Top 5 Metal Amps: Marshall JCM800 2203KK [Pick #1]

Best Metal Amp #1

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Marshall JCM800 2203KKDid you really think number one on the list was going to be anything else? When it comes right down to it, Marshall IS metal. Marshall invented that sound we all love and is still building great amps today.

Notice that I didn’t select any particular model; that is by design. Pretty much any tube-powered real Marshall will let you get your rock on, though I do prefer the JCM800. Some might need a pedal in front, some you can drive with preamp gain, some are big and a few are small, but they all have that Marshall sound that we know as the sound of rock music. Plus, they are the ultimate in cool, being seen for decades behind the biggest names in rock from Judas Priest to Ozzy to anyone else who ever mattered, really. Think about it: when you were in high school, did you ever dream about standing in front of a wall of Peaveys? I don’t think so.

Marshalls can be stripped down and simple like a Plexi (reissue or vintage) or featured-out and flexible like the new JVMs, with four channels and 12 modes for ultimate tonal control. The new Vintage Modern heads strike a nice balance between modern features and old-school British tone and will make many rockers quite happy. If your music has anything to do with hard rock or metal, a Marshall amp needs to be a serious consideration.

Marshalls are one of the basic food groups of rock and roll, along with Les Pauls, leather, tattoos, and beer, and have been the amp of choice for players like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Michael Schenker, and Kerry King. If they work for those guys, they can probably make an amp that will work for you. If you can’t make it happen with a Marshall, maybe you just aren’t quite as metal as you think you are.

Marshall JCM800 2203KK Video


  1. Kinda disappointed that you didnt mention any Marshalls by name. So I will do it for you….JCM 800. End of story. There, now that is out of the way I must also say that I was disappointed That Randall and Krank didnt make the list anywhere. I mean Dimebag had BIG-TIME endorsement deals with both companies at one point or another….I guess that is not “metal” enough for you. Also I’d be way syked on a wall of 5150s…..just sayin.

  2. I actually dream about standing in front of a wall of Randall metal-grilled 4×12’s. =P

  3. Not sure if I agree at all with your top 5 metal amps, particularly given that the Mesa Boogie MK IV, triaxis, or newly released MK V is not on the list — all of which are sources of that classic prototypical Metallica chugga sound often sought but rarely achieved by even the Rectifier series which I have A/B’d on numerous occasions with the aforementioned.

  4. Good list. THe original “Brown SOund” a Marshall plexi. THen a Soldano SLO and then 5150. All great amps.

  5. Yeah 2203KK being #1 its so funny.
    Maybe if you like nosy overly middish Marshall tone.
    I better like a tighter more defined amp that actually has some low end…
    Even a 1200$ 6505+ is better than this

  6. Am i the only one to have played an Orange thunderverb, those things sound like god beating someones ass! I mean that with utmost respect to god and beating peoples asses.

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