So I’ve been wanting to play my electric guitar more (I’m mostly an acoustic guy). Right now my rig is a Strat (mid-80s, Japanese) and a lousy Crate amp I’ve had since high school. I’ve been scanning my local Craigslist to look for good deals, but it’s been so long since I’ve been into guitar gear that I really don’t know what’s out there.
A guy I know has a Marshall MG250DFX for sale, very lightly used. It’s definitely more amp than I need right now (I don’t expect to be playing out electrically anytime soon), but he’s asking $350 for it and will probably take less, so it seems like a good deal.
Any thoughts? If not this, what should I be on the lookout for?
I have to start by saying that I prefer tube amps to solid-state amps. The Marshall you are considering is solid-state. While I’m sure that Marshall has used modern technology to get as much of a tube-like sound as they can into this amp, in my experience there’s something artificial-sounding about all solid-state amps.
Do you have access to one of the big chain music stores, like Sam Ash or Guitar Center? If so, go in and try some small tube amps, and whatever else they have in your price range. There are some tube practice amps out there now for very low prices, and some gig-worthy ones at a slightly higher price than the Marshall. Take a look at Musician’s Friend to get an idea of what is available.
On this particular model, did you read the comments of some of the owners which were there? It sounds like there may be a few issues with this model. If the one that your friend wants to sell seems to work fine, and the sound makes you happy, go for it. It needs to please your ears.
A common failure is the amplifier chip, which is easy for the authorized service center to replace, if you pay em enough…
rumors and hearsay:
The ad you linked to tries very hard to convince that this is a genuine Marshall amp. I’ve heard it called a “fake Marshall”. It may cost more than it’s worth because it has the Marshall name on the front. You could maybe find a less expensive amp that sounds just as good.
DoctorJ, I am on the road right now, so can’t do a detailed bit of research, but kind of think I don’t need to: That is WAY too much amp for your needs. It’s a dual channel 100watt amp - and while solid state watts are a lot less loud than tube watts (I can explain why, based on my limited electronic knowledge but research I have done) but it is still an amp for a good-sized club, up to about 1,000 people (a 100w tube amp is a Marshall Stack which can play a small theatre setting up to a couple thousand people or more).
**Crotalus **is right - tube amps sound different and, for many uses, better, also IMHO. However, many smaller SS amps are just fine and these days come with modeling (i.e., the ability to “sound” (kinda) like a signature tube amp sound) and digital effects like delay, chorus and echo. I got my 11-year-old a 15-watt Marshall amp that is PLENTY loud for his needs - he could get over drums if he cranks it - that doesn’t have modeling but does have effects for $180 or so - you might try one at a local store.
Again, I truly prefer tube amps, but they are all about the tone and typically have fewer features (if they are truly a tube amp, not some wannabee “tube technology” weirdness). A great, great industry standard that is used by tons of pro’s for small gigs but also makes a great, small, play by yourself amp is Fender’s Blues Jr. - you can find those used for $250 pretty easily. About 15-18 watts but these are tube watts so it can get LOUD - as I said it is a legit gigging amp and can get over drums easily.
I prefer a Marshall-y tone over Fender - that classic rock crunch tone. You can get this easily out of a Blues Jr. by getting a decent stompbox pedal - I have an old vintage Rat distortion pedal that I got 30 years ago that I put in and dial the distortion down to a low setting but increase the Level (I have mine all the way dialed up) - this acts as an extra Gain stage on the pre-amp, which is something Marshall type amps have built in. So you get a tube amp with rich Fender clean tones, classic Fender crunch tones and if you step on the pedal, a solidly decent Marshall type tone.
This was one of the questions I had–whether the Marshall sound and quality goes all the way down to the inexpensive solid-state combos.
This is probably the deal-sealer. The aforementioned Crate is a GS-150, a 150-watt solid-state combo, and it’s far, far too much amp for me. (It was far too much when I was gigging in high school, but it was far from the shittiest thing about those gigs.)
The Blues Junior sounds like exactly what I’m looking for–good sound at volumes that won’t annoy the neighbors. I will keep my eyes open.
What do you like to play? I’m guessing as a mainly acoustic dude that you’re not thrashing out the hard metal sounds, which solid state amps can excel at being that there’s none of that “tube lag” in the sound which can allow for a faster attack. I’m a 100% solid state guy myself these days after finally admitting that both Slayer and Pantera got those awesome barking biting sounds by sticking with solid state amps.