The Marshall Major.

Discussion in 'Let's Talk Vintage' started by MajorNut1967, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    Hi guys,

    It seems of late that there has been more conversations and threads either directly or indirectly relating to the Marshall Major amplifier. So while I am not an expert on this amplifier by any means, it is my favorite amplifier and I'd like to give a run down on the amplifier and why it differs from the classic Marshall amplifier.

    First off, the Marshall Major is not in the format of your classic 1959 or 1987 amplifier. While it does have some of the Marshall character implemented into it, the original circuit design was actually done by GEC in England and not really meant to be a loud rock guitar amp. It is kind of a mix match of Marshall, Fender, and Hi-Fi all in the same package. I think initially that because venues were getting bigger and the bands were getting louder, Marshall wanted to offer a louder more powerful amplifier. In addition, since I don't believe that Marshall wanted to design a brand-new amplifier from the ground up they borrowed the initial design from GEC.

    Now the model 1967 (major) is first bigger than the standard hundred watt head (1959). The chassis is 2 inches deeper to accommodate the large transformers so rather than being 8 inches in depth the major head box is 10 inches in depth and it is the first way to tell that it is the Marshall Major (just look at it from the side view). Now on the technical side now the front-end circuit of the major is classic Marshall it has the 820ohm/250mfd & 2.7K/.68mfd split Cathode set up, but then it ends there abruptly after the volume pots. The Marshall Major has an enclosed tone stack as well as an enclosed feedback loop, "which means the negative feedback is applied much earlier in the circuit then your standard Marshall." and the tone stack while having Marshall standard values it is enclosed ala’ Fender. The third unusual thing is that the major does not have a long tailed phase inverter it has the Cathodyne type phase inverter, which is not as linear, or have as much gain. The fourth and most unusual, and sometimes trouble oriented part of the Marshall Maj. is that it has an ultra linear output section, which means the screens are fed directly from taps on the output transformer and that there is no standalone screen circuit. Another factor is that the Marshall Maj. has no choke in the circuit, which also contributes to its tone; the choke was not utilized because of the large filter capacitors in the power supply.

    I hope this sheds some light on the unknown beast from Marshall, hope you people enjoy. For those of you who are curious I have included a corrected schematic of the model 1967 (the one on the Internet has errors) so have fun.


    [​IMG]
     
  2. Lane Sparber

    Lane Sparber Well-Known Member VIP Member

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    Awesome post, Major!! :D

    -Lane
     
  3. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    Thank you lane! I hope it can clear up some of the misgivings about the Major.
     
  4. stargazer76

    stargazer76 Active Member

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    Who else besides Blackmore used Majors?
     
  5. munger77

    munger77 Member

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    Thanks MajorNut,
    Does anyone have a layout diagram of the 1967 Major (vs schematic)?
    Mike


    PS: I'm about done working on my '68/early '69 original major with plexi front/back panels. Once it's done I'm comparing it to my other amps and if it's not for me I'd be interested in trading it for something else that's 50 watts or less or has power scaling.
     
  6. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    Hmmmmm? Stevie ray Vaughn, John frucsainte, Joe Perry, Roger Glover, Jon Lord, J mascis
     
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  7. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    I have no layout, just internal pics.
     
  8. munger77

    munger77 Member

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    It would be great to have a forum or thread dedicated specifically to the marshall major, because most of the information about this model is scattered and fragmented around the net. Even books like Doyle's have limited information on this rare model. Apparently only 1200 Majors were built between late 1967 and 1974 from what I've read from several sources.
     
  9. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    LOL that means I have owned 1% of them in my life time! I would like to start a thread just for the Majors here.
     
  10. ANIMO

    ANIMO New Member

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    I just bought Major yesterday. My dreams come true!:fingersx:
     
  11. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    Good luck & enjoy!
     
  12. Papus

    Papus Well-Known Member

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    My dream would be to buy a Major in Australia and have Dawk convert it to switchable Blackmore specs: Made In Japan, California Jam, Rainbow On Stage, and Come He'll Or High Water :)

    Comments please: heavily mod or rebuild a 1959 or 1987 preamp to Major specs - would this come anywhere close to the Major sound or is a lot of it in the linear power section?
     
  13. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    That is quite an amplifier you are looking to have built!
    As far as rebuilding a 1959 or a 1987, if you had an old amplifier lying around you could try but you would have to build a turret board to accommodate the difference in the tone stack and phase inverter. In addition, they ultra linear output section has a lot to do with the sound of the major, plus the old Cathodyne phase inverter also.

     
  14. custom53

    custom53 Well-Known Member

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    Impractical as hell.... But I still want one....:dude:
     
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  15. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    You know you could build a Baby Major (Half Power) it's no more complicated then a 1959/1987, in fact you can use a standard 100 watt chassis and Head Box.
     
  16. Axis

    Axis New Member

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    I don't know where I'd use one either but someday........

    Paul Kossoff from Free used the Major alot.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydItRbb0b1E]YouTube - Free All Right Now Live Isle of Wight Festival August 1970, East Afton Farm, Freshwater[/ame]

    Lots of cool stuff here Super PA etc
     
  17. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    I had heard that also, just was never able to confirm it.
     
  18. Clammy

    Clammy Well-Known Member

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    I've always wanted to try out a bass Major, and hear the difference between my current setup - running 2 Super Bass heads, and a Major.

    Cheers!
    :dude::dude::dude:
     
  19. MajorNut1967

    MajorNut1967 New Member

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    if you are really happy with your super bass tone you might not like the major as much, it's not going to sound as gritty. But depending on what kind of bass use and what outboard gear you use, it can sound a little more refined than the super bass and have a lot more low-end thump. My favorite tone for rock bass is two major bass heads sporting two of the 2x15 inch marshall bass cabinets (the one Roger Glover used to use) and the Rickenbacker 4001.
     
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  20. Clammy

    Clammy Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I figured it wold have more clan headroom and more bottom end thump. I love the grit/grind I get out of the Super Basses, but I'd really love to hear a bass Major through my 4x12 and 2x15 Marshall cabs! Speaking of Rics, if I plug my 4001 into my rig and tweak the EQ a bit, I can NAIL Lemmy's sound! :rock::headbanger:

    Cheers!
    :dude::dude::dude:
     

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