It's been almost a year since I got my 1982 JCM 800 2203 and I think by this point I had enough time with the amp to give my honest impressions about it, both good and bad. The reason I'm opening this thread here is that it seems to me that there are a lot of misconceptions on the Internet about it and I thought I'd share a few things I came to understand after I finally got my hands on one. Now for starters I've been dreaming about getting a 2203 ever since I got into heavier music and found out that a lot of guitar players I adore and a lot of albums I love had the infamous JCM 800 working it's magic. What people don't tell you is that most of those amps were modded. You will not, I repeat NOT get those tones by using the amp stock and not even get close if you don't have the means to really open it up and boost it with some sort of pedal. I always thought I could just slap a Tubescreamer or a SD-1 in front of it with some high output pickups and get all the metal tones. Not exactly. It will get you into hard rock and early metal territorry, but you won't achieve anything more modern because the amp is just not voiced for it. And quite frankly you shouldn't buy one expecting it to do modern stuff because there are other amps out there that are specifically built to do it better. Now I'm not saying you can't go ahead and play death metal with a 2203/2204, but for me personally I found without proper volume that's gonna annoy the neighbours, something like an EMG 81 or some other high output pickup in your guitar, a SD-1 slamming the front end even more and a MXR 10 Band EQ to fine tune the low and high end you won't be happy. And by this point you have added enough ingredients that make you consider selling it and buying something that's suited better for the job. This is where in my opinion all the metal guys (including me) get it wrong. Sure you can find videos on YT and threads on forums that are like "yeah man go ahead you will kill any Mesa or Peavey with the 800" all day long, but the difference in real life is blatantly obvious. Just something to be aware of. I have my heavier styles covered because I have a JCM 2000 DSL 100 and a Laney IRT Studio, so I utilize the 800 for blues, rock and hard rock and after a year I learned to love the 2203 for what it is: a simple and effective no thrills amp that gives back what you put into it. So lets go ahead and list the good and the bad: Pros: - 6 knobs, 2 inputs, nothing complicated. You plug in, you fine tune, you play. - Extremely open sounding, little to no compression, reacts veeery well to pick attack and the volume and tone pots. - Punch and clarity. Every time you hit a note it feels like someone is hitting you in the chest with a sledgehammer. Percussive and very direct, no sag. - Simple yet versatile: set a dirty tone you like for rhythms, dial back on your volume pot for cleans, engage a boost or crank the volume on the guitar for leads. - Built like a tank: you can drop this thing out of a driving truck, replace the broken tubes, fire it up and play. Haven't tested it obviously, but the transformers are massive and everything feels and looks very sturdy, both on the in- and the outside. - Extremely honest. If you're playing well and precise the amp will show and react to it, the sounds you're gonna get will reflect it. It forces you to become a better player. Cons: - 6 knobs, 2 inputs, nothing complicated. You get what the amp gives you. You can't fine tune all day long without using external devices, most notably OD and EQ pedals. - Extremely open sounding, little to no compression. If you're used to higher gain amps it will shock you how much you suddenly have to fight for notes and how much every mistake is gonna show. If you're sloppy the 2203 will expose you in front of everyone. - The volume. This is NOT a bedroom amp. The Master Volume goes from nothing to "HOLY SHIT THE WALLS ARE SHAKING". It still sounds well on lower volumes with the help of an OD pedal but REALLY consider this if you're a bedroom player. I am serious. I had to get a loadbox with a D.I. out in order to be able to record and play with it properly at home. I live in an apartment building. - No loop. If you're constantly playing the amp full tilt and boosted for your heavy rhythm sections there is no way to make it louder for leads. You can't make the amp suddenly jump up in volume if you're already slamming the front end without the possibility of using an EQ or boost pedal in the loop. This is no problem if you play lighter styles and utilize the volume knob for leads as mentioned before, but keep this in mind. You won't get around it without having to mod and drill holes in the amp. Also no delays, chorus, reverb pedals sounding all pretty and hi fi. Just dirty and nasty in front of the amp. Wether you like that or not comes down to your own taste obviously. So here's my conclusion and my advice: metal players be aware. If you wanna have a perfect mod platform, go buy an old Marshall that has already been tampered with and won't lose value by modding it to your liking or go get the 2203X reissue which is said to be excellent and a great reproduction of the early 6 can vertical input models, it already comes with a loop and it will be less of a "sacrilege" if you decide to have it modded. If you have an untampered with original, before trying to make it something it's not from the get go look for other amps, there are plenty to be had. Don't get me wrong, it's your property you can set it on fire if you want to and nobody has the right to tell you you're not allowed to do so. Me personally already having thoughts about modding mine I came to the conclusion I love the 2203 stock, so before I change mine I'm on the lookout for an already modded one (can be had all day long for cheap on auction sites) or a Reissue series 800 that I can have fine tuned to my taste. My 82 model is not only there because of its "collectors value" but also because the one time I really got to open it up it was a religious, sexual experience. I shit you not. And that's the reason I'll never sell it. So folks there you have it. Feel free to add to this thread with your own experiences, prove me wrong or share your own pros and cons. I know there's a lot of love out there for the 2203/2204, they are great amps and sometimes less than people think they are, sometimes all you ever need and want. Cheers!