I forgot how GLORIOUS a healthy 2203 sounds like...

GuitarIV

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So I was at rehearsal yesterday, for the first time in 3 months we played together again.

We're rehearsing in an event room on a farm and the son of the owners used to play in a band with my now guitarist.

Anyway, last week he told me how he is thinking about selling his 1981 JCM 800 2203. Cool I said, I might be interested. I told him to bring it to the room so I can try it out.

So yesterday I get there and there it was on the floor. I pick it up, take my flash light and examine a bit, all original DALY caps, looks mint, only the power amp tubes have been replaced with Tung Sol EL34Bs.

So far so good.

I connect it to my Marshall 412 V30 straight cab, set all the EQ controls on noon, plug my Orville Les Paul Custom straight in with a cable, pre amp on 8, master on 1.

I strike a chord and there it is.

It's like a choir is singing whilst God himself rises over the horizon in conjunction with the sun and proclaims "Let there be Rock my son, let there be ROCK"

I was smilling like a mad man, going crazy, overwhelmed by the sheer force of this beast, fighting with it, being rewarded with screaming notes as I dug in and gentle chords when I backed off. Flicking the pickup switch, rolling my tone and volume controls on the guitar...

I completely zoned out. I forgot. How could I. I own one.

My 82 model is mint as well but needs new tubes... one of the original EL34s has started red plating after almost 40 years of service. The next paycheck is being used for a quartett of power tubes and a tube socket bias probe. I need to have this in my life again.


It's impossible to describe if you haven't heard and felt it yourself. The bottom end was tight, the saturation was there, just enough to get into hard rock territory, no pedals required. The dynamics are out of this world. It's like you have 20 different sounds at your disposal, all you need to do is work the controls on your guitar. The gut punch that thing gives you. The master volume was barely over 1 on the dial. This things lives with volume. I only regret I didn't bring my Strat...


So I unplug it, put it back where it was and there's a bit of a silence in the room. I had my father and my best friend with me, my drummer was mute and my guitar player left the room. Dad later told me once I started playing it looked like smoke was gonna start emerging from my guitarists ears.


The guy who owns the amp walks in and asks "and, did you try it out?"

I go "yeah, sounds good, nice amps, as said I have one as well."

I try to hide my excitement, like I was even remotely able to turn my orgasm face into a pokerface.

He then tells me he's still not sure if he wants to sell it. I decide to let it be and not pressure him. He wants a good amount of cash, I want the amp. For now, I will dream about it and wait a bit. It will be mine. Sooner or later. I just need to let a week or two pass and tell him I'll give him 1100 cash for it, give or take. He'll probably haggle, if we meet at 1200 I am happy.

It will be mine.


It is ridiculous, I already own one. And it sounds glorious as well. But this particular 81 model... has some serious mojo to it.

Just wanted to share this story. If you get the chance to crank one of these beasts, do it. It feels better than sex.
 

Buzzard

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I’m always amazed at how incredible a late jmp mv sounds even on you tube when compared to high dollar boutique clones and variations. I’m like ...why bother with the boutique? With a boost pedal the jmp sounds every bit as modern and in most cases ...better.
 

Matthews Guitars

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I get you. I'm on my second 2203, the first one was from 1978 and so is the second.

The first one had ALL THE MAGIC. So much so that I took it to the guitar show in Orlando as part of my product exhibition (I make restoration front and rear faceplates for
Marshalls) and had no intention of selling it. Some guy played it and sprouted a boner and fell in love. I told him it wasn't for sale, it's my demo amp. He persisted.

Long story short, I said I don't have any motivation to sell it but if you cough up 2500 bucks and no haggling, it's yours.

I got 2500 bucks for it. Definitely in the top dollar range for a 2203, but being as it was a superb example with original transformers, no extra holes in the chassis, and stock other than new capacitors and an added Metropolous effects loop with a custom marked back faceplate marked for the loop, (Which I made) it was certainly worth it.

I then bought another 2203 for 1100 bucks. Changing out some beat tubes brought its tone into the same realm of glorious sound.

I have no volume level constraints to deal with. If I want to dime it, nobody complains. But it sounds better with the master on 1 than most amps are at ANY volume level.

I agree with you completely. A 2203 is a thing of beauty.
 

tonycaster

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I found my '78 JMP 2203 a couple of years ago, trading in a Soldano SP77 and an el34 stereo power amp, as well as a line mixer and a digitech gsp21 legend with no money added. The amp has been modded during the years (a PPIMV and other things) and the filter caps were at the end of their lives, so I've replaced the caps with some F&T and the cooked EH power tubes with some original Svetlanas. Having owned various boutique amps during my career (Fargen, Cornell, original VHT among others), all I can say is that now the 2203 is my go to amp in most situations, and I have a '78 AC30 and a '76 Pro Reverb. As well as being a piece of history, is one of the best amps ever made, period. No effects loop? who cares?!?
 

plexilespaul

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So I was at rehearsal yesterday, for the first time in 3 months we played together again.

We're rehearsing in an event room on a farm and the son of the owners used to play in a band with my now guitarist.

Anyway, last week he told me how he is thinking about selling his 1981 JCM 800 2203. Cool I said, I might be interested. I told him to bring it to the room so I can try it out.

So yesterday I get there and there it was on the floor. I pick it up, take my flash light and examine a bit, all original DALY caps, looks mint, only the power amp tubes have been replaced with Tung Sol EL34Bs.

So far so good.
I hear you bro:)
I connect it to my Marshall 412 V30 straight cab, set all the EQ controls on noon, plug my Orville Les Paul Custom straight in with a cable, pre amp on 8, master on 1.

I strike a chord and there it is.

It's like a choir is singing whilst God himself rises over the horizon in conjunction with the sun and proclaims "Let there be Rock my son, let there be ROCK"

I was smilling like a mad man, going crazy, overwhelmed by the sheer force of this beast, fighting with it, being rewarded with screaming notes as I dug in and gentle chords when I backed off. Flicking the pickup switch, rolling my tone and volume controls on the guitar...

I completely zoned out. I forgot. How could I. I own one.

My 82 model is mint as well but needs new tubes... one of the original EL34s has started red plating after almost 40 years of service. The next paycheck is being used for a quartett of power tubes and a tube socket bias probe. I need to have this in my life again.


It's impossible to describe if you haven't heard and felt it yourself. The bottom end was tight, the saturation was there, just enough to get into hard rock territory, no pedals required. The dynamics are out of this world. It's like you have 20 different sounds at your disposal, all you need to do is work the controls on your guitar. The gut punch that thing gives you. The master volume was barely over 1 on the dial. This things lives with volume. I only regret I didn't bring my Strat...


So I unplug it, put it back where it was and there's a bit of a silence in the room. I had my father and my best friend with me, my drummer was mute and my guitar player left the room. Dad later told me once I started playing it looked like smoke was gonna start emerging from my guitarists ears.


The guy who owns the amp walks in and asks "and, did you try it out?"

I go "yeah, sounds good, nice amps, as said I have one as well."

I try to hide my excitement, like I was even remotely able to turn my orgasm face into a pokerface.

He then tells me he's still not sure if he wants to sell it. I decide to let it be and not pressure him. He wants a good amount of cash, I want the amp. For now, I will dream about it and wait a bit. It will be mine. Sooner or later. I just need to let a week or two pass and tell him I'll give him 1100 cash for it, give or take. He'll probably haggle, if we meet at 1200 I am happy.

It will be mine.


It is ridiculous, I already own one. And it sounds glorious as well. But this particular 81 model... has some serious mojo to it.

Just wanted to share this story. If you get the chance to crank one of these beasts, do it. It feels better than sex.

I hear you. the old 2203 roar like a lion. when you struck an A chord with a good les paul no amp can match that unmistakable roar. the boutique can try but its never quite right.
 
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JacksonCharvelAddict

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I’m always amazed at how incredible a late jmp mv sounds even on you tube when compared to high dollar boutique clones and variations. I’m like ...why bother with the boutique? With a boost pedal the jmp sounds every bit as modern and in most cases ...better.

I always prefer the JMP to the later models when I compare tones. Not sure why since I have heard they are basically the same circuit.
 

Marshallmadness

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I have a 78 JMP2203 and it’s my best amp and the favorite I have ever played or heard. I played that thing for hours yesterday and it absolutely blows me away every time. I have two 70’s cabs but only one full of greenbacks at the moment and that amp is unbelievable, especially for metal. The demonic metal evil that comes out of that thing is a force to be reckoned with.

I do have a DSL and TSL that by chance with choice tubes, later revision boards, sheer luck seem to do a pretty good job of recapturing the magic of these era amps through those 70’s cabs if you know what your hunting for. Regardless the JMP 2203 will always Have something special and reign king forever.
 

houseofrock

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Thanks brother. Reading your post made me smile.
Between the insanity caused by covid, riots, and that I live in a townhouse I find myself living very quietly these days. It's good to see someone is able to make some noise once in a while. I pray the world comes to its senses real soon. This "social distancing" is making me crazy. My JMP 2204 is feeling ignored as well as my '77 Superbass.
 

Matthews Guitars

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What always gets me is just how big, fat, and ball-rattling the 2203 is with good cabinets. It shakes the whole house! Every time I play, even at "reasonable" volume levels, I have to restraighten all the pictures hanging on the walls.

They've got such a huge punch down in the bass region, it isn't even funny. It makes every other amp I own, except for the Super Leads, feel like someone forgot to include the bass notes in them.
 

Gutch220

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I'd say jump on it if you didn't already have one, but that's a lot of money for an amp you basically already have. Maybe you can sell the other one?

I too own a JCM800 2203 from 1981 (Daly caps, drake/dagnall trans) and it's great, but I wouldn't go nuts to buy a 2203 from 1980. I'd buy something else I don't already own (like a Tele)
 

Chris-in-LA

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Was playing my 2203 yesterday at just over TV volume through an open-backed 2x10 Fender cab. Still had a great bass response, it’s an ‘86 but still sounded great. A little more complex and open sounding compared to my 2204’s. Gain up half way, great sustain and starting harmonic feedback even at low levels. Great amps.
 

MarshallDog

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What always gets me is just how big, fat, and ball-rattling the 2203 is with good cabinets. It shakes the whole house! Every time I play, even at "reasonable" volume levels, I have to restraighten all the pictures hanging on the walls.

They've got such a huge punch down in the bass region, it isn't even funny. It makes every other amp I own, except for the Super Leads, feel like someone forgot to include the bass notes in them.

So have you had your hearing checked lately.
 

Matthews Guitars

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Hearing's great! I may let the amp run wild and free but I'm wearing hearing protection when doing so, and I'm usually standing out in the hallway rather than being
directly attacked by the furious wall of sound.

I also have to admit, much as the 2203 is a wonderful and beastly amp, my 1959 is even more psychotic. With the volumes at just 2 it's getting crazy loud. Cranked up around 7 so as to get the output tubes grinding, standing near the cabinets is physically tiring after a while.
 

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