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Hands-on with the Marshall DSL15H

Hands-on with the Marshall DSL15H

First of all, I am no rocksmith. I’m barely a guitarist to be honest, but I like playing in a band and there’s not too much call for people to tweak ambient soundscapes round our way, so the guitar it is.

While I try not to call myself a guitarist, I sure do love guitars. And effects. And amps.

So let’s talk about the latest addition to my guitar rig: the Marshall DSL15 head.

I’d been after something to complement the sounds from my Vox AC15 for a while; something that could add a bit more dirt, with a good amount of low end to give me something a bit different to the chime of the Vox. Also, given that it was Slash that made me pick up a guitar in the first place, part of me just wanted a Marshall.

Marshall DSL15H Review

Before I say my piece, let’s let Marshall’s Chris George take you through the features and some of the sounds of the Marshall DSL15H:

As you can hear, it does the Marshall thing very well, as you would expect I suppose, but what about the things that the video doesn’t reveal…?

First off, the first glaring omission for me is the lack of reverb. Reverb, for me at least, is pretty much an essential, so not having it is a bit of a downer. That said, there are always pedals and, for recording at least, it does mean you end up with a clear, dry sound, which makes for a bit of extra clarity in the context of playing with the band.

While it’s really therefore just problem when practising at home, given the fact that the combo version has reverb, it’s still a bit disappointing…

However, on with the good stuff…

There are many, many things I like about this amp. The first is the size and weight of it. If you’ve got a gig somewhere with a provided cab, it’s relatively easy to get this there. I took mine home on the bus after a 15 minute walk and, while I did have to swap hands occasionally, I wasn’t really ever struggling. And the choice of 8 and 16 Ohm speaker outputs mean you shouldn’t have a problem with the majority of cabs when you get to the venue.

As you’d expect from the name, the Marshall DSL15H is a 15 Watt amp. Which for many gigs is plenty loud enough, and most gigs bigger than that you’ll be sticking a mic in front of it anyway. ‘Round the back though, is a handy little triode/pentode switch which takes you down to 7.5 Watts, letting you dial in some of that extra saturation at lower volumes.

Then of course you have those tone shift and deep switches that you probably heard in the video, but more of [at least one of] those later…

Marshall DSL15H Review

Dialling in the Marshall DSL15H

The features are all well and good of course, but really, it’s all about the sounds you can get out of it and how your playing responds to that sound.

And how it looks of course.

I’ll be honest, when first got the DSL15H home and sitting on my Orange PPC112, I wasn’t quite as impressed as I had been when I’d been trying it in the shop.

The drive just seemed to ‘fizzy’ and a bit brittle, and rolling off some top didn’t really help too much. Had I made a mistake?

At first, I really thought I had, but then I realised the extent of my Marshall naivety. I began to experiment more with the guitar volume control, and there were all the sounds I’d been looking for…

On the Classic Gain channel with humbuckers, the guitar volume could ride from clean to mild breakup to those classic overdrive sounds, but it was my Strat on the Ultra Gain channel that impressed me the most. Balancing the gain control on the amp with the volume control on the guitar produced some of those SRV tones I’ve been a fan of for years.

If only I had the fingers to match.

But oh, that deep switch. Fantastic. If the DSL15H was just a box with the deep switch on it, I’d probably still have bought it. You can get a feel for what it does in the video, but with the right settings on the amp, this thing really does add a load of weight to your sound.

The pentode/triode switch

While the handy little pentode/triode switch ’round the back is useful for a bit of lower-volume playing, it’s also handy to have from the perspective of getting two characters of overdrive out of the DSL15H.

By turning those 6V6s into a triode-type of operation, the output valves are made much less efficient, and you get a reduction in power. However, the characteristics of the overdrive/distortion change with it…

While the switch may have been included as a simple ‘half-power’ function, it’s handy to have onboard for a choice of tones. I prefer the pentode to be honest, but there seems to be a bit of extra grit that comes through on the triode that could be just the sound you’re after!

Summing up the DSL15H

Using the Marshall DSL15H with the top rolled off and the deep switch in with a splitter box and my AC15 handling the tops gives just the sort of sounds I’ve been looking for, but the Marshall is certainly no slouch on its own, and I’m really warming to that clean channel, which gives a nice baisc tone ready to build on with some pedals if you so desire.

Now, I don’t think I’ll be taking an ABY dual amp rig to my next gig, as it does start to look a little bit frustrated wannabe stadium rock idol when you play in the pub, but who’s to say you can’t sound like that and play while standing on the sofa in the comfort of your own living room?

As my first Marshall, I’m looking forward to getting a few road-worn scuffs on my DSL15H. And while I’m more used to standing quietly at the back with a look of concentration on my face rather than posturing up at the front, I’m really warming to this amp and look forward to spending ever more quality time with it…

Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and our London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.

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Red Dog Music

Dawsons Music is delighted to announce that the Red Dog Music brand is now part of the Dawsons family. This is an exciting opportunity to bring both communities together and create a stronger, wider network of people passionate about music gear. We both share a common heritage to support musicians throughout the UK and Dawsons want to support Red Dog Music customers in their continued musical journey.

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