SL-X vs. Mk III (both JCM900)

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by Dioesque, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. Dioesque

    Dioesque Active Member

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    From what I can gather, these are very similar (and similarly highly regarded) amps. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand it, both have foot-switchable dual master volumes (for a lead boost in volume only, gain & EQ unchanged), and have mega gain on tap (the only difference being the SL-X uses a 4th preamp tube vs. the Mk III using diodes).

    Am I correct so far? If not, please advise.

    I currently own an SL-X head (50 watts). It's perfect for me, with its foot-switchable twin master volumes (for rhythm vs. lead), plus its mega-distortion levels (but note that my needs are modest, as I play classic metal, a la Sabbath/Purple/Rainbow/Ozzy/Dio/Whitesnake levels).

    However, I’m getting old, and lugging a heavy head plus a big 4x12 cabinet around is becoming an issue for me. A 1x12 combo is starting to appeal to me A LOT as an alternative. These days, with a single speaker in a cab being miked and pumped through the PA — and amp volume kept rather low in most bars & clubs — why not switch to a more easily manageable combo?

    I wish that there was an SL-X combo model available. But so far as I know, that does not exist. (Again, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

    So from what I can tell, the next closest thing would be a JCM 900 Mk III, because it has the foot-switchable dual master volumes, plus an extra gain stage (even if diode instead of 12AX7 tube) for more gain w/o need for pedals. Again, would you agree with my assessment? If not, why not?

    Thoughts?

    At this point, I’d be open to working out some sort of trade: my SL-X head (50 watts) for a Mk III combo (1x12). Any takers? (Or any opinions as to whether this would be a good or bad idea? I love the features, but at this point — age 62 — would like to downsize).
     
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  2. Sg-ocaster

    Sg-ocaster Well-Known Member

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    Owned a 50w sl-x years ago....nice amp at club levels imo...also used a mk3 in the studio last year.....very nice amp.....that said it was cranked in an isolation room....turned down to club levels...no clue.
     
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  3. Sir Don

    Sir Don Well-Known Member

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  4. coolidge56

    coolidge56 Well-Known Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    I have a 1990 JCM900 2500 MkIII 50 watt head and it's a concert sized Marshall e.g. boat anchor. The combo will be even heavier. Not the weight reduction amp you are seeking imo. Mini Jubilee? Tons of smaller, lighter weight amps higher gain amps on the market so maybe a non Marshall.
     
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  5. Buzzard

    Buzzard Well-Known Member

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    Check out ceriatone.
     
  6. KraftyBob

    KraftyBob Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Good for you not caring about a diode instead of a 4th tube. I have to laugh at all the guys that slam using a diode in the 900 but then run a Tube Screamer in front of their amps.

    Do they think because it’s called a tube screamer that it actually has a tube in it lol?
     
  7. coolidge56

    coolidge56 Well-Known Member Double Platinum Supporting Member

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    Yeah but vintage tube screamers used UK Mullard diodes. Russian reissue diodes are lifeless and don't have the mojo.
     
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  8. marshallmellowed

    marshallmellowed Well-Known Member

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    Get a used JMD:1 combo and keep your SL-X for home use. The JMD is a great gigging amp with programmable rhythm/lead levels. The only downside, the JMD combo cabs are not the best, construction wise. Either that, or get a JVM combo, which like the SL-X, also has dual master volumes.
     
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  9. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    I have to disagree. Not because the JMD is not a good amp, but because the 1x12 combo is still way too heavy and awkward. It weighs more than 60 lbs.

    I'm going to convert mine into head. I say this every time I need to move it. Then I forget about it until I need to move it again. Then I say "Oh my! This thing is a boat anchor! I'm going to covert it into a head."
     
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  10. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    I say get a mini Jubilee head and a light weight 1x12 cab.
     
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  11. Dioesque

    Dioesque Active Member

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    But the DSL40CR does not have twin (footswitchable) master volumes for the same single channel, does it?
     
  12. marshallmellowed

    marshallmellowed Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what it is you're disagreeing with, unless you're making an assumption that, like yourself, the OP can't manage a 60 lb. combo. He also stated he liked the dual master volume functionality of the JCM 900, which he would retain with a JMD (programmable Ch. volume) or JVM (independent Ch. volumes + dual masters).
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2020
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  13. Kinkless Tetrode

    Kinkless Tetrode Well-Known Member

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    A 900 1x12 combo is both smaller and lighter than the JMD 1x12 combo. But the JMD combo does have grab handles on the sides, to make it more manageable for two people.
     
  14. Sir Don

    Sir Don Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure it does if you have the six button foot switch.
     
  15. Seventh Son

    Seventh Son Well-Known Member

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    Get two DSL5CR’s, one for rhythm and one for lead, and an amp switcher. Or one DSL5CR with an overdrive pedal in the front for rhythm on the Classic Gain channel, and singing leads on the Ultra Gain channel.
     
  16. headcrash

    headcrash Well-Known Member

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    ...he wants two volume levels, not two gain levels...

    I'd also recommend the mini Jubilee combo, and a passive minus booster for switching between rhythm and lead volume, e.g. the Electro Harmonix Signal Pad. An active clean boost can do the same but adds a little hiss/noise, and the goal was to be quieter after all.
     
  17. OU812

    OU812 Active Member

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    I have a mkIII combo like the OP wants. It’s light for a combo and has grab handles on the sides. Only problem is there scarcity.
     
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  18. Seventh Son

    Seventh Son Well-Known Member

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    The DSL5CR has two channels, each with its own volume knob.
     
  19. Gain Man

    Gain Man Active Member

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    I never owned one of these 50W or 100W combos from the 80's and 90's, but as some other posters have already mentioned, they are bound to be heavy as hell. Why? They contain the same electronics and transformers (which alone are heavy) as the heads plus a speaker in essentially a package with just as much wood as the head.

    You like the Volume switching? Great, but you could also achieve that by using an EQ pedal in the loop.
    This means you could maybe consider switching to one of these newer 20W models, lke the DSL20 or the Mini Jubilee, which should be considerably lighter. Maybe even get the head and a 1x12 or 2x12 cab. Marshall (as well as some other 3rd party manufacturers) have a variety of 2x12 vertical cabs to match those smaller heads.
    Advantage: you lose some weight (well not you personally), get an additional channel and can still switch volumes with an EQ pedal and 2 additional cables.

    Or maybe this:
    As heavy as 50W heads are, they are not nearly as bad as 4x12 cabs when it comes to weight. So maybe keep the head and switch to a 2x12 or even a 1x12 cab? If you get your hands on a used 1912 cab, that might be an option. They are closed back, so you will get a tighter bottom end, which would be beneficial for your type of music. And they have a 150W-rated speaker (I believe), which should handle the wattage from a 50W head nicely.

    As much as I sometimes hate lugging around a 4x12 - and yes, I am also thinking about downsizing - I always try to remind myself that I am not a drummer. :)
     
  20. Dioesque

    Dioesque Active Member

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    But are they voiced identically? Same levels of gain available, same tone, etc.?

    I just need the ability to toggle between two pre-set volume levels for rhythm vs lead, without doing so affecting or changing anything else (keeping same type & level of gain, tone, timbre, etc.).
     

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