Marshall Valvestate Amp!
The First Hybrid Amplifier Series
The Marshall Valvestate amp line was a revolutionary new concept in electric guitar amplifiers at one time.
Now, everybody’s doing it.
So what made Mashall Valvestate amps so unusual?
Electric guitars were originally amplified with vacuum tubes, and people got used to the warm and clean sound tubes gave their instruments.
But technology had moved on, and tubes were on the way out in most industries.
Electronics were in, and electronic amplifiers were destined to take over.
Just one problem, though: Sure, they were cheaper to produce and even more reliable, but they didn’t sound as good.
Enter the Valvestate.
This Marshall product line became the first hybrid amplifiers -- amps that combined the warm, clear sound of tube amplification with modern, reliable solid-state electronics.
It’s a natural combination, really, and a setup that’s still available as an alternative to retro tubes and ultra-modern electonic amps.
But why the weird name?
Marshall, you may know, is a British company, and in Britain vacuum tubes are usually called valves.
The Valvestate line combined value technology with solid-state circuits, accounting for their less-than-glamorous name.
Aimed at making Marshall’s top-of-the-heap tube technology more dependable and more accessible to those with budget limitations -- and do you know a guitar player who doesn’t have budget limitations? -- the Valvestate series amps were instant hits because of their low purchase price and the much lower maintenance costs than all-tube amps.
Offered in a range of power choices from a puny 15 watts to an ear-popping 100 watts, the idea behind Valvestate amps was simple.
Marshall wanted to emulate the distinctive tone of a cranked-up tube amplifier using solid-state technology.
Among the models were a VS15 and VS15R (with reverb in the latter), a VS30R, a VS65R and the massively powerful 100-watt VS100R and VS100RH.
The 65-watt and stronger amps featured a 12AX7 preamp tube and solid-state electronic output.
People made such a big deal of these hybrid amps because they were the first of their kind.
Still, the amp world moved on. The line was replaced in 2000 by the MG Series.
Vintage Valvestate amps are still available used -- and more importantly, they are still taken onto stages around the world.
A Marshall Valvestate amp was -- and is -- something very special: An affordable amp with a nearly-perfect Marshall tube amp sound.
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