Marshall 1959

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The Marshall Super Lead Model 1959 is a guitar amplifier head made by Marshall. One of the famous Marshall Plexis, it was introduced in 1965 and with its associated 4×12″ cabinets gave rise to the "Marshall stack".


The 1959 (Marshall's identifying numbers are not years of manufacture), produced from 1965 to 1981 (when it was replaced by the JCM800),[1] is an amplifier in Marshall's "Standard" series.[2] It was designed by Ken Bran and Dudley Craven after The Who's guitarist Pete Townshend asked Marshall for a 100 watt amplifier.[3] Its output was first channeled into an 8×12″ cabinet, but that single, unwieldy cabinet was quickly changed to a pair of 4x12″ cabinets, 1960a "angled" on top and 1960b "box" on bottom, creating the famous "Marshall full stack".[4][5] The amplifier also came as a PA and a bass version.[1]

The Plexiglas panel led to the name "Plexi", and while 50-watt models of the time are also called Plexis,[6] the 1959 100 watt model is generally thought of as the "definitive" Plexi.[7]

In 1969, Marshall replaced the Plexiglas panel with one of gold aluminum.[1] There were other modifications: In 1966, the KT66 tubes of the JTM-models were replaced with EL34. After 1976, the plate voltages were lowered slightly for improved reliability. But during the 1970s, Marshall's increasing exports overseas led to a problem: Often the EL34 tubes would break during transportation, to the point where amps began being shipped from the factory with more rugged Tung-Sol 6550 tubes, which are "stiffer and not as harmonically rich" as the EL34 tubes.[3]


The amplifier was reissued for the first time in 1988 (the 1959S), and again from 1991 to 1993 (the 1959X) and from 1993 to 1995 (the 1959SLP).[1] The SLP continued after 1995 but in 2000 Marshall added modifications to lower the noise floor (hum balance pot), reverted the negative feedback resistor to the 1968-69 value of 47 kΩ, and added an effects loop. The 1959SLP was sold until 2017. In 2005 Marshall introduced the 1959HW (for "hand-wired"), based on the 1967–1969 models, with negative feedback added corresponding to the 1969 model.[8] This amplifier was called "expensive but good."[9] Guitar Player magazine called the 1959 "monumentally huge, frightfully loud, and painfully expensive", and its review of the 1959HW said it was "quick, percussive, articulate," and required a "total commitment to volume."[10]

Technical specifications[edit]

The 1959 had 100 watts of power, two channels, and four inputs. They were equipped with four KT66 tubes, but models made after 1967 had four EL34 tubes instead; it had three ECC83 tubes in the pre-amplification stage. A model with tremolo, the 1959T, was available until 1973.[1]

The lead channel has a boosted bright tone, and the rhythm channel has a flatter response. Each channel has a high and a low gain input; the low gain input is attenuated by 6 dB.[2] The channels can be linked with an instrument cable, a technique sometimes referred to as "jumping" and used to feed the same instrument through both channels simultaneously, for increased gain.[11]

Notable early users[edit]

Besides Pete Townshend of The Who, early users include Eric Clapton, who in 1966, when he founded Cream, traded in his famous Bluesbreaker combo for a 1959 Plexi,[12][13] and Jimi Hendrix, who used a 1959 with four 4×12″ cabinets (his "couple of great refrigerators") at the 1969 Woodstock Festival[9] and established the Marshall as the "definitive rock amp".[14]

Other notable users[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers, Zachary R. (2008). Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers. 3. Alfred Music. pp. 335–36. ISBN 978-1-886768-59-8.
  2. ^ a b Boehnlein, John (1998). The High Performance Marshall Handbook: A Guide to Great Marshall Amplifier Sounds. Bold Strummer. pp. 3–5. ISBN 978-0-933224-80-3.
  3. ^ a b Pittmann, Aspen (2003). The Tube Amp Book. Hal Leonard. pp. 72–74. ISBN 978-0-87930-767-7.
  4. ^ Millard, A.J. (2004). The Electric Guitar: A History of an American Icon. JHU Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-8018-7862-6.
  5. ^ Doyle, Michael (1993). The History of Marshall: The Illustrated Story of "The Sound of Rock". Hal Leonard. p. 37. ISBN 9780793525096.
  6. ^ Molenda, Michael (June 2008). "The Homogenization of Rock Guitar Tone". Guitar Player. 42 (6): 76–78.
  7. ^ Guppy, Nick (3 November 2008). "Bad Cat BC 50". MusicRadar. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  8. ^ "Marshall 1959HW Owner's Manual" (PDF). Marshall Amplification. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  9. ^ a b Balmer, Paul; Hank Marvin (2007). The Fender Stratocaster Handbook: How to Buy, Maintain, Set Up, Troubleshoot, and Modify Your Strat. MBI. pp. 156–57. ISBN 978-0-7603-2983-2.
  10. ^ Buddingh, Terry (December 2005). "Marshall 1959HW Super Lead 100". Guitar Player. 39 (12): 176–78.
  11. ^ "Marshall 1959HW Owner's Manual" (PDF). Marshall Amplification. p. 6. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  12. ^ Gulla, Bob (2008). Guitar Gods: The 25 Players Who Made Rock History. ABC-CLIO. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-313-35806-7.
  13. ^ Hunter, Dave (2005). Guitar Rigs: Classic Guitar & Amp Combinations. Backbeat. p. 113. ISBN 9780879308513.
  14. ^ Trynka, Paul (1996). Rock Hardware. Hal Leonard. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-87930-428-7.
  15. ^ Prown, Pete; Lisa Sharken (2003). Gear Secrets of the Guitar Legends: How to Sound Like Your Favorite Players. Hal Leonard. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-87930-751-6.
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