Archive for jcm800

The Beginnings Of The Modern Era

Posted in History: Marshall Amplifiers with tags , , , on April 28, 2008 by ivancheung

Above: Marshall’s new flagship amplifier during the 80s, the JCM800.

Two important factors occurred in the 80s which ended what we could call Marshall’s Classic Era (reflected in the golden age of Marshall), and ushered in the Modern Era as we know it today.

The economic depression of the early 80s was a threat which turned out to be an opportunity. Prior to the 80s Marshall produced a whole range of amplification equipment, but as the recession began, Jim Marshall was quick enough to realise that survival meant streamlining the company. The solution was to cease production of almost all products except guitar amplifiers. Marshall knew their strength lay in guitar amplifiers, and by focusing their efforts at what they do best, they would not only survive, but prosper.

On the other hand, Marshall was given a significant advantage when their 15 year deal with Rose-Morris ended. This now meant Marshall could price and distribute their products at their own desire.
However Rose-Morris still had some back stock of Marshall products which they owned. To combat this Marshall would first lower their export price by 25% so that they were now affordable to most consumers. Secondly they would place their marketing power behind the JCM800 (an amp designed in the mid 70s), in an effort to persuade consumers to buy from Marshall rather than Rose-Morris. The JCM800 became one of the most popular amplifiers due to it high quality and low cost. Marshall were now where they used to be: on side of the working musician.

Although Marshall’s pricing may have been lowered drastically, this turned out to be tremendous success for the company. A lower price attracted more consumers which meant more sales; Marshall’s profit over the next three years sky rocketed by 360%. This success resulted in Marshall being awarded the Queen’s Award for Export in 1984.



The Golden Age Of Marshall

Posted in History: Marshall Amplifiers with tags , , , on April 27, 2008 by ivancheung

Above: Jimmy Page with his Gibson double neck guitar, probably playing Stairway To Heaven, a song recorded with Marshalls

The 70s were definitely the golden age for Marshall. Not only were Marshall amps sold worldwide, they were seen on stage with the best musicians. These musicians often reflected the heaviest music styles, and many of them happen to be British as well.

Aside from the usual suspects such as Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix; The 70s saw (to name a few) Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore, Marc Bolan, Gary Moore, Angus Young, Paul Kossof, Billy Gibbons, Ace Freshley, Joe Perry and Eddie Van Halen (this list could go on forever) all adopt Marshalls. Only the loudest amplifier could serve the loudest players.

The mid 70s also saw the development of a master volume amplifier (later to be called the JCM800). This allowed guitarists to achieve the distinct overdriven sound of Marshall without the full volume of a 100 watt amplifier. This amplifier would become a significant part of Marshall in the next decade.

Aside from Rock n Roll, the 70s also marked a time when Marshall diversified by producing amplification equipment for instruments such as bass, keyboard and organ; along with sound equipment such as PA systems, mixers, and sound desks. This diversification meant that Marshall equipment weren’t just seen on stage with Rock/Metal bands, but also others who desired the utmost quality – musicians such as Elton John.

The 70s truly was a good time for Marshall (with the exception of their ongoing deal with Rose-Morris).

For those interested in Jim Marshall and the company he created, I highly recommend you buy:
Maloof, R. (2004) “Jim Marshall: The Father Of Loud”, San Francisco: Backbeat Books.