Marshall DSL1C Review – This Little Amp Will Surprise You!

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Marshall DSL1C Review - A front view of the amplifier

In this Marshall DSL1C review, I’ll tell you how this 1-Watt combo amp could be the best bedroom practice amp ever!

At only 14 inches wide and 13 inches high, this little powerhouse produces sounds that you usually don’t get from an 8-inch speaker.

Keep on reading to find out more!

If you are in a hurry, click here to go directly to the Marshall DSL1C spec sheet.


What Is The Marshall DSL1C?

The Marshall DSL1C (AKA DSL1CR) is an electric guitar combo amplifier. It is the lowest powered amp in the Marshall DSL line.

Marshal originally released this amp as the “JCM 2000” DSL1, which was made in England in a “limited run” as part of their 2012 50th-anniversary unique offerings.

This anniversary model had:

  • Three ECC83 (12AX7) preamp tubes and two ECC82 (12AU7) power tubes
  • An adjustable gain knob in the Classic channel
  • A “Tone Shift” and a “Deep” switch
  • No digital reverb
Marshall DSL1C Review - JCM 2000 1-Watt amp
JCM 2000 1-Watt – it has a gain knob in the Classic channel but no reverb

The “new” DSL1, discussed in this article and made in Vietnam, replaces the previous and much pricier anniversary model. This newer, currently available model has the following modifications:

  • It has two ECC83 (12AX7) preamp tubes and one ECC82 (12AU7) power tube
  • The Classic channel is missing the “gain” adjustment (no gain knob)
  • The “Deep” switch was removed
  • A digital reverb was added
Marshall DSL1C Review - The new DSL1 design
New DSL1 design – no Classic gain knob or Deep switch but reverb added
Marshall DSL1C Review - The Marshal DSL line of amps
The DSL Line – DSL1C & DSL1H
Marked With Red Arrows

The ‘New” DSL1C was designed to be a lower-cost solution for an all-tube combo amp that delivers authentic Marshall tone.

Like the other DSL amps, it features two switchable channels that give you a variety of classic and high-gain sounds.

To learn more technical information about the amp, see “How The Marshall DSL1C Works.”


Who Is The Marshall DSL1C For?

Marshall DSL1C Review – A young boy jamming out on an electric guitar in his bedroom

The Marshall DSL1C is for the player that wants an amp that can be cranked to 10 in a domestic environment where high-volume sound is an issue.

The amp has a dual 0.1 and 1-Watt power output that can give you the true Marshall DSL sound during bedroom practice sessions without the interruption of cranky family members.

However, don’t let the size and power output of this amp fool you! It is every bit a Marshall as the other amps in the DSL series. You can use it for limited band practice, but it won’t compete with an aggressive drummer.


How The Marshall DSL1C Works

Marshall DSL1C Specifications

The Marshall DSL1C is a two-channel all-tube amp, with 2 ECC83 (12AX7) tubes in the preamp section and 1 ECC82 (12AU7) tube in the amp section.

It has a power output of 1 Watt RMS, which is switchable down to 0.1 Watt by a power reduction control in the back of the amp.

In addition, the Treble, Middle, and Bass “equalisation” tone stack and digital reverb function on both channels.

There are a variety of line-in and line-out functions that are detailed in the table below and the Features And Benefits section of this article.

Here are the specs for the Marshall DSL1C amplifier.

ItemSpecification
Power1W Class A/B (push-pull) with optional power reduction to 0.1W
Detachable power cable (included)
Classic Gain Channel ControlVolume
Ultra Gain Channel ControlsGain and Volume
“Equalisation” ControlsTreble, Middle, Bass
Preamp Valves (Tubes)2 x ECC83 (12AX7)
Power Amp Valves1 x ECC82 (12AU7)
Channel Select ControlHas green LED for Classic Gain & Amber LED for Ultra Gain
Tone Shift ControlScoops the Midrange (Switch in front of amp)
Power Reduction ControlDrops the power output to 0.1 Watt (Switch in back of amp)
Footswitch Control JackChanges from Classic Gain to Ultra Gain channel – on back of amp
Uses pedal PEDL-90011 (included)
Inputs1 x 1/4″ instrument jack
1 x 3.5mm jack aux in (for MP3 player) – on back of amp
EffectsDigital Reverb
Effects LoopYes – series, send/return
Line Outs (on back of amp)1 x 1/4″ speaker jack (16 Ohm output)
1 x 3.5mm jack – emulated line out (with Softube emulation of a Marshall 1960 cabinet)
SpeakerOne Celestion G8C eight-inch speaker (15w, 16Ω)
CoveringBlack, Textured
HandleBlack Molded Plastic Strap with Black Caps
DimensionsH: 34 cm / 13.4″, W: 36 cm / 14.2″, D: 21.5 cm / 8.5″
Weight7.9 kg / 17 lbs
Price (Street)$450
Marshall DSL1C Review - The front and rear control panels of the amp
The DSL1C Front and Rear Control Panels

My Guitar Lair - Features and Benefits Section

Features And Benefits

Here are the main features and benefits of the Marshall DSL1C combo amp.

Dual-Gain Channels

The Classic Gain channel is voiced for clean and Marshall Plexi-type sounds, while the Ultra Gain channel gives higher-gain and modern Marshall metal-type sounds. The Ultra Gain channel has a dedicated gain control.

A Tone Shift switch scoops the midrange for enhancement of metal-type sounds.

The channels are switchable on the amp’s front control plate or via the included footswitch.

Effects Loop

The DSL1C comes with an effects loop to add your time-based stompboxes between the preamp and amp section of the unit.

Speaker Jack

The ¼ inch speaker jack allows you to connect the amp to the Celestion G8C eight-inch 16 Ohm speaker inside the combo cabinet or a 16 Ohm external cabinet for a bigger sound.

Using the external speaker cabinet really opens up the amp’s sound and is particularly useful for larger rooms.

Emulated Line-out

The line-out sends a Softube emulation of a Marshall 1960 cabinet to an external device such as a digital recorder or workstation.

Aux Line-In

An auxiliary line-in jack on the back of the amp is a welcome addition that allows you to jam along with your favorite mp3 songs.

Marshall DSL1C Review - PEDL-90011 Channel Switching Pedal

Marshall PEDL-90011 Channel Switching Pedal

The Marshall PEDL-90011 is a pedal designed especially for the Marshall DSL1C and DSL1H amplifiers. It plugs into the back of the amp and switches the channel from Classic Gain to Ultra Gain.

It has an indicator light to show you when you are playing through the Ultra Gain channel, although it will usually be obvious, depending on your amp settings.


My Guitar Lair - Pros (Thumbs Up) Section

What I like About The Marshall DSL1C

There’s so much to love about this amp, but I’ll just hit the highlights.

The DSL1C is every bit a Marshall, with great sound, even at just 1 Watt! The two channels can give you practically any Marshall tone you can imagine. This combo unit is an excellent practice amp!

If the native sound of this amp is not enough to get you psyched, it also comes with an effects loop that works well with modulation effects like your favorite flanger, phaser, or chorus pedals. Add a digital echo pedal, and the amp will sound amazing!

I like that the PEDL90011 channel-switching pedal comes included with the amp, so you don’t have to buy it as an added accessory. This footswitch is an absolute must-have for any serious player that changes between rhythm and lead.


My Guitar Lair - Cons (Thumbs Down) Section

What I Don’t Like About The Marshall DSL1C

It’s not easy to find things that make this amp a “no-go,” but here are a few things to consider.

First, the reverb is digital, not an analog spring reverb. To my ears, it isn’t organic sounding. It has a bit of a “tinny” or a “metallic” quality, especially when turned past halfway up. An easy fix would be to add a high-quality reverb pedal in the effects loop.

Second, the Tone Shift control switch can scoop some of the highs along with the midrange. This seems more apparent with a humbucking pickup guitar than a single-coil axe, like a Strat. It could pose a problem cutting through the mix in a band practice situation.

Finally, the eight-inch speaker can make the amp sound a little “small,” especially in the 0.1 Watt setting while using the power reduction control. The amp sounds much bigger when plugged into an external cabinet with a 12-inch speaker. If you use this amp in a household where silence is golden, it won’t be an issue.

And, … Although It’s Not Really Fair To Compare

The new DSL1 is not as robust in design or performance as the previous 2012 1-Watt anniversary model, but it does cost significantly less than its $800 – $1200 limited edition predecessor. So in all fairness, the new DSL1C really gives you a lot for an all-tube amp under $500.

For more info on the differences between the two amps, see the section above on “What Is The Marshall DSL1C”?


Is The Marshall DSL1C Legit?

All in all, the DSL1C is ideally suited for an amp that you can crank wide-open to get that full-on Marshall sound at a manageable volume. But, of course, you can always step up to something like the DSL5C, which gives you 5/0.5 Watts of power for an extra $150 If you need something bigger.

Amazingly Loud For 1 Watt

This amp is “crazy loud” for 1 Watt, even using it in combo-mode with the 8-inch internal speaker. Run it through an efficient 12-inch speaker, and you just might find yourself in Marshall Heaven, although it’s not going to shatter your mother’s favorite crystal vase.

You Really Get What You Pay For

If you’re on a tight budget but want an all-tube amp practice amp, then the Marshall DSL1 can save you some serious money, so definitely give it a try. It’s an excellent choice for any beginning rock n’ roll, blues, or metal player!


What Is The Marshall DSL1H?

Marshall DSL1C Review - DSL1CR Combo and DSL1HR Head
The DSL1H in front of the DSL1C

The Marshall DSL1H (AKA DSL1HR) is the amplifier head version of the DSL1C. All the technical specifications are identical, but the controls and input/output jacks are arranged a little differently.

The DSL1H is for the player that wants to connect the DSL 1 Watt amp to a larger external speaker for more immersive sound without the weight of the DSL1C.

Like the DSL1C, the DSL1H needs to be connected to a 16 Ohm speaker load to function properly and prevent damage to the tube amp.

Marshall DSL1C Review - The front and rear control panels of the DSL1H amp
The DSL1H Front and Rear Control Panels

What Is The Marshall MX112?

Marshall DSL1C Review - MX112 Extension Cabinet

The Marshall MX112 is a closed-back portable speaker cabinet. It pairs perfectly with the Marshall DSL1H amplifier head. This cabinet can also be used as an extension speaker for the Marshal DSL1C combo unit.

The MMX112 has a single 12-inch 16-Ohm Celestion Seventy-80 speaker, making the Marshall 1-Watt amp sound “bigger,” with more tonal range.

Power Handling Capacity: 80 Watts

Inputs: One

Cabinet Dimensions: Width 500 mm / 19.7″ – Height 470 mm / 18.5″ – Depth 290 mm / 11.4″

Cabinet Weight: 13.5 kg / 30 lbs

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions that players have regarding DSL amps, in general.

How Loud Is A Marshall DSL1C?

It’s louder than you think it would be, especially with an external cabinet. In fact, cranked under the right conditions, you will probably be able to approach a sound level of about 100 dB.

What Does Marshall DSL Mean?

The DSL stands for Dual Super Lead. Marshal developed the DSL line with two foot-switchable Classic and Ultra channels in a variety of sizes, from their 100 Watt big daddy all the way down to their 1 Watt baby.

Can Marshall DSL Do Metal?

All the Marshall DSL amps can handle Metal exceptionally well, and Marshall designed the DSL1C to be no exception. If you play a humbucking pickup guitar, you will have more gain than you’ll probably ever need. Adding an overdrive or distortion unit to the front end of a DSL will give you gain and harmonics that are really off the hook.

Where Is The Marshall DSL Made?

The Marshall DSL series amps were initially made in England, although many newer models are made in Vietnam. The original limited edition “JCM 2000” DSL1C was made in England in 2012 as a 50th-anniversary amp. It sold for a much higher price than the new DSL1C amp, which is made in Vietnam.

Does More Watts Mean More Bass?

More Watts does not necessarily mean more bass. It depends on the amplifier and speaker design and configuration. If there is a significant difference in output power, the higher wattage design will give you louder bass but not necessarily better sound quality in the low-frequency range.

Does Higher Watts Mean Better Sound?

Higher wattage does not mean better sound. For example, you can’t compare the sound of a mediocre 100 Watt solid-state amp to a boutique all-tube hand-wired amp of much lower wattage. On the other hand, you can mic a great-sounding low-wattage amp through the PA system and play any size venue.


Final Thoughts On The Marshall DSL1C Review

Final Thoughts

The Marshall DSL1C is the lower-cost replacement for the JCM 2000 DSL 1 Watt amplifier that was initially made in a limited run for Marshall’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 2012.

It offers the same basic sound palette as higher-wattage amps in the DSL line and is a great choice for beginning players.

The DSL 1C is well-suited as a solo (bedroom) practice or studio amp. However, it won’t realistically allow you to front a high-volume rock n’ roll or metal band without micing it through the PA system.

Running the amp into an external 16 Ohm speaker cabinet will beef up the sound, especially the low-end. Marshall designed the MX112 speaker to work with the DSL1C.

The Marshall PEDL-90011 footswitch, which comes with the amp, allows you to instantly go from a pristine clean or crunch sound to soaring lead tones!

If you crave all-tube, low-wattage, sound and performance, then check out what this amp has to offer!

For players just starting on the guitar, see Learn To Play A Guitar Fast – Best Tips And Tricks!


Tell Me What You Think

A rock band of figures made from nuts and bolts.

Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this Marshall DSL1C review, have any questions about this product, or want to leave your review. I will be happy to help you.

  • Do you own the new Marshall DSL 1 watt amp? What do you think of its sound and volume?
  • Do you own a 2012 limited edition JCM 2000 1-Watt amp? How does it sound and perform?
  • How do you think the Marshall DSL amp line compares to other amps in their price range?
  • After reading this article would you buy a Marshall DSL-1 amp?

About Frank

Marshall DSL1C

$450
9.2

Design

9.0/10

Functionality

9.0/10

Overall Quality

9.5/10

Pros

  • Great Sound
  • Has An Effects Loop
  • Footswitch Is Included

Cons

  • Reverb Sounds Metallic, Not Organic
  • Tone Shift Control Can Scoop Highs
  • Speaker Sounds Small, Especially In 0.1 Watt Setting

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6 thoughts on “Marshall DSL1C Review – This Little Amp Will Surprise You!”

  1. Let me start with the information that I have no experience with amps or electric guitars. I do remember my grandson’s amp being an issue when he was living at home, a constant battle between his father, himself and the other kids. But then again one of them played the trumpet (badly) so that probably didn’t matter.  I love your overall website design, the very knowledgeable and articulate way you write and the passion you hold for the different amps. 

    Reply
    • Hi, Cathy

      Guitar amplifiers can be very loud and disruptive, which is what makes the DSL1C an excellent choice for domestic use.

      Thank You for your kind words about my website. Maybe you should think about playing the guitar.😊

      Frank

      Reply
  2. It has been so long since I had a tube amp. The last one I had was a no-name 30 Watt thing – that was all I could afford at the time. Over the last year I owned it, the nasty mains hum got worse and worse. Finally, it was giving me shocks if I ever touched anything earthed while I was playing the guitar – not a very safe situation. I’ve often thought about getting another tube amp over the intervening years but I’ve never taken the plunge. $450 still sounds a little pricey but I should definitely give the Marshall DSL1C a once over. Thanks, Andy

    Reply
    • Hi, Andy

      I really appreciate your comments!

      Tube amplifiers are great, even no-name amps. It sounds like your amp had a grounding problem. Getting shocked is a dangerous situation. Tubes can carry plate voltages of 500 to 650 volts! Glad you got rid of it.

      I agree that $450 is a lot of money. The thing about the DSL1C is that I think it’s one of the best-sounding and most versatile 1-Watt all-tube amps available. If you want a practice amp that you can crank wide open to get that coveted Marshall sound without blowing yourself out of the room, then it’s definitely worth a look.

      You can’t gig with this amp unless you mic it into the PA, so it’s more for personal use.

      Frank

      Reply
  3. Oh my! My husband and son would love to check this amp out.  They do prefer the clear sound of a Marshall, and this is small and portable enough, they can take it with them for little jam sessions. It is unfortunate that the reverb has more of a metallic sound; however, for new guitarists, it may not be a hindrance. Thank you so much for your review!

    Reply
    • Hi, Kelly

      Thank You for your comments!

      The DSL1C is a great little amp with plenty of volume for just 1-Watt. It can create the entire range of British sounds from clean to crunch to full-on distortion, and it’s very household friendly.”

      Frank

      Reply

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