Opinions please: 2204 vs 2203 vs 2203X

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by black knight, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. black knight

    black knight Member

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    I plan on getting one of the above soon and was wanting to hear opinions on which one and why. I play in a cover band where effects like delay and reverb are needed at times. Think intro to Eagles, Victim of Love, for example. The 2203X has the loop so no problem there. Do you think I could still pull it off with delay in front of a non-effects loop amp like the 2204? Also, tone-wise, which would be your favorite and why? Currently I'm using a 50 watt Yeti that comes dangerously close to the 2204 but lately I've been yearning for that extra 5% Marshall DNA that provides that "spanky kerrang" for lack of better words. Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. BanditPanda

    BanditPanda Well-Known Member

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  3. Adrian R

    Adrian R Well-Known Member

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    Much of this is subjective....but imo their all excellent and to me represent 'the Marshall sound'. 2203s are a bit tighter in the low frequencies.. making it perfect for metal...hence Slayer and all their sound similars. The earlier JMPs have less gain as the 800s feature cascading preamp circuits. I had a 2203 once from 1980, a JMP with 6550s.. I sold it for all the wrong reasons. That amp was brutally loud, but SO, so smooth, dynamic and crunchy all at the same time The 2204s are nice in that they get a good powerful tone at lower volumes, their lighter and cheaper to retube and recap. Still PLENTY of power for any band setting. The 2203X, have no experience with them.
     
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  4. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    I just bought a 2203x a while back and i can assure you it's a good unit. It sounds like the old ones and the loop works as it should.
     
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  5. black knight

    black knight Member

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    Thanks for the replies. It appears the construction of the 2203X is as solid as the mid-eighties versions. Do you still have yours anitoli? Also, what tubes were in it? 6550 or EL34?
     
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  6. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    Yes i still have it and i don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon either. This thing just cuts through everything else. Mine has EL34's.
     
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  7. MonstersOfTheMidway

    MonstersOfTheMidway Well-Known Member

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    The JCM800 model 2203X sounds like a good fit. The a variety of effects (e.g. pedals, multi-effects, rack effects) sound good in its loop, too.

    Placing the delay as described above in the signal chain depends on a lot an your needs and whether you like the particular sound of a delay in front of the amplifier's instrument input/preamp section. The placement of delay as described above could be useful, but it's not what I prefer for my own purposes. To my ears, when the delay is placed before the amplifier instrument input/preamp, the delay effect is diminished and sounds kinda distorted (which is what some people like), whereas the delay in the loop takes the entire preamp signal and produces a more defined delayed sound. For that reason I prefer the sound of the entire preamp signal going through the delay in the effects loop rather than the delay having to go through the preamp via the amplifier's instrument input, but that's just me. Again, it's all about what you need and like.

    Since you asked about tone would I favor between 2204, 2203, and 2203X: 2203X, followed by 2203 and 2204 is last. 2203X has a good balance of low, mid, and high frequencies, which makes it fast & easy for me to dial in. 2203X also has a nice low end that stays tight at high volume levels (one of the best power amp sections ever produced by Marshall imo). 2203X also sounds amazing with rack effects systems (my preference) in it's effects loop. The only knock I have against it is that the distorted sound of the 2203X in stock design isn't as aggressive as I prefer (2203 and 2204 fall into the same category here). 2203X has good distorted sound for a lot of styles, but my personal preference is a more aggressive distorted sound.

    The 50 watt Yeti is a fierce amp. If the 50 watt Yeti is "dangerously close" to the 2204 as you say, then it's safe to forget about the 2204 and look at something else. Again, you could do way worse than the 2203 or 2203X.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2019
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  8. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I would go with an older 2204, easier and cheaper to change tubes, lighter, and breaks up earlier. Still loud as hell. I have heard and played through (3) different 2203x re-issues and to my ears they sound good but not as good. If you have a chance to play both that would be the best test to your ears.
     
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  9. anitoli

    anitoli Well-Known Member

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    If you load the 2203X with old GE tubes it will shine. :D
     
  10. thunderstruck507

    thunderstruck507 Well-Known Member

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    I have the 2203KK, the only thing missing is the loop and it desperately needs one for delay and reverb to sound decent and not overpower a dirty signal.

    IMO I would not even consider getting an amp without a good FX loop in your shoes.
     
  11. black knight

    black knight Member

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    I know tone is subjective but to my ears, the 2203 sounds a bit more open than the 2204. I used to have a 1980 JMP 2204. I have never owned a 2203 but listening to videos, I know not the best way to audition amps necessarily, but the 2204 sounds a bit more compressed and boxy as compared to the 2203. Kind of like a (light) blanket over the speaker cabinet. Is this a fair statement?
     
  12. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I hear ya but if you load an old vintage one with these same NOS tubes it will shine better in my experience. Plus Im done trying to find good NOS tubes and paying that ridiculous price.

    If I couldn't find an older late 70's early 80's unmolested in good shape amp, I'd definitely go with the 2203x, just wish they would have offered the 2204x.
     
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  13. JLBIII

    JLBIII Well-Known Member

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    I've got a '83 2204 with 6550 tubes. It's definitely loud and cuts thru compared to a 1987X and JVM 205H that both with EL34 tubes. Each head has it's own tonal characteristics that are rather subjective and have been discussed many times on here.

    The JVM is my first head with an FX loop. I ran effects in front of the amp for many years. Personally I don't have a preference. I can make it work either way.

    Since the OP mentioned Victim of Love I would take that they are doing more classic rock and not much metal. If that's the case, I would seriously take a look at the Origin 50. It's got that classic Marshall tone with EL34 tubes, FX loop, low, medium and high output switch (I can still po the neighbors on the medium setting), a gain boost pedal and a tilt control that allows you go from normal to high treble or blended together. It's a great package that's reasonably priced.
     
  14. black knight

    black knight Member

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    Yes JLBILL, classic rock mainly. A few poppy tunes (we have a male and female singer), but mainly classic rock. Heart, Eagles, Head East, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Stones, ZZ Top, Poison, Hole, No Doubt, etc. In this video I'm using a JTM45 clone up to the point of breakup and pushing it with a mostly clean OCD. It's the white head. A MXR Phase 90 for the intro.
     
  15. Adrian R

    Adrian R Well-Known Member

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    You're pretty close with regards to the 'more boxy' comment. However, the blanket comment I would have to disagree. My 2204 is extremely lucid dynamically, with huge high fidelity. For me a 2203 is tighter with more headroom....Their great, loud metal amps....full stack 2203 is over the top intense....as loud as a small passenger jet!
     
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  16. marshallmellowed

    marshallmellowed Well-Known Member

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    2203x all the way. Newer components, a loop, built well. If you want 50 watts, just pull 2 tubes and rebias, you've got a 2204 with a loop.
     
  17. 2203xman

    2203xman Well-Known Member

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    My 2203x has been my faithful friend for 16 years with no problems.It satisfies every time.To me the essence of Marshall tone.I also am a huge Plexi fan,but the 2203x has a great Plexi tone as well with the gain down a bit.It really scratches all the Marshall needs for me.I've said it before,so easy to get a rich Malcolm Young tone.Something about that bottom end that just nails it.
     
  18. dptone5

    dptone5 Well-Known Member

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    2203X vote here too. Great amp in every way.
     
  19. MarshallDog

    MarshallDog Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Band sounds great Bro! That chic has a great voice and you did a great solos!
     
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  20. black knight

    black knight Member

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    Thanks brother. to be honest, I was super nervous that night for that song because we only practiced it a couple times before that. The speaker cabinet has 2 G12M-65s and now has check grille cloth. I also retolexed the head black. It's a good sounding head but no loop. But even time based effects sound fine in front of a JTM45. I'm now committed to buying the 2203X so I'll post back shortly.
     
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