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    Marshall Handwired Series Buyer's Guide

    Point-to-Point Perfection. Made in England with Pride


    The Story So Far

    We first revisited the art of handwiring in the late ‘90s with the Limited Edition Reissue of the much revered “JTM45 Offset Halfstack.” Handwired is now an ongoing series which will feature handwired reissues of Marshall products that were originally assembled by hand. The reason Jim Marshall decided to do this is simple – public demand. As our late, great “Guv’nor” stated at the time: “One of the things I love doing most is meeting and talking to Marshall users at the many trade shows, music fairs and shop appearances I do all over the world every year. A subject that almost always seems to come up in conversation at such events is handwiring. In fact, over the last few years so many people have asked me to please start building handwired reissue products that I’ve lost count!” Enter the Handwired Series…

    When building all handwired reissues our goal is both obvious and simple: to make them as close as humanly possible to the originals. To this end, we’ve gone to incredible lengths to achieve maximum authenticity in terms of components, circuitry, constructional methods, materials, specifications, aesthetics, signal path, performance, tonal characteristics and feel. We are delighted to report that our suppliers have been equally as exacting in their tasks – none more so than Dagnall Transformers, Drake Transformers and Celestion Speakers.

    There are seven products currently in the Handwired Reissue Range and they are as follows:

    18-Watt Combos

    1974X


    This duo of 18-Watt, twin-channel, all-valve combos with valve-driven Tremolo were originally produced from 1966 to 1968 and were named the 1973 (2x12”) and 1974 (1x12”). The 1973X and 1974X are painstakingly accurate reissues of these highly respected and much sought-after originals. Aside from their differing speaker combinations and cabinet sizes (the 1974X shares the same cabinet size, the 1973X is larger), the amps are identical…

    Overview

    The 1973X and 1974X are all-valve, 18 Watt, two-channel combos with valve-driven tremolo and no negative feedback in its cathode-biased output stage. The amplifier section is extremely straightforward: Channel 1 (the non-tremolo channel) only boasts two, self-explanatory controls: Volume and Tone; while Channel 2, the Tremolo Channel, boasts four – namely Volume and Tone, plus Speed and Intensity for the valve driven tremolo circuit.

    Valve complement

    Three ECC83s (12AX7s) in the pre-amp, a EZ81 rectifier and a pair of EL84 power valves working in push-pull. All valves are of the highest quality available and go through a meticulous grading and testing process. The way the three ECC83s (V1, V2 & V3) in the pre-amp are utilised is as follows:Valve complement

    • V1 is dedicated to Channel 1, the non-tremolo channel. As Channel 1’s pre-amp has a single gain stage, each half of the valve (the ECC83 being a dual-triode) acts as a dedicated gain stage for the channel’s two inputs (which are identical).
    • V2 acts as the amplifier’s phase-splitter.
    • V3 is dedicated to Channel 2, the Tremolo channel. To be precise, one half of the ECC83 acts as the single pre-amp gain stage for the channel’s two inputs (High and Low) while the other half acts as the oscillator for the amp’s tremolo circuit.

    Due to the fact that the EZ81 rectifier valve and also the pair of EL84 output valves attain extremely high temperatures when the amplifier is in use, their bases are made from the highest grade ceramic available.

    Important Note: In order to comply with the strict safety requirements of modern legislation, the amplifier’s valves have been housed in a removable, vented aluminium cage. This is obviously a deviation from the original spec. but has no tonal or performance impact on the amplifier what-so-ever.

    Protective shroud

    The protective shroud covering the power valves (shown here in a 1974X)

    Tone Circuit

    In typical Marshall fashion, the tone network is post gain and passive. The tone circuit involves a blend of high frequency pre-emphasis and passive high frequency cut – the mix of which is dependent upon the setting of the Tone control on the channel being used.

    Components

    With the obvious exception of the valves, whenever possible components used are sourced from European and American manufacturers – including some custom built, ‘double can’ (a.k.a. ‘dual gang can’ or ‘dual electrolytic’ – meaning two capacitors in a common case) power supply capacitors due to the odd value used in the original – one of many steps taken to ensure maximum authenticity.

    Tag Board

    This is exactly the same as the original in terms of dimensions, thickness and matrix pitch. The material used is EM42. The reason we didn’t use a board with the exact same chemical composition as in the original units is because that material doesn’t pass current safety legislation regarding flammability.

    Transformers

    Because these combos were produced relatively early in Marshall’s history, Jim had yet to strike up his now well-known relationship with transformer manufacturers, Dagnall and Drake. As a result, both the power and mains transformers used in the originals were ‘off-the-shelf’ devices purchased from a highly regarded, general electronic component supplier. This company, whilst still in existence, does not have records of exactly who manufactured the original transformers.

    Output and mains transformers are vital components in an amplifier as they influence performance, sound and feel. Consequently, we worked extremely closely with our associates in Dagnall’s R&D department in order to duplicate the original transformers in all areas. To do this we spent a great deal of time and attention studying and analysing the constructional methods and materials (e.g.: lamination grade, insulation, coil spacing, etc.), used in both transformers so we could match everything as closely as possible and also ensure that the all-important electrical characteristics and performance were identical. With Dagnall’s expert help and dedication, this goal was achieved.

    Output Transformer

    In the originals the speakers were hardwired directly to the transformer. To make the re-issue more user-friendly, the internal speakers are not hardwired to the transformer – instead the speaker cable is fitted with a jack and then connected to the amp via one of the two speaker outputs on the rear panel of the combo. The rear panel also boasts an impedance selector with three options – 4, 8 or 16 Ohms.* These additions (the original didn’t have speaker outputs or an impedance selector) give the user maximum flexibility, enabling the owner to use an external cabinet or two (by disconnecting the internal speaker(s)), if they wish.

    *Note 1: Adding speaker outputs and the impedance selector has no effect on the tonal authenticity of the 1973X, they merely add to its potential flexibility.

    *Note 2: On the original output transformer you could choose from one of three taps: 8 Ohms, 16 Ohms and something called a ‘100 Volt line load’ – a quaint offering that’s completely irrelevant to musical applications. So, we replaced it with a 4 Ohm tap instead – a far more useful option, the addition of which has no effect what-so-ever on the performance of the transformer.

    Mains (Power) Transformer

    Just like the ‘off-the-shelf’ device used in the original, the re-issue’s mains transformer is a ‘drop through, half-shroud’ type. In order to comply with strict, current-day safety legislation the custom-manufactured Dagnall transformer we’re using is physically larger than the one in the original but, as with the output transformer, we went to great lengths to ensure that its performance mirrors that of the original. We paid particular attention to exactly replicating an effect called ‘regulation’ – which is the way that the voltage from the transformer that feeds the valve circuitry varies according to the power delivered in the speaker.

    Chassis

    As in the original, the chassis we’re using is made from aluminium. While the original chassis was open-ended though, the re-issue’s is closed-ended. This has been done purely for strength/constructional integrity reasons (all the open-ended originals we’ve seen have been quite badly deformed) and has no sonic effect (positive or negative).

    Speakers

    A definite contributing factor in the sound of the vintage 1973 and 1974 amplifiers is the way the Celestion T1221 Greenback loudspeakers’ sound softened with age. In order to establish exactly the sound we were trying to recreate we listened to many vintage correct Greenbacks from our Museum here in Bletchley. We then met up with Celestion to decide a strategy to recreate the gorgeously smooth tones of our vintage Greenbacks which are over 35 years old. Celestion revisited the 1967 recipe for the original 20 Watt, ceramic magnet, 15 Ohm, Greenback T1221 speakers used in the 1973 and supply it to us exclusively. They meticulously duplicated every critical vintage parameter from winding lengths, coil former dimensions and edge treatment to using the original dustcap material and adhesive. In sound tests these speakers were close, but still lacked something of the sonic signature of the originals.

    The Celestion 15 Ohm, Greenback T1221/67 G12M Special speaker used in the 1973X

    The Celestion 15 Ohm, Greenback T1221/67 G12M Special speaker used in the 1973X

    Further investigation uncovered that the magnetic properties and cone make-up of the vintage speakers varied slightly from the newly manufactured speakers. This slight sonic discrepancy led us to investigate the possibilities of somehow ‘ageing’ the speakers. Celestion’s proprietary ‘ageing’ is largely achieved by the following two things:

    • Matching the magnetic flux to that of our vintage references in order to duplicate the output of the older speakers. Doing this not only affected the ‘loudness’ of the speakers but also altered the tonal balance, warming up the low end and also making the top-end less aggressive – exactly like the originals.
    • Specially manufacturing the cone material to be more ‘pulpy’, recreating the ageing effect and thus further softening the sound of the combo.

    Rear Panel Improvements

    The five features listed below are all ‘deviations’ from the original that have been added for user-friendliness, practicality, added flexibility and/or improved serviceability. Please note that none of these have any sonic impact (positive or negative) on the combo in any way.

    Speaker Output Jacks

    As mentioned earlier, no speaker output jacks were present on the original – the internal speaker was hardwired directly to the output transformer and there was no provision for external cabinet usage. Adding these allows you to use an extension speaker cabinet with the internal speaker or, if you wish, disconnect the internal speaker altogether and drive one or two extension cabinets.

    Important Note: These amps should never be used without a speaker load attached, and the minimum rated impedance should always be met.

    Impedance Switch

    Another feature that wasn’t present on the original but, in conjunction with the Speaker Output Jacks, adds to the unit’s flexibility.

    H.T. and Mains Fuses

    In the original these two fuses were located within the chassis itself, making it extremely time consuming and cumbersome to access them, should one blow. Making both fuses easily accessible via the rear panel is another improvement.

    Tremolo Footswitch Jack

    The original footswitch was hardwired to the combo.

    Note: The detachable Tremolo on/off footswitch (supplied) is an exact, sand-cast copy of the original.

    Mains Cord

    The original was hardwired to the unit, for serviceability and sheer practicality the mains cord on the re-issue is detachable.

    2061X

    20-Watt, Handwired Reissue of the all-valve “Lead and Bass” 2061 head (circa 1967 – ’73)


    The original versions of this much-sought after amplifier were produced between the years 1967 and 1973 and are now highly collectable. “Like a great many vintage Marshall guitar amplifiers, the 2061 was relatively simple in terms of controls, features and circuitry, but sounds and feels fantastic,” Jim stated when the 2061X reissue was launched.2061X: 20-Watt, Handwired Reissue of the all-valve “Lead and Bass” 2061 head (circa 1967 – ’73)

    Overview

    The 2061X is an all-valve, 20 Watt, two-channel head with no negative feedback in its cathode-biased output stage. As its front panel reveals, the 2061X is an extremely straightforward amplifier, with both of its channels only boasting a Volume and Tone control each. Like all Marshall, all-valve amplifiers, the 2061X sounds at its very best when turned up full – and because of its relatively low wattage this can be done at ear friendly volumes, making it a wonderful recording tool.

    Unlike its 18 Watt predecessors – the 1974, 1973 and 1958 models – which all boasted an EZ81 rectifier, the 2061X features a solid-state, silicon diode rectifying device, and, partly as a result of this, is a much more aggressive and surprisingly modern sounding amplifier, while still possessing that unmistakable and highly desirable, vintage all-valve tone.

    Valve Compliment

    Two ECC83s (12AX7s) in the pre-amp and a pair of EL84 power valves working in push-pull. All valves are of the highest quality available and go through a meticulous grading and testing process. The way the two ECC83s (V1 & V2) in the pre-amp are utilised is as follows: V1 acts as the pre-amp gain stage for the Lead and Bass channels. As both channel’s pre-amps have a single gain stage, each half of the valve (the ECC83 being a dual-triode) acts as a dedicated gain stage for each. V2 acts as the amplifier’s phase-splitter. Due to the fact that the pair of EL84 output valves attain extremely high temperatures when the amplifier is in use, their valve bases are made from the highest- grade ceramic available.

    Tone Circuit

    In typical Marshall fashion, the tone network of both of the 2061X’s channels is post gain and passive. The tone circuit in the Lead channel involves a blend of high frequency pre-emphasis and passive high frequency cut – the mix of which is dependant upon the setting of the Tone control on the channel being used. As one would expect, the Bass channel is much darker sounding and is voiced for a tighter low-end.

    Components

    With the obvious exception of the valves, all components used were sourced from European and American manufacturers.

    Tag Board

    This is exactly the same as the original in terms of surface dimension, thickness and custom-drilled component holes loaded with avlugs. The material used is EM42. The reason we didn’t use a board with the exact same chemical composition as in the original units is because that material doesn’t pass current safety legislation regarding flammability.Tagboard

    Transformers

    By the time the 2061 was designed and manufactured, Jim had struck up his now well-known relationship with transformer manufacturers, Dagnall and Drake. As a result, both the power and mains transformers used in the original 2061 were supplied by Dagnall.

    The output and mains transformers are vital components in an amplifier as they influence performance, sound and feel. Consequently, we worked extremely closely with our associates in Dagnall’s R&D department in order to duplicate the original transformers in all areas in the re-issue units. To do this, we spent a great deal of time and attention studying and analysing the constructional methods and materials (e.g.: lamination grade, insulation, coil spacing, etc.) used in both transformers so we could match everything as closely as possible, and also ensure that the all-important electrical characteristics and performance were identical. With Dagnall’s expert help and dedication, we’ve done exactly that.

    Output Transformer

    The original 2061 didn’t have an impedance selector of any shape or form, instead the two speaker output jacks were hardwired directly to the 8 Ohm tap on the transformer – thus making it possible to use a single 8 Ohm cabinet or two 16 Ohm cabinets in parallel. To make the re-issue more user-friendly in terms of cabinet compatibility, we have added an impedance selector* to the rear panel, with three options – 4, 8 or 16 Ohms. This addition offers the user maximum flexibility when it comes to extension cabinet options.

    *Important Note: Adding the impedance selector has no effect on the tonal authenticity of the 2061X re-issue, it merely adds to its potential flexibility.

    Mains (Power) Transformer

    In order to satisfy strict current-day safety legislation, the custom manufactured Dagnall re-issue transformer we’re using is physically a little larger than the one used in the original but, as with the output transformer, we went to great lengths to ensure that its performance mirrors that of the original. We paid particular attention to exactly replicating an effect called ‘regulation’ – which is the way that the voltage from the transformer that feeds the valve circuitry varies according to load.

    Chassis

    As in the original, we’re using a box-section chassis made from 16 gauge mild-steel, with buttwelded corner joints. The steel is also ‘yellow passivated’ – an electroplating process that deposits a coating of zinc onto the steel to provide lifelong resistance to corrosion.

    Front Panel

    Gold, brushed anodised aluminium** – exactly as the originals we used as references.

    **Note: While a few early 2061s boasted Plexiglas front panels, gold, brushed anodised aluminium panels were more commonplace on this model as we stopped using Plexiglas for front panels in mid-1969.

    Rear Panel

    Again gold, brushed anodised aluminium – exactly as the originals we used as references.

    Cabinet Construction

    High-grade, flawless (knot-free) Baltic birch ply with fingerlocked (a.k.a. comb) joints for maximum strength. The main cabinet frame (both sides, top and bottom) and the front baffle are constructed from 12mm ply while the back of the cabinet is 9mm ply. All edges have a 22mm radius.

    Cabinet Cosmetics

    The black Levant, beading, piping and small 6" gold logo are exactly as the original.

    Rear Panel Improvements

    The features listed below are all ‘deviations’ from the original that have been added for user-friendliness, practicality, added flexibility, and/or improved serviceability. Please note that none of these have any sonic impact (positive or negative) on the head what-so-ever!Rear Panel

    Impedance Switch

    This feature wasn’t present on the original but, in conjunction with the two Speaker Output Jacks, obviously adds to the unit’s flexibility when it comes to pairing it up with extension speaker cabinet options.

    H.T. and Mains Fuses

    In the original these two fuses were located within the chassis itself, making it extremely time consuming and cumbersome to access should one blow. Making both fuses easily accessible via the rear panel is another improvement…

    Mains Cord

    The original was hardwired to the 2061. For serviceability and sheer practicality, the mains cord on the 2061X reissue is detachable.

    1959HW

    100-Watt, Handwired Reissue of the legendary all-valve 1959 “Plexi” head (circa 1969)


    From Jim Marshall: “The original versions of this world famous amplifier - nicknamed the ‘Plexi’ because of its frontpanel material - were produced from late 1965 to mid 1969 and are now extremely rare and highly collectable. This authentic reiteration of an SL/A head made pre-July of 1969 is part of an ongoing series, featuring handwired re-issues of revered historical Marshall products.”1959HW 100-Watt, Handwired Reissue of the legendary all-valve 1959 “Plexi” head (circa 1969)

    Overview

    The 1959HW is a Class-A/B, all-valve, 100 Watt, two-channel head and is a handwired re-issue of an amazing sounding, original Plexi head made in 1969. As is now rock folklore, the 1959 came to be when The Who’s guitarist, Pete Townshend, approached Marshall in the mid ’60s and asked Jim to build him a ‘weapon’ that would allow him to play so loud that he wouldn’t be able to hear what the members of the audience were saying, should they have the sheer audacity to talk whilst he was performing! Jim and his team obliged and within weeks of Pete’s request one of rock’s most instantly recognisable icons was born - the 100 Watt Marshall stack.

    The 1959 head first saw the light of day in late 1965 and was affectionately dubbed the “Plexi” because of the Plexiglas material used for its front panel. Although we continued to build 1959s, the now legendary Plexi-era came to an end in July 1969 when we started using gold anodised aluminium panels instead of Plexiglas. While all original Plexi 1959s are held in the highest esteem, several subtly different but tonally significant circuit variations existed - the most celebrated and revered versions being those made between 1967 and 1969.

    The circuit we have revisited for the 1959HW boasts several of said ‘tonally significant’ variants when compared to the slightly later circuit we use for our critically acclaimed, standard-production Plexi re-issue - the 1959SLP. The most sonically relevant technical departures in question lie in the negative feedback circuit. Where relevant, specific details concerning these ‘deviations’, and others, are inserted into this text labeled as ‘Tonal Notes’.

    The 1959HW is an extremely straightforward amplifier. Its two channels - Channel I and Channel II - each have two inputs (High and Low sensitivity) and separate Volume controls, while sharing the amplifier’s four tone controls: Presence, Bass, Middle and Treble. Like all Marshall, all-valve amplifiers, the 1959 sounds at its very best when turned up full - and because of its conservative power rating and astonishing projection, is a formidable live amplifier in even the largest of venues.

    Valve Compliment

    Three ECC83s (12AX7s) in the pre-amp and a quartet of EL34 power valves working in push-pull. All valves are of the highest quality available and are subjected to meticulous grading and testing processes. The way the three ECC83s (V1, V2 & V3) in the pre-amp are utilised is as follows:Valve Compliment

    • V1 acts as the pre-amp gain stage for the High Treble and Normal channels - each half of the valve (the ECC83 being a dual-triode) acting as a dedicated gain stage for each channel.
    • V2 is common to both channels, which are passively summed before reaching this valve. The first half of V2 acts as a common second gain stage, boosting the combined signal, and then directly driving the second half of the valve which is configured as a cathode follower. The cathode follower is a unity gain device which acts as a buffer, providing a low impedance signal to drive the tone network.
    • Tonal Note 1: The second gain stage of the 1969 circuit we’ve faithfully reproduced boasts an extra cathode bypass capacitor which boosts upper-mids and top-end.
    • V3 acts as the amplifier's phase-splitter. This device divides the signal into two halves that are 180 degree out-of-phase with each other, and then feed the 1959's push-pull output stage.

    Tone Circuit

    In typical Marshall fashion, the shared tone network of this handwired 1959 re-issue is post gain, passive and interactive - the latter simply meaning that the settings of the Bass and Treble controls affect the amount of mid-dip available via the Middle control.

    Tonal Note 2: The Middle control is a 10% log pot, unlike the linear one found in the regular production 1959SLP. This greatly changes the dynamic of the whole tonal network and the interaction of its controls.

    Components

    Where possible we have gone back to the original suppliers for all components, to maintain the highest quality - including, as per the original, a U-clamp mounted choke as opposed to the fully-shrouded, stand-up smoothing choke used in the majority of Marshall valve amplifiers. Also included is a custom-built 50μF single can, smoothing capacitor. These are just two examples of the many steps we have taken in order to ensure maximum authenticity.

    Tag Boards

    The tag boards used are exactly the same as those in the original in terms of thickness and matrix pitch. The material we're using is made exclusively for us and is registered with UL as ‘Marshall EM42 brown’. The reason we didn’t use a board with the exact same chemical composition as in the original units is because that material doesn't pass current safety legislation regarding flammability.Tag Board

    Transformers

    The output and mains transformers are vital components in an amplifier as they influence performance, sound and feel. Consequently, we worked extremely closely with our associates in Dagnall’s R&D department in order to duplicate the original transformers. To do this we spent a great deal of time and attention studying and analysing the constructional methods and materials used in both transformers so we could match everything as closely as possible and also ensure that the all-important electrical characteristics and performance were identical.

    Output Transformer

    Just like the 1.5" original, it is an exact replica in terms of both performance and dimensions, the re-issue transformer is upright-mounting and sits entirely above the chassis. To be exact, this transformer is a C1998 which has a specification date of August, 1967.

    Tonal Note 3: In the vast majority of Marshall valve amplifiers it is a standard design trait that the negative feedback (a circuit that drops the output impedance and thus controls the damping factor of the powerstage) applied around the amplifier is taken from the 8 Ohm tap on the output transformer. Doing this sets the power-amp up for a certain amount of damping that is independent of where you have the amplifier's impedance selector set. This means that, regardless of whether you use a 16, 8 or 4 Ohm cabinet, the damping on the speakers is the same.

    This said, as is the case with quite a number of ‘Plexi’ era 100 Watt heads, the negative feedback on the original 1969 circuit we've used for this reissue is taken off the actual speaker output itself. This means that the lower the impedance setting, the lower the damping factor - and the lower the damping factor is, the more loose and more resonant the sound. Consequently, if you’re using a 4 x 12" cabinet loaded with 16 Ohm speakers that offers 16 Ohm and 4 Ohm mono inputs (e.g.: the Marshall 1960A, 1960B, 1960AV or 1960BV cabinets), the 4 Ohm input will be more loose and more resonant on the low end, while the 16 Ohm input will be tighter and more controlled.

    Not surprisingly, of the ‘tonally significant’ variants mentioned in this manual, this one is probably the most impactful.

    Mains (Power) Transformer

    While the original transformer is large, the custom-made Dagnall reissue has been made even larger in order to satisfy strict, current-day safety legislation. Just like the original, the re-issue transformer is what is called a ‘drop through, half-shroud’, which sits horizontally as opposed to vertically. As with the output transformer, we went to great lengths to ensure that its performance mirrors that of the original, paying particular attention to exactly replicating an effect called ‘regulation’ - which is the way that the voltage from the transformer that feeds the valve circuitry varies according to load. In terms of the concentric design and performance, this transformer embodies the performance of the 1203-80 original specification first drawn up for us by Drake in February 1967. The original was a 2.5" transformer. Due to the aforementioned modern legislations, the reissue is 3".

    Tonal Note 4: This circuit has the same filtering on the H.T. (high voltage DC, a.k.a. the B+ voltage) line as later versions, a factor that contributes to the 1959HW having a tighter sound than earlier versions.

    Note: The 1959HW incorporates 47nF/630V capacitors fitted in parallel with each of the four diodes in the bridge rectifier circuit. These are present for today’s approval requirements that necessitate a reduction in electrical interference that may be generated and put back on the mains electricity supply. The addition of these capacitors has no sonic impact.

    Chassis

    A box-section chassis made from 16 gauge mild steel with butt-welded corner joints. The steel is also passivated giving lifelong resistance to corrosion. Our original chassis has a lot of extra holes drilled in it that weren't used. No doubt these existed because the same exact chassis was also used for other products made at the time. The most noticeable ‘extra hole’ is one on top for a fourth ECC83 and on our reference unit, this particular hole has been covered up with a disc of steel that's been riveted into the two screw holes that would have been used to secure the valve holder, were it there. For the sake of authenticity we have copied all the holes on our reference chassis and have even duplicated the aforementioned circular steel cover.

    Front Panel

    Extra thick, gold coloured Plexiglas (actually Perspex, causing some people to refer to it as ‘Perplexi!’) - exactly as the original.

    Rear Panel

    Once again, gold Plexiglas - just like the original we referenced.

    Cabinet Construction

    High-grade, flawless (knot-free) Baltic birch-ply with fingerlocked (a.k.a. “comb”) joints for maximum strength. The main cabinet frame (both sides, top and bottom) are 15mm ply, the front baffle is constructed from 12mm ply while the back of the cabinet is 9mm ply. All edges have a 15mm radius.

    Cabinet Cosmetics

    The 6" gold Marshall logo, black Levant covering, beading and piping exactly match the look and style of the original.

    A Handwired reissue of the legendary Series II “Bluesbreaker” (circa 1965)

    1962HW


    The Tale of the Consummate British Blues Combo

    The first ever Marshall combo, the model 1962, was built in 1965 and was essentially a 30-Watt JTM45 head with a Tremolo circuit integrated into a compact 2x12” cabinet. The reason it is confusingly called the 1962? That was down to Marshall’s distributor at the time, Rose Morris. They decided that all Marshall products should begin with the prefix “19 “and then be given two extra numbers to differentiate. So, the 100-Watt Plexi head was christened the 1959, the 4x12” the 1960 and so forth…the model numbers had nothing whatsoever to do with the year of their birth, despite the obvious implication. That bemusing anomaly clarified, let’s get on with the tale of the creation of the Marshall 1962 – an amplifier that a leading British publication recently ran on its front cover with the headline “The Greatest Combo Ever?”…

    According to the late, great Jim Marshall, this amp – which despite its 1962 designation was generally referred to as simply “the Marshall combo” at the time – was designed for a young English guitarist who used to practice in Jim’s music shop and later went on to international stardom. “He was one of the first guitarists to ask me for a combo version of the JTM45,” Jim recollected, years later. “He wanted something that’d be easy for him to get in and out of the boot [trunk] of his car, you see. That’s how the 1962 came about.”

    The first model 1962 combo – now known as Series I – was housed in a sturdy looking, thick-sided cabinet and bore a block logo.1962 Series I

    Then, in August 1965, a revised version – commonly referred to as Series II – was born. The difference? An instantly noticeable, sleeker, more elegant cabinet design with “pinstripe” grille cloth, white piping and a gold script logo. The amplifier section however, remained the same.1965 Series II

    It is this version of the 1962 combo which is considered iconic and appeared on one of blues-rock’s most influential ever albums which was released by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1966. This seminal record featured brilliant guitar work and a blistering, high-in-the-mix Les Paul into a Marshall 1962 tone that is rightfully still heralded as “game changing.” Hence the reason the 1962 is often referred to as “the Bluesbreaker” to this very day.

    The handwired, all-valve (4 x ECC83 – one is employed in the Tremolo circuit; 1 x GZ34 rectifier; 2 x KT66) 1962HW is a faithful recreation of this classic two-channel 2x12” combo, harkening back to the original format and circuit topology of the first production run back in 1965 – except for the aluminium chassis, which has been replaced with a steel one, purely for strength and longevity purposes. This change has no sonic bearing on the amp whatsoever...

    Over the years there have been various tweaks and ‘improvements’ made to subsequent reissues in order to address “shortfalls” in functionality from an electronic point of view, and practicality from a mechanical point of view. However, there is no getting away from the fact that the amp was made famous in its original format on the aforementioned album that so many are familiar with, so that’s what we’ve gone with in the 1962HW...

    Tremolo Circuit

    This was the main target for the aforementioned design improvements and was completely changed. However, despite the tremolo being reconfigured to give an undoubtedly superior “tremolo” effect, its connection to the signal path was also changed which, in turn, had a definite sonic impact. For this tonal reason, we’ve reverted back to the original, “less-than-perfect” valve tremolo circuit as it’s undeniably part of the 1962’s highly-desirable tonal “mojo.”

    A basic design flaw of the original tremolo was the fact it ceases to function when its respective channel volume is set to maximum because there is no series resistance to “pull against.” Only the volume pot itself when turned lower will provide this series resistance! In those days it was probably unthinkable to imagine someone playing the amp on full volume when using the tremolo effect anyway!

    The original Tremolo’s oscillator was connected to the HT line in a different place to the subsequent reissues, modulating the power supply very subtley especially when driven hard.The screen grid resistance is also higher on the original circuit which lowers the maximum output power a little as well as affecting a minor change on transient reponse. Both have been restored due to thier subtle but discernable sonic impact.

    Tag Boards

    The two tag boards used are exactly the same as those in the original in terms of thickness and matrix pitch. The material we're using is made exclusively for us and is registered with UL as ‘Marshall EM42 brown’. The reason we didn’t use a board with the exact same chemical composition as in the original units is because that material doesn't pass current safety legislation regarding flammability.Tag Board

    Transformers

    The transformers are supplied by our long-time partners at Drake who manufactured the original ones. To add to authenticity of these all important components, they still have all the documentation from those years and worked meticulously to duplicate the originals. Needless to say, with the exception of a few necessary adjustments to satisfy strict modern safety standards, the resulting transformers are as close as humanly possible to the originals.

    Speakers

    2 x Celestion G12C “Greenback” 12”speakers.2 x Celestion G12C “Greenback” 12”speakers

    Important Safety Regulations Note: Although certain period correct 1962s were fitted with castors, in order to satisfy today’s strict safety regulations relating to tipping (stability), we are unable to as our 100% dimensionally correct reissue fails said tests with castors attached.

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