Marshall DSL15C – Combo Amplifier - Review

DSL15C.jpg Small valve amplifiers have been a very popular addition to any contemporary guitarist’s current. To this end, most manufacturers are offering, 5 to 20 watt valve amplifiers together with switchable power options to enable these to be used effectively on stage or for practice.

The DSL range, which has been in production since the late nineties, is presented as the de facto modern Marshall and this 15C variant is the model available with the least power which, is rated at 15 watts. This is produced in the power stage by two main 6V6 and one ECC83 valves together with a solid-state rectifier.

Visually the DSL 15c has the traditional Marshall style with its black vinyl and grill, white edges and the usual script logo and gold control panel. The amp seems quite substantial and well built, in fact compared to my Fender Blues Junior it feels like a small tank and certainly will stand more abuse on the road, to which I also notice the comfortable carrying handle which doesn’t seem to dig in as some do.

Moving on to the controls the DSL offers two channels, one clean to overdrive (Classic Gain) and another beefier overdrive (Ultra Gain) which can be chosen with the included two button footswitch.

Point in case, the footswitch for some reason doesn’t have a led indicator to show which channel is active this would have been a useful addition; in fact I remember my an old Valvestate amplifier I had many years ago included this useful feature.

Bass, treble and mid EQ are provided and shared by both channels and a tone switch provides a reduced, I would say scooped sound for heavier gain users. Digital reverb is provided and again is shared by both channels.

Sound wise the DSL delivers the goods, the first channel goes from a typical Marshall clean with warm tones to a very crunchy overdrive when pushed to its limits. Switch to ultra gain though and the amp takes off like a rocket ship, with smooth creamy sounds even on the lowest gain settings through to hard metal tones when maxed out.

The reverb I would say is adequate and provides a slight touch of depth to the sound but in no way luscious or deep as a spring unit would provide.

Another welcome feature is that of the power switch on the rear panel, this takes the DSL down to 7.5 watts for more manageable sounds during practice.

For this test I tried a Strat, a Les Paul and a PRS and they all fared well, however in my opinion the humbucker equipped guitars sound best on this amplifier, whilst the Strats and Tele may prefer than Fender amp clean sparkle. 

All in all, a great package by Marshall.

By Ernest H Slade