Tones of the Beast: 10 Essential Heavy Metal Amps

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cannibalcadaver

I own the 5150lll and my friend owns the 6505 if anyone thinks these sound the same your hearing needs checked.And i dont care who or what metal guy used a jcm800 or 900 to record iconic metal tracks you can make a first act with a 8in speaker sound good through a nice board.Not saying marshalls arent good but for metal it has to be a tsl or a avt for me.

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801hxc

How in the hell you overlooked the Soldano SLO-100 is absolutely beyond me. I'd rather see that than the Orange Dark Terror, along with the 5150III AND 6505 since, let's be real, thy're pretty much the same damn amp.

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Mandolinface

I second previous comments about Carvin. How can you overlook some of the best amps around—made in the USA, reasonably priced, and great sounding.

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mokko

please post some tone samples to compare

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killsing

I can't believe how often people overlook Carvin Amps. They have quietly and inexpensively put out incredible products that are as good and better than most Amps, Speakers, Guitars and basses and P.A. systems. I just bought the new Steve Vai Signature Amp, the Legacy III. I would put this amp up against any amp that costs twice as much in Fit, finish,quality and build and most importantly in Tone quality and sound. They blow away the competition and don't break the bank, as they are a direct manufacturer/Dealer, so NO middle man to get in your pocket too.. I always knew they were great products but I too never seemed to think of them in the same sentence as Marshall and Mesa. Just wished I had started using them years ago.

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steve6

It's all individual opinion. Paul and the others at GW have access to all the amps out there and this is a metal amp test. I have to agree with them on the Engl. I have the same amp which kills my Marshall JCM800 2203 with Voodoo Amps Jose mod!
Also have Line 6 and Bogner Shiva. BUT, to my ears, the Engl Powerball II rules! Money well spent and I would buy it again if stolen.

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jamminfool

Nice selection of uber-gain amp heads...I'm gonna throw in a wild card that NOBODY thinks is metal at all, but I seem to get some damned fine, super thick and searing sounds out of it...it's my Peavey Windsor 100 watt head. Shame Peavey stopped making the head version, and have decided to make it in a 20 watt combo version for blues guys...anyone who hasen't checked one of these beasts out is missing a well kept serious shredder of a secret. Best of all, they can be had for under $300 any day of the week, and they're tough as nails! Yeah, it was designed to emulate a modded JCM800...as it's been said repeatedly above, true metal tone started with the Marshall JCM series, and it's always gonna be a huge part of what wicked, evil, mean and nasty metal is! My Windsor is a one trick pony, but damn, it does that one trick good...starting off with its grinding "clean" tone, and going all the way to full bore Marshall-esque scream! No reverb, no extra channels, just three 12AX7s, four EL34s, and a whole lot of attitude. Makes for a hard rock into massive metal machine for me, especially with a little bit of push from an average overdrive pedal to deliver it full-on into that gloriousy huge, sizzling hot grindage! Now, all I need to do is rewire my '74 Sunn Concert Lead straight face cabinet so it runs at 16 ohms, so I can have (IMHO) the baddest half stack in the land...budget runner, all tube tone for less than a comparible solid state head, and a killer blast from the past (the Sunn cab) to round out that full on stoner/doom/thrasher grind...bwaaa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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jamminfool

...oh, for those feel my submission doesn't count because it's not commercially available anymore, the Windsor is out there, and you can grab one at almost every major big box store...used. Still, they are a hell of a good way for a budget minded thrasher to get into the tube amp game without spending every last cent they have!

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gregmitchell

I could write on this subject all day and have difficulty describing what it is that is good or bad about sound and amplification, but in short I think Mike Soldano probably brings it home the best.
Little wonder when you price one out, that said Bogner has a real good product too, the problem is with the availability of components.
Today its easier than its ever been to walk in a guitar monster store and walk out with something reasonably good, if you simply have the funds. I was amazed how good the Bugera Head sounded and very versatile at that. The Joe S. model from Peavy or whoever is a great sounding unit too for a production item.
These SSL consoles nowadays can make anything sound good by mix-down.
The thing that makes Soldano's product so good is the thing that makes Marshall so good, it's that it can occupy frequencies not already taken by other instrument sounds with character. They push their way through and get your point accross without being abtrusive. When Mike Soldano locked up shop you could hear him jamming with the guys after hours and I think he never lost sight of that. Too many amp builders test their stuff with no other instruments whaling and these techs often lack the finger strength of real pro players, so many of these other amps make it relatively effortless to get the God like harmonic series that can enveleope the room with relative ease, a testament to amplifier builder proficiency and great players are somewhat put off by this, or at the frightening possibility of becoming just another metal riff God.
Good players expect a little fight, that natural tube compression and dynamic string attack without tons of electro-harmonic magnetism with sustain built into the circuitboard, not their hands.
A Marshall tube 100W JMP or JCM is the ultimate canvas for the masters to lay down their work, second only to a genuine Fender Stratocaster and the great ones know how to roll back the volume and actually use the tone controls for the pick-ups. That's why Ted sounds like Ted and Ed like Ed and Jake like Jake because the sound comes from the brain. There's a ton of shite going on between the finger tips and the paper cone. The truth be said too many guys have not refined speaker cabinet potential in my opinion. I think a head with a plexi transformer and 4 EL34's and some chinese pre-amp tubes still sounds best, but where you gonna get those pieces anymore? Components are everything and every amp builder knows it. The bottom line is get the best pre-amp you can buy and almost any good amp will do, like a mosvalve and get a 4 12" cab with an assortment of celestions and you'll be in the low 90's, which is pretty frigging good on a 100 scale. If you're smart just buy something from John Suhr and you'll be money ahead. From my experience, you're a fool if you think you can just walk in a store and walk out with state of the art.

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Zamdrang

Agree that Marshall started it, but a JCM800 is not a high gain amp in stock form.... it sounds awesome modded (in one form called a soldano) and being pushed with pedals..but by itself is far from "metal". Plug into one and crank the gain and try to convince yourself thats a "metal" tone. Hard rock sure...but not metal..not in my book.

The Engl is overrated... I love many bands/players who use them and the tone they get, but for me absolutely no soul IMO (yes you can have feel in a metal amp I dont care what anyone says) Ditto the Mesa. The Bogner for me is the one to pick on this list...to each thier own but I like its smooth yet mean character over the others.

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801hxc

Agreed. Engl amps sound too compressed and need to have a myriad of pedals to liven them up. So dry and gritty. Also, agree on Mesa. They're hard to dial in to get a unique tone, and its hard to get them to cut in a mix.

Veinstainedheart

want shitty amps? use fender. they have not been great since the 70's enough said and i played through all 10 of these amps at my guitar center in mobile alabama. so enough whining like little ass hurt bitches.

strat714

I'm glad to see GW responded and added some great amps. The JCM800 should still be on this list, but the JVM does a good job of representing Marshall and it can recreate the JCM800 sound.

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panterrasports

I would bet my last dollar that more 'metal' recordings have been made using Marshall than these 5 combined. There is no denying the impact that Marshall has had on creating heavy music.

I have owned 3 of the 5 here and they are all killer, but this article should have been called "Five Essential Metal Amps Since Marshall"

strat714

XTO9, Marshall Amps are still outselling all their competition. Slayer, Judas Priest , Yngwie, Slash, Jeff Beck and thousands of other pros are using them. It's fine if you don't like them, but don't make stuff up. C'mon man!

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XTO9

You people can't be serious? Marshall JCM800s -

A. Aren't high gain amps.
B. Are single channel dinosaurs
C. Aren't even in current production

Marshall hasn't made a serious amp in years. YEARS. They're making headphones and a bunch of other garbage because their amps aren't selling. No one on here would trade their JCM800 for anything out of Marshall's current catalog. I certainly wouldn't.

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gregmitchell

There are very few products that can do it all, so you begin to look for the items that can do their particular thing very good/ the best. Certain JCM's are a handful of loud Marshall sound and that's not a given anymore.

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dipper1954

So much preferance! I have to say that Marshall is a given, although when it comes to us garage or backyard musicians, Line 6 is the go to stuff, lets face it, a bunch of doped up maniacs at a concert don't really give a @!%@! what the band is using. I like several tube designs out there and many of them either copy the Marshall's or Bugera and now there all trying to copy Line 6. So it's nice to see an amp like the Blackstar 200 break away from thy group and take a chance with an amp. Marshall will always be Marshall and you can get the amp tubes you want depending on your preferance. So when I turn my gear on to play, mostly it's my Line 6 stuff I go to, it just works everytime!

mrscary

Whoever wrote this article doesn't know what they're talking about, if you want the real 5 essential metal amps here they are : 1. Soldano SLO-100, 2. Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier 3. Marshall JCM 800 4. Randall RG-100 5. Fractal Audio Axe FX II

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jhs5150

There's a guy on Youtube who tests all the latest amps using the same guitar track. The Marshall JVM410 still sounds the best, IMO. Everyone wants to be a Marshall - but they ain't. \m/
wwwDOTyoutubeDOTcom/watch?v=0pavaiB4dlU

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timelander

So, has not Marshall any head metal amp?....., well maybe it is right Marshall is Marshall, the rest are just amps!!!

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timelander

Why is GW always overpriced? e.g.. ENGL Powerball II just US$2.145 at musicians friends!!!

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Heavy Metal Dave

Alright,that's ENOUGH of this nonsense! Ya'll are on SERIOUS DRUGS to overlook MARSHALL AMPLIFI-FUCKING-CATION! SHAME ON YOU!SERIOUSLY!!
I've had wankers try to forcefeed me this pap about BLACKSTAR amps, Mesa-Boogie,Bogner,ALL OF THEM! They are ALL good product,for sure.No arguments.The Line-6/Bogner hybrids are cool,too...
HOWEVER,Marshall Amplification has been/always will be the absolute
FOUNDATION of all that is Hard Rock/Heavy Metal! Just ask SLAYER,IRON MAIDEN,JUDAS PRIEST.....HELL,JOE SATRIANI just got a SIGNATURE line with MARSHALL AMPLIFICATION!
Marshall amps have been the hallmark of ALL things loud and heavy for DECADES.To boot,they are always finding new ways to improve their product and give the performing musician MORE for their money!
I'll put my JVM410 up against any of that other bullshit ANY DAY!

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classicrockguy

Thank you ....I couldn't have said it better myself. My JVM 410 is the best amp I've ever owned.

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unlok77

metal was invented and honed on Marshalls! cant deny the original!

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gregmitchell

Satan speaks through a Marshall stack. LOL. Not!

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johnnycnote

It would have been nice if you could have provided some minimal specs like power output and pre/power amp tube compliments for these amps. Not everyone knows them off of the tops of their heads, and the tubes can have some effect on the overall sound of the amps, or so I've heard . . .

Ares6

So I guess my Marshall Mode 4 isn't metal...thats fresh!

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RatBatBlu

Zakk Wylde and Kerry King have been rockin' out to JCM800's since they started...yet no mention of the beast. Odd...guess they're not metal anymore.

strat714

Amen, my brothers! No Marshall?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

razorrex

Marshall Amp, Les Paul, Go.

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Jeffrey Hubbard

I agree,where are the Marshall's?

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oldrhoadsfan

No Marshall JCM800? Who writes this garbage?

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