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How to Find the Best Marshall Amp Head Under $1000

It’s written, "In the beginning there was Jim, and Jim was with his son. Together Jim and his son created the JTM45 amp head.'' You can find this verse in chapter one of the sacred book of Marshall Amps.

A quick glance at Marshall's amp history and it becomes clear that a good portion of the amps that make Marshall the iconic brand it is today are head amps. When Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Slash, Angus Young, Jimmy Paige, and many more looked to Marshall for a stage partner, a lot of them went for the classic Marshall Amp heads.

Generally, head amps are cheaper than combos. Even then, in the past, you might have found yourself having to break the bank for a classic Marshall Head. Today, however, Marshall has a variety of cheap head amps that are just as iconic as their more expensive counterparts.

We went through each of Marshall's range of amps to give you a comprehensive list of your options when it comes to the best Marshall amp head under $1000. Dive in and let's explore the list together.

Marshall Origin Series

Released in April 2018, Marshall's Origin Series is comprised of some of the most affordable amps in the world. The range of amps comes with a balance of combos and heads, all of which are single-channel amps. While the amps are made to emulate the classic characteristic Marshall sounds, they’re fitted with the latest modern amp technologies. For instance, they all have Marshall's most recent PowerStem power scaling technologies. Below, we review the Origin 50H and Origin 20H, both of which are under $1000.

1. Marshall Origin20H ($500)

marshall amp

Image credits: Marshall

Sporting Marshall's classic black and gold aesthetic, this amp is a good place to start your Marshall Tube amp journey. With 20 watts of power output, this amp packs enough punch to act as a stage partner for performing musicians or simply serve as a rehearsal amp. You could also lower wattage using the power reduction feature to use it as a practice amp. A key feature is the tilt control that allows you to switch between normal and bright sounds while playing.

While it comes with no inbuilt effects, the amps effects loop feature accepts pretty well, adding to the various tonal options one can achieve with the amp. It uses two EL34 power amp tubes and three ECC83 preamp tubes, making it the ideal amp for guitarists in search of vintage tube amp Rock sounds.

Features

  • Valve amp
  • PowerStem technology allows for 20W, 3W, and 0.5W power output options
  • Multiple control options
  • No effects
  • Series Effects loop
  • Footswitchable
  • Single Channel
  • Weighs 9.4 kg / 21 lbs

2. Marshall Origin50H ($650)

marshall amp

Image credits: Marshall

For an added punch to what the Origin 20H has to offer, you could go for the Origin 50H. This amp comes with a footswitch, giving you the ability to control various features such as the effects and the boost. However, in the event you don't have a footswitch, you can use the push-pull feature on the gain knob to adjust the boost.

Like its sibling, the Origin 20h, this amp also has a power reduction feature, making it ideal for various performance environments. Ideally, this is a performance and rehearsal amp. Lastly, while Marshalls are legendary for their amazing overdriven sounds, this amp has pretty respectable cleans.

Features

  • Valve amp
  • PowerStem technology allows for 50W, 10W, and 5W power output options
  • Multiple control options
  • No effects
  • Series Effects loop
  • Footswitchable
  • Single Channel
  • Weighs 11.8 kg / 26 lbs

Marshall DSL Series

The Dual Super Lead series is a range of amps that emulates some of Marshall's most iconic tube amps. The range of amps has been modified and improved over the years so that they could be accessible to all types of guitarists. Although the range is predominantly made up of awe-inspiring combos, there are a few head amps you could get under $1000.

3. Marshall DSL1H ($450)

marshall amp

Image Credits: Marshall

For a small package amp that delivers just enough for bedroom practice sessions and small rehearsals, the DSL 1H is just the perfect choice at under $1000. This is a two-channel style classic tube amp aimed at players who want killer tones but at low volumes. Although it’s a 1-watt amp, it comes with a power reduction feature that allows you to go even lower in terms of power output. The DSL 1 comes with inbuilt reverb and a series effects loop, allowing for multiple tone options. At just 5.6 kg in weight, this is the most portable amp on the list.

Features

  • Valve amp
  • 1-watt power output with reduction option up to 0.1 watts
  • Series effects loop
  • Inbuilt studio quality reverb
  • Tone shift option
  • 2 channels (ultra-gain and classic gain)
  • Equalization controls
  • Weighs 5.6 kg / 12 lbs

4. Marshall DSL20H ($650)

marshall amp

Image credits: Marshall

One reason Marshall Amps are popular is their unique distortion characteristics. The DSL 20H is equipped with an ultra-gain channel that allows for epic distortion, even without the use of pedals. Similar to the DSL 1, it comes with a power reduction feature from 20watts to 10 watts. This means you could use it anywhere from a small venue performance to a bedroom practice session. The amp is footwitchable, and the series effects loop means it can accept pedals to add to your tonal options. A key tone shift feature adds to the saturation options for extra tonal options.

Features

  • Valve amp
  • 20-watt power output with reduction option up to 10 watts
  • Series effects loop
  • Inbuilt studio quality reverb
  • Tone shift option
  • 2 channels (ultra-gain and classic gain)
  • Equalization controls
  • Weighs 9.7 kg / 21 lbs

Amp Heads Under $2000

We took the liberty of looking for amps that are slightly above the $1000 mark. While these amps may cost you a few bucks above $1000, they come loaded with extra features that may prove the difference. We tried to keep the extras list under $2000.

1. Marshall DSL100H ($1199)

marshall amp

Image Credits: Marshall

For a new DSL 100H, you might have to pay a maximum extra of between 50-200 dollars. Considering the extra punch this amp packs over the rest of the amps on this list, this is a worthy purchase. This 100-watt amp is ideal for guitarists looking for an amp they could use for large events. The amp has two split channels and is midi compatible, making it effective even in-studio recording sessions.

Features

  • Valve amp
  • 100-watt power output with reduction option up to 50 watts
  • Series effects loop
  • Inbuilt studio quality reverb
  • Midi compatible
  • 2 channels (ultra gain and classic gain)
  • Equalization controls
  • Weighs 24.2 kg / 53 lbs

2. Marshall SC20H ($1749)

marshall amp

Image Credits: Marshall

If you asked around for what the most iconic Marshall amp ever was, there’s a huge likelihood that a good portion of guitarists will tell you the JCM800 is one of the best. The SC20 is a scaled-down version of this classic. It comes fitted with power amp tubes and three ECC83 preamps. The unique JCM800 tone can be attributed to the fact that one of the tubes used on the preamp is a phase spitter. For the ultimate sounds, Marshall recommends that guitarists pair it with its special Marshall studio cabinets designed specifically as partners to the studio series amps. Depending on where you purchase the amp from, this amp may cost you between $500-$700 extra.

Features

  • Tube amp
  • 20-watt power output with reduction option up to 10 watts
  • Series effects loop
  • No Inbuilt effects
  • Single-channel
  • Equalization controls
  • Weighs 9.4 kg / 20.7 lbs

3. Marshall SV20H ($1749)

marshall amp

Image Credits: Marshall

Marshall's 1959 Super Lead Plexi has gone down in history as one of the most influential amps on the planet. Its unique Plexi sound was for a long time not achievable without having to break the bank for the classic amp. However, with the release of a smaller packaged SV20 head, the amp is now accessible to every type of guitarist.

Considering how heavy the 1959 SLP was when it was first released, the SV20H is pretty portable with a total weight of just 9.25 kg. While it’s a single channel, it has a comprehensive EQ control to ensure you can switch from warm to saturated sounds. A power reduction option means you could use this amp even while at home and for small venue gigs.

Features

  • Classic Plexi Tube amp sounds
  • 20-watt power output with reduction option up to 10 watts
  • Series effects loop
  • No Inbuilt effects
  • Single-channel
  • 3 band Equalization
  • Weighs 9.25kg / 20.4 lbs

4. Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee 2525H ($1749)

marshall amp

Image Credits: Marshall

Legendary guitarists Slash, Joe Bonamassa, and Alex Lifeson are just some of the many guitarists who predominantly chose the Silver Jubilee amps for performances. The Mini Silver Jubilee is a smaller package imitation of its classic 100-watt predecessor. The 2-channel amp is equipped with a 3-band EQ. In addition, the Mini Silver jubilee comes packaged in a classic Silver Vinyl aesthetic. For those epic rock tones that continue to inspire generations of musicians, this amp is worth the extra coins. You could also combine this with a Les Paul like Slash does for awe-inspiring tones.

Features

  • Classic Silver Jubilee tube amp tones
  • 20 watts of power output with a scaling option to 5 watts
  • 3 band EQ
  • Series effects loop
  • 2 split channels
  • Weighs 10 kg / 22 lbs

Combo Amp or Head and Cabinet?

Typically, an amp has the amp section and the speaker/cabinet. Whenever the amp and cabinet are combined, the result is a combo amp. When the two are separated, we get a head and cabinet amp. Head and cabinet amps are sometimes called stacks.

Like any choice, each option here has its pros and cons. Generally, head amps are cheaper than combo amps. However, if you’re looking to purchase a cabinet later on, the price between a combo and an amp head is pretty similar. Heads offer more options in terms of the type of speaker you use. In addition, stacks are easier to transport because of the separate compartment packaging.

Combo amps are straightforward in terms of plugging them in and using them directly. With head and cabinet combinations, you need to ensure compatibility first. You could also argue that combos are more movable, as they come in single easy-to-transport packages.

What Should I Look for When Purchasing an Amp?

The choice depends on what you are looking for in an amp. For home practice sessions combos tend to be the better option whereas for large performances head amps are more efficient.

There are a lot of things to consider before purchasing an amp. Generally, you should consider the following:

  • Wattage
  • Type of amp (solid-state, tube amp, digital amp, hybrid amp)
  • Speaker configuration
  • Effects and controls

How Do I Know How Loud An Amp Will Be?

Ultimately, the best way to determine how loud an amp will be is to try it out in person. In the event this is not possible, you can use a combination of wattage and speaker size to get an estimation of how loud your amp will be. However, it is important to note that wattage alone is an inefficient way of getting this information. Another way is to check out online reviews where the amp is played to get a feel of what you’re working with.

What Is Marshall's Studio Series?

The Studio Series consists of amps that emulate some of Marshall's most revered amps into smaller packages that can be used for practice sessions and studio recordings. The amps are categorized into three groups: Studio Classics, Studio Vintage, and Studio Jubilee.

Choosing the Best Marshall Amp Head Under $1000

Whether you’re a beginner or a more skilled player, there are multiple options you could consider under the 1000-dollar range. For added features or for a specific classic Marshall sound, you might have to top up the amount with a few extra dollars. We recommend the Origin 50H as the best option you could get for under $1000.

Author

  • marshall amp

    I have been a singer, songwriter, and guitarist since 2005. I has a bachelor's degree in music and has extensive experience in writing educative music material. In my free time, you can find me eating. Wherever there is music and food, Eugene is probably nearby!

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