* Full review and independent analysis of the Marshall Amplification 2245THW by Australian Guitar magazine

Marshalls tend to be at their best when they’re at their most direct. Here’s a classic amp that has directness running through its very being. By Peter Hodgson

 

PRICE: $4299

TOP 5 FEATURES

• 30 Watts

• 2 KT66 power valves

• 4 ECC83 preamp valves

• Handwired tag board circuits

• Vintage toggle switches, power indicators and cosmetic styling

If you’ve never plugged into an old tube amp with no master volume control, you’re missing out on a pretty magical experience. Especially if the closest you’ve ever come to cranking up a Plexi is a digital model - you really need to get the power tubes working to feel the way the molecules in the room get jostled about by those heavenly harmonics. Now, the Marshall 1962 2245THW can be traced back to the JTM45, the first amp Marshall ever made back in 1962. It was inspired by the Fender Bassman, but with various changes because of the scarcity of parts in the UK. Released in 1965, the Model 1962 was basically the bass version of the JTM 45, and the basic design underwent various revisions over the years - partly in an effort to improve the Tremolo circuit. This version, from Marshall’s Handwired Series of authentic all-valve amp reproductions, is based on the 1962HW ‘Bluesbreaker’ combo, itself a recreation of a 1965 version of the amp. The 2245THW can be thought of as either the original 2245 with added tremolo (hence the ‘T’ in the model name), or as a head version of the 1962HW.

MARSHALL LAW

Inside, you’ll find three ECC83 tubes in the preamp section, two KT66s and an ECC83 in the power section, and a GZ34 rectifier selected to recreate the output-stage compression and clean sustain that makes the ‘Bluesbreaker’ amps so revered. Marshall uses the original thickness, original pitch matrix, point-to-point tag boards, and Drake transformers. This amp has two channels and four inputs (two High Sensitivity, two Low Sensitivity), and you can plug into the input of Channel input, then run a patch cable from the other Channel 1 jack to the first Channel 2 input, letting you dial in different level settings using each channel’s dedicated volume control. Channel 1 is voiced for higher treble, and something special happens when you run both channels at once and get the volume balance just right between them. There are controls for Presence, Bass, Middle and Treble, plus Speed and Intensity for the tremolo effect.

A footswitch is included to turn the Tremolo on and off. One of the keys to the original ‘Bluesbreaker’ sound is the particular Drake transformers used in the design. Drake is supplying the transformers used here as well, going back to the original designs and meticulously duplicating the originals (with the exception of a few necessary adjustments to satisfy strict modern safety standards). Around the back you’ll find the footswitch jack; the speaker output; an output selector which lets you choose between 8 and 16 Ohms; a Mains selector for selecting between 230v, 120v or 110v; the H.T. fuse, the Mains Input and the Mains Fuse.

PUNCH AND CRUNCH

I tested the 2245THW with my Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster Reissue with stock Fender pickups, and my Gibson Les Paul Traditional with Seymour Duncan Seth Lover humbuckers, which are recreations of original PAFs. The first thing I noticed was that the clean sound was much more ‘Fendery’ than the one I’ve been enjoying with my Marshall JCM2000 DSL50. It’s clearer and more ‘zippy’ in the high end, especially with my Strat, but there’s a noticeable airiness around the Les Paul’s tone as well, a higher treble response than the one we typically associate with the Marshall sound in its Plexi/JCM800 form. Start turning up the volume, and you’re rewarded with a thick, rich overdrive that seems to spring out at you from all corners of the room. And as you might expect from an old-style Marshall - if you’ve played a few - it sounds best with the controls all turned up to 10. There are some finer, more ‘niche’ tones to be found when exploring different settings, but it’s as if this amp was voiced to be perfect with everything dimed.

There’s more fatness and thickness here than a Plexi, probably due to the 30 watt output stage and its ability to distort at lower volumes. Both channels sound great individually, but it definitely kicks up a notch when you jumper the channels and balance them just so, with Channel 1 kicking out bright, edgy treble and Channel 2 holding down the low end fullness. One thing I did notice was that when I wanted to use a clean boost pedal to bring on some additional gain, there was a definite point at around +12dB of boost where the preamp started to saturate in more of a fuzz or treble- boost kind of way. It’s still a usable sound, but beyond a certain point it becomes a specific texture, rather than just ‘a kickass extra-overdriven version of the 2245 sound.’

THE BOTTOM LINE

This is a great amp for blues, AC/DC-style rock and Richie Kotzen- style blues-rock, but when you really crank it up, you can get great Mastodon-style tones, especially when you use both channels but with emphasis on Channel 2. It also does a great Foo Fighters. Of course, you have to turn it up pretty damn loud to get to those tones since there’s no master volume control, but that’s the trade-off when you’re using a real amp with real valves.

WHAT WE RECKON

PROS:

• Classic tones

• Great build quality Can get really loud

CONS:

• Needs to be LOUD to sound right

• Out of most folks price range

Contact:

Electric Factory

www.elfa.com.au

 (03) 9480 5988