Marshall MG100FX Review
General Pre-Review Notes
It's impossible for me to tell the reader exactly what they want to know about the amp from their perspective. All I can offer is my very own opinion. So, just before I start, I'd like to introduce myself as a guitar player and mention a couple points that might be relevant to this review:
- I mostly play metal but I enjoy all types of music and also play in a very commercially biased school band
- I very rarely explore the clean tones on my amp, but do know of them
- I'm an 18 year old guy with no stable income so it's safe to say I speak from the perspective of someone with a limited budget
- I've been playing the guitar for 6 years and have performed to audiences but not to paying audiences so I'm far from a professional musician, I just love the art and the industry.
That said, I'll try to be as clear and thorough as I can. If you have any further questions or queries, please submit a comment and let me know.
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The amp in question is the Marshall MG100FX... Being the stingy man that I am, I picked mine up for R2300 ( The equivalent of about $230) if you convert it straight up. Around here, that's a great price for the amp, so I was excited to notice all of its features:
- 100 watt solid state
- 1 x 12 inch speaker
- 3 band EQ
- External speaker output
- Effects Loop
- Built in Chorus,Phaser and Flanger
- Seperate Reverb
- Seperate Delay
- MP3/ auxiliary input
- Headphone/ line out jack
- 4 footswitchable channelts
The 4 channels on the amp are Clean, Crunch, OD1 and OD2. The channels are selected via 2 buttons (one for clean and crunch and the other for the two overdrive channels)> The differences between the channels is basically in the amount of distortion each one adds to the signal (the range of gain) where clean has no distortion, crunch a little bit more, OD2 the most and OD1 a little less than OD2. The LEDs on the selectors also makes it easy to see which channel you're on.
The Chorus, Phaser and Flanger are pretty basic. I don't use them often, but when I do it's usually to add a bit of spice to a clean rhythm with the chorus effect, and it's decent. With these 3 effects, you can basically just control the speed and depth of the effects (where applicable) and the mix between the dry and effected signals. The reverb is also beautiful sounding. It can be very subtle, just to add a little bit of realism to a dry sounding environment or it can mimic huge naked-walled halls. The Delay is the one effect I constantly have on. The delay time and volume can be changed to your liking. The delay time can also be set by you manually tapping in the intervals using a swtich to get the exact delay time you want.
I've played with some very heavy handed metal drummers and also in some open air environments alongside drums and I've never pushed the master volume knob past the 2 o'clock mark, so the 100watt output through the 12 inch driver is really sufficient even if you want to gig with it.
The effects loop allows you to control which of your 4 channels utilize your outboard effects pedals connected between the effect send and return (not something I use often, but nice to have). You can also plug your iPod or phone into the auxiliary input and jam along to your favoruite tunes and you can connect headphones to the 3,5mm line out just in case you're worried about disturbing people but still want your authentic tone.
First of all, the clean tone is quite beautiful. If you want beautiful billion dollar sparkly clean tones, sell a kidney and buy a Fender amp just for that, but for the normal average Joes, the clean tone on the MG100FX will suffice. The MG100FX Clean tone is rather mild on the ears; the highs aren't painfully high and the lows don't rumble the neighbourhood. There are plenty of beautiful high and low mids with a nice sprinkling of high end and a decent bottom end. Add some chorus to that and you've created a low budget sonic heaven. The headroom is also amazing. You can crank the volume up all the way and a bass happy mahogany guitar won't even consider making it clip... a quality I've learnt to appreciate after my previous MG30DFX...
The built-in overdrive channels are maybe sufficient for a rock tone and some blues. Don't expect to get a metal tone out of this amp alone... The gain really isn't very much and the overdrive always tends to stear towards the muddy, unclear side of life. However, spend a couple bucks on a Boss MT-2 Metal Zone, and you've got all the metal you'll need.
All in all, judging by the sound alone, I'd definitely recommend this amp to anyone that isn't too fussy about sparkly highs in their clean tone and really appreciates the power and beautiful sonic mayhem that metal heads like myself have fallen in love with.
I have one issue when it comes to the issue of user friendliness with this amp: It's 25kg and a pain to transport. However, when you drop your laziness and find a car that can transport this beast, you've got a very easy to use piece of kit.
The channels are very easy to store and switch between. If you want to save the sound you have, you literally just press store. To change between clean/crunch or OD1/OD2, you simply press the button with that label to take you to the last of the two settings that you used and then say, for example, it's on clean but you actually want crunch (they're mapped to the same button), you just push the clean/crunch channel selector button again. The Footswtitch also means you can do all of this and still play your amazing music simultaneously. The LED's on all the necessary switches also makes it easy to see which channel you're using, which effects are on and also what tempo your delay is set to.
It does take a bit of time and patience to get used to the Marshall 3 band EQ (if you're as fussy as I sometimes am) but since when does fantastic tone come quickly and easily?
My Final Verdict
Marshall has been around for quite a long while, and it shows. They know how to offer an all in one package which boasts high quality at affordable prices. Yes, the distortion might not be to my liking, but I'm a crazy metal head teenager, what do I know about that classic rock 'n roll tone that lies somewhere in the scope of this amp's capabilities? So there really is only one way to judge for yourself whether or not you would like this amp, and that's to buy one or test one...
There definitely is no disputing the fact that it is a great amp for beginner to professional players. I have friends in established bands that gig with these monsters and it's never let them down. Mine has never let me down and with the addition of the Boss MT-2 Metalzone, it offers me everything I need and more. So if you need an amp that gives you versatility, simplicity and reliability at an affordable price, I'd recommend the Marshall MG100FX 11 times out of 10.
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