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mkiii vs jcm800 
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If you set the "gain sensitivity" knob on a Marshall JCM900 MkIII to zero or very low, does it sound pretty much the same as a JCM800 and are the inner workings of those amps the same (minus that extra gain knob on the MkIII)?

There must be at least slight differences because I've heard that the MkIII can sound good at lower volumes but the JCM800 - not so much. I'm asking because there's a guy selling a used MkIII and I'm a bit interested.


Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:49 pm
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I can't remember exactly how the two interacted, but I feel I was able to turn one completely down and not cause the volume to cut out. I know my SL-X doesn't interact the way the Mark III did. As far as it being a JCM800, I can't state as I have never played a JCM800. That said, I think the Mark III sounded excellent and the feel was better than what I was able to achieve with the JCM2000 DSL I had (though they sounded similar). I think you should go check it out at least. They really are excellent sounding amps.

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Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:29 pm
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I prefer the mark III/SLX over the 800 by a large margin. Better master volume, more gain, effects loop etc...

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Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:41 pm
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Having owned both, I always found it hard to dial in my 900 to have the wide spectrum and growl/decay (whatever you wanna call it) as any of my 800s.
That said, all of the 900 series is killer, and (as Bill said ) the latter 2 incarnations were especially more user-friendly.
I've owned 5 800s, and they all sounded different. A couple of the 2203s I've owned were not very good, actually. But....man if you snag a great 800, keep that fucker forever. :D


Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:06 pm
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Is the MkIII perhaps pretty much exactly the same as one of the channels on one of the DSL amps?


Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:48 am
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Haven't owned the Mk III, only the SL-X. I'd say if it's gonna be close to anything on the DSL, probably the Ultra Lead channel on OD1. The SL-X was also a little darker sounding than my DSL. Still brought the Marshall grind, but not quite the top end sizzle. Not a bad thing. One thing that was interesting to me was the dual gains. You couldn't remove the sensitivity completely out of the circuit like you can on the Mk III, and I think that's largely due to having the 4th tube cascaded as a gain stage(s) instead of using the diodes that the Mk III had. However, they were very interactive, not unlike a VHT Deliverance. The preamp control seemed to add gain and low-mids/girth, while the sensitivity control added more high end sizzle and harmonics.

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:58 am
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jonpall0210 wrote:
Is the MkIII perhaps pretty much exactly the same as one of the channels on one of the DSL amps?


I would say no, but you can get a similar sound on the Green channel with crunch button engaged. They sound similar, not exact. They feel different to me, and I prefer the JCM900 feel. Go play the Mark III, you will see why it is so well regarded.

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:16 am
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I only tried one 900, it felt more gainy but less good and "pure" than my 50 watt 800 and even though very loud the 800 seemed like a beast vs the mk III. Now, all of that maybe just the differences between cabs used, speakers etc but that is what I felt as the biggest difference. One got better the louder you got that other was worse but still a kind of good amp.

But to be even more fair the same apply to the reissue 800 vs the old one that I have.

I'd keep the 5153 lol.


Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:55 am
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greatmutah wrote:
Haven't owned the Mk III, only the SL-X. I'd say if it's gonna be close to anything on the DSL, probably the Ultra Lead channel on OD1. The SL-X was also a little darker sounding than my DSL. Still brought the Marshall grind, but not quite the top end sizzle. Not a bad thing. One thing that was interesting to me was the dual gains. You couldn't remove the sensitivity completely out of the circuit like you can on the Mk III, and I think that's largely due to having the 4th tube cascaded as a gain stage(s) instead of using the diodes that the Mk III had. However, they were very interactive, not unlike a VHT Deliverance. The preamp control seemed to add gain and low-mids/girth, while the sensitivity control added more high end sizzle and harmonics.

Yeah I agree with all of this.

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 8:19 am
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My SLX is the Marshall I always wanted 800s to be, but they just weren’t

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:35 pm
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MacaroniSalad wrote:
My SLX is the Marshall I always wanted 800s to be, but they just weren’t


What did you feel was missing from your jcm800?


Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:14 pm
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jonpall0210 wrote:
MacaroniSalad wrote:
My SLX is the Marshall I always wanted 800s to be, but they just weren’t


What did you feel was missing from your jcm800?


Billy’s assessment was pretty much my feelings. More gain, way better master volume (and 2 , footswitchable masters at that).

Also, I find the tone to be a little “hotter” for lack of a better word. Sounds less like AC/DC, more like Steve Stevens on Exposed

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Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:35 pm
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Cool. Sounds great to me. Btw. I'm taking the JCM900 Mk III amp to my home tonight to test it with my gear and a/b it with my own 5153. A part of me is hoping that it does both AC/DC crunch and 80s high gain lead tones as well or better than my own amp. Even with the high gain sounds of my 5153, there is an underlying tone that I both like and dislike, kind of like a high pitched tone that can't really be dialed out. It does cut like a beast because of that, though.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:21 am
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I actually hear that as well in every EVH clip man. You put it great with words.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:38 am
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Btw. what do you guys mean by "better master volume"?


Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:13 am
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When I see "better master volume" I tend to think that the sweep through the range of the pot is more consistent. Not something where when you hit 1 it is peeling paint off the wall.

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 6:14 am
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GuitarBilly wrote:
I prefer the mark III/SLX over the 800 by a large margin. Better master volume, more gain, effects loop etc...


This.

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:21 am
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jonpall0210 wrote:
Btw. what do you guys mean by "better master volume"?

The 800 gets very loud very quickly, the MKIII has more of a gradual taper

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:35 am
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I've been a/b - ing the jcm900 mkiii and the 5153 back and forth now. They are REALLY close in how good they are. Both 50 watts, btw. The 5153 has 6l6s. One thing - the mkiii sounds darker and more compressed than the 5153. When you hit f.ex a G5 chord with all 6 strings, let it ring and then hit just the thin strings very hard, the sound doesn't get as trebly as I'd like. It doesn't stick out as much as on the 5153. Is the DSL100's green crunch channel (or even its lead1 channel) less compressed than the jcm900 mkiii?


Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:22 pm
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jonpall0210 wrote:
I've been a/b - ing the jcm900 mkiii and the 5153 back and forth now. They are REALLY close in how good they are. Both 50 watts, btw. The 5153 has 6l6s. One thing - the mkiii sounds darker and more compressed than the 5153. When you hit f.ex a G5 chord with all 6 strings, let it ring and then hit just the thin strings very hard, the sound doesn't get as trebly as I'd like. It doesn't stick out as much as on the 5153. Is the DSL100's green crunch channel (or even its lead1 channel) less compressed than the jcm900 mkiii?

yes, the DSL crunch channel is way less compressed than the MKIII... the OD channel is about the same compression as the MKIII, but brighter and tighter.

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:30 pm
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GuitarBilly wrote:
jonpall0210 wrote:
I've been a/b - ing the jcm900 mkiii and the 5153 back and forth now. They are REALLY close in how good they are. Both 50 watts, btw. The 5153 has 6l6s. One thing - the mkiii sounds darker and more compressed than the 5153. When you hit f.ex a G5 chord with all 6 strings, let it ring and then hit just the thin strings very hard, the sound doesn't get as trebly as I'd like. It doesn't stick out as much as on the 5153. Is the DSL100's green crunch channel (or even its lead1 channel) less compressed than the jcm900 mkiii?

yes, the DSL crunch channel is way less compressed than the MKIII... the OD channel is about the same compression as the MKIII, but brighter and tighter.


Damn, Billy, now I have to check out the DSL again. :) . Having exactly those options sounds very good to me and like an improvement over the mkiii. And come to think of it, the DSL100 I tried in the music store - I was hitting it with a DS-1X (a distortion pedal) and not an overdrive pedal which would have sounded better and tighter.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:47 pm
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I wouldn't say it's an improvement over the MkIII, just a different flavor. The MkIII is definitely a darker amp.. the DSL is brighter and can be more open sounding in the green channel. It also offers a lot more options with the channel/mode switching etc... if you have the opportunity to try both side by side by all means do it.

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Thu Jun 14, 2018 3:52 pm
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I might try both the jcm900 mkiii and the dsl100. However, the dsl100 will be a new amp and most likely twice as expensive as the used mkiii (that seems to be in top condition). Also, the more I play the mkiii (not having played Marshalls that much, strangely enough), the more I think I can look at things this way:

For the jcm900 mkiii, the fact the the treble remains pretty much the same regardless of how hard I hit the strings can be seen as a good thing, because a) I don't like ice pick sounds anyway and b) it IS kind of nice that the sound always has a bite to it, even if I hit the strings softly. So perhaps that just good, actually.

Also the compression could also be viewed as good because then I suppose I fit better in with a band, which is what compression does. Essentially, hitting the strings harder on this amp, doesn't make the sound brighter or louder (like it does a little on the 5153), but just more distorted. Perhaps that's just fine and exactly what I need. I do play much more hard rock/heavy metal than blues.


Thu Jun 14, 2018 5:20 pm
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The 5153 is fighting like a champ to stay :) . It's more dynamic and sensitive to pick attacks. It's also more screaming and in your face. It's close to a Marshall sound if you dial down the presence, which is has kind of too much of, but not entirely like a Marshall. I might check out some other Marshalls with more vintage sounds and try my Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive pedal in front of those. I might try the DSL100 today with that pedal, since the crunch channel is probably a bit more vintage sounding than the MkIII. Perhaps I should try having two amps. It is more expensive.


Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:01 am
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So I just tested the DSL100 in the music store once more, this time with my 805 od pedal and I was checking the crunch channel especially. Interestingly, although that channel was less compressed and more bright than the MkIII amp, I liked the MkIII overdrive sound better and found it more organic. I also didn't notice any great difference in the amount of treble related to how hard you pick the strings on the DSL100 crunch channel.

So now I guess the choice is to choose either the Marchall JCM 900 Mk III 50 watt amp or the 5150 iii 50 watt amp. Or even both? :)


Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:04 am
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Definitely both if you can afford it. If I had to pick one it would be the 5153 since it's more versatile.

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Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:08 am
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Does anyone know how how much a JCM 900 Mk III is worth?


Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:57 am
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I would say for the 50 watt JCM900 anywhere around $550-650, maybe even more. The Mark III and SL-X have a strong following now.

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Fri Jun 15, 2018 10:41 am
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It sounds to me like you dig the 5153, and already own it. So in spite of the fact that my 900 is my favourite amp I’ve owned, I would say stick with the 5153.

If you have something you’re happy with, I wouldn’t bother trying to find something to replace it just because. I have lived that dream before, and it turns into a nightmare hahaha

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Fri Jun 15, 2018 3:52 pm
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I'm planning to buy the Marshall and own both amps. However, since the Marshall owner allowed me to borrow his amp for a few days, I recently discovered something that I need to test more today and tomorrow. I've been setting the gain sensitivity on the amp to zero and the pre amp gain to 7, for an 80s AC/DC rhythm tone, and then stepped on the Seymour Duncan 805 overdrive pedal for a Gary Moore-ish type lead tones. This time, I tried setting the pre amp gain to full and the gain sensitivity to 10/11 o'clock. Without an od pedal it gives me a good light distortion/high gain overdrive rhythm tone that I could use for something like Guns N' Roses. But when I step on the od pedal on top of THAT, I get a tone that's very similar to my 5153! An over the top screaming sound. Which I don't necessarily want all the time like the EVH does. So that means that I could start off with owning two amps but perhaps the Marshall jcm900 MkIII will end up replacing the EVH and I can get some of that money back. And with the gain sensitivity set to 0 and the pre amp gain to 10 o'clock I can very nice blues tones, even slightly Stevie Ray Vaughan-ish with my od pedal on top of that. And all of the time, the settings on the od pedal remain the same - input gain set to full and the overdrive set to 11 o'clock. Very interesting :)


Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:31 am
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Come to think of it, suddenly using the gain sensitivity in addition to the overdrive pedal must work like an additional gain stage, right? And the 5153 has a LOT gain stages. Perhaps that's why I got EVH-ish tones from the Marshall that way. There must be a difference in simply increasing gain and adding another gain stage.


Sun Jun 17, 2018 3:30 am
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That amp sounds better with the sensitivity added in. While you can run it without the sensitivity, I personally found that by adding it in I would gain extra harmonic detail, as well as a bit more complexity in the sound. I was a big fan of adding a slight amount of sensitivity until it was crunching when hitting the strings full force. At that point I would boost it with a good clean boost like the MXR CAE Line Driver/Boost to really push the sound. It was like getting more of the amp rather than adding additional frequencies from an overdrive.

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