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The Beast That Launched a Thousand Riffs…
Marshall introduced the “metal face” era in 1969 and it lasted through 1976. 1972 is when Marshall began shipping amps with 6550 power tubes instead of EL-34s because they were breaking inside the warranty. I got this amp from a friend who loved his ’80s metal and completely modified the unit to fit that era. I have since put it all back to factory original specs with one change…the EL-34 power tubes. They just sound better.
WHY IT WAS USED
The “metal face” era featured a brighter sound and had more drive than previous models, making it a more aggressive amp, which tended to make guitarists happier because they could be heard. Nowadays, it’s unimportant to have an amp be louder, just crank the gain on the mic in front of it!
The switch from Plexiglass faceplates to brushed aluminum didn’t change the amp at all. It was the added components that did. Funny though, these amps aren’t as sought-out or collectible and are likely going to give you a great old Marshall for far less money than usual.
Likely all of the early AC/DC albums had this amp because it was just loud and gritty, like Angus Young liked it.
Sadly, I feel like this particular model spawned all the really crappy amps, which I don’t want to mention, but you can find played by some bands that think high treble and no note distinction at all is what sounds good!
Use it. It’s a classic sound. It’s important to use a combination of close and far miking to achieve a full sound. It is tricky to get any “clean” sound from this amp that will be better than an old Vox or Fender amp, though.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Don Miggs is a singer/songwriter/producer and fronts the band miggs (Elm City/Capitol Records). His love affair with vintage instruments and gear only presents a problem when he’s awake. Find out more at miggsmusic.com, lalamansion.com, or his radio show, @thefringeAM820 (Saturdays 5-7PM EST).