this is my first article here on solodallas.com. As I’m rather a beginner when it comes to guitars and amps, this will be an article from a beginners view. Maybe this article can help other beginners finding the right amplifier they are looking for and why its better to buy a used JMP instead of a new Amplifier if you want the “Back in Black tone”. And maybe the pro’s can add something helpful in the comments.
Always being a big AC/DC fan, I dreamed of playing guitar (and sounding) like Angus for a long time. Earlier this year I finally bought a Gibson SG standard and started to learn. Had an Epiphone SG before, but it was rather uncomfortable to play, so this one wasn’t played much. Amp was a Marshall MG 15 CDR 15 Watt Combo, a solid state amp with a FDD circuit which simulates tube sound.
Or, I should say, tries to simulate tube sound and fails mostly. It sounds just too harsh, too edgy, too sharp.
As Fil posted his “Gods gift to rock” article and the first audio recordings of his JMP, I was very impressed. This is the sound I want to hear when I’m playing. Because of my lack of experience with tube amps I decided rather to buy a new one instead of a used JMP.
JMPs were built from 1967 to 1981, so I would get old gear that needs more attention. No warranty, maybe problems with spare parts, broken solder joints and so on. So I left the used JMPs aside and looked out for a new amp that can produce nearly the same sound as the JMP.
Two Marshall amps came to my eyes: The Vintage Modern 2266 and the 2061X. Both of them can produce vintage tone. While the 2061X is a relative straight one, just like the original JMP itself (and it has in fact the letters “JMP” on it, the Vintage Modern has the ability of modeling the sound at preamp stage with a “Body” and “Gain” control.
Marshall Vintage Modern 2266 Marshall 2061X
For both of them I found corresponding youtube videos, there were even people playing AC/DC on the 2061X, the 2266 was almost only played by metal musicians, but none of them sounded like Fils JMP examples. The 2061X sounds very good and also a bit AC/DC-like in my ears, but not close enough. The Vintage Modern has nearly endless of possibilities for modeling the sound and is maybe able to reproduce the JMP tone, but I was not able to test it myself. At the time of writing, the 2266 costs about 900 Euros, the 2061X costs about 1100 Euros.
This, the price of both amps and Fil’s advice took me back to look for used JMPs. Did some research in the net. Technical, this old amps are very solid. No highly integrated solid state parts. It has the tone I wanted. So I went on ebay looked around, found one, asked the seller for pictures from the guts and auctioned it. There are some important things to look for:
- Always ask for detailed pictures of the inside. Don’t buy if the seller refuse this.
- Try to get as most information as possible about the amp. Are there modifications, if so, what modifications?
- Ask the seller if you can come by and test the amp when possible for you
For me, it seems like I would get this. Inside and Front of a 1979 Marshall JMP 2204 50 Watt MasterVolume:
The seller was a music shop somewhere in Great Britain and took extra photos from for me from inside the amp without any discussion. Well, it’s a bit dusty, some knob caps are missing. Voltage input was hardwired to 220V. Had a service back in 1989, new tubes and rebias. The amp is modded, two XLR sockets were mounted to the back, the seller didnt know what function they have, but I assume they are direct outputs for recording.
It has some dents as you can see. Well, its over 30 years old. Looks usual to me. I’m 39 and having some dents, too ??
So I decided to buy it.
At this time there was no cabinet with basketweave cloth and Greenbacks available, so I just auctioned a standard 1960A cabinet (slanted) with Celestion G12T75 too. Not the best match for me, but I just wanted to play over the JMP as soon as it arrives. And it was cheap, with pick up here in Vienna.
Picked up the cabinet some day later, looked inside of course, and this is what I got:
As being a carpenter for a long time I can appreciate the construction of the box. Its very solid.
A week later the JMP came in. Chosed Air Mail delievery. No time to lose now ?? I opened it to check if it’s in proper condition, check if the tubes are seated well. Also, it had no british mice or spiders in it ??
Connecting the Cabinet was a bit confusing, I had to select the impedance at the box and at the amp in consideration of operating the cabinet in stereo or mono mode. Wrong cabinet impedance would make serious damage to the amp, so I checked it double. Or triple. Or hundreds of times. Man, i was excited.
Then I plugged in my guitar, turned the power switch on but left standby off for 5 minutes to allow the tubes to heat up. Then I turned it on, put Master Volume at 2, Preamp at 8, Bass at 6, Middle at 8, Treble at 8 and started with the “Hells Bells Intro”. Just while hitting the first string, I was practically blown away. This was instant AC/DC “Back in Black” sound.
Even with my limited beginners playing ability. It sounds so great, it was just what I wanted. So I got now the amplifier of my dreams, pure AC/DC tone, with the first attempt. And thats what all the people who came for a visit to see and hear it told me.
I’m totally pleased with this amp and almost pleased with the cabinet. Will replace the G12T75 with Greenbacks later. However, its sheer pleasure to play over it.
Well, for anyone who is after the real AC/DC tone, I highly recommend to buy a used JMP. Chose one with MasterVolume if you want to play at home. Go out and buy one. Now!
And well, it looks fine in every living room too ??