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Friday, December 12, 2014

Review of Marshall JVM410HJS, Joe Satriani model - Best Marshall amp in years...

A while ago I made a "rig rundown" with Fredrik Åkesson from the progressive metalband Opeth. The rundown made me interested in his amplifier, the Marshall JVM410JS "Joe Satriani model". After buying it a couple of days later I realised that it´s the best amplifier Marshall have made in years. Now don't fall into the trap to think it´s the same amp as the first JVMs, because this is something completely different.

Maybe it has to do with increased experience at Marshall's development department, or that more efforts are required from the market in these "digital times" or that they finally started to look at what all the "modders" has done since 1980 or so. Most of the great guitarists have had modded Marshalls through the years and it feels like the focus now has shifted at Marshall, to once again take the customer perspective. A perspective they were so good at until 1973 or so, when the forces of customer demand took over and they had to compromise.

Anyway, this amp is a collaboration between Santiago, amp developer at Marshall, and Joe Satriani. Now, don't fall not in the next obvious trap, namely, the conclusion that this amplifier "just replicates Joe Satrianis tone". It can certainly do that, but the outcome of this collaboration has accomplished more important things than that. It´s a very versatile amp for pretty much every kind of guitar genre, from sparkling clean blues to heavy chunky riffs and outrageous high-gain lead tones.

The front panel probably scares the shit out of many vintage purists with its 28 knobs, but it's really not complicated at all. It´s actually quite intuitive, and I didn't  have to use any manual at all.

I've recorded a short demo for those of you who want to get a hint about how it might sound. Clean Orange mode with little effects, Crunch in Orange mode and OD in Red mode. I have shorten it down focusing on how the amp sounds. My suggestion is that you read this full review before you listen.

4 channels
The amplifier has 4 EL34 and 5 EC83 hard working tubes and delivers 100 watt pure guitar tone. It has 4 channels: Clean, Crunch, and 2 identical OD channels.

Each channel has its own noise-gate, which has replaced the reverb in the origin JVMs. These noise-gates are really good, Fredrik Åkesson pointed out it´s "musicality" and that they doesn't "eat" any tone at all, like many other amps do. The tone becomes tight and completely studio-silent. If you don't like it, just turn it off.

Green, Orange & Red modes
Furthermore, all channels has 3 modes: Green, Orange and Red. This means that the amplifier actually has 12 channels, which can be controlled from the pedalboard (foot-switch). Green is the starting position and the other puts each channel a step forward in to a different character.

There are also two master volume-sections with "resonance" and "precense" knobs, very handy.

The starting point for the clean chanel is the nice clean sound in the Marshall Anniversary 6100 and it´s just  incredibly good in the "Green mode", and it takes distortion pedals in an excellent manner. In "Orange mode" the clean is a bit more gained without cracking up and in Red mode it cracks up in a brilliant way without falling over in to distortion.  It all lands in one is exceptionally good tool for anyone who needs a clean sound with variety. This variation in clean tones makes it very easy to take advantage of different types of guitars and brings the best out of them.  Everything is controlled from the supplied foot-switch.

The Green mode sounds like a JTM Plexi and Orange as a JCM800. Red mode turns it into a hot-rodded JCM800. This is the amplifier's most exciting channel, I think. Orange mode with the gain at 2-3 a´clock should fit any classic rocker and with the right effects it grows brutal.

OD 1 and 2
These channels are identical, which I think is a brilliant idea. Instead of adding another hi-gain characteristic chanel it gives the guitarist an ability to vary their own sound in the same "personal tone area". Maybe a bit more gain in OD 2 or some different EQ, it´s "sick clever" based on the ideas of individual tone consistency. Another great thing obut the ODs is that Marshall has found a really good metal amp here, which should attract even the most modern metalheads. There is more gain than you ever need, and the fact is that it sounds best when you are not utilizing its full gain capacity.

Mid Shift
Another great feature is the Mid Shift, a function that was developed to let Sammy Hagars vocals cut through better in Chickenfoot, but its allows you to compress the tone a bit, it allows your metal sound in to deliver really good "Chucka-Chucka-down-strokes".

Effects Loop
Another very nice feature is the incredibly great effects loop. I have never experienced such good effects loop before and pedals appear flawless compared to loops in other amps.

The fact that there is no reverb may seem strange, but given the extremely well-functioning effects loop it doesn't matter. The thing is that a mediocre reverb, or other modulation effects, actually sounds brutally nice in this amplifier, thanks to the new effects loop technology and the amps great "basic sound" in general.

This is one of the the best Marshall amps ever, for reasons as:

1. The basic sounds in the channels, which are spot on, and especially Crunch Orange Fashion
2. Effects loop, one of the best I've ever heard
3. The versatility that basically allows you to sell every other amplifier

The variety of sounds you can get out of this amp to and how easily you can switch between them is actually quite stunning. From shimmering cleans to cocky crispy Plexi-Crunch and powerful high gain makes it´s suitable for virtually all music genres.

An additional nice gesture from Marshall is that this tone monster doesn't rob you of 5000 dollars, as it actually should be worth. It´s yours for 2600 dollars. A bargain considering the value this tone monster will bring you.

A bestseller .... Period!
Buy here

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