I love low watt amps. They are perfect for home studio or bedroom playing and generally less expensive than their larger high watt cousins. The last couple of years have seen a huge increase in high quality low watt valve amps. I covered the Blackstar HT5 in a previous post which is fantastic 5 watt valve amp. As much as I like this amp, something was still missing.
More and more people are turning to low wattage amps – especially home recording enthusiasts, and even pros to save their ears and to get crunch and grind at low volume levels. As a result of the increased demand, many manufacturers, boutique and mainstream alike, have responded.
I love Marshall amps. Virtually every album that you will listen to has a Marshall on it. I have always wanted to own one but the high wattage of the quality valve ones weren’t practical for my home studio. Marshall finally released a 5 watt all tube plexi style amp that sounds amazing! Enter the Marshall Class 5 amp.
Classic, Marshall Tone!
Built upon the “Bluesbreaker”/Plexi pedigree, the Class 5 has all of that Plexi goodness in a low wattage combo. Make no mistake: The Class 5 packs a serious punch. If you’re looking for classic Plexi tones in a low wattage solution, look no further!
I tested one out at my local guitar shop and it was everything I expected to hear from a cranked Plexi, just at a lower volume. The combo version comes with a custom 10″ speaker that is very similar to a Celestion greenback. You can gig with it easily, even with the stock 10″ speaker which, I was expecting the amp to sound a bit thin due to the smaller speaker, but there was nothing thin-sounding about the amp. Plugging the head in to a 4×12 cab was tone heaven!
As expected, the 10″ really has an emphasis on the mid- to high-frequencies, but Marshall compensated for the lows by providing a spacious cabinet to act as a nice resonance chamber for the speaker. The result is a very balanced and smooth tone.
Made in the UK
This amp is constructed in the UK and sells for less than $400! One would expect those kinds of prices to come from gear manufactured in Asia. But not this beauty. So to have a UK-made amp at this price point is truly remarkable! Then to get tone this good? Truly amazing!!!
Fit and Finish
This amp is extremely well made. The cabinet feels real solid, and nothing was loose. Apparently, earlier versions suffered from a buzz, but the unit I tested didn’t have that at all. The tolex was nicely molded down to the surface of the underlying wood, and there were no loose pieces of material. From what I could tell, 1/2″ ply was used for the cabinet, and that is good because I’ve found, at least from a purely qualitative perspective, that cabs built with 1/2″ thickness tend to resonate quite well. This obviously helps bolster the bottom end, and it does it nicely.
I love this amp! It was fun cranking it up. The amp hits its sweet spot at about half way on the volume knob. Completely cranked up, it produces the tone I expect out of a Plexi! And even cranked up, it responds well to volume knob levels, so you can clean up the amp quite easily.
Compared to other super low wattage amps I’ve played, this amp has tons of balls in stock configuration.
I bought the head version to allow for flexibility in cabinet choices but the combo unit sounds amazing as well.
Check out the Marshall Class 5 at Amazon if you’re looking for pure Marshall Plexi tones at low wattage.
Here are a couple of Youtube clips that demonstrate the amp.