Why do Marshall amps have such piercing high treble capabilities?

Maxbrothman

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I decided to turn up my Marshall for some Thrashy Arise Sepultura.

 

Moony

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On the other hand, then we have the entire DSL and JVM line, which are nothing like their elders. With those models, you can just turn the treble off entirely, and use the Mid control to try and balance out your mids and highs. The moment you add Treble, the fizzier and ice-picky it gets, and if your gain is above 10:00, you're just going for the soda pop fizz. Marshall, in my opinion, really screwed with the Bass, Mid, and Treble frequencies with the DSL and JVM. They can sound a bit like toys compared to their elders side-by-side, lacking the same meaty fullness and midrange conviction.

The JVM has nothing to do with the DSL/TSL range and is basically a modded 2203.
A classic bright cap thins out the sound the less gain you dial in - not the more gain.
I know that some people had problems with JVMs and thought they were very fizzy and bright sounding.
I personally think that's due to the Shuguang 12AX7B tubes in the preamp they used (also in regards of noise/microphonics).
Later on they used JJs in "V1", "V4" and "V5" (quotation marks because the numbering in the schematics is different, with "V1" I mean the input tube and "V5" the phase inverter).

The JVM is imho the best amp Marshall has made so far.
I see that the compression and high gain is not for everyone - but you can mod it easily to fit your taste.
And then you get a 4 channel amp with switchable gain stages, switchable effect loop, switchable two master volumes... what else can you ask for? :)
If someone doesn't need all that of course the classic models also still have a place in many hearts (in mine too).

I ❤️ the JVM!
And if I want I get a lot of "meaty fullness" out of it! :)
 

Bruce Wright

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I think everyone has answered already. I have heard a lot of people saying this and cutting this resistor out and doing this and that but, the guys a Marshall know what they are doing. Wind in up on stage at volume it’s perfect. I use a studio (20 w) which is bloody loud rather than a 100 head. You don’t need it. Better do drive a lower watt amp hard than drive a Ferrari in 1st gear.
 

Theresa

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Well, many people remove the bright cap (500pf) ceramic cap on the bright channel to cut the treble somewhat. Easy mod if you're so inclined.
 

ssolo8

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Why do Marshall's tend to have such razor-cutting highs? The highs are enough to slice through your head at ear level.

I am always dialing mine back both in the amp and tone knob on the guitar. Like I have trebs on 2 - 3 and tone on 3 - 4 in some cases. Also rolled back the volume a bit on the guitar.

So why are they so high? Is it because of harmonics or something?

I tend to compensate with the Presence or that also goes down.

Maybe it's because I don't play loud enough. Like volume up in high mode without attenuation. If you play them loud enough do you need to turn the trebs up to get a response there or something?

Just wondering.
They're just doing their job, sir. They were made to be on a rock and roll stage. Things were a lot more trebly then, as we would leave the bass frequencies to, well, the bass player. People wonder why they don't play well with the other kids when they're in a living room.
Nowadays, in my elder years I too run the treble and presence almost all the way off. Works better that way in the studio, and even live I like a darker sound.
 

ssolo8

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OP - I use very minimal Treble on most of my Marshalls and use the Presence to get that zingy bite on the top.

That is, of course, until I got my

Marshall Origin 50s.

Treble on 6 !! Hahaha!

I've NEVER played my Treble that high, but on the Origins it sounds amazing. So much good bite, clarity and no fizziness!
Crazy how we came back full circle once we realized that the more gain that Marshall gave us, the more we would complain about the tone. Origins will give newer Generations a chance to understand that. Get a great solid Marshall sound and THEN add icing to the cake with your pedals. That's how we created all those famous tones. Somewhere along the line we wanted the amplifier to do it all for us, and most of the time it wasn't the same.
 

ssolo8

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No. IMO the DSL was Marshalls first amps aimed at the Madison Square Bedroom crowd. Up until then, Marshalls were stage tools meant to be turned up. The DSL (again, IMO) was the first all tube Marshall designed to be played at sub drummer volume.

The worst trait for an amp is to be ‘muddy’ I think. I love Marshalls and most who complain that they are too bright usually are just playing with themselves. Rather than turned up in a band situation I mean haha
Right on point pal! 100 watt heads are Arena amplifiers. (Crazy how we also used them in little Cantinas for so long.)
Before we just used our 100 watt monsters for rehearsing and live shows, and if we wanted to practice at home we had Peavey Bandits and the such. Tone at home wasn't so critical, as it was just a transitory time before we were on stage again.
I wonder why the lower wattage craze wasn't thought of decades ago, but
Im guessing so many MORE people are playing now, BUT just at home, hence the new market for good tube tone at lower power.
Which turned out great for all of us because now I only use 20 watts to play bars!
 

Moony

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The wattage rating doesn't mean anything.
It's all about the circuit of the amp.

You can play a 100W JVM410H at really low volume levels and it sounds nice - because it has a very clean poweramp (lots of nfb, 82k at 16 ohms) and is intended to take most of the sound out of the preamp - so you don't need to crank it.
A 5W Class 5 works far worse at low volumes, or the new SV20 Studio Plexi.

Here's a video (unfortunately in German) where a guy plays a JVM410H at really low volume levels (even through a 2x12 V30 cab, which isn't the very best choice) - you can hear the acoustic sound of the strings and his voice over the sound from the speakers, so you'll get an idea how quiet it is.




Session Music in Germany (you may know the guy "Olli" from their YT channel - he always uses a JVM) sells tons of JVMs to customers who use their amps at home.
Simply because it's one of the best sounding all tube amps if you play at "bedroom"/TV volume levels.
 

Steve Johnson

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Why do Marshall's tend to have such razor-cutting highs? The highs are enough to slice through your head at ear level.

I am always dialing mine back both in the amp and tone knob on the guitar. Like I have trebs on 2 - 3 and tone on 3 - 4 in some cases. Also rolled back the volume a bit on the guitar.

So why are they so high? Is it because of harmonics or something?

I tend to compensate with the Presence or that also goes down.

Maybe it's because I don't play loud enough. Like volume up in high mode without attenuation. If you play them loud enough do you need to turn the trebs up to get a response there or something?

Just wondering.
Hey a lot of valid comments but I may have a simple solution...

Do you play your guitar standing up or sitting down ? Sitting down playing will dramatically differ from standing and for me sitting will always sound more brighter or that you need to add low end - So if you are sitting when playing just stand up and play which I recommend all players do or if you like sitting then I suggest things like tilting the amp or raising it - just experiment
 

december

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I have a 40W 12" Valvestate and play at low to medium volume. It doesn't have much high end. I have the treble maxed out on the clean channel and at noon on the crunch.
 

Maxbrothman

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Hey a lot of valid comments but I may have a simple solution...

Do you play your guitar standing up or sitting down ? Sitting down playing will dramatically differ from standing and for me sitting will always sound more brighter or that you need to add low end - So if you are sitting when playing just stand up and play which I recommend all players do or if you like sitting then I suggest things like tilting the amp or raising it - just experiment
I suspect that it has to do with where you are striking the strings. If you stand up I think it might be easier to hit the middle space between both neck and bridge while sitting down brings your strumming arm elbow back more and so you pick closer to the bridge pickup getting a brighter sound.
 

Aeon Dream

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Why do Marshall's tend to have such razor-cutting highs? The highs are enough to slice through your head at ear level.

I am always dialing mine back both in the amp and tone knob on the guitar. Like I have trebs on 2 - 3 and tone on 3 - 4 in some cases. Also rolled back the volume a bit on the guitar.

So why are they so high? Is it because of harmonics or something?

I tend to compensate with the Presence or that also goes down.

Maybe it's because I don't play loud enough. Like volume up in high mode without attenuation. If you play them loud enough do you need to turn the trebs up to get a response there or something?

Just wondering.
Marshall amps have a serious bright cap that delivers screaming high frequencies. I have a 74 100 watt super lead and I had the bright cap removed and still it’s a very bright amplifier. When I first got the amp I would turn the treble to 0 and it was still very bright even with mids an bass above 5 It’s just the Marshall design and like others have stated, when you get the amp at performance volume which is mega loud then the tone stack becomes more balanced
 

Vinsanitizer

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I decided to turn up my Marshall for some Thrashy Arise Sepultura.


I sat here and listened to the whole thing. Package it up, it's ready for national radio airplay. How's your schedule looking for the summer?
 

JCM1959RR

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Make sure your amplifier is properly biased and your power/preamp tubes are good + as other posters have mentioned : Speakers - Guitar wood - pickups & tube choices will also affect tone
 

Parkhead

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Why do Marshall's tend to have such razor-cutting highs? The highs are enough to slice through your head at ear level.

I am always dialing mine back both in the amp and tone knob on the guitar. Like I have trebs on 2 - 3 and tone on 3 - 4 in some cases. Also rolled back the volume a bit on the guitar.

So why are they so high? Is it because of harmonics or something?

I tend to compensate with the Presence or that also goes down.

Maybe it's because I don't play loud enough. Like volume up in high mode without attenuation. If you play them loud enough do you need to turn the trebs up to get a response there or something?

Just wondering.
They are tuned that way for stage use with No Pa support... typically I remove the bright volume caps on my marshalls ... harder to do on a modern amp ...
 

Seventh Son

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The older models may be bright in their own respect, but they do have a balanced frequency range and cut through the mix without sounding thin and ear piercing. On the other hand, then we have the entire DSL and JVM line, which are nothing like their elders. With those models, you can just turn the treble off entirely, and use the Mid control to try and balance out your mids and highs. The moment you add Treble, the fizzier and ice-picky it gets, and if your gain is above 10:00, you're just going for the soda pop fizz. Marshall, in my opinion, really screwed with the Bass, Mid, and Treble frequencies with the DSL and JVM. They can sound a bit like toys compared to their elders side-by-side, lacking the same meaty fullness and midrange conviction. I've been running my JCM 800 and DSL20HR in stereo through my 1960A cab, so I can just keep swapping the Input jacks back an forth to adjust the DSL to sound like the JCM. You can get really close, but the DSL is will always have a thinner top-end and lacks low-mids where the meat is. No matter how you mix the Bass and Resonance, you can get close to the JCM 800 sound, but it's just not quite there. You could probably do it by adding an EQ to the DSL's FX loop, and adding maybe 400Hz or perhaps even try the 250Hz spot a decibel or two, but I don't care to get that involved. Bottom line, IMO, is as I've been saying since the DSL and JVM lines came out, (both of which I've owned various versions of), which is, that they were Marshall's answer to the MESA Dual Rectifier sound. The amount of gain, the Tone (mid-scoop) switch, the Deep switch, and the shifting of the Mid control to a higher frequency to acquire a bit more of the Recto's aggression, were all obvious.

Here's how I'm getting about 90% of the JCM 800 sound on the DSL20. Notice how different the controls have to be set - notice the DSL's Presence and Treble have to be set to zero, the Mids and Bass way up, and it still needs some Resonance. The Tone Shift is off (out), YMMV:

View attachment 110685
Turning treble and especially presence all the way off might choke the amp too much. I have found these to work pretty well for a nice, beefy classic rock/metal tone.

Bass 7
Middle 8
Treble 2
Presence 3
Resonance 2
Gain 4
 

ssolo8

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Interesting read.

Let me add something to this topic, which has not been discussed yet:
I believe there is no "one size fits all" approach to cutting through the mix. It depends on the type of music and the line-up of the band.

A few examples:
I always used to cut through well in a two guitar lineup playing Rock and 80's style Metal with a classic type 80's Marshall sound and an upper mid range focus.

In contrast to that think modern Metal. I was singer in a band once, where both guitar players had Engls. Lots of bass, lots of low mids and everything tuned down one step. The guitars cut through the mix very well, but in a completely different frequency range than a Marshall would.

In the past 15 years or so I have played in two bands with a guitar and keyboard line-up. While finding my place in the mix I also ended up looking for the low-mid roar, to cut through below the keyboard, which dominated the higher mids and treble. To make this work I sometimes had to make the bass player cut down the low mid range in order to not drown me out.

Disclaimer: Of course in all those cases you always need a certain degree of treble. I am just talking about which frequency areas appear to be most prominent in the mix.

To make a long story short: maybe many manufacturers (and Marshall to a lesser extent) voice amps for the "Madison Square Bedroom", but maybe they just realised that cutting through the mix sometimes requires a focus on other frequency areas, depending on which types of music the amp was designed for.

In general, just listen to any kind of modern Rock or Metal. It seems like upper mids in guitars have gone a little out of fashion, while still cutting through.

Feel free to discuss these thoughts. :)
I concur.
 


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