3 Independent channels each featuring, Volume and Gain controls;
Independent EQ on the Clean channel. Shared EQ on the Crunch/Lead channels;
60 Watt Svetlana EL34 power section;
Individual Reverb levels for Clean and Overdrive channels, also on/off footswitchable;
Effects loop with level selection and front panel Mix control, also on/off footswitchable;
speaker emulation circuitry for direct recording, for connection to an external power amp or for connection to a P.A. system;
Deep switch adding low end resonance;
Tone Shift facility on the Crunch/Lead channel for instant tonal re-shaping;
5 way footswitch for channel, Reverb and Effects Loop switching
* Prices may differ from that shown
The Marshall TSL 100 head is a 100 watt, triple channel valve amplifier head, the current flagship of the range.
I purchased this amplifier about 4 months ago, having been tempted by the very attractive price my local music shop was offering of £699.
Having used a JCM 900 single channel combo and a JMP 2203 MV head for many years this new amp took me a bit of getting used to, especially with the amount of controls available on the front panel!
The amp features 3 individual channels - clean, crunch and lead. Each channel has it’s own master volume, gain and EQ controls. In addition to this you also get tone changing switches on these channels which allow you to add more bottom end to the sound, and to cut the middle EQ setting to achieve that “scooped” sound, popular in thrash and nu-metal. There are also two separate reverb levels available, one for the clean channel and one that is shared between the crunch and lead channels.
A very useful feature of this amplifier is the VPR (virtual power reduction) facility. Pressing this switch instantly alters the amp to run at 25 watts as opposed to the normal 100 watts. Any guitar player who knows their valve amplifiers will be aware that to get the best sound you need to be pushing the amp hard. It is highly impractical to run at 100 watt Marshall head at full volume in your local rehearsal studios, as the extreme noise level is likely to result in you losing both your hearing and your band mates! Basically a 100 watt Marshall stack on full is far too loud unless your regular gig is somewhere like the Albert Hall!!. The point I’m getting to is that with the VPR feature you are able to run your amp at a much more ear-friendly 25 watts, whilst still pushing it hard to get the tubes cooking and achieve that sought after power valve distortion.
Another useful feature on the front panel is the mute switch, which allows you to run the amplifier into a recording desk without needing a speaker cabinet attached to it.
I liked the fact that you get a multi function foot switch included in the price. Many amplifier manufacturers will make you pay additional money for a foot switch. The one included allows you to select the 3 channels, switch reverb in and out and also switch the FX loop on or off.
The back panel includes two separate FX loops, 3 speaker outputs, a DI output and the connection for the footswitch.
OK right well stop boring us with all this technical detail I hear you say, how does it sound?
Probably the most surprising feature is how good the clean sound is. Marshall amps have for a long time been revered for their distortion tones but it was always felt the clean sounds were somewhat lacking. It seems that Marshall have really done their homework and finally produced an amp that has a superb clean tone. Add a wash of reverb to this sound and you start to find yourself with Fender Twin type clean tones. That’s something that you can’t do with a JCM 900!
Onto the Crunch channel then. It’s fair to say that Marshall fans are not going to be disappointed with this channel! The sound has that distinctive Marshall bite to it. It’s quite bright, not a million miles away from my 1976 JMP 2203 head, but there is a helping of JCM 800 in there with the amount of gain on offer. The EQ settings function well and allow a decent amount of control over the tones. Add to this the two tonal shaping switches mentioned above and you have a very flexible channel.
Donning my best spandex trousers and big hair wig we move onto the Lead channel. This is where the rocking really takes place! As you wind up the gain control the amount of distortion available is impressive. Obviously Marshall are looking to cater for the many different styles including the more extreme nu-metal sounds with this channel. It terms of tone, for me it doesn’t sound that far removed from the Crunch channel, but considering what a good sound that channel produces then it isn’t a problem!
In conclusion then I have found this to be an excellent amplifier and I am very pleased that I took the plunge and bought it! There are some great sounds on offer and it is packed with useful features. It also represents great value for money considering you will pay over a thousand pounds for most triple channel valve amplifier heads. Nice one Marshall!!
Thanks for reading!