Marshall DSL 100.

jasonP

New member
I've come back to this amp a couple times now and have owned about 4 of them. For a used price it is a great sounding amp. This is what I've found and yours could be different so...

Input-
Before I get to the pickups I want to talk about the input of this amp. It is really sensitive to what you put in, when comparing to other amps I've owned. For me there is a huge difference when comparing guitars and going from different pickups to pedals. This also makes it a great amp for boosts as well. It loves them in fact.
Pickups-
I've found this amp likes a tighter sounding pickup with little bass, otherwise the amp will sound to thick and it will be hard to control on the bass knob with the deep in.
I've used EMG pickups with this amp and find that it works very well as these pickups have a little less bass output then say your average passive guitar. So it allows you to have the bass boost in and still have a nice tight sound yet still on both channels have a thicker sound then you would with passives and still have the sound not be muddy, flub out and stay tight.
Speakers-
The other thing is I love this amp with the standard GT-75's and find that they work well with the amp, have a little more modern sound then the vintage 30's.. The V30's have a little more grind in the mid-range that seem to work as well but are a little harder on the ears. I also find that these speakers have a little warmer bass. I find the CL-80's not to work as well as the other two. Have to be really loud to get the goods, feel a little stiff and don't really have a voice to them, neutral sounding comes to mind. I find they work great for my wet, effect cabs.
Amp-
This amp loves to be loud. This amp likes to get the power section working to sound its best. I find it really starts to breath around 2-1/2 to 3 on the volume. The attack of the amp is a little spongier and softer not what I would say very tight. It makes it more tube like and easier to play, is a good way to put it. Make sure the bias is on.
The one reason I really like this amp is the fact that you turn it on, turn it up and play. Very simple to use and straight forward, giving you a good to great sound in my opinion.

Clean, I've had a couple different amps now and I would have to say with single coils and even some humbuckers this amp has a great clean channel. Nice chime to it and a little bell like with some pickups. Not dull and dark sounding. This channel gets very loud before the amp will go into light overdrive on the clean and is very dynamic and open sounding. I like to turn the gain all the way up on this channel and have the amp around 3 on the volume. Then I hit it with a boost. Pushes very nice and gives you a lot of gain to play with. This really tightens the amp up and gives you more dynamics then the lead channel while still being very clear sounding.
Some features are
Bass boost-
Adds a ton of low-end to the amp. The reality is that this will bring you to what most other amps have for bass response in my opinion. With out this control in I find that the lead channel sounds very thin no matter what type of guitar I got and how much the bass control is turned up. It just doesn't do it for me. So I run this feature in, on the amp at all times. It would be nice to turn it off for the clean channel as it can have to much bass with the wrong guitar. I find that you must run the bass low around 2-4 and presence and treble up around 6 to 8 to compensate for the added bass response.
Mid shift-
This feature cuts the mids. I find with the deep in, mid shift in, this amp will get some what close to sounding like a rectifier on the lead channel with modern voicing set. Don't believe me? Next time you have the two together try it. I owned both so.. The DSL is a little smoother sounding and not so grinding. Another thing this will do is tighten up the amp quite a bit. I find it almost like going from vintage to modern voicing on a rectifier but find this amp does a better job sound wise in my opinion.
Lead 1/2 boost-
I found this feature pointless. Lead one for me has way more then enough gain to do anything in my opinion. It is great for leads but there is just a truck load of gain. Found the Lead 1 mode to work better as I could have it up a little more and the amp to sound bigger then Lead mode 2 but down on the dial more. My guess is because of the treble bleed cap coming into effect.
Crunch on the green channel-
This option adds a bit more gain to the clean channel. This gives you a nice thick crunch sound some what sounding like a JCM 800. Great for boosting and distortion pedals. Very dynamic amp in the clean/crunch channels.
Effects loop-
One of the better ones I've found. Other amps I could always tell when on. Like the fact that it is a series loop not parallel. Also has the level feature for both pedals and rack gear.
Bias points-
Another great feature that you see more amps these days going to. I find very nice not having to take the amp out of its chassis to bias. Nice to you can always check every once in a while to see if the power tubes need to be changed.

Ok I’ve wrote a book.Reliability and build quality.
I’ve never had the problem with any of these DSL amps breaking down on me. They do seem to be built more like a computer inside then a amp should be. The only thing I don’t like is the fact the control pots are plastic and when touching them they give a little and same goes for the push knobs it feels like I can break it, almost like a toy. Hate that and it is a pet peeve of mine.
 
I can vouch for the build quality. Mine fell off the top of a full stack off the stage to the concrete floor. That was a fall of about 12 feet. The only thing that broke was the foot switch plug. I plugged it back in and turned it on and everything was fine. Shocked the hell out of me :)
 

keano

New member
Love this amp but only have one complaint and it is a major one to me. I need separate EQs for the two channels. Clean side is nice but Lead is thin.... make lead side thick and green channel is to bass heavy.
 

joeypants

New member
Weird. I've owned two of these now, both of which were just awful in terms of reliability. Blew tubes and transformers constantly.

I liked the tone well enough for my low-end and dirty-clean needs. The clean channel sounds great dirtied up to me, and the added low end boost was great. But blowing all the time has made me fed up with mine.
 

headlessdeadguy

Well-known member
joeypants":n36m2kot said:
Weird. I've owned two of these now, both of which were just awful in terms of reliability. Blew tubes and transformers constantly.

I liked the tone well enough for my low-end and dirty-clean needs. The clean channel sounds great dirtied up to me, and the added low end boost was great. But blowing all the time has made me fed up with mine.
This ^^

I have one, bad transformer and pcb. My buddy has one, same exact problem. Great sounding amp tho.
 

joeypants

New member
It really is a shame too because for an affordable and widely available amp, it sounds pretty good! I got a steal on both of them, thankfully and it got to be where repair bills where more than I paid for it.

Speaking of, anyone want to buy a DSL 100? Haha. Mostly kidding, but I have one that just had some tubes go bad and as far as I know, that's all that's wrong with it. It worked great for months before that and didn't show any of the symptoms the ones did that were blowing the transformers left and right (namely, getting super hot and blowing fuses/tubes constantly even after replacing). Replacing the tubes soon and assuming it's working correctly I'm going to offload it. Probably just throw it up on eBay unless anyone on here is interested. I just don't even want to risk going down the rabbit-hole again of replacing tubes only to blow them again and find it's a transformer, then replace that and it blows again, etc. etc. I'd always planned on upgrading to a different amp anyways.
 
You can buy one of these for 600 to 700 any day and if you were to cover it and cover some really high priced amps and play both of them someone might really like the dsl .But when you tell them its a dsl they ack like its junk,i have had alot of marshalls over the years and have allways loved the dsl because of the good sound cheap price and reliability.
 

chaspeake

New member
I just picked up a 2000 JCM 2000 DSL 100. Was running a 1975 Fender Bassman 100 which was revoiced for guitar and used a Radial Tonebone plexi pedal in front into an Avatar 2x12 with V-30's. Found clean channel very nice and easy to control. Noticed that when I switched to OD 1 I lost a lot of lower end, started sounding thin. No chunk. Did the C-12 mod, just clipped it and left it in place. Adds a lot more low end to the OD 1 and matches well with the clean/crunch channel when switching from one to the other. Don't have too much use for OD 2, just way too much gain for me. I now use a Digitec Bad Monkey at the front if I need a little boost for leads or a little more grind. That's my only pedal except for my Vox Area 51 wah. I also pulled the two outer power tubes (Svetlana EL 34) to back down the volume a tad and let it break up a little earlier. Played around with some preamp tubes, running JJ's in V1 and V2. So far so good.
I just like the basic Marshalll crunch this thing has and do most volume changes via my volume control on my guitar. Roll it down and it takes the hair off nicely without losing bottom end. Roll up and great sustain for leads.

All in all, very simple to operate, seems built well enough. Only other mod was I replaced the front grill cloth with the Marshall wheat colored cloth. Looks very good, in my opinion.

The only negative I have is the reverb works great in the clean channel but seems to completely disappear in OD-1. Not as big thing but noticeable.

Very pleased, especially with the C-12 mod.
 
I have one,old UK model that sounds great and solidly reliable. Throw an EQ in the loop to solve the need for a separate EQ and be one with it.

For the money, the versatility of the old DSL 100 is hard to beat.

Get one and pair it up with an old single recto and you have the real deal on a budget.

Lugo did an amp pairing video. The old Marshall and Recto combination just ounces great and got the best listener ratings.
 

halomojo

Active member
Cool review. Is definitely a great amp. I seem to have a love hate relationship with mine. Some days it sounds great, others it'll sound buzzy and harsh. Hard to beat for the money though
 

jecastellanos

New member
The DSL is one of the best sounding amps out there. Too bad reliability is not that great but for the price, you might as well get two and have a spare ready to go.
I have a TSL 100 and I love it to death! I have performed several mods and that is how I know how delicate they are.
 

LunatiBSW

Active member
The dsl100 was my first big tube head in 2009 for the 35th anniversary black piping. Fell in love with it for a while, it got some great tones. Too much gas since
 
Great review, its a shame that no one gives marshall a chance , they all say sounds like a marshall...Duh. I have a couple of mint condition DSL 100 UK made ones around 2003 and they are a bargain when you can find them used for around the 600-700 dollar range.
 

OlegZWet

New member
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Briman24

Member
I had a dsl 50 and it was a great amp. I regret trading it so bad. The dsl's from 99 to 2003 had circuit board problems and overheated causing bias drifting and all other kinds of problems. If you get one, make sure it is 2004 to 2009 or has had the circuit board replaced.
 
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