Marshall Amp 6101 LM 30th Anniversary Combo

Tone from the heart.

Hey. Welcome to the home of the AmpMan. A man in pursuit of tone.

I have been searching for 30 years, since my first electric guitar, a lookalike Fender strat, was bought for me when I was 12. I plugged it into a friend's half stack and that was the beginning of a lifelong hunt for the noise my heart says my head should listen to.

For me, it has to be valves...tubes...call them what you like. Those little electified glass fingers that give life and soul to the instruments we love. Solidstate -so far- doesn't do it for me and many other musicians I know out there.

After years of hunting down the amp of my dreams I think I may have found it. A second hand bargain at $750. (£500) 

So I want to share my delerious discovery with you - and maybe later help others sift through the many weird and sometimes wonderful amps I have come across on the way.

The Marshall 6101 Anniversary LM amp will make your heart cry and, possibly, your ears bleed. Right now, I have a 17 year old combo from 1992 and it has to be one of the best sounds EVER. I’m loving giving my 2006 Gibson SG Standard some rip. The humbuckers are raging.

If the Devil likes to crank it up, I would bet this is what he uses. Mine was cherished by the guitarist of a well known British punk band who swore by it.

Both the 100 watt head (model 6100) and 1x12 combo (model 6101) include: three separate channels, four different output levels, valve power, and midi switching.

Many lovers of valve amps agree the British snarl of the 30th Anniversary make it the best amp Marshall have made. In production between 1992 and 1998 many were driven by 7 ECC83 (12AX7) and 4 5881-tubes. Mine has been converted to run on EL34's (the classic valves that give the Marshall sound, but which were in short supply back in the mid-80's leading Marshall to do some re-engineering of the circuits on this and other amps to accept 5881/6L6‘s).

It was the flagship of the Marshall range and cost around £1250 when first brought out, increasing to around £1400 by the time it was eventually discontinued.

For anyone who doesn't know the amp is three channel - clean, crunch and lead, the latter with extraordinary gain. Each channel has a separate 3-band-EQ.

In an effort to make it “the best amp ever” Marshall added a bright switch to the Clean channel and gives you a range from warm and crispy to high and twangy clean sounds, that will appeal to Fender fans. The Crunch channel runs in three modes - A, which gives all the old vintage Marshall sounds of a JTM45, B sounds like a 1959SLP with the power of an early JCM800 and C which goes beyond the JCM900SLX range of gain and tone. The Lead channel has gain to spare, but still it features a gain boost, which allows you boogie- or even soldano-like gain levels. A contour switch can be used for metal stuff.

It is small, but heavy enough at 80lbs to give anyone a free workout transporting it. And it packs a punch, operating in Pentode mode to get the full 100 watts from the power stage, Triode to get smoother sounds albeit at a maximum of 50 watts. For those who are fearful of the neighbours, high and low power switch options provide the means to get down to 25 watt. The good news is that the sound stays fat with thick distortion.Channel switching and effects - there is midi in which will switch channels to correspond to your multi-fx - and a number of effects loop options.

My UK model retains the specially designed Celestion speaker - USA models had an Electro-Voice equivalent. The speaker emulation circuit accessed on the back via a standard 3 pin XLR makes recording and live work straightforward - no more mics to trip over since the sound is as good as a well-placed SM57. Sound engineers will love it too, which may be hard to believe.

It is as loud as hell and has enough power for huge stages. It is Led Zeppelin. It is Jack White of the White Stripes. It is mine.

It is not surprising that these amps are becoming collectable. So my advice to anyone out there is snap it up if you can. You wont be disappointed.

And I am keeping this one.

 

Sound Quality: 10.

AmpMan Recommends: Get one if you can.

Marshall LM 6101

Famous face
Famous face
The heart inside.
The heart inside.

Comments 16 comments

David 7 years ago

Hey AmpMan,

Love Marshall Tone. Bought a JCM 900 half stack (4100) when they first came out. ZZ Top was touring with them, around 90 or 91 I think. (You may remember the add Marshall put out with their stage set up). Anyway, I always played it switched down to 50 watt with the slant 412 cab that I hot wired to use only one of the 75 watt speakers when switched to stereo (lower left when facing it), because that head really performs when run at 16 ohms and you would not believe how that 412 sounded with just one speaker alive. By the way I did try it switched to 100 watt, but it would tear your head off when set that way with the way I set my volumes, etc and using all 4 speakers.

For a while I ran a JCM 800 50 watt (can’t remember the model) through the other two speakers at 8 ohms with an A/B volume pedal which allowed me to blend any two of the four channels from the two amps. But, eventually sold the 800 and went back to using the 900 exclusively because it had all the tone I ever needed (it always out shined the 800).

I always wanted one of those 30th year models not only because of having a third channel, but also because of the midi. I am quiet sure you enjoy yours.

Oh yes, there is nothing more beautiful than the sound of a Les Paul played through any Marshall, is there? My first was a 1974 Gold Top with the baby hum buckers, later I bought a 1977 Tobacco Sunburst with full sized hum buckers.

The sound of the Tobacco through the 900 made a lot of panties fall off during the 90’s.

Thanks for helping me reminisce.

David


AmpMan profile image

AmpMan 7 years ago from London, UK. Author

Hey David, you know they way you set up that JCM 900 half stack of yours I'd highly recommend. It gets things hot and that has to be good for the tone. I love the trick with the speakers and I might try that one myself cos I have a friend with an identical set up (although I don't know what speakers are in there?) I'm on the prowl now for a rare 9612 cab to shift some more air with the LM 6101 combo. That, believe me, has the howl of the wild about it. I am glad you enjoy your tone.


David 7 years ago

Hey AmpMan,

Mine came with 4 - 75w 16 ohm Celestions, (I've never seen a JCM 900 cab from the factory offered any other way). But, anyway, yeah operating at 50w with 1 - 75w speaker at 16 ohms not only allowed the head to empty its guts, the 75w speaker also allowed for headroom. Using the lower speaker also put all that power more at my feet (which I’m sure the people in the clubs I played at were very thankful for).

In my set up I left all the speakers in the cab to maintain the non-ported cab sound. As you can imagine, that gave me a tone change different from using all 4 speakers allowing the natural breakup at a “seemingly” lower head spitting volume (actually I could crank it up on the masters further).

To hot wire the cab I just removed a handle put a dummy connection on the middle support and ran the top speaker wire to it thus, there were no speaker wires left hanging. Then when switched to stereo that side was actually 16 ohm instead of the advertised 8 ohm. Anyone using this set up should not use the cab switched back to mono without reconnecting the 4th speaker (a weird ohms load can kill a good head, although I never had that problem).

Good luck on finding a 9612 at an affordable price.


AmpMan profile image

AmpMan 7 years ago from London, UK. Author

Hey David,

Hope people remember to unplug their amps and discharge before they go sticking their tools in. Hot rodding amps can give plenty of kicks.

I spoke to my friend with the JCM 900 today and we have just had a blast. He didn’t like the GT12-75s, said they had no bass response at all. So he has popped in Celestion V30s and he thinks he now has a very nice balanced sound there. We were trying to jam on the web, so I couldn't really tell. Couldn't hear much from all the laughing going on really. From what I do remember about playing one a long time ago, I thought the JCM 900 could be a bit harsh and trebly. My friend says he has gigged a JCM 900 cab with Jensen c12ns and loved it. But he is crazy, so who knows? It is just as well for my health he lives 300 miles away....

So I guess you never know what’s in the box until you take a look. Feeling is that Marshall originally made some of these cabs with 70 watt speakers - don’t know where we could get clarification on that.

My search for the 9612 and that big 200watt speaker is going very slowly. My neighbour with the barking dog is probably diverting all calls.

Amps and Co. We love 'em. (Were they the dancing girls on Top Of The Pops?)


David 7 years ago

Hey AmpMan,

Yes, Marshall does offer 412 cabs with 70w Celestions; it’s called the “1960 Vintage” it’s a stereo cab too. But I’m pretty sure most of the JCM 900s came with the 75s stock from Marshall (of course special orders are always available).

30s probably would sound good; Marshall offers that setup also in a mono cab (120w, 16 ohm).

My 4100 sounded perfect through the old style Marshall 1960TV Cabinet which has an angled front, 4 - 12" Greenback speakers (25watt) with a warmer, thicker sound than the 1960A. If I were to build a rig today, I would start with the head version of your 30th Edition and the 1960 TV cab with green backs (for large stages) and a 112 75w for small bars.

As with many of Marshall Amps they sound great right out of the box. I used mine for a year or so before I did anything to it and yes, set at 100w through all four 75w speakers it wasn’t as smooth and could be harsh (especially at a lower volume). To get the warmer sounds I played it switched down to 50w and used the one speaker set up like I described. Later, I also had the bias set by a Marshall wizard (Randy Wheeler who also did a special tweek to it) then replaced the tubes (EL34s) with matching “Groove Tubes” with a hardness of “5” and run all effects through the effects loop on the head pumping up the EL 34s at a higher rate than probably recommended (in other words I over drove the loop).

I’m sure that that amp was originally designed for an arena and the metal sound of the day that’s why the Master Volume version 900 was what many metal players used. Marshall tried to make it more clubs suitable by offering the 4100 head that has a clean channel. If I wanted the 800 sound I just turned the clean channel preamp wide open. It all just depends on what one is looking for in sound.


Bill 7 years ago

I just came across this thread and I'm not sure how old it is. I have a 1992 6101 and I bought a slant 4x12 30th anniversary cab in blue. My question is can I use the 12" speaker in the combo and the 4x12 speakers at the same time. If so how should I set the ohm switch?

Thanks for your imput.


AmpMan profile image

AmpMan 7 years ago from London, UK. Author

Hey Bill,

Impedance is usually marked on the cabinet input socket. Any doubts have the cab speakers checked out by a tech

The Marshall handbook for the 30th Anniversary amp explains that when using a single cab the amp and cab should be identical (eg 16 Ohm 4x12 cab=16 Ohm amp selection)

If two 16 Ohm cabinets are used then the amp should be switched to 8 Ohms.

Where two 8 Ohm cabs are being used the amp should be switched to 4 Ohms.

A speaker load below 4 Ohms cannot be used.

The 4x12 has a power rating of 300W Mono or 150W stereo. Impedance is 4 or 16mono, 8 stereo.

On the 6101 combo you can switch between 8 Ohm and 4 Ohm. (Look on the back where it says 4 Ohms and see, there it says in brackets, 16 Ohms)

That’s what to do. Choose 4 on the amp for Mono …8 on the amp for Stereo. Match this up to the cab.

If you want/need something different , say the speakers have been changed, you may want to find a local tech who can sort it out.

I wouldn't balance the combo on top of the slant cab though!

Ampman


David 7 years ago

Hey Bill,

Welcome to the thread! Forget about using both at the same time. All Marshalls sound best at 16 ohms, use your 112 in small rooms and the 412 in large rooms where loud is ok. I know its tempting to use both, but for good Marshall sound (and to keep your amp safe) use only one at a time.


David 7 years ago

Oh yes, I forgot to tell you Bill,

Since you have an amp built in 1992, if you haven't already, put new tubes in it. Take it to a Tech with Marshall Experience and have him to set your bias with the new tubes installed before you use it (you can turn it on to test the tubes before you let them set it to make sure that the new tubes work properly or let the tech install them if that makes you more comfortable).

If you’re playing small clubs, practicing in your house and etc. be sure to tell the Tech so he can set the bias correctly, it helps the sustain of the Amp as well as reducing the noise (not everybody knows this).

EL 34s are best for smaller stages, if you have 6550s they will give you more power in a large venue, but will disappoint you in small clubs and while you practice at home. Don’t worry about power for arenas; your 412 can handle large arenas. Just tell the Sound Tech not to use the EQ on the board, just use volume only. That way what you hear from your Amp will be what everybody hears (sound men are notorious for changing a guitars tones).

If you have any doubts, be sure you follow AmpMans advice by taking your setup to a Marshall Qualified Tech for tweaking. Marshall makes the best Guitar Amplifiers in the world, but someone who doesn’t understand them will make you cry when they pop your Amp by setting the ohms incorrectly.

Rock on!

David


AmpMan profile image

AmpMan 7 years ago from London, UK. Author

Hey David,

Great advice there about getting the bias sorted. Worth doing it on older valves cos they get tired, like the rest of us facing old age.

I once tried to do the bias on an old Marshall Mk2 50w Valve Head 1974 vintage amp, which was a beauty that I let slip from my grasp years ago. But to be honest I'd recommend finding a tech with Marshall experience. My mate assured me he knew what he was doing - and we spent a really interesting Sunday counting notches on sockets and reading cathode currents through power tubes instead of going down the pub. But after all that, we screwed up and my amp was running cold instead of frying, so I ended up paying up to have it done properly. Hey, it was fun (looking back) to have had a go - but please everybody, be safe if you dare to dabble around with these things and remember the danger to the equipment as well as yourself.

If you are determined to do it, I have seen some DIY info on the web, but for clarity - if such a thing is possible on this subject - take a look here:

http://www.duncanamps.com/technical/lvbias.html

Keep SAFE SAFE SAFE.

I love my EL34s And I like them baking hot so as I can smell em in the room upstairs, that's their way of telling me they are ready!

I'd say Tone is more important than Volume. But play it hard and have fun.


Domino 6 years ago

G'day Mate. I've been playing a 30th Anniversary Combo for about 10 years now, I still haven't heard enything that comes close. The only way to describe it "Glass shattering sound".

Domino.


jonnie 5 years ago

I have the blue Anniversary and have used for years. The best in terms of sound and facilities. even the midi with my gt5 effects unit is special. I love it want another to know that I will always have one to use. Anything out there to touch it?


AmpMan profile image

AmpMan 4 years ago from London, UK. Author

Hi Jonnie, sorry to take so long replying. I've been away. You know, I find it hard to say for certain cos everyone has their own ears to cook! Yummmm. But for me, the Marshall is out there. I have been dabbling with some very interesting bass amps recently, more of that later. Mesa, hmmm, hmmm, hmmmm ...I dunno. Good but . An Orange, well I love the Tiny Terror 15w valve. Have you tried it? Crank the gain and it's a right little devil and I hear a lot of studios use them these days (for when the bands come in who don't know anything about gear.) That is one worth trying for sure, it's fun too which is MEGA important. And I love the surprise factor - when the valves are cooking it has a really great growl. More on that later I think. But it's still the 30th Anniversary Combo for me mate.


ovets 4 years ago

Hi Ampman

Been playing a 6100 LM for a year or so. Like it, especially the clean, but not sure I'm getting the best out of it, especially the lead channel, which is sometimes a bit mushy....I tend now to leave it clean and use a tube drive pedal (Blackstar HT Dual at the moment) - not looking for terribly high gain.

Sadly, due to smallish venues I have to power down. Not sure if I'm reading your initial post correctly - do you go to triode for 50w or to low power + pentode, then low power + triode for 25w (of course, only option)? So, what's the difference between high power + triode, and low power + pentode? If that's a very daft question, please excuse my non-tech ignorance.

Cheers

Ovets


patchak 4 years ago

I'm selling mine.

It looks brand new, I loved it so much but I don't play guitar anymore.

contact me "pierre.berndt(at)wanadoo.fr " if interrested.


Beeflin 2 years ago

I've owned and loved a 1992 blue 6101 for many years now, and recently got hold of a black 1993 model with 5881s. I'm keeping 'em! I'll never need anything else unless I'm lucky enough to get a nice Fender one day.

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