Marshall 1959
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Marshall 1959

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 1959 SLP).[1]The slp continued after 95 but in 2000 Marshall did some modifications paralel to the circuit a effects loops and a hum balanced help prevent the noise made by the amplifier...this new 1959slp was for sale till 2017. In 2005 Marshall introduced the 1959 HW (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

The 1959 had 100 watts of power, two channels, and four inputs. They were equipped with 4x 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 amplifier had four inputs into two channels. The lead channel has a boosted bright tone, and the rhythm channel has a flat 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 a jumper cable.[11]

Notable early users

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


  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 2010.
  8. ^ "Marshall 1959HW Owner's Manual" (PDF). Marshall Amplification. pp. 1, 3. Retrieved 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 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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