Marshall DSL4CR Tube Upgrades

CBenson89

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Good Day All,

i want to upgrade the tubes in my DSL40CR but I’m super new to tube amps I like to play rock and roll and currently use my DSL40CR as a pedal machine any recommendations for tubes that are compatible and an upgrade over the stock tubes? Thank you so much!!
 

PelliX

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Good Day All,

i want to upgrade the tubes in my DSL40CR but I’m super new to tube amps I like to play rock and roll and currently use my DSL40CR as a pedal machine any recommendations for tubes that are compatible and an upgrade over the stock tubes? Thank you so much!!

Nice amp, I liked it. You can replace the pre-amp valves with any compatible (ECC83, ECC82, etc) type you like. Drop-in replacement. For the output valves you'll want a matched pair and you'll need to re-bias the amp.

Take your pick as far as what is 'better' is concerned. I think it would be hard to get valves that would stop that amp from sounding "rock and roll"... I didn't dislike the stock valves, which were Shuguang (pre-amp, PI) and JJ EL34's, IIRC.

Perhaps the real question here is; why do you want to replace them? Is the amp getting dull? The output valves can go a good few years typically before they start to become weak. Are you looking to 'get other tone'?
 

jamesband4

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Just pick your preferred tube maker, but make sure the power tubes are matched. I got Mesa in my DSL40C currently.
 

PelliX

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Just pick your preferred tube maker, but make sure the power tubes are matched. I got Mesa in my DSL40C currently.

Just curious, what brand are the Mesa's, actually? Do they re-brand JJ, too?
 

pedecamp

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Good Day All,

i want to upgrade the tubes in my DSL40CR but I’m super new to tube amps I like to play rock and roll and currently use my DSL40CR as a pedal machine any recommendations for tubes that are compatible and an upgrade over the stock tubes? Thank you so much!!
I found that the new DSL's sound best with JJ's, the stock tubes are JJ so I would leave them alone and not replace them. If you want to change the amp tonally I'd look at a speaker change. If youre a metal player get a V30, a classic rock player get a creamback65.
 

SkyMonkey

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The main preamp tube upgrade for a DSL40CR is a JJ ECC823 in V1 to lower the gain on the Ultra channels.
Not to be confused with the JJ ECC832. That will lower gain on all channels.
Read the footnote on the JJ ECC832 page: https://www.jj-electronic.com/en/ecc832-12dw7

Beyond that, you haven't stated what you want to achieve, tone-wise.
Is it just that you want 'Branded' tubes, and dislike JJ's?
 

Dave J

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Hey all, this thread looked close to what I am dealing with on my DSL40CR so I thought I'd jump in here vs starting another thread. I have had my DSL40CR a couple of years but played mostly at home, COVID made folks not want to get together. I finally got the chance to play it at a jam session / beginnings of forming a band yesterday. The amp had a somewhat unpleasant midrange to it. I like forward mids, that is why I have a Marshall but the mids on this amp were.. I am not good at describing sounds but I would say hollow, or nasal, or honky. It's not the amount of mids but the way the mids sounded. This amp is has a lot of sizzle so I had the Treble pretty low but no matter what I tried I could not get away from this sound. I did two things to the amp before taking it out to play
1) checked the bias and it was fairly high, around 38mv, set it to 33mv. I had checked it about a year ago and was pretty sure I didn't set it that high so I will have to watch that.
2) swapped in a Sovtek 12ax7 LP in the PI position.

I won't be able to mess with it until later this week and of course I'll put the stock 12ax7 back in the PI and see if that was it. Then check the bias. I have read that Marshall Forum members bias these amps anywhere from 32-36. Could a low bias cause the honky mids? I'd like to sort this out as it looks like I have people to play with again and canb crank the amp a bit, had it on about 4 ( or 10 o clock) in 40 watt power.
Thanks for any advice. I also have a few speakers I can try with it. A pair of Greenbacks, a pair of V30's, and since I have heard of a few folks using a Eminence Swamp Thang, I have a WGS G12 C/S that I really liked in a Boogie MarkII just for experimentation. My friends and I are playing mostly classic rock.
 

Gene Ballzz

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Hey all, this thread looked close to what I am dealing with on my DSL40CR so I thought I'd jump in here vs starting another thread. I have had my DSL40CR a couple of years but played mostly at home, COVID made folks not want to get together. I finally got the chance to play it at a jam session / beginnings of forming a band yesterday. The amp had a somewhat unpleasant midrange to it. I like forward mids, that is why I have a Marshall but the mids on this amp were.. I am not good at describing sounds but I would say hollow, or nasal, or honky. It's not the amount of mids but the way the mids sounded. This amp is has a lot of sizzle so I had the Treble pretty low but no matter what I tried I could not get away from this sound. I did two things to the amp before taking it out to play
1) checked the bias and it was fairly high, around 38mv, set it to 33mv. I had checked it about a year ago and was pretty sure I didn't set it that high so I will have to watch that.
2) swapped in a Sovtek 12ax7 LP in the PI position.

I won't be able to mess with it until later this week and of course I'll put the stock 12ax7 back in the PI and see if that was it. Then check the bias. I have read that Marshall Forum members bias these amps anywhere from 32-36. Could a low bias cause the honky mids? I'd like to sort this out as it looks like I have people to play with again and canb crank the amp a bit, had it on about 4 ( or 10 o clock) in 40 watt power.
Thanks for any advice. I also have a few speakers I can try with it. A pair of Greenbacks, a pair of V30's, and since I have heard of a few folks using a Eminence Swamp Thang, I have a WGS G12 C/S that I really liked in a Boogie MarkII just for experimentation. My friends and I are playing mostly classic rock.


First> What channel and/or mode are you using? This can make a big difference. I suggest first trying the CLASSIC GAIN channel in CRUNCH mode with the GAIN and VOLUME cranked all the way up, and using one of the MASTER volumes to set your room volume.
Next> Dial in your best sound and tone and consider this you "CORE SOUND" and if you want to use the ULTRA GAIN channel, try the OD1 mode and dial the GAIN and VOLUME (along with the other MASTER) to closely match the same volume level as the CLASSIC channel. You may need to slightly compromise the perfect tone settings used for the CLASSIC channel, but careful balancing between the two should get you a nice edge of breakup tone in the CLASSIC channel , while having a pleasant high gain sound in the ULTRA. Try to keep the tone settings as close to your CLASSIC CRUNCH channel "CORE SOUND" as possible.

Then> It is not unusual (with the stock speaker) to run the TREBLE near or at ZERO and add a little top end with the PRESENCE, and the MIDDLE actually acts more like a slightly lower TREBLE control and running it at NOON or higher (even floored) is fairly typical. Dial in a balance of BASS and RESONANCE to round out the bottom end. It is also not unusual for players to find one great sound and channel setting and simply live there forever! Channel switching isn't always all it is cracked up to be!

These amps are fully capable of great sounds, but you gotta play around with them, as they provide so much variety.

Also, you didn't mention what, if any, pedals you are driving into the amp and whether or not or how your are using the EFFECTS LOOP.

Just My :2c:,
Gene
 

SkyMonkey

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Hi @Dave J

An amp can sound markedly different if placed on the floor or raised off the floor.
Very cheap to try this out.

Speaker-wise, I wouldn't recommend swapping in a single Greenback.
Their wattage (20-30W) is too low for a cranked DSL40CR.
Many state 2x the wattage of the amp for ultimate safety, but 1.5x is going to be fine.
A 60W V30 would be an ideal speaker to try since you already have some.
They are often described as a Mid-Focused speaker though.
Great in a band situation, but can become grating in isolation.
No experience with Swamp Things though.

Great advice from @Gene Ballzz above.
A 7-band EQ pedal 1st in the FX loop may be another way to go.
 

Dave J

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Thank you Gene Ballzz and SkyMonkey for your replies. answers to your questions:


* What channel and/or mode are you using?

I was going between classic channel crunch mode and also both Ultra Channels. We played "Foxy Lady" and I didn't bring a Fuzz so I went Ultra channel "Red" for that.
On the classic channel I did have the gain and the channel volume dimed. Gain was around 5 on the Ultra channel but I think I had the channel volume around 5 as well. Quite a bit I run both channel volumes all the way up, but not sure why I didn't have that set for the jam session.
Prior to re-biasing the amp, the classic channel crunch mode would give me a very nice "classic" overdrive, full and not very compressed. Even in the green or clean side of the classic channel I got a nice just past the edge of breakup tone, again full and not very compressed. After biasing the tubes to 33mv the classic channel lost some of the overdriven sound. I know this amp is designed to get most of it's overdrive from the pre-amp but either the bias to 33mv or maybe the 12ax7 LP cleaned it up on that side.
I do live on the green side of the ultra channel for the most part, except for when I wanted to get pretty heavy for Foxy Lady. One thing I have noticed about this amp is that the Classic channel is nice and open but even on the green side of the Ultra channel it gets more compressed, even at moderate gain settings on the green ( OD1) side.


* It is not unusual (with the stock speaker) to run the TREBLE near or at ZERO and add a little top end with the PRESENCE, and the MIDDLE actually acts more like a slightly lower TREBLE control and running it at NOON or higher (even floored) is fairly typical. Dial in a balance of BASS and RESONANCE to round out the bottom end. It is also not unusual for players to find one great sound and channel setting and simply live there forever! Channel switching isn't always all it is cracked up to be!


Yeah, I have been running the Treble close to zero and the middle pretty high, sometimes all the way up. Bass, Resonance and Presence to taste. I have several Marshall in a Box pedals and a couple of them sound pretty good in the Green or "clean" side of the classic channel. I think the temptation or line of thinking is to use as many channels of a multi channel amp - and this amp could be said to have 4 modes. I know I have thought "why have this amp if I can't use at least 2 or 3 of the modes and maybe I should flip it for an Origin and use the pedals. But I am totally open to not thinking I have to use all of the amp in order to justify having it. I use my guitars volume and tone controls and rolling off the vol for rhythm work and up for leads is in my wheel house.


* Also, you didn't mention what, if any, pedals you are driving into the amp and whether or not or how your are using the EFFECTS LOOP.


No effects at all in the practice session, guitar into amp. I have a pedal board and effects with a switcher I use at home but didn't take anything as this was the first time we played and I didn't know what the situation was going to be. I have used 4 cable method and this amp does that well.



* An amp can sound markedly different if placed on the floor or raised off the floor.


Mine was on the floor, I tilted it back slightly by leaning it up against the corner of a couch. The room we played in is about the size of maybe two 2 car garages side by side. There is a stage at one end of the space and the other guitarist had his amp on that maybe abput 4-ish feet off the ground. Thinking I should have set min up there. Our band leader and 3rd guitarist had a 2x12 that he set on it's side ( it's a horozontal 2x12) that was on the floor but up against the stage facing the same direction as the amp on the stage. Mine was across the room facing the center where we were all standing. Amp placement might have played a part but the sounds I want to get rid of are there no matter where I play. This is why I am thinking I might need to bias the amp higher. But I am here asking questions so I am not saying that as an expert LOL



* Speaker-wise, I wouldn't recommend swapping in a single Greenback.
Their wattage (20-30W) is too low for a cranked DSL40CR.
Many state 2x the wattage of the amp for ultimate safety, but 1.5x is going to be fine.
A 60W V30 would be an ideal speaker to try since you already have some.
They are often described as a Mid-Focused speaker though.
Great in a band situation, but can become grating in isolation.
No experience with Swamp Things though.



I have 2 1x12 extension cabs. One is a nice Stageback closed with a panel to open 1/3 and is almost the exact size of the DSL combo. The other is a Mesa oversized 1x12 that is a 3/4 closed back. It's pretty huge at 26" wide, 11.5 deep and 19.5 high. The only way I would use the Greenbacks is using the combo and one of the extension cabs. I know even then I might be pushing it with the amp set to full power of 40 watts.
I don't mind the mid focus as long as it's a mid that I like. I knew this day of playing out would return so even around the house I try to dial in something that is band or mix friendly. Since I have them - pulled from an old Johnson Millennium modelling amp that put V30 's in them, and English ones from around 1998 to boot - I figured I'd try them. The WGS speaker would also just be a "what the hell, I got it so may as well" sort of thing.


Also, I never said what guitar I played. A Fender American Strat jeff Beck model ( not the custom shop) with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro Staggered Strat pickups.
 
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Gene Ballzz

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Yeah, the dichotomy of the DSL line (right from the beginning and especially the previous DSL40C) has always been the differential between the CLASSIC and ULTRA channels in terms of bottom end and mid range. If you get a great sound in the CLASSIC, the ULTRA will be lacking bass and if you get a great sound in the ULTRA, the CLASSIC will be woofy, tubby and bass heavy, as well as the mids between the two being vastly different! The latest CR versions have greatly improved this anomaly, but it still exists, to a point.

Finding a good balance/compromise between one mode of each channel and one mode of the other is the key. As mentioned, I use the CLASSIC CRUNCH (red) and ULTRA OD1 (green) and strive to set it so that the OD1 picks up where the cranked CRUNCH leaves off, if that makes any sense? Rolling the guitar volume down a bit on the CRUNCH gives a fair approximation of the CLASSIC CLEAN (green) and if I set the GAIN & VOLUME just right, with guitar rolled back, the OD1 gives quite similar to CLASSIC CRUNCH, guitar cranked and then cranking the guitar in OD1 gets into higher gain territory.

I have both a DSL40CR and a DSL20CR and when going to jam, I invariably grab the 20, as I like the sound of the cooking powertubes in it much more than the 40. The 40 however, really shines at lower to medium home volume levels, but can certainly get pretty darn loud, when needed.

I think you'd be pleasantly surprised by a Creamback 65 in the amp. Greenbacks tend to have a spike in the upper mids that is likely at the same spot you're having an issue with the stock speaker.

Sorry For The Long Rant,
Gene
 

Dave J

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Then definitely stack the DSL.

That's what I do with mine.
I have the stock V-Type in the 112 cab under the amp.
The combo has a Celestion G12 Century Vintage inside (discontinued neo).
The Mesa sounds huge for a 1x12 and the combo easily sits on top. Gonna try some speaker combo's in it and the combo. Heck I might even see if that big Mesa sounds good on it's own. If the big 1x12 sounded good on it's own I know of at least one cab maker that has a head conversion for it which would make an easier transport to and from our practice space. ( can't leave anything there) I also found out that a friend that was going to buy my Scumback J75 65 watt speaker decided not to so I can add that to the list. I hadn't mentioned it because I thought it was spoken for. Plenty to try and great suggestion.
 

Springfield Scooter

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The Mesa sounds huge for a 1x12 and the combo easily sits on top. Gonna try some speaker combo's in it and the combo. Heck I might even see if that big Mesa sounds good on it's own. If the big 1x12 sounded good on it's own I know of at least one cab maker that has a head conversion for it which would make an easier transport to and from our practice space. ( can't leave anything there) I also found out that a friend that was going to buy my Scumback J75 65 watt speaker decided not to so I can add that to the list. I hadn't mentioned it because I thought it was spoken for. Plenty to try and great suggestion.

Please keep us posted!
To my ears, its going to be difficult to get a better sounding speaker than the oem, G-12 v-type speaker .
Looking forward to your findings!
 

Dave J

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Please keep us posted!
To my ears, its going to be difficult to get a better sounding speaker than the oem, G-12 v-type speaker .
Looking forward to your findings!
Will have some time this weekend to do some speaker swapping, bias check and re-bias, and maybe a few preamp tube swaps, one change at a time of course! I'll report back for sure, more info on the board is always better.
 

Dave J

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Did some work on the DSL40CR over the weekend.
I was at home so couldn't crank the amp to rehearsal space levels but I did have the channel volumes around 3 o'clock to all the way up and master volumes around 9 o'clock. Gain on the "classic " channel all the way up and around noon on the "ultra" channel. Similar to what I'd used for the most part.
Played the amp a bit to get it warmed up and a fresh reference. Still hearing what I didn't like. I had commented earlier that the mids were not pleasing but really it was the amp in general. Amp was nasally, dull, honky, etc.
First change was putting the stock Marshall 12ax7 back in the P.I. slot, removing the Sovtech 12ax7LPS. This improved the tone a little bit, but not too much.
Next I went to biasing the tubes ( stock tubes).
About a week ago before band practice I had checked the bias, I wish I had noted what it was but I think it was around 35mv. Anyway a week ago I ended up setting the bias to 32.5 or so. Bias readings were around 32.5 - 32.7 or so. This weekend I bumped it up to 36mv as I understand that is were Marshall says it should be.
Results were a much better sounding amp. Much juicier. I went out on a limb and bumped it up to 38mv. Not as much of a gain in tone as going to 36 but still I thought a bit better yet. If the brain trust here thinks 38mv is too much i could go back down to 36mv.
Here is what I found to be most interesting about this bias adjusting.
The DSL is supposed to get it's gain from the preamp. Yet when I bumped up the bias, and also when I bumped it down last week, I noticed a fairly good difference in the level of gain I could get from the Classic Channel. Even with the master volume on 3 ( 9 o'clock-ish) at 36-38 there is a good deal of gain available, more than at 32mv. Nothing like the Ultra channel of course but power tube bias had a lot of influence on how much gain the Classic Channel could get. Maybe the el-34's that come with it are more easily driven to break up ? For a preamp gain amp it made a lot of difference that has me curious as to why. I know the signal HAS to run thru the power amp tubes at any volume, but I wouldn't have thought at a lower but not bedroom volume they'd have so much to say.

Next round of swapping will be with some preamp tubes I have. When I was a younger lad and renting a room in a house, the owner was a ham radio guy that was purging some excess stuff. I helped him with a yard sale and he gave me some GE 12AX7's. Not sure the year. I also had a Boogie Mark III at the time and had purchased a quad of Mesa 12AX7's. The tube have no markings on them. They are either the tubes that came in the boxes or the ones I pulled out of the amp so either way I am pretty sure they are from wherever Mesa was getting them. I want to try rolling those in, and since the bias adjustment made a pretty big difference maybe throw the long plate 12ax7LPS back in the P.I. spot. Maybe all the good things people say about them will show up again.

If I have time after I settle on preamp tubes I will re-try some of the speaker and cab combinations again.
 


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