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Marshall DSL5C 5/1-watt 1x10" Tube Combo Amp Reviews

4.5 stars based on 20 customer reviews
Questions about the Marshall DSL5C 5/1-watt 1x10" Tube Combo Amp?

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  • from Minnesota April 6, 2017Music Background:
    My gigging days are over, I'm a tone chasing hobby player now : )

    The Ultimate Home Practice Amp

    Honestly, I am truly blown away by this lil' monster.
    When you unbox this, and feel the weight and sturdiness, you know right then that this is something special.
    It's one of those items that nails almost all the items a guitarist would have on their "do-all" wish list.
    Only the Blackstar HT-5R comes close, but they can't quite nail down that true, unmistakeable Marshall tone and they don't have the 5w/1w option. That said, I had a hard time choosing between the two, but having had Marshall Amps in the past, I knew with the DSL5C I would be getting Marshall quality, extreme durability and versatility.
    My only knock is the lack of a seperate volume control on the clean channel, which is truly a small quibble considering the clean channel on the 5 watt setting will get very, very loud in your typical bedroom/small practice room. We're talking tube watts here, so conventional wisdom says multiple by the rated tube wattage by 4 or 5 times for an equivalent solid state wattage. Plenty loud to annoy everyone in the house.
    The second issue I have, and it's very small one in my case, is that the stock 10" 10-30 Celestion speaker really does not do this amp justice. It does give a bit of that "icepick" effect unless you roll back the treble to the 2-3 range. It may smooth out over time if given a chance to break in, but I had other plans. 10" speakers will not give you that more full and bassy sound that you get out of a 12 inch, but guitar is a mid-range frequency instrument, and you do have the deep switch and bass control on this amp that allow for a more than acceptable amount of tweakability.
    I purchased a Celstion Greenback G10 and a Celestion G10 Gold to have versatility in my tone and it knocked my socks off in both cases when installed in this amp. The brittleness of the stock speaker was completely gone and this amp becomes the ultimate tone machine with my SSL5/CS69/CS Fat 50's strat. Both the Greenback and the Gold are nothing short of phenomenal speakers.
    Those small and very simple speakers upgrades, made this into the ultimate recording/practice amp in my opinion. I would usually say your results may vary, but I can't believe anyone would be even remotely disappointed in the sound of this amp and universally, i would recommend this to anyone who rocks jazz/blues/rock/hardrock..
    One last thing....no reverb.
    Yes, it's a bummer....that said, the other DSL's don't necessarily have the greatest reverb, this is well known. But in this one, the effects loop sounds great, so get a good reverb (TC Electronics HOF?) and be done with it.
    You know you want it.... just do it. You absolutely won't regret it.

  • from Horseheads, NY October 29, 2016

    5 stars

    I owned a DSL40C previously to owning a DSL5c, I really loved my 40C but it was too loud for home use. The DSL5C is a bad little amp, beautiful cleans, beautiful distortion, sounds AWESOME when you plug a Les Paul into it. So if you have a Les Paul, really look long & hard at this amp, it's a winner.

  • from Salem, MA September 8, 2016

    I know what you're thinking...

    5 Watts? C'mon.

    Lemme tell ya: If you playing in your apartment, and you "go to eleven" at the full 5W on this thing, it won't be long before somebody calls the cops.

    If you use the button on the back to turn it down to 1W, and you "go to eleven", after a few days, you're girlfriend will begin planning the break up.

    It's loud.

    Can you gig with it?

    If you're in a Judas Priest cover band, and just like destroying a room, go ahead; stick with your 50watter.

    Now, I'm sure there are face-melting guys out there who'll challenge me on this, but for small joints, yes, you can absolutely gig with it. You can definitely play over the drummer. It's not obnoxiously loud, and audiences who want to HEAR good music AND still be able to socialize will be huge fans.

    If the room is more than 50-80 people, or larger than 1000SqFt, you'll certainly want to mic it up to a PA, but it'll give you great sound.

    If you're playing at home, at small bars, or especially if you're recording with it, and you want that unmistakable Marshall growl, there's no better amp out there for the money.

    I tested it against the Fender Bassbreaker 007, and it wasn't even close. On the other hand, if you live in the single-coil Fender world, you'll probably prefer the 007, but for Gibson Humbucker rigs, again, it's not even close

    I absolutely love this amp.


    ...you need to do what I'm CERTAIN that Marshall WANTED to do, but just couldn't, because they wanted to keep it at it's (excellent) price point -- upgrade the speaker.

    The stock Celestion Ten-30 works well enough, but I swapped it out for a G10 Greenback, and now, it's just jaw-dropping.

    The DSL 40 is $200 more, and that's a great amp too, but in terms of tone, the DSL5 with a Greenback edges out the stock Seventy-80 in the DSL40.

    To sum it all up: WITH the Greenback, this is MUCH more than a "bedroom amp". Excellent for small venues, excellent for recording, will sound great on stage when mic-ed up to a PA. Every Gibson guy will be glad they got it.

  • from Texas February 28, 2016Music Background:

    Marshall DSL5C

    I bought this amp from sweetwater to practice at home. When I first plugged it in, I was amazed at its classic marshall tones from a small amp. You can play all your classic rock riffs on this little amp. It also gives you an option to plug in some headphones to keep it even more quiet when you need to.

  • from NJ February 15, 2016Music Background:
    Weekend gigger

    Just what I needed!

    I love this little killer. This amp is every bit of a Marshall. I waited awhile before pulling the trigger on this amp and I wish I would have bought it sooner. I have no problem rehearsing with the band running the amp at 5 watts. At 1 watt the sound is just as good. I run my delay and reverb through the fx loop and I'm very impressed with purity of the sound. The classic channel is not Fender clean and does break up quick, but I found if I use mxr super comp and if I back off the volume on the guitar a bit it cleans up enough for me. Now the ultra gain channel is where I'm at home. I run the gain at 12 o'clock and use my TS808 in front of the amp for a little boost. I am in love with the tone. I have yet to gig with this guy, but when we book a small enough venue I will definitely be using my DSL5C.

  • from September 29, 2015

    Pure Marshall ery responsiveHeaven

    50+ years gigging guitarist, i either currently own or have owned it all twice :)

    my classic marshalls are all too expensive to keep repairing so i don't play them any more.

    this amp is 100% pure marshall tone. build quality is very, very nice. clean channel is........clean and full.

    gain channel does it all from edge of breakup to ACDC to VH to Satch/Vai saturated lead tones.

    very responsive to touch. the 5/1 watt switch works great. fx loop works perfectly also. i have zero gripes with this amp and LOVE the tones.

  • from AZ August 28, 2014Music Background:
    Weekend Warrior

    Great all around AMP!

    Bottom line up front: great amp with true Marshall tones for the classic rock and blues that I play. I purchased this amp for practice and studio work and could not be happier. I am still experiencing different tones and setups, but this amp delivers and is really easy to use and move around. I still have to plug her into my Marshall stack. The 5 or 1 watt switch is a great feature. Even at 1 watt I cannot crank it up all the way in the house/studio! I won't get into each control knob and button - they do what Marshall says so read up on the DSL5C. I have a Marshall JVM 205 and 1960 cab and have not used it in awhile due to this little gem. As always - superb service from Josh and the rest of the Sweetwater gang. Could not be happier. If you get a chance to demo you will understand why I am pleased with this amp.

  • from USA April 19, 2014Music Background:


    I bought this amp few days ago and can't stop playing!! I would give 10 stars to this amp! You can't get wrong with it!

  • from Austin, TX April 18, 2014Music Background:
    33yrs live artist and studio musician

    Very impressed

    What a terrific studio or home practice amp! 5 tube watts is nothing to frown about, still plenty of power to tickle Grannie's pacemaker across the street. The drop down (1-0.5 watt) maintains classic tube driven tones that you'll always find appealing. The two channels are a real treat for this size amp - once dialed in, it'll be hard to this one down. What it's not... Don't expect Fender cleans because it's simply a different beast. Another note on the 10" speaker, an initial concern of mine and yes, 12" would certainly have been better but for the price, intended use and addition of a deep switch on far right of control panel....the 10" won't matter for most once they hear this little baby roar. All in all, I'm confident you will NOT be disappointed. One last note on Sweetwater - quality guys and service, look no further...have spent plenty with them and always been impressed with their customer service (Tony Dayton - great guy). Good luck and best wishes!

  • from meadville, PA March 9, 2014Music Background:

    Tone To Be Had

    I doubt it gets much better when it comes to having a low power practice amp. If you want classic British gains you're going to want to give the DSL 5 a run.

    Channel 2 sounds good and has enough gain to handle any Metal. The magic of this amp however, I would argue, happens in the classic gain channel. Make no mistake. As one might infer from the demo video, if you're looking for sublime cleans with lots of headroom, buy something else. The clean sounds good but keep in mind -- it's vintage Marshall. And it breaks up. Fast. Playing a Standard LP though a bridge EMG81, you can expect break up to begin happening around 2-3 gain. Neck pickup, even quicker. Between 3-5, I get superb classic OD tones -- with a couple of real sweet spots -- and from, say, 5-8, a really great sounding range of fuzz. It's a truly dynamic channel for such a small amp. It might make you work a little to dial it in but it's there.

    It's LOUD! Even on the low-power setting. I doubt anyone living in a duplex or town house will get it much past "1" on either channel before they start worrying about a knock. But if that's an issue the headphone jack works great and I've had a hard time noticing any degradation in tone at all through the cans.

    For what it's intended to be the DSL 5 is spot on. My only knock would be the absence of a built-in reverb but if you're looking for this sound and all the convenient practice features included there's no substitute. I'll be glad to spend a little more to get a good reverb down the line.

  • from bainbridge, ny February 7, 2014Music Background:

    Excellant amp

    This is a really great amp. It has weight to it not just another light weight amp. Loud enough to gig with. And the speaker really sounds great. Buy it you wont be disappointed.

  • from Lansdale, PA January 27, 2014Music Background:
    One Guy That Wishes He Would Have Taken Up Guitar in High School

    Marshall Tone At a Basement Level

    Yes, my first Marshall tube amp! I ordered this amp from Sweetwater about 10 days ago and it is all I envisioned and then some. Killer Marshall tone at a level I can pull off in my basement. The ability to cut down to 1W, when needed, and still rock is awesome.
    Foot switch is very convenient and works well. Two channels and tons of tone. But, of course, it's a Marshall. Get yours now...you won't be disappointed!

  • from Nebraska April 28, 2017

    Nice amp indeed.

    I have played solo, been in in duets, many groups, big venues and 40 seat bars, for weddings, funerals, parties to state fairs and in many different countries going on 50 years. I had to finally give up that wonderful life ??? for my studio which I'm going to enjoy big time. I bought some equipment from Sweetwater including 3 smaller amps (love the sound in the studio). One of them was the dsl5c Marshall. I put a strat, tele, les paul, hamer and a 6 string banjo through it and it sounds better than I expected. As soon as you get the different instruments tuned in the way you like them then you can really have some fun. I am still trying it out (along with everything else) so only a 4.5 until I can get back to you after a little more playing time. Nice little amp indeed.

  • from Tampa December 26, 2016

    Good amp with some tweaks

    A lot has already been said about this amp that is true. Do what another reviewer said and upgrade the speaker with a Celestion greenback.

    I bought this amp last year and while Ive been very happy with it I didn't realize what I had been missing until I recently upgraded the speaker based on another users review.

    The greenback speaker makes a big difference in the sound of this amp and turns it into something special. I have a very simple set up- A PRS ce24 run through a Compression pedal into the amp. This combination of amp/guitar/pedal is a sonic Swiss Army knife! I'm able to tackle chicken pickin twang to high-gain shred and everything in between.

    Bottom-line: Do yourself a favor and throw a greenback in this amp!

  • from June 16, 2015

    DSL5C goodness

    Great amp. Plenty loud for 5 watts. Way more than enough for bedroom volumes. Great classic gain tones kick in at about 4-5 and retain clarity up through about 6-8 with my strat. The 10 inch celestion speaker is a good match. Doesn't get thuddy at high-reasonable volumes. Way loud for home use at these volumes. I don't use the high gain channel so I can't really comment on that. Very very slight idle noise but not distracting at all. Bob Furlong has been my go to guy for a couple of years now and has always been a pleasure to work with. Every experience I've had with sweetwater has been nothing short of fantastic. I highly recommend this amp and I highly recommend sweetwater. I gave 4.5 out of 5 stars only because nothing is perfect but this amp is darn close...for my needs anyway.

  • from Mesa, Arizona February 2, 2015Music Background:

    Great Home Amp

    This amp is close to perfect for my needs. The 5W is not overpowering for home use, but still gets quite loud. I switch it to 1W mode for night practicing which works great! There is a noticeable idle hiss on both channels in both power modes. This I also present on other models in this series. It's not a deal breaker, but something to be aware of. I have other amps that are silent on the clean channel while idle. The other small issue is the lack of a gain knob on the classic gain channel. It can still get crunchy without switching to ultra gain, but fine control would be useful. All in all, this is a keeper for me.

  • from Salt Lake City, Utah April 16, 2014Music Background:
    Amatuer, Hobbyist

    Wonderful little tube amp

    I'm a Marshall fan, so my opinion is slighted toward all things Marshall. That said, this is a great little amplifier. My main rig is a JCM2000 DSL 100 but there are times when I need a more portable, less loud variant of my trusty JCM. The DSL15 and DSL40 were both too loud, but this 5-watter with the 1-watt function is perfect. Unlike the Blackstar HT-5, which is a glorified solid state amp, this DSL5 actually used three preamp tubes to generate gain, but more than that is the natural tube sounds you get from this. I owned an HT-5 head and combo and sold both of them. This one sounds more true to tube tone and performance. The service from Matt at Sweetwater was just great as well.

  • from Ohio September 29, 2016Music Background:
    Hopelessly Addicted

    Sounds best on 5W

    My ears are currently ringing.

    Had this thing for about two years now. Finally starting to like it. I made two changes.

    1. I stopped playing on 1W. It just sounds better at 5W.
    2. I changed the stock speaker for a Greenback. Completely changed the amp. It's just alive now.

    Contrary to Marshall legend, they don't sound best with all the knobs cranked to 10. Play with the EQ to really dial in what you are looking for.

  • from Norman, Oklahoma May 5, 2015Music Background:
    Amateur guitar player since the 70s.

    Marshall DSL5C

    There's no doubt this is a great amp. It's size and weight are perfect for me while I'm getting over a back injury but in spite of it's small size it has that true awesome Marshall tone. The only thing I don't like about it is when it's on the 5 watt setting even with the volume turned all the way down and no guitar plugged in it has sort of a "static hiss" that's loud enough that I thought it was a defect and traded it back to Sweetwater for another one. But the second one does exactly the same thing so I guess that's just the way they are. Almost the perfect practice amp if not for that one thing.

  • from December 30, 2016

    to much gain

    this amp is all gain. there are no cleans, except when the vol set is between 1-2 on the clean channel. after 2 it starts to break up and get crunchy. disappointed, it is one of the few small combos i could find that has an effects loop. Hey amp designers! why no effects loops!!

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