Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jim Marshall - The Father of Loud; Marshall Amps - Celebrating 50 Years of the Marshall Sound...

Jim Marshall - the Father of Loud.  James Charles "Jim" MarshallOBE, born July 29, 1923 - ), in London), is THEE pioneer of guitar amplification, and ergo, rock concert-level music we dig.  The photo above was taken and cropped by your faithful blogger.  You will recognize it from the front of the made in japan Deep Purple album.  I am using  it because it has that looming and ominous Marshall stack visible.  Thanks to Bruce in my LinkedIn vinyl record collectors group, he's ID'ed the band members in the photo, L to R as: Jon Lord – organ, Roger Glover – bass, Ian Gillan - vocals (& congas apparently), Ian Paice – drums, and Ritchie Blackmore – on geetar.  From sources available on the Internet..."Jim's company, Marshall Amplificationcontinues to produce amplifiers having an iconic status in the rock world.  Jim Marshall was born in Acton, West London, to a family which included boxers and music hall artists.  He started off as a singer, and then, due to the shortage of available civilian musicians during WWII, he doubled as a drummer.  In his day job as electrical engineer he built a portable amplification system so his light, crooning vocals could be heard over his drums.  "I was making 10 shillings a night and because it was wartime, we didn't have any petrol for cars, so I would ride my bicycle with a trailer behind it to carry my drum kit and the PA cabinets, which I had made!  I then left the orchestra to be with a 7 piece band and in 1942 the drummer leader was called into the forces and I took over on drums."  In order to become more proficient on the drums and to better emulate his idol, Gene Krupa, from 1946-48 Marshall took weekly lessons from Max Abrams.  In 1949 Jim started teaching other drummers, including Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience), Micky Burt (Chas and Dave), Mickey Waller (Little Richard) and Micky Underwood (Ritchie Blackmore).  "I used to teach about 65 pupils a week and what with playing as well, I was earning in the early 1950s somewhere in the region of £5,000 a year, which was how I first saved money to go into business."   After a successful career as a drummer and teacher of drum technique, Jim Marshall went into business in 1962, starting a small shop in Hanwell, London, selling drums, cymbals and drum-related accessories; he also gave drum lessons.  According to Jim, Ritchie BlackmorePete Townshend and other guitarists often came into the shop and asked why Marshall was not selling or producing guitar equipment.  Marshall Ltd. later expanded and started selling guitars and amplifiers, the most notable of which at the time were the Fender amplifiers imported from America.  These were very popular with guitarists and bass players, but were very expensive.  He thought he could produce a cheaper alternative to American-made guitar amplifiers, but he had limited experience as an electrical engineer.  He enlisted the help of his shop repairman Ken Bran and an EMI technician named Dudley Craven, and between them they decided they most liked the sound of the 4x10" Fender Bassman.  They made several prototypes using the Fender Bassman amp as a model.  The sixth prototype produced, in Jim's words, the "Marshall Sound."  The first few production units almost copied the Bassman circuit, with American military surplus 5881 power valves, a relative of the 6L6. Speakers were then rarely able to handle more than 15 watts, which meant that an amplifier approaching 50 watts had to use four speakers.  For their Bassman, Fender used four Jensen speakers in the same cabinet as the amplifier, but Marshall chose to separate the amplifier from the speakers, and placed four 12-inch Celestion speakers in a separate closed-back cabinet instead of the four 10-inch Jensens in an open-back combo.  Other crucial differences fro Marshall were the use of higher-gain ECC83 valves throughout the preamp, and the introduction of a capacitor/resistor filter after the volume control.  These circuit changes gave the amp more gain so that it broke into overdrive sooner on the volume control than the Bassman, and boosted the treble frequencies. This new amplifier, tentatively called the "Mark II", was eventually named the "JTM 45," after Jim and his son Terry Marshall and the max. wattage of the amplifier."

1 comment:

  1. I remember going to a bar in the late '70s and the band was warming up. During a pause the guitarist hollered out to his soundboard guy, "Am I loud enough?" The soundboard guy replied, "You have a double stack of two Marshall amps each, how can you NOT be loud enough!"


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