These days, the guitar amp market seems littered with amps and simulators that can do anything your heart desires. With the introduction of amp modeling and digital technology, never has it been easier to have a one stop shop for all of the coveted sounds you want to recreate. That’s all well and good, but sometimes it’s an absolute delight to take your rig back to the studs and go back to where it all began. That seems to be Marshall Amps’ ethos with the new Origin line of amplifiers, their new range based on the look and sound of their JTM and Super Lead amps. Classic look, classic sound, but with little hints of modern updates that make for ease of use and a damn great time.
The first thing I loved about the range was that it wasn’t massive. The last thing we need is another 20 different versions of the same amp on the market to choose from, so Marshall have kept it nice and tidy. The range offers combo amps in five watts, 20 watts and 50 watts, as well as head units in both 20 and 50 watts. More than enough variety for anyone from the bedroom enthusiast, to the avid Jimmy Page fanatic who wants to recreate that iconic full stack from The Song Remains The Same. Perfect.
Before even turning any of the amps on, I had to take a moment to admire just how classy these things look. The only JTM’s I’ve seen in recent years have been very battleworn and covered in dust, so it was refreshing to see a classic looking Marshall amp that was spotless and ready to be put to work.
I was lucky enough to sit with the entire range of the Origin amps and they’re all excellent in their own right. The only real difference throughout the range is the wattage attached to each one, so there’s no need to unnecessarily delve into a wealth of features that just aren’t there. That said, these amps operate as a perfect base to build your tone from the ground up through pedals. Their basic tone is very clean and transparent, which makes it perfect to colour your tone as you please. For those wanting to emulate classic David Gilmour and Eric Clapton, find yourself a nice Tube Screamer and Delay pedal to throw in front of one of these and you’ll be set. For those wanting a dedicated clean amp for jazz gigs, run a nice reverb pedal through the effects loop of the 20 watt combo and you’re laughing.
At the start of this review I talked about little modern updates from the original JTM and Super Lead amps. The older amps had two separate channels, a bright and normal channel. If you found yourself wanting more gain or a bit of a boost, you used to have to bridge the two channels together with a patch cable so you would effectively blend both channels and have the benefits of both in one. The Origin series circumvents that need with the help of tilt control. This control allows you to blend the sound of the normal and high treble sound, cutting out the middle man and the need for excess cabling in your signal chain. Good thinking, Marshall.
Marshall has really nailed the Origin series and they’re a great way of showing this generation of guitarists how cool it is to build and explore your tone by adding pedals to a classic and revered sound. What these amps lack in features and variety, they make up for in bringing that classic, warm Marshall tone to a new generation at a very affordable price. It’s hard to knock something for being a one trick pony when it does that one trick really damn well.
Hits and Misses
Elegant and tasteful look
Warm and classic tone
Too basic for some (but certainly not me)