Returning to our ‘Gear Talk’ series, it’s now time for Nick to share his potted history with amp breakage, and spill the secrets of his Marshall head, used extensively on Ellipsism.
Anyone who knows me personally in a musical capacity will be aware of my magnetism towards things that break. In my 4 years a member of Ba’al I have had exploding valves, melted transistors and disintegrated pedal chassis on a regular enough basis that it became a running joke and a recurring source of gig related anxiety. You name it, I’ve broken it, and often just by looking at it.
Before I joined Ba’al I had been using an old, and funnily enough broken, Marshall combo amp. The thing was so decrepit I could hear the poor thing wheezing with each turn off a knob. With that I mind I bought a reasonably priced Bugera head and cab. I forget the exact model but it was a 5150 clone and it cost me about £300, needless to say this 19 year old student was beyond thrilled with the acquisition. The wise amongst you will probably have already guessed that this amp’s life expectancy was relatively short and, true to form, it broke several times and eventually found itself sent to the amplifier knackers yard, aka Tom’s spare parts cabinet.
And so the heavens (well, eBay) saw fit to bless me with a Marshall JCM 2000 DSL and since the day I bought it, it has performed admirably. At 100 watts it carries plenty of punch but leaves plenty of headroom for more delicate clean parts. I’m a huge fan of bands like Alcest and Deafheaven and the versatility of this amp means I can switch from sweet shoegazey passages to full on Primitive Man level filth with just a couple of stompboxes. It’s beautifully clear and the built in spring reverb sounds quite excellent too. Owen from Hundred Year Old Man also uses one and if you’ve heard HYOM you’ll understand why that alone is enough reason to want to buy one (although his is green and looks marginally cuter than mine). The amp has been around the block a bit but neither I nor the previous owner have ever encountered a problem with it (or so he says) which is a relief given my past tendencies. Again I acquired this amp for the paltry sum of 300 imperial credits of the realm and I can’t imagine myself looking for anything else for a while. Reliable, versatile and a direct line to the TONE ZONE, this amp is basically everything I’ve ever really wanted.