Marshall
Marshall
Marshall

Marshall

The history of Marshall begins in England in the 60s of the last century, when Jim Marshall assembled his first amplifier based on the then famous American Fender model. The model was called JTM45 – after the first letters of the name of Jim and his son (Jim and Terry Marshall), and the number 45 meant the power that they were able to squeeze out of the amplifier. If you’ve ever been to a live concert by a rock band, jazz band, or guitarist, you’ve probably noticed that the stage is filled with huge sound “boxes” proudly labeled Marshall. This gigantic architectural composition is the main source of sound: combo amplifiers and speakers, stacks connected into a single chain and piercing the listener with kilowatts of powerful drive. And it was no coincidence that the Marshall emblem was there.

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It is this English company that is considered a reference manufacturer of stage speakers, monitors, guitar amplifiers and audio equipment. It was thanks to Marshall that stackable combo amplifiers appeared. In the lives of most novice guitarists, there were budget amps from Laney, euphonious and powerful Vox with a tube output, venerable and popular Fender… But everyone dreamed of a unique Marshall. Its warm and enveloping sound cannot be confused with anything else; hundreds of popular groups and performers were born thanks to this signature sound. But fate repeatedly tested the company’s strength, presenting its creator James Marshall with a serious illness from the first days of its life. In mid-1923, a son, Jim, was born into the family of boxer James Marshall. At the age of five, the child was given a terrible diagnosis – bone tuberculosis: the boy’s bones turned out to be extremely fragile and sensitive to any load. The only treatment in medicine at that time was complete rest, and the hospital bed actually took away seven years of Jim’s childhood. The child spent exactly that long in a plaster shell, which completely limited movement. At the age of 12, Jim was finally freed from the shackles of plaster and the family moved to Southall. In the mid-30s, England was drowning in the Great Depression and the Marshall family had a hard time. The father opened a small diner, where his son Jim soon began working. Due to illness, the boy never received an education and did not attend school. Realizing that the family is experiencing financial difficulties, Jim goes to work in a confectionery factory. In two years, he managed to work at a scrap metal dump, at a construction site, as a salesman, as a baker, and as a carver. And all this time, Marshall saved and saved the money he earned, not knowing what he would spend it on.

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At the age of 14, Jim discovered his talent as a singer, and over the next few years he was a real pop star of the Charlie Holmes Orchestra, giving five to six concerts a week. With the outbreak of World War II, 17-year-old Jim is sent to work at the Ceramic Engineering plant as an assembler, combining his skills as an engineer with his talent as a singer. Then there was a position as an ordinary engineer at the Heston Aircraft wing production plant. Jim became a leading specialist there, but did not leave music. When the drummer of the septet in which Jim Marshall sang was called to war, the musicians decided that Jim would take his place. “The Singing Drummer” was gaining popularity every day, but he never studied or took lessons. But professional growth is possible only with knowledge. And Marshall goes to Knightsbridge, to the famous drummer Max Abrams. The war came to an end and the whole world celebrated the victory. “Singing drummer” Jim Marshall also celebrated his triumph. In the late 40s, he was at the peak of his fame, giving several concerts every week in different parts of the country. The average drummer doesn’t need any kind of backup. It can be heard without microphones or amplifiers. But Jim wasn’t just a drummer—he sang. And in order to navigate the music during complex rhythmic parts, he needed to hear melody and harmony well. Then Marshall began designing his own speaker-monitors, and already at the next concert, next to the drum stand, the first cabinets, very reminiscent of modern Marshall amplifiers, were displayed. After studying with Max Abrams for two years, Jim himself began teaching. More than 60 students visited the small five-square room at the top of the house every week. Marshall worked 16–18 hours a day. And his hard work had a positive impact on his earnings. During his teaching years, Jim’s annual income reached 5 thousand pounds – an amount that was considered fabulous at that time.

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Realizing that teaching will give him the opportunity to raise the necessary amount to open his own business, Marshall gradually reduces the number of solo performances to a minimum, and then completely abandons the stage. By the early 60s, Jim had finally saved the required amount of money and was ready to take the decisive step – launching his own company. Over the last ten years of his life, Jim repeatedly thought about opening his own drum shop. Being a drummer, Marshall had a special love for the Premier company, which assembles drum sets and enjoys enviable popularity. Then Jim goes to the director of the company and asks for a free drum set to teach his students. After long and reluctant negotiations, the management still gives the go-ahead for a 10% discount on the purchase of any equipment in its network of stores (the installation was refused). Realizing that each of his students will go to Lou Davis’s store, taking advantage of the discount received, Marshall listens to the words of manager Jimmy Frost and decides to open his own store. There was already a client base, Jim had an excellent understanding of the drum kit industry, and it was time to act. On July 7, 1960, a local newspaper advertised the opening of a Jim Marshall & Son store. Marshall’s teacher, Max Abrams, was also present at the opening ceremony. The store was located in the very center of Hanwell (a district in London), so there was no need for unnecessary advertising.

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In a matter of weeks, the store reached a sales level of 23 installations per month – an impressive figure even for well-promoted London stores. All this time, Jimmy did not abandon his hobby of collecting homemade speaker systems, which were in good demand and were sold in the same store, Jim Marshall and Son. Marshall soon realizes that his brainchild needs advertising, and the best advertising will be a good assortment. This is how Vox and Selmer guitar combo amplifiers appear in the store. Over the course of the year, “Marshall & Son” replenishes its display cases with guitars: Telecaster, Les Paul, Stratocaster – all the most popular brand models that were in great demand. The store becomes a meeting place for beginners and already popular guitarists who follow the latest in the world of sound. And although by that time Fender was considered one of the leaders in the amplifier industry, many session guitarists asked Marshall to make a custom amp. “Rock and roll covered a whole generation with a wave. But the musicians lacked sound. A young Pete Townshend came up to me one day and said, “Jim, I have two Fender amps, but damn, during a concert I can always hear what the people in the front row are saying! I need something louder, bigger and more powerful.” And I took that as a call to action,” Marshall recalls.

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After talking to his amp repairman, Jim Marshall lures the young engineer away from EMI. Having assembled a team of five people at the store, the guys begin to work on the first real amplifier for rock and roll. The whole team loved the Fender Bassman amp. I liked the sound and to start producing my own series of amps it was only necessary to make a small cosmetic change in its character. This highlight was a more congested and “dirty” sound, the sound that rock and roll needed. There was no need to reinvent the wheel. The popular 12AX7 tubes, which were obtained from army warehouses, were chosen as a preamplifier. We changed the arrangement of elements on the diagram and selected the most compatible elements. It took three months to develop the first prototype, during which the guys thoroughly redesigned the amplifier five times. Each time we invited familiar guitarists and frequent visitors to the Marshall and Son store to test their amplifier. Finally, when work on “Prototype No. 1” (sixth attempt) was completed, Pete Townshend exclaimed: “Yes, that’s the sound! This sound will be the signature Marshall sound!”

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The Marshall JTM45 (Jim and Terry Marshall) was the company’s first production amplifier. It went on sale in September 1962 and on the first day 23 orders were placed for the production of the JTM45. Instead of 45 watts indicated in the documentation, the JTM45 produced only 35, but the characteristic sound that the musicians were openly waiting for swept away any discrepancies in the numbers. Over the course of a week, the company managed to assemble only one or two amplifiers. The new product was delivered without speakers, but everyone understood perfectly well that it was a matter of time. Jim Marshall continued to experiment with speakers, creating more and more portable systems based on the newly created amplifier and bass “colleagues”. In 1963, the store moved to the vacant premises opposite with a larger area, but along with the start of production of guitar cabinets, the time came for drastic changes. Orders grew and in 1964 the first full-fledged Marshall factory opened with a staff of 15 people and an area of ​​460 square meters. Marshall could now produce up to 20 amplifiers per week. Meanwhile, Jim Marshall was developing a powerful cabinet based on his firstborn, the JTM45 amplifier. The modified electronic filling now produced 50 watts of powerful sound, which not all speakers could cope with. It turned out that the happy owner of the JTM45 could not hear its full potential on any standard speakers from a third-party manufacturer. And then Marshall develops a powerful 4×12 cabinet with Celestion G12 speakers. The cabinet was completely assembled in Jim’s garage. Marshall came up with the idea of ​​using a beveled front cabinet wall by accident. He simply did not like the aesthetic appearance of such a gigantic “column”. During the remodeling process, it turned out that the beveled front edge is perfectly reflected in the sound characteristics. At the end of 1964, Marshall was approached by a regular visitor to the store, Eric Clapton. The musician boasted a busy touring schedule and was interested in a compact combo amplifier based on the JTM45, which could easily fit in the trunk of a car. No sooner said than done. Especially for Clapton, Jim and the team are developing the Marshall Bluesbreaker – a legendary series of amplifiers that will become one of Marshall’s calling cards.

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In 1966, Clapton recorded the album “John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton.” The classic Les Paul and Marshall amp sounded magical, breaking the stereotypes of the “usual blues sound.” Pete Townshend himself had a hand in the appearance of stacked combos (consisting of several parts). The race for loudness was a common phenomenon in the early 70s. The guitarists simply couldn’t hear themselves over the loud rhythm of the drums. Pete approached Marshall with a request to create for him a 100-watt cabinet consisting of 8 speakers with a diameter of 12 inches. Jimm warned that it would be just a gigantic construction, but Pete insisted. After several weeks of operation, Townshend convinced him to “cut down the unbearable monster.” That’s when Marshall suggested installing one four-speaker amp on top of another. Thus the stack was born. Stacks have become one of the most popular attributes not only of the concert stage, but also of photo shoots and video filming. And the more of them there were, the more respectable the performer looked. During Marshall’s 30th anniversary, company founder Jim Marshall took to the stage with 175 cabinets on it!

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Marshall has become a real calling card for musicians. In the same year 66, another expansion of the factory took place and its relocation to Bletchley. As the popularity of rock music grows, so does the popularity of Marshall amplifiers. In three years, from 1964 to 1967, the company’s sales in America tripled. But in the same 1966, Marshall would make a mistake that he would regret for the rest of his life – signing a contract with Rose-Morris. Rose-Morris was a major worldwide distributor of musical instruments. By actively advertising and selling Marshall products for two years, Rose-Morris secured a contract with the increasingly popular manufacturer of amplifiers and cabinets. The contract period is 15 years. “Rose-Morris inflated the price by 55%. Our amplifiers were positioned as premium. And, as a result, only a few could afford their purchases – real stars and popular performers. But we positioned our products as affordable,” recalls Jim Marshall. The company’s revenue began to fall rapidly. And Marshall had to look for salvation, which was the Park line of amplifiers. After the end of the contract with Rose-Morris, Park (by the way, the maiden name of Marshall’s wife) turned into an inexpensive line of Marshall MG transistor amplifiers. The model was incredibly popular among beginning guitarists. Marshall immediately reduces prices by 25% on the entire product range and thereby increases turnover by 360% in just three years. Since the founding of the company, engineers have constantly improved amplifiers and cabinets. In the early 80s, the company released the legendary Marshall JCM800, which in a few years became a real standard in rehearsal facilities and recording studios in America. Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Bon Jovi, Metallica, UFO, Gun’s’Roses, Yngwie Malmsteen – this is just a small list of performers who preferred the new product.

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In 1984, Marshall received a Queen’s Award for its contribution to exports (thanks to the JCM800 model). Over the next 30 years, Marshall would introduce a range of amplifiers with very different personalities. From purpose-built Marshall 2555s to snarling Marshall 2203s and demonic Mode Fours. Until 2011, Marshall remained a reputable and influential player in the professional market for musicians of all levels. Marshall amplifiers are instantly associated with guitar, rock and the recognizable, signature “Marshall sound”. Developed back in 1962, the amplifier opened up an entire industry for professional musicians, a sound industry that had been long awaited. The sole owner and founder of Marshall was 87 years old at that time. But an elderly creator does not mean old-fashioned. Realizing that the world is gripped by an era of rapid technological growth, Jim sets up the company to produce a separate line of products and creates an entire consumer electronics division. The task of the newly formed enterprise was to promote audio equipment to the market for ordinary listeners who are not professionally associated with music. This is how a whole line of music lovers products appears.

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Marshall Major headphones were the first to hit the market. The designers took care to convey to the headphones the recognizable design of amplifiers and cabinets. Traditionally, the company retained the positioning of its first headphones as a product for the mass market, setting a reasonable price of $100. The model turned out to be so successful that over the next five years Marshall will announce several more evolutionary modifications of the Major and launch a second current series of headphones. Limited edition steel Marshall Major II Steel Edition for connoisseurs of true rock sound with deep bass and low distortion. The model can also be used as a headset for a smartphone. Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones that can power any gadget wirelessly and provide up to 30 hours of sound on a single charge. But the best thing is that the engineers left the buyer a choice: if desired, MAJOR II BLUETOOTH BLACK can also be used as wired ones – a connecting jack cable is included in the kit. The company also touched upon the Hi-Fi segment by presenting the Marshall Monitor Steel Edition monitor model with a patented FTF system that provides soft and rich sound. A special feature of the model is a wide frequency range from 10 Hz.

In addition to compact earbuds: Marshall Mode EQ Android Gold, Marshall Mode EQ Gold and Marshall Minor White, Marshall has created a whole series of portable acoustics for music lovers. The miniature Marshall Acton, despite its modest dimensions, is capable of producing real rock and roll sound. Three speakers and the best traditions of building professional amplifiers did not pass by this model. A more powerful option is Marshall Woburn. Externally similar to Acton, but at a completely different power level. Four speakers, which are enough for a noisy party. In the middle of last year, Marshall introduced its first smartphone based on the Android operating system, the Marshall London model. A smartphone for those who live in their souls with rock and roll, drive and music and want to get the most out of mobile sound.

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