Marshall Half Stack Buyers Guide
As we feel our reviews have been pretty explanatory as opposed to spec-heavy, we’ve left our guide on the shorter side, keeping the focus simple.
What Is a Half Stack?
For those who haven’t a clue, a half stack is a name given to the combination of a head amp and an extension cab. A full-stack will typically feature 2 separate cabinets stacked vertically, with the top cab featuring an angled incline.
The Marshall full stack was created in an era where rock-and-roll was getting louder and heavier, thanks to the guitar. This was when modern electric guitars were being perfected and the players sought new volume which the systems in use simply couldn’t provide.
This grew at an uncontrollable rate until we inevitably got to see the walls of cabs from guitar artists such as Blue Öyster Cult and Slayer that epitomized the early seventies as the guitar artists grew into the hall of fame legends and the venues got bigger and bigger overnight.
A full-stack for most casual circuit venues these days is overkill, as house P.A capabilities have evolved. A half stack is a nice middle ground, which puts the power behind you to hear yourself over the drummer, but not overpower the rest of the band, nor drown out what you are directly putting out to the audience from the main left and right.
What To Look For In A Head For A Marshall Half Stack?
To keep it short you need to decide whether you’re tied to the tubes, happy with a homage, or chasing vintage vibes. This can mount up so, of course, the budget will be key in your decision making, and what product you will finally get.
The manufacturing quality doesn’t differ once you’re above the thousand dollar mark. A cheaper one is understandably built on cheaper, outsourced factory lines.
Once you know what kind you’re looking for, you won’t find yourself disappointed with a new Marshall head, in our opinion. You can always change brands when it comes to the cabinet if there is a particular speaker you would prefer to get.
A modeling amp offers a lot of room for experimentation with your tone, but for some, these amps will always sound synthetic.
An analog head will be a lot heavier and a little harder to fix if the tubes blow on you, but for many are the better choice, and soundless synthetic than amps.
If our buying guide, and all the options we offered, you can’t really go wrong, Once you’ve decided on whether you’re going to get digital or analog, the capabilities our choices serve-up are really only dictated by your budget allocation.
If you have less to spend, or like getting your money’s worth, you may as well get a solid-state choice which serves up a fair amount of scope in the FX department. But, remember you can always add an effects pedalboard into the chain further down the line when cash permits anyway.
If you’re after memorable vintage vibes and are of the opinion that digital amps just don’t cut it, then look for an all-tube amp head, but be prepared to part with substantial amounts of money. Either way, we’re sure you’ll find the one you’re looking for.
If money is less of a concern to you, we recommend having a look at the JTM Plexi remakes which are equipped with the new, genuine GZ34 valve rectifications, as the original model and provide the same iconic harmonics.
Did you Know
The Who are responsible for spurring Jim Marshall into the creation of the half stack set-up which soon became what we are familiar with at festivals.