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This article was originally published in issue #41
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The original Marshall Jubilee head came out in 1987 to celebrate 25 of amp production and Jim Marshall's 50th year in the music biz and it has now reached cult status. It became known as the 25/50 and at the time it had some great features other amps didn't, such as pentode/triode switching, a diode clipping circuit in the pre-amp section, which added plenty of gain, and silent channel switching with a selectable clean or clipped rhythm channel - all features we have become used to nowadays in some form or other, but in 1987, this amp was quiet in operation, sounded awesome and had the famous Marshall reliability and build quality. It was an instant success but only produced in the Jubilee form for one year.
One of the best decisions the guys at Marshall have made in recent years was to reissue this famous amp, remaining mostly true to the original design, but with a few tiny tweaks to make the latest version even more reliable than the original. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one for Guitar Interactive and reviewed it in GI 36 and you can check out my review either in the mag or on YouTube. The reissue certainly didn't disappoint and sounded great, but not everyone needs or wants such a powerful and large amp, especially these days when the trend is towards ever smaller backline amps, so sensible decision number two from Marshall is to make a smaller version of the same great amp in a switchable 20 Watt to 5 Watt head and combo. Hence the 2525H Mini Jubilee Head and 2525C 1x12 combo have hit the market giving you all the Jubilee mojo in smaller packages.
20 Watts will be loud enough for smaller venues with suitable monitoring. You get the big sound and the tone at more reasonable volumes. Inevitably, what you lose with smaller wattage amps is clean head room, because in a band context you will naturally want to turn the amp up and as everything gets driven hard, it will break up, which is also a good sound and has its own vibe. As long as you are aware of what low wattage amps do and what can be realistically expected of them in terms of clear defined head room, then the 20 Watt mini Jubilee will should handle most of your requirements. Being able to switch it down to just 5 Watts also makes it great for home practice and getting the amp screaming at civilized volume. It's also great for studio recording and handily the amp does come with an onboard speaker emulated direct out for extra versatility.
Though it wasn't ready at the time we filmed our review, there will be a 2 x 12” Jubilee cab available. It’s based on the 1936V, but obviously silver vinyl covered and has no skid trays, so it can accommodate both the Mini Jubilee head and the 2555X 100 Watt Jubilee Re-Issue. It has Celestion G12 Vintage 30 speakers and promises to be very tasty.
The combo version comes with a genuine Celestion G12m which seemed to be the speaker of choice for most things '70s rock, and is simply the same amp in combo form, but is deeper than usual in size due to the full height rear baffle and a slim port to enhance bass response.
The three 12ax7 pre-amp valves and two EL34 output valves give the familiar response and tone we all know and love. Generally, I would say these amps are capable of sounding smoother than what we consider a generic Marshall tone, which in my book is a good thing. This is the part where I am supposed to quote names like Slash and Joe Bonamassa in terms of sound, but there are so many variables that go into a player's sound - not least your guitar, and how you set the amp - that it's better to say that I would consider the Jubilee series amps very versatile, with many tones at your disposal. I must say that to my ears, this particular Mini Jubilee head did sound harsher and not quite as organic as the big 2555x reissue head I tried last year but, that said, valves do vary, even in brand new amps, so I am probably splitting hairs and it is still a good sound, but this particular Mini did sound different to the original big boy.
These amps will do well. They sound great, are quiet and reliable and will give years and years of trouble free service. I can say that with confidence because I have used Marshalls most of my career and can't think of any one of them letting me down at a show or a session. I do have a bit of a collection from different eras and I do keep them well maintained because I have to, but for any new Marshall product, the after sales service from the factory is superb.
So there we have it - a beautifully hand built reissue of the 100 Watt Jubilee that has been magically shrunk down to the smaller format that so many people want these days. The price is keen too, especially for a British made handwired amp that you just know will last for years and years and...