Read the full article
This article was originally published in issue #3
To read the article in its entirety, view the digital magazine
Marshall may be best-known for its world-class stadium shaking valve amps, but not everyone needs a stack - nor even a hand-crafted amp. For those who don't, Marshall has long offered more affordable products, but few more aggressively priced for the 'average guy' than the 50 Watt MG50 we've recently been testing. An analogue (solid state) amplifier with digital effects, the MG50 is a compact and very portable combo, making it easy to transport for gigs, rehearsals and jam sessions and also small enough for home use.
The first thing to say is that this amp is packed with features and includes two channels that include four modes, clean and crunch, plus OD1 and OD2 - all off which have been independently voiced. Using these, it's possible to dial-in everything from glassy cleans, to vintage crunch on channel 1 then kick-in the OD channel for modern crunch and high gain rock/and metal sounds. These channels share the same EQ, but they are fully programmable, which is explained and demonstrated in full in our video. The Marshall also includes an overall master volume, a global control which means even after storing the sounds, you can turn them up or down, but still keep any volume differences between the two channels.
The amp also features a headphone socket for quiet late night practice sessions, and also an MP3 input, so that you can jam alone with your favourite Guitar Interactive or Licklibrary backing tracks! This also acts as an emulated output so that you can record directly into your computer/recording workstation. The Marshall further offers an external FX control, so you can kick in any FX units that are running in the loop. Yet another very handy feature is the damping control, which alters the sound of the power amp, the effect raging from a slightly 'honky' sounding vintage tone, to tighter, more modern, American sounds. The amp includes a 12" speaker, which produces a thick and punchy tone.
So far, so good. Now let's look at the onboard effects. The MG includes a quality digital reverb, which can be mixed into your sound with ease by simply turning the dial. The reverb is turned on by simply pressing the reverb button. The amp also includes several different modulation effects, which are selected by once again simply turning the dial. These effects range from chorus, phaser and flanger. Once again they are dialled-in with the rotary control and are fully programmable. The amp also has a digital delay, which adds the FX post, so after the preamp, giving you a studio quality tone. Once again the amount of delay is adjusted by simply dialling the effect in. Another great feature with the delay engine is the tap tempo control, so you can set the delay times to the tempo of the track. I should point out that the delay, reverb and modulation FXs can all be stored at one time on this amp, giving you not just a great sounding amplifier, but your very own multi FX unit!
It may sound a bit complicated but in fact the MG50 proved very easy to programme and your programmed settings can be accessed with the MG foot controller, making it easy to call up you favourite tones instantly. In use the sounds are very rich and warm, and although the amp takes a little bit of work to achieve the tones, once you get there the sounds don't sound like an entry level piece of kit at all. Be sure to check out our video for a full demonstration of the amp in action, and also to see just how easy it is to programme and store your favourite sounds.
To sum this amp up, I think this is a great little amplifier which will suit the beginner/semi pro, and even pro player, as a great little practice/jamming amp! It's light in weight, portable, has enough punch for small gigs, yet is also quiet enough not to get you kicked out of the house! Add to this the MP3 in and head phone socket, and it's a great practice tool which I am sure will result in hours of playing pleasure. This Marshall proves even the biggest names can offer great value for money gear and gets a big thumbs up from me!