While in the past having an epic-loud, Marshall full stack may have been the ultimate symbol of guitar epicness, today it’s common to see some of the greatest guitarists around the world opt instead for a low watt, small Marshall amp.
The notion of being able to achieve most of the features offered by high-watt amps in smaller, more portable packages is the main reason a good portion of the amps purchased today consists of less than 20-watt amps.
Although wattage cannot be used as a way of determining how loud an amp is going to be, guitarists often choose low-watt amps because of their ability to maintain quality tones at low volumes. This characteristic ability makes low watt amps suited for a variety of environments.
Whether for practice, studio recording sessions, or even small live performance settings like a campfire jamming session, a low-watt amp is a definite plus in every guitarist's amp collection.
Known for evolving with customer needs and technological advancements, Marshall has a wide variety of low-watt amps in its collection. We realize it can be difficult to peruse through their entire collection in search of amps with low wattages. In addition, going through the features of each amp makes the task even more daunting.
So then, here's a helping hand with a narrowed-down, in-depth look at the best low-watt Marshall amps you could purchase today.
If you’re going to get a low watt amp, then low watt tube amps would be a good place to start off. The DSL series delivers a range of amps, each suited for a different kind of environment. They’re great for practice, studio recording, or even live gigs.
In addition, the amps come with various features, including studio-quality reverb, power scaling, and multiple channels, among many others.
Nothing says low-watt amp like a 1-watt amp with the option of scaling down power to just 0.1W. The Marshall DSL 1 comes in a small 7.9 kg package and a variety of features that would give some high-watt amps a run for their money. Its power reduction abilities make this a good purchase as a practice/home use amp.
Although it only has a 5-watt power output, the DSL 5 comes loaded with a 10” Celestion Ten-30 speaker, giving it the ability to alternate between high and low volumes whilst maintaining those distinct Marshall tones.
Also, like the DSL1, it comes equipped with a power output reduction option of about 0.5 watts. Additional effect and tone options give this the possibility of not just being a home practice amp but one you could use at a rehearsal.
However, it might not be loud enough to be heard against a drummer and other instrumentation.
Making use of solid-state amp technology, the MG Gold is a series of amps that seek to emulate the original Marshall tube amps. This is a good example of Marshall's willingness to always appease the customer, as this range of amps was made to make the Marshall sound accessible to guitarists across all levels.
Evolving from the MG Carbon Fibre series, the MG Gold series amps are a must-have amongst many die-hard Marshall Amp users. It can also serve as a good beginner amp, as it comes it can be purchased at quite an affordable price.
Although it comes in a small compact size, the MG10 comes with two channels (clean and contour), giving guitarists the ability to experiment with different tones. With straightforward controls, this is a good amp for beginning guitarists. With 10 watts of power output and fitted with 6.5" speakers, the amp enables you to it up and go down to low volumes suitable for a variety of environments.
For an added punch to what the MG10 has to offer, you can opt for the MG15. With 15 watts and an 8" speaker, the possibilities for where you could use this amp are largely increased.
It comes with four channels: clean, crunch, OD1, and OD2. Also, as indicated in its name, the MG15FX comes loaded with a variety of digital FX, including Reverb, Flangers, Chorus, Delay, Phaser, and Octave.
It can be quite difficult to scour through the various options of low-watt amps available to find the best. This is made even more difficult with the many unique features each amp has.
However, with knowledge of exactly what to look for, you can quickly eliminate amps that don't meet standards and pick out the ones that stand out. Here’s a list of things to look for when purchasing a low-watt amp.
There are four main types of amps: Tube amps, Solid-state amps, Modelling amps, and Hybrid amps. Each category has its strengths and weaknesses, suited for different environments, types of players, and styles.
Other considerations such as whether an amp is a “combo” or a “head and cabinet” amp can also help in choosing the right amp.
The last thing you want is a low-watt amp with a poor-quality tone. While amps work to amplify the sounds from a guitar, they also add color to the overall final sound.
How an amp is designed has a huge impact on your overall sound. When looking at tone, you should make the choice depending on the style of music you want to play and your general personal preferences of what sounds good to you.
So, yeah, you might have to try out the amp in person just to be sure the amp's tone works for you. Alternatively, you could just watch reviews on the amp and make the decision.
When it comes to effects, low-watt amps may not have as many as high-watt amps. Even then, this is an important area to consider in choosing between different low-watt amps. More is usually better, as it increases your options of what you could achieve with an amp.
Low watt may not always mean small, and high watt may not always mean big. Consider checking the sizes and weights in the amp's specifications. You could also check the amps out in person just so you can get an idea of their portability and the space they’ll take.
Generally, low-watt amps tend to be cheaper than high-watt amps. It’s important to note that cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Some low-watt amps are quite expensive.
Other factors such as brand, the technology used, and features may also be contributing factors to how much an amplifier costs. A quick comparison of the components and features that make up each should help you know whether an amp really is worth its price.
Low-watt amps offer quality tones in low volumes and in easy-to-carry smaller packages.
Low-watt amps tend to have fewer overall features such as effects and tonal options. In addition, most can only achieve low volumes, making them unusable for live performances.
In most cases, a low-watt amp won't be enough. However, this also depends on a lot of factors, such as the acoustics and size of the room you’re going to be performing in, whether you’ll be performing with other instrumentalists such as a drummer, and whether the venue will have a professional sound system. All these factors have some degree of impact on whether you’ll be able to use your low-watt amp.
A low-watt amp can serve as a good addition to any guitarist's collection. Hopefully, you now possess the knowledge on not only some of the best low-watt Marshall amps out there but also on how to make an informed low-watt amp purchase.