of it, in terms of smoothing out that harshness a LITTLE bit and giving it at least the potential for some more bass?

-Drew
 

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Sweet man, that sounds like you had a great time. It's huge fun when you feel like your tone is just "there." Another Marshall guy in the making...sounds good to me. I get sick of hearing all the Mesas on MTV and the radio.

Some higher class tubes should make things a little smoother but it's gonnal cost you $100 in tubes alone. And don't pay for a bias job...it's a piece of cake to do it yourself as long as the trim pots are accessible. My marshall's bias was was cold...switched to Svetlana EL34s and Sovtek 12AX7LPS preamp tubes and I noticed a decent difference is smoothness, a little more low end but not much. It just sounded alot better overall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hey, chops-wise, i probably had about a beer too many (someone recorded a video of us, so i'll withold final judgement until i hear/see it), but screw it, i had a great time on stage.

I'm really not a "marshall" tone fan, and just find the things uninspiringly... "flat" when played on their own. It's just that very dullness really brings them to life in a band context, i guess.

Priced some tubes off musician's friend, if i can say that word here, and for a replacement set of Groove Tubes (they didn't offer a full set of the ones i need from sovtek), i'd be looking at about $70- about $10 a peice for four ECC83's for the preamp, and about $30 for a quartet of EL84's. How difficult is it to swap tubes out yourself? And what sort of gear do you need, aside from the run-of-the-mill screwdrivers and whatnot you need to get at an amp's innards?

It's tempting... I think if i've got some time after comprehensive exams wind down i'm going to call up the guy who owns the marshall and see if he'd loan it to me for an hour or two to see how it records, and then maybe go home and give the 401 another go...

-Drew
 

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Drew,

I've got a scanned sheet that explains how to do this and what the millivolt settings should be for the 401. I won't be at that computer until Thursday but I'll send it to you. All you need is a digital multimeter and a eyeglass srewdriver (one of those small ones).
 
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