Marshall DSL40CR Review – a versatile amp with a classic crunch sound

Introduction Marshall DSL40CR

For quite a while it had remained a stand-alone prodigy, until 2012, when the Dual Super Lead family expanded to a number of amps of different power. Marshall DSL40C was among them. In 2018, its successor Marshall DSL 40CR was presented.

From the clean 1959-ish sound to the quintessential crunch to the ultimate overdrive, the two-channel Marshall Dual Super Lead 40C delivers endless opportunities to a guitar player when it comes to the music style.

Marshall DSL40C guitar amp

The whole DSL series emerged in the late 1990s when Marshall decided to combine two of its best amplifier lines: the high-gain heavy metal JCM900 and iconic rock-n-rolling 1959SLP. This is how JCM2000 DSL emerged.

The amplifier boasts the brand’s signature quality, some new hot features, and lures with its irresistibly affordable price. 

The DSL 40CR is massive. But that’s something you expect from an all-valve (aka all-tube) Marshall, the brand that helped Jimi Hendrix to be the loudest person at Woodstock.

Equipped with output switch, Marshall DSL 40CR can deliver the power of 40 or 20 Watt for high and low mode.

marshall-dsl40-cr-outputs

Use it to practice at home, record at a studio or play your music at a gig. Just make sure you set the switch accordingly or else you risk knocking out your neighbors with one powerful solo.

Specifications of Marshall DSL40CR

  • 40 Watts
  • Footswitch
  • 5-way EQ
  • Two channels
  • Celestion speaker
  • Tube-powered
  • Reverb

Pros

  • 40 watts for larger gigs
  • Powerful distortion for many guitar styles
  • FX loop for pedals
  • Footswitch for easy channel switching

Cons

  • A bit on the heavy side to carry
  • Hum due to Telecaster single-coils

DSL 40C has four ECC83 preamp and two EL34 amp valves. With a 12-inch Celestion V-Type speaker, this model is especially praised for its ability to deliver perfect sound with any settings. Check out Joe Bonamassa testing the amp with all knobs set to 10:

The amplifier goes with PEDL-90012 i, a 2-way footswitch that enables you to select your channel and turn the FX loop on/off. It also has an emulated out for headphones or a mixer as well as five outputs for speakers. 

marshall-pedl-90012

Two channels are DSL 40C’s key feature.

In fact, each of the channels has two modes, so in the end, you get 4 different “voices:” 

The Classic Gain has Clean and Crunch. It’s no brainer, that the former delivers bright undistorted sound. The latter is The Marshall Crunch that many true rock fans bear deep in their hearts.

The Ultra Gain is all about overdrive and distortion of a magnificent and terrifying heavy metal amp era. Start with OD1 to embark on a journey to the dark side of the amplifier’s force. Switch to OD to unleash the ultimate darkness and show your true self.

Controls

DSL40C Front Panel

The front metal plate of DSL 40C provides 7 switches, 4 LEDs and 13 knobs with 0-10 scales for you to get full control of your sound. Let’s take a short tour from its left to its right side.

    • CLASSIC GAIN: Next to the input jack, is the control section of the Classic gain with 2 knobs, one Channel status LED, and one Clean/Crunch button. Use Gain to add distortion to your sound and Volume to increase/decrease the volume of the sound. Green light is for Clean, Red is for Crunch. 
    • ULTRA GAIN: The logic of the Ultra Gain section is pretty much the same. It has one button that switches between 2 levels of distortion OD1 and OD2, one Channel status LED, as well as a Volume and a Gain knobs to get your overdrive to an entirely new level. Green light is for OD1, Red is for OD2. 
    • EQUALIZATION SECTION  is the biggest one. It is shared by Classic and Ultra Gain channels and works perfectly with both of them. Note that when you select one channel and then switch to the other, your EQ settings will remain the same. 

The Equalisation has three classic controls for Treble, Middle and Bass. In addition to that, there are Presence and Resonance knobs, and a Tone Shift button that scoops the mids and reshapes your sound into a more aggressive heavy-metal style. Note that this switch turns of your Mid EQ control.

The Presence ads higher tones and crispiness to your sound when turned clockwise. The Resonance controls the lows. Wanna some bass boost? Just turn the knob clockwise.

    • REVERB SECTION has two controls for Classic and Ultra channels. The reverb of the Marshall DSL40C isn’t as prominent as for example the Fender’s. If you like this effect a lot, you’d probably want to set it to its maximum.
    • MASTER VOLUME SECTIONis the new feature of DSL 40CR. It’s a bit confusing because each channel has separate Volume controls as mentioned above. Each of the Master Volume knobs controls the overall level of the amplifier’s volume thus providing you more space for distortion and overdrive.

Note that you can choose either Master 1 or Master 2 (for which you have a special switch – Master select). Note that your channel will recall the last Master Volume setting you had. The Master status LED has Green light for Master 1 and Red for Master 2.

  • Next is the Loop Section with an On/Off button and Green/Red Loop Status LED.

The last but not the least, are Output and Power switches.

Use the Power to turn the amp on and off. The Output switches between 20 Watt (Low), Standby and 40 Watt (High) modes. 

Marshall DSL40CR Design

marshall-dsl40-design

DSL 40C is able to fit practically any style from an extended period of 40 years, but it has a classic design of the 1980s. The black cabinet with yellowish-metal control panel and white logo. The metal ribbed knobs, tiny green/red LEDs, plastic switches and push-buttons are things the Millennials would recall from their childhood.

Notably, for a so powerful amplifier, DSL isn’t very big.

  • Its width, height, and depth are 22,4 x 19,3 x 9.9 inches (620 mm, 490 mm and 252 mm.)
  • The amplifier weighs 50 pounds (22,9 kg) – something you need to remember before taking it outside. 

Performance Marshall DSL40CR

DSL 40C is extremely versatile when it comes to sound. Four channels enable musicians to perform various styles from classic rock to heavy metal. If sounds had shapes, the Marshall’s crunch would probably be an acute triangle, while its clean tone would feel like a sphere. 

The amplifier’s distortion and overdrive are really powerful and remind us of DSL40C’s “father” JCM900.

Summary

Marshall DSL40CR is a great amp for musicians who don’t stick to one music style and love experimenting a lot with a sound. The amplifier provides 2 channels, 3-band EQ and additional features, all contributing to its amazing versatility. It’s equally great for performing jazz, blues, rock-n-roll, and heavy metal. 

The amplifier provides enough power to perform on stage but can be ‘tamed’ to 20 Watt for home training and small gigs. And on top of it all, it comes at a really affordable price.

 

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