Skip to main content

tonechaser Gear Review: Marshall Class 5 Head - Review & Demo

PictureEver since the small amp phase really got into motion, major amp companies have been pumping out small, low-wattage versions of classic amplifiers. Marshall's answer to this craze was the Class 5, which they advertise as a mini plexi in both sound and feel. However, just because it looks like a mini plexi doesn't mean it lives up to that reputation. Wanna know more? Read on.

Features & Build
Built in a small yet solid headshell, the Class 5 looks just as good and feels just as durable as any Marshall head out there. I was surprised at how light it felt, even compared to some other mini amp heads. The smaller "Marshall" logo does well to complete that plexi look, and the simple layout harkens back to a time when there was very little in the path between our guitars and speakers. A TMB tone stack and a non-master volume is all that is needed to control this all-tube monster, fueled by 1 EL84 and 2 ECC83 tubes. The version I purchased is the one with the headphone output on the back, which is, to be blunt useless. You won't be able to get cranked tube tones without blowing your headphone speakers or ear drums (whichever comes first).

Sound
Although it's only 5 watts, this is no doubt the loudest "little" amp I've ever heard. To get any tube distortion with humbuckers, even with my hard pick attack, requires the volume to be at least "3" - more than enough to irritate the neighbors. This initial breakup sounds great, much like an AC/DC or Bad Company kinda growl that just makes you smile. Until you reach the point of breakup, the amp often sounds overly dark and muddy with any kind of pickup. Plugging in a strat, you easily get a very old-school Hendrix kind of sound. At about "6" on the volume is where the amp begins to shine with single coils. It's a perfect mixture of gritty sweetness that would sound awesomely vintage with a fuzz pedal in front. Honestly, I couldn't find a tone I didn't like with single coils.

However, humbuckers leads to all sorts of problems. Once the volume gets past noon, you are entering dangerous territory. The gain takes on a harsh, fuzzy characteristic rather than the sweetness you would expect from a plexi style amp. The bass gets very boomy, and the treble becomes piercingly sharp. Although leads sound alright, rhythm playing can be an unpleasant experience. Don't get me wrong, it is fun to mess around with, but you just won't sound very good.

The Verdict
Over the course of it's relatively short lifespan, the Class 5 seems to have received a very mixed reception, and understandably so. While it sounds great with a strat, it falls short with humbucker equipped guitars. While it has loads of touch-sensitivity, it lacks the signature sweetness that makes a Plexi/Les Paul combo so satisfying. To make things worse, the EQ section is essentially useless and the bass can seem overpowering at times. This is an amp I really wanted to like, but no amount of playing can get me to gel with it. It is a fun little amp that could fix a Hendrix or AC/DC craving on the cheap, but it can't do much more than that.

tonechaser score - 6/10


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Rock Review: Aunt Mary-New Dawn

Release Date: 12th February 2016 Label: Wind-Up Website
Aunt Mary, as a name, somehow suggests an “older” band and it came as no real surprise to find that they are a Norwegian prog band from the 70’s. The band were considered by many to be one of the best prog bands in Norway with their brand of music a mixture of heavy hard rock tunes plus clear indications of a more symphonic nature, although that only really showed itself on their 3rd, and last, studio album, Janus, in 1973. Last that is, until now, with the release of New Dawn. This would appear to be an apt title for a release which follows 24 years after an album of blues covers, released in 1992. 

At their height, Aunt Mary were “up there” with the likes of Deep Purple, Ten Years After, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and many more. After the release of Janus in 1973, the band split up but did a few sporadic appearances, as well as releasing the blues covers album mentioned earlier.

3 years ago, the Norwegian guitar legend and producer, …

Alternative Rock: mariaFausta -Million Faces

Release Date: November 12, 2017
Label: Independent
Website mariaFausta is a European alternative rock vocalist. Recently her album Million Faces became available. I knew that she would probably sing with an accent and she does. Here is the thing with that aspect of a recording artist, either you cannot get past it or you like it, there is no middle ground. After that process and you decide you like it, you realize it is part of the charisma and make up of what the artist is presenting. For my ears things landed on the positive side in all aspects.

Maria’s sound is a varied approach that works very well. It certainly is alternative rock and one of the most original and different albums I have heard in 2017. I hear a ton of instrumental music and sometimes find it difficult with redundancy regarding my words. That is something that all writers worry about. You are cognizant of that fact at all times. Well let me tell you, this music was a total joy to hear and then have the opportunity to p…

New Age Instrumental Review: Anaya Music-AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music)

Release Date: February 2, 2018 Label: Anaya Music Website
Around this time a year ago I had the experience of listening to Anaya Music and providing coverage of Eternity.  It was an uplifting experience and a memorable listen as I recall.
Now with February drawing closer AONKI – Gateway of Love (Cosmic New Age Music) will arrive.
Once again, the recording features several exceptional collaborations between Anaya Music and a live virtual symphony orchestra recorded in the heart of Prague, the capital of the Czech republic. The orchestra combines members of the finest ensembles in Prague, including the Czech Philharmonic.
I think they should rename the orchestra to “The Live Spiritual Orchestra.” If you have been exposed to Anaya Music you will understand what that means. If this is your first journey with this music you will find out very quickly. Either way, this is spiritually uplifting music that leaves a smile on your soul. It’s like the term digital footprint, there is an everlasting m…