The Marshall JCM Amplifier SeriesBuying Guide

An overview of the many editions and variations available in one of the most renowned guitar amplifier lines ever produced.

Back in 1981, after parting ways with its exclusive amp distributor of 15 years Rose-Morris, Marshall created a brand-new amplifier that would become the first in one of the most famous and longstanding amp lines to date.

Getting its name from brand founder Jim Marshall's initials, the JCM800 featured a sharp gold panel, grille cloth, an FX loop, Jim Marshall's signature and master volume control all conveniently placed on the front—the first combo amp to adopt a design that moved the control face from the top.

Over the past 30 years, Marshall has continued iterating on the JCM circuit, adding installments to the line with expanded feature sets and higher power capabilities. In the guide below, we've the laid out the key JCM amps that you should know. Scroll below to find the right model for you.

The Original Marshall JCM800

The Touchstone Marshall JCM Amplifier

  • Marshall JCM 800 2203 100 Watt

    The Marshall JCM 800 2203 is a 100-watt tube one-channel guitar amplifier head with a classic tone, featuring knobs for presence, bass, middle, treble, master, and pre-amp, as well as high- and low-sensitivity inputs.

  • Marshall JCM 800 2205 50 Watt Head

    The Marshall JCM 800 2205 is a legend in the company's roster, informing the Marshall tone since its introduction nearly 30 years ago. Built on a two-channel design with clean and overdriven channels, this monolith amplifier incorporates industry standards like a three-band EQ on the Boost channel and two-band on the Normal, onboard spring reverb, and an effects loop for full, unapologetic tone from the moment you plug in.

  • Marshall JCM800 Lead Series 2203X Reissue 100-Watt Guitar Amp Head

    Much like the JCM 800 2203, the 2203X is a 100-watt tube guitar amplifier head with a classic tone that features the same controls for presence, bass, middle, treble, master, and pre-amp, as well as high- and low-sensitivity inputs. What's different about this variation is that it also packs an effects loop for even more tone-shaping capabilities.

The Lineage of the Marshall JCM

After the success of the original JCM800, Marshall continued to iterate on the circuit over the next three decades, releasing more feature-rich versions into the JCM800 series. But that wasn't the only place the brand iterated. Along with those 800 series-specific additions and iterations, the JCM moniker lent itself to a slew of non-800-specific circuits as well.

The JCM 900 4100 Hi-Gain Dual Reverb head was produced in the '90s, made with the highly desirable EL 34 tubes; the JCM 2000 "Dual Super Lead" DSL100 head was built on a foot-switchable channel design, each with its own mode options and tone-shaping controls—those are just a few examples. Below, browse some of the other highlights from the JCM series.

JCM Combos You Need to Know

The JCM series isn't relegated to just amp heads, either. There are also a collection of really excellent JCM combo amplifiers at a variety of price points that suit players who would rather carry something smaller and more easily giggable than a separate amp head and cabinet. Take a look below at some of the best offerings in the series.

The Guitar Cabs That Bring the JCM to Life

The JCM Growl in a Small Package

In the pantheon of guitar pedals (and of tone in general), the Marshall JCM overdriven preamp sound is one of the most desired and beloved tones in the world of guitar. It's no wonder effects pedal makers would want to satisfy the masses by emulating this tone in a pint-sized, more affordable format.

As time marches on, boutique pedal makers have often used this magical JCM preamp as a building block on which to construct their own creations. Here are some of our favorites collected below.

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