Review of Marshall DSL5C 5 Watt Valve Amp

Marshall DSL5C 5 Watt Valve Amp

We couldn't really review some of the best practice amps available today without including a valve / tube amp now could we?

The Marshall DSL5C might be a little more expensive than some of the other practice combos we have reviewed but when you consider you are getting an authentic Marshal valve amp for less than 400, well, we think it's a steal.

Let's investigate it further and see what other guitar players think of this amp. Just how much of a bargain is it?


Firstly, let us just say that Marshall's DSL5C 5 Watt Valve Amplifier is a cracking all valve combo that sounds great and is really loud! It is so loud in fact that there is a switch included that drops the output of the amp from 5w to 1w, so you don't end up with a visit from your local noise control officer! Remember, tube amps are a lot louder than solid state amplifiers, as we explained here.

The 5 watt tube output is easily loud enough for small gigs and studio use whilst the addition of the power damping switch also means you can use this amp for home practice. There are 2 channels available ('Classic Gain' and 'Ultra Gain') which can be changed via the included footswitch.

One of the main reasons to buy this amplifier is for the smooth clean tones you can only get from an authentic Marshall tube amp.

Marshall have really nailed their classic all valve tone with this fantastic little combo. The addition of an effects loop and headphone socket makes this a very versatile guitar amp.

Specification & Dimensions

  • Circuitry: All-tube
  • Output: 5-Watts RMS (can be dropped to 1-Watt via switch)
  • Speakers: Celestion Ten-30 x 1 (10", 16 ohm)
  • Input: Input Jack
  • Outputs: Headphone/Emulated Line Out Jack
  • Effects: Quality FX Loop
  • Programmable: No
  • Width: 455mm
  • Height: 430mm
  • Depth: 240mm
  • Weight: 12.7Kg


This is a relatively simple classic tube amp, so, as you would expect, it isn't as feature packed as some of the solid state modelling amps out there. Then again, with those authentic Marshall valve amp tones, it doesn't need to be does it?

Front Panel - left to right we have the input jack, volume (classic gain), channel select, gain control (ultra gain), volume (ultra gain), tone shift button, treble, middle, bass, deep button and power switch.

Marshall DSL5C Controls Close Up

Tubes / Valves - One of the main features of this Marshall is the fact that it is a tube / valve amp, and with three tubes in the pre-amp and a single valve in the power amp, it really kicks out some great tones.

The pre-amp section uses ECC83/12AX7 valves which give you that great authentic Marshall sound. You then have an ECC99/12BH7 tube in the power amp, this provides more than enough output for home use or small gigs.

Two Channels - Will it be Classic Gain or Ultra Gain? That all depends on the style of music you play but, with a footswitch included, you can switch between the two with ease. Classic Gain delivers a clean clear 'Plexi' sound with good midrange presence whereas the Ultra Gain (which has both volume and gain knobs to give you more control) produces a high gain - mid boosted tone, ideal for those ear-piercing guitar solos! Incidentally, the Ultra Gain channel is based on a hot-rodded JCM800 2203.

3 Band Equalisation - To give you further control over all this tone, you can adjust the treble, middle and bass to suit your taste. Pressing the tone shift button makes this combo even more versatile by giving you an aggressive mid sound ideal for modern metal. 'Deep' will increase the low end giving a fatter bass boosted tone.

Power Damping - As we said in our introduction, this is a very loud amplifier! For this reason, Marshall have thoughtfully added a power damping switch to reduce the output from 5w to 1w. If you want to use the amp for home practice, just flick the switch to low power mode and you can practice away to your heart's content without bothering anybody too much. If it is still too loud, you can always plug in some headphones (the socket is on the back of the amplifier just next to the power damping switch).

Note: A lot of information online indicates that the power reduction is from 5w to 1w but the manual from Marshall states it is dropped down to 0.5w.

Effects Loop - The addition of an effects loop is a real bonus, especially with the lack of built in reverb. Apparently, if you plug in an external effects pedal, reverb and delay sounds great through this loop.

Footswitch - Another nice bonus is the supplied single button footswitch for switching between the 'Classic Gain' and 'Ultra Gain' channels (ideal if you want to seamlessly break into an overdriven solo mid song).


Why should you buy this amp?

  • It's a Marshall Valve amp!
  • Footswitch included
  • Build quality
  • Power damping
  • Effects loop
  • Can be used at home, in the studio or for small gigs

One of the main reasons to buy this amplifier is for the smooth clean tones you can only get from an authentic Marshall tube amp. If you look at some of the user reviews out there, you can see that it is worth purchasing this combo for the sound alone. In fact, one user was amazed at the classic Marshall tones emanating from such a small amp! On top of all this, with the footswitch, power damping and effects loop, you are certainly getting value for money.

... if you are looking to make your first foray into the world of valve amplification, this might be just the thing.


Things to consider before you buy.

  • Ultra Gain not as good as clean tones
  • Shared EQ

One reviewer mentioned that the clean tones are great but once you switch to 'Ultra Gain' things aren't quite so good. Other purchasers make no mention of this however. Another minor gripe is the shared EQ. Ideally the amp would come with an EQ for each channel as sometimes you need different settings for each channel. Other than that, there don't look to be any major issues to be aware of.


It looks like this is a great little authentic sounding Marshall tube amp perfect for rock / metal guitarists. It is ideal for home practice, rehearsals and even small gigs. The build quality is as you would expect from Marshall. This is a very versatile little tube amp so, if you are looking to make your first foray into the world of valve amplification, this might be just the thing.

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