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).

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


Popular posts from this blog

British Post-Punk Veterans 1919 Return With A Brand New Masterpiece Of Darkly Melodic Goth Rock, FUTURECIDE!

Los Angeles, CA - Like the mythic phoenix rising from the ashes, British post-punk band 1919 have gone through Hell and back over the course of their harrowing career, but they keep returning stronger than ever! Founded in 1980, the band released its debut album Machine in 1983 and one EP a year later before calling it quits. However, the band reformed in 2014 to great acclaim, performing numerous tours and at festivals across Europe. Then, tragedy struck as the band’s founding guitarist Mark Tighe was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 and succumbed to the disease in January 2017. Tighe insisted that the band should carry on without him, which they have done in finest form with their newest effort Futurecide. The album, which will be officially released on April 12 via Cleopatra Records, features brand new compositions and includes special guest performances by Tighe as well as former member Steve Madden, who also passed away this year. The first single, “Anxiety,” was released at the en…

Concert Review: Ghost At The Palace Theater Albany NY

Ghost At The Palace Theater Albany NY December 13, 2018

With winter upon us in the great Northeast, it was just another night. We never have a reason to stay in because of the weather, we just go. It so happened that it was a nice evening for a drive to a Ghost concert.We secured our tickets months ago and have been anticipating this night for months on end.
Last July I attended a “bucket list” concert, the great Iron Maiden was coming to Mansfield, MA. Opening for them was Ghost. This was a turn of a friendly card for the band, a great way to get worldwide exposure otherwise not afforded by a lesser band. They were already on the rise and the lead singer Papa Emeritus had a helluva a band (no pun intended there). At that time my prediction was that when the new year began Ghost would be headlining their own shows. So, then it happened, here we are tonight watching this incredible metal band headlining their own show, with no opener may I add.
For those of you unf…

Experience Hendrix Tour 2019 Concert Review

The Experience Hendrix Tour 2019 Concert The Palace Theater Albany, New York April 3, 2019

The pictures I have provided were snapped by me with my phone to give you an idea of the backdrop to the music prior to the show. That screen changed with each song and it was very trippy psychedelic colors and images that mirrored the timeframe of Jimi in his prime. -Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
The Electric Church arrived in Albany, NY last night with its all-star cast for the Experience Hendrix 2019 Tour.The music of Jimi Hendrix continues to thrive and be embraced by fans worldwide. This is a tour I have been wanting to catch for several years now and I finally made it, and so glad I did.
The best thing that could happen to this event is the involvement of Billy Cox. Anyone familiar with Jimi’s music knows that they were friends for a long time and Billy played bass on some of Jimi’s albums. Also, with Janie Hendrix involved it makes everything legit. Also havin…