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Rating and Reviews: Marshall DSL15H Amp Head

Make 15 watts go further with the all-valve Marshall DSL15H amp head. This portable powerhouse delivers world-famous DSL100H tone in a compact package.

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"Great Tone with some Limitations" submitted June 14, 2016

By Marc C in Chicago, IL
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Musical Background: I've been a musician for 30 years and don't gig right now, but have. I play mostly Fenders and Gibsons through various amps.
Music Style: In general I like to play music that is melodic and leads that contribute to the song, rather than are demonstrative or rambling
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Overall: Let's start with the cons: 1) No reverb, 2) No effects loop, 3) Not many people will like the overblown drive channel. Luckily, 2 of these can be worked around, and the third accepted and still enjoyed. As an intro-grade tube amplifier, this has a lot to offer and I love mine, but it took a little work to get from like to love. First, there's a lot of information out there about "taming the drive channel." I didn't full-on mod it (change resistors and capacitors), but with some simple pre-amp tube swaps which were very cheap and easy to do, things are quite nice now. As for reverb, while I'd prefer to insert it in an effects loop, putting a pedal in front of the amp does the trick well enough when compared to the VERY simple reverb that one finds in the DSL15C combo, for example. So, that sounds a bit like a lot of compromise, and I want to stress that people with a lot of experience with a wide range of tube amps might not be overly thrilled with this amp, but if you've played mostly SS amps till now, this head (or the combo) may be a real delight. I play the head both through a 4x12 with a personalized selection of speakers, or a 1x12 with a greenback for lighter travel. Both can be very loud and provide both good driven tones (as one would expect), but also respectable clean tones. It takes pedals very well. (While I was working out the drive channel, I used a Blackstar HT-DISTX on the clean channel and it sounded amazing.) You don't need the 40 or 100 watt versions to gig; in a small venue with the right cabinet, this will easily get above the drummer without drowning out the vocals, and otherwise the FOH PA should do the heavy lifting anyways. Quality, materials, and workmanship are what you should expect from Marshall. It's a very heavy beast for a 15 watt head. By comparison, it is 50% larger (7 inches longer) and 50% heavier (10 pounds heavier) than another of my 15 watt heads, the very good Egnator Tweaker 15. (i recommend that head as well, although for different kinds of tones.) In the end, I don't think I'm qualifying when I say that this is a very good first serious intermediate tube amplifier. This is a space that needs to exist and because of cost, can't provide everything. I've demo'd many other tube combos and heads in this price range, and while some have different mixes of features, it's the tone that decided it for me. Is it a $2000+ Plexi? Of course not. If you have over 2 grand for a Marshall head, by all means, go buy one. On the other hand, if you have about a grand for a head and cab (and maybe one or two speaker swaps) that you can record and gig with and get nice tone from, I think this is worth the time to really explore.
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"very nice" submitted May 18, 2016

By richard papa in MALDEN, MA
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Musical Background: professional musician 36 years playing
Music Style: everything
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Overall: Like its big brother the Dsl100, this amp totally kicks ass. the clean channel is clean and chimy and as an overdriven channel it produce get Malcolm Young like tones. the dirty channel, well i use this term "BEAST" .. this channel growls like a hungry animal looking for some red meat. the gain stage begins at 1 and their are at least 4-5 different gain stages, oh and it take s pedals very nicely . ive owned an or15, that is a great amp, but doesnt take pedals well at all. bottom line A Les Paul and a Marshall is all you need. the dsl 15h awesome!
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"Nice head but Marshall missed the boat on this one!" submitted October 23, 2012

By Blake K in Sainte Genevieve, MO
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Musical Background: Jam at home
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Sound: Nice clean tones, Can get heavy on the gain but very hard to find that Marshall vinage crunch. On the clean channel you have to dim out the gain knob to get breakup. Still no classic gain you would expect from a Marshall. What happened to the green channel that you would find on the old DSL. Not here. The gain channel is the same as the red channel on the old DSL. To get a nice crunch I dial the gain almost all the way down and crank the master. I find this channel fuzzy but when you use less gain and put the amp into 7.5 watt mode and crank up the master you in the 80's JCM era. If your looking for a Plexi crunch pass on this amp. You will not find it. Feature: amp has two channels. Clean and dirty with a deep and mid boost switches, shared eq, and a footswitch. There is no reverb or effects loop. But there is a nice pentode / triode switch on the back for cutting the wattage in half for home use. Ease of Use: Like any Marshall they are a Plug n Play amp. This one requires some tweaking to get your tone or at least get a classic Marshall tone. Quality: Quality is on par with the MA series but the tolex is more rubber like than typical tolex. Very road worthy and looks like it can stand up to bumps and bruises. Value: I would say this amp is not much more money than a MG and sounds tons better than the MA / Haze series. I have a Jet City 22h as well and that amp smokes this amp to shame on the OD channel. Cleans are about even. Marshall cleans are a bit more open but the Jet City can allow you to dial in some dirt and it is $100 less. Manufacturer Support: N/A The Wow Factor: The wow factor is it's a Marshall with some nice modern Marshall tones for peanuts. The 15 watt head is perfect for home or band use. The amp is not perfect but what it does it does well. Overall: Why buy a MG when you can have a valve powered Marshall amp for little money.
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"Very good sound. Great clean channel. Quality lacking." submitted May 10, 2016

By Steve R in Tehachapi , CA
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Musical Background: 40+ years.
Music Style: Long time rock/metal fan.
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Overall: OK so the first unit I bought lasted 5 min! Hit the foot switch and poof..the head went dead! zZounds was awesome in replacing the amp. No problems getting a new one. I've had a few days to play the new head and I'm very impressed. This is my first all tube amp. I have a Marshall Valve state that sounds great but I really wanted a full tubed Marshall. I'm very impressed with the clean channel. Crank the gain and wow! Very responsive to your playing and your guitar volume. The red channel sounds good too...lots of Marshall roar but I still prefer my distortion pedal in front of the green channel. Overall I really like this amp. My only issue was with the first one. Just not the same quality you would get from the U.K. made units but for the price...I guess OK.
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"Zzounds is always on time!" submitted May 25, 2014

By Robert S in Bristol, VA
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Musical Background: Guitar: on and off 30 years. Drums: 35 on and off for 35 years.
Music Style: Rock, blues, some country.
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Overall: I had another tube amp that I had purchased and the changed my mind and wanted this Marshall DSL 15 H head. Since it within the time frame that was allowed for a return, I emailed them with my desire, they responded quickly, and simce I always keep all of the original carton, manuals , aprds etc. and since the amp was bately played through, the whole return process was done quickly, and without any hassle. Once they got my amp back and processed, I had my new amp within an 8-9 day period. That's why I' ll continue to look to Zzounds for all ofy gear needs! This new DSL 15H continues the tradition of an excellent tune amp in a small form factor, at an affordable price!
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