Growing up, the only Marshall amps I ever saw were hefty 100 watt heads sitting atop a plethora of quad boxes. I guess I never thought it was obtainable to get that classic tone in my bedroom. Who wants to buy a JCM900 only to have it sit in the corner of your bedroom with the volume control not even on one? The answer is no one. Thankfully, Marshall have finally caught up with the modern trend of valve driven, low wattage amps for home and rehearsal use. The classic DSL line has been reimagined and reinvigorated in 2018 with amps ranging from as little as one watt through to the 100 watt stalwarts we’re all accustomed to seeing on huge stages across the world. With this new era of DSL, it has never been more obtainable to get the classic Marshall tone at a reasonable volume for the bedroom guitarist.
I was given the baby of the range, the one watt combo amp, to review this month. On looks alone, the DSL1C is the most unassuming and harmless looking amp. Simple in its engineering, but with more than enough features to fulfil your rock dreams at home. The Classic Gain channel is the cleaner of the two options, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a clean channel. Whilst certainly cleaner than its counterpart, it doesn’t quite give you the crystal clear tones you’re used to hearing. With that said, given that it is only a one watt amplifier, I highly doubt an exceedingly clean tone could be obtained anyway.
Where the DSL1C really shines is the Ultra Gain channel. With dedicated gain and volume controls, a three band EQ and Tone Shift control, there is more than enough options needed to shape the tone you require. The amp has bucketloads of gain, so it’s perfect for all of the shredders out there that love a heavily saturated tone. For me, I really enjoyed rolling the gain back, dialling in a lot of midrange on the EQ and channelling my inner Jimmy Page for some classic rock tones. The addition of inbuilt reverb is a lovely touch and helps give the dry, overdriven tones more room to breathe.
All in all, I can’t really fault the DSL1C because it does exactly what you need it to do. It’s a one watt, valve driven Marshall DSL that fits on a desk or in a corner with ease. It’s perfect for the bedroom guitarist, teachers who want a great sounding low wattage amp or those who want to channel their rock heroes without breaking the bank or annoying the neighbours. It’s actually quite astounding that it took Marshall this long to jump on the micro wattage train, because it feels like players have been yearning for this for decades.
Hits and Misses
Classic tones at low volumes
The thing is tiny!