Monday, April 9, 2012

Remembering Dr. Jim Marshall OBE

Dubbed the "Father of Loud" for making rock guitarists be heard in the biggest stadiums, will Dr. Jim Marshall OBE's famed guitar amps continue to evolve without him?

By: Ringo Bones

Maybe its just me, but I always harbored this weird feeling that what Jim Marshall originally wanted was to build a Fender Champ with enough volume that could fill the world's largest arenas and concert stadiums - while keeping the original tone of the 6V6 tube equipped classic. Even though the famed guitar amplifier designer is no longer with us after passing away back in April 5 , 2012 aged 88, Dr. Jim Marshall OBE started one of the greatest "Amp Race" in the electric guitar playing world.

Back in 1962, three extraordinary prototypes were built in Hanwell, England which later became the coveted "Holy Grail" of guitar amplifiers in the electric guitar playing world. The original Marshall amps - the JTM45 Offset Halfstack - used KT66 tubes as the output tubes. Even though latter tube amp versions use 6L6 or the famed Mullard EL34 output tubes, the basic 12AX7 input tube configuration more or less remained the same.

Dr. Jim Marshall's class A triode/pentode switchable amp configuration not only made the amps easier to service while being used in tours and in excruciatingly loud "stadium rock" environments, but also left some room for "improvements" to make it more or less retain the tone of a 6V6 tubed Fender Champ. Famed amp modder Mike Soldano made a name for himself by designing his famed 1989 Soldano Super Lead Overdrive where Marshall left off.

Providing a list of famed musicians and guitarists that made a name for themselves might seem an exercise in yawnarama. But the first ones in the 1960s includes a who's who of the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, like Pete Townshend of The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath. Even until the 1990s, there are still a new generation of gifted musicians making a name for themselves by using Marshall amps to showcase their guitar playing skills like Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Louise Post and Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt. And even though it is getting harder and harder for a new generation of skilled musicians in today's post NAPSTER music scene, Dr. Jim Marshall's famed guitar amplifier design will probably and surely continue to evolve.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how much a famed original 1962 Marshall JTM45 guitar amp -with NOS KT66 tubes- costs these days? By the way, The Who was adjudicated by the Guinness Book of World Records as the loudest rock band ever when they were clocked at 148 dB SPL.