Pros: Small, portable, great headphone amp. Nasty Distortion.
Cons: Without headphones unit isn't loud enough. Very little clean tone.
This Amp and review has nothing to do with weiners. Working at a guitar store I constantly hear about how bands buy unnecessary huge Marshall full-stack units and play too loud. Yes, Mr. Tufnel too loud can be a problem at times. I like how this amp is the paradox of the Marshall company. It is a headphone amp with a logo. Enough babbling, here goes the review:
I first saw this amp about 10 years ago when I was still in Highschool. It was the coolest unit I had ever seen. As for it's size, it was the only of it's kind. The little belt clip was also a plus. Now any delinquent with a $50 Hondo guitar could skateboard and rock out with an amp tied to his waist. As soon as I had the extra money I bought one of these.
While this amp has its uses, they are very limited. It has a clean and dirty boost knob. Even with the clean switched on single coil pickups get dirty quickly. Humbuckers? Forget it! It is just a buzz blast. This is cool for the kiddies and everything, but if you want to play clean, this amp is not for you. Gain knob is almost unnecessary, but for best possible sound, it should be at 10. Adjust volume to your ears. The headphone jack is nice. It sounds odd however because the signal is mono. I am a brat from the over-processed guitar age so the absence of fake stereo imaging is a bit dry for me. I liked it better with the phones unplugged.
When I was in college, I studied in Japan. I forgot my little Marshall. I was without an amp so I decided to buy one there. They had more choices in Japan than I had at home. I could get a tiny Vox, Marshall, Fender, Cigarette Box Amp (brand new at the time) or some doofy Chinese knockoff of something (???).
After sampling all of them I decided on the Fender Mini-twin with the Vox in the close second. The Fender was louder and cleaner than the Marshall. The Vox was loud too, but had a muffled sound and was not as bright as the Fender. I bought the Mini-Twin.
It has been a few years since then and I have had the benefit of a long term comparison. Both lasted well over the years, however the Marshall consumed batteries much slower than the 2 speaker Mini-Twin did. I wired my Mini-Twin speakers in parallel for more volume and my batteries died considerably more fast in about 10 minutes.
All of these little amps stink big time. The question is, "Which one insults me the least?"
You will have to answer that question. Do you want clean sounds or dirty? Are you willing to trade battery life for cleaner sound and more volume or would you rather shred using headphones? The Marshall's smaller size also limits its volume, however it consumes less space in your bag or case. I can't even put my Mini-Twin in my case. It will not fit.
There isn't much dilemma here. Just accept that this device is small and limited. It isn't a Marshall amp. It is a pint-sized replica made out of an integrated circuit and capacitors. There are no tubes or transformers. This Amp is just a fun toy.
Size up what you want with what you will actually use. I sort of miss my little Marshall because I sold it on Ebay after getting the superior Mini-Twin. While the sound of the twin is better, it is also a pain to lug outside of my case and batteries are getting ridiculous!
A nice buy at $30, but an even better buy at less than that.
This amp just screams, "Party on Bill and Ted!" to me. So party on, and be excellent to each other.