Review Marshall DSL Series DSL40C Guitar Amplifer

The critically acclaimed Marshall DSL40C shares most of the same great features as the DSL100H: footswitchable classic/ultra gain channels, rear panel pentode/triode switch (40-watt down to 20-watt) and a rear panel series FX loop. The DSL40C is loaded with a single 12″ 40 Watt Celestion Seventy 80 speaker. The Marshall DSL40C is 40 watt (switchable to 20 watt) all-tube combo guitar amplifier featuring footswitchable classic and ultra gain channels, effects loop, and controls for gain, volume, and reverb for each channel, as well as global treble, middle, bass, presence, and resonance controls.

The classic gain is split into 2 settings, clean and crunch. The clean channel, although not a prominent as a fender for example, still gives a nice warm sound, reminiscent of a 59 Plexi super lead head. The crunch sound is pretty versatile allowing for both a slight crunch up to a heavy overdriven sound. The ultra gain channel is also split into 2 settings of lead 1 and lead 2. The lead 1 sound is reminiscent of a JCM 800 and is perfect for getting an 80’s hard rock tone, slash and mick mars esque. The lead 2 setting adds even more gain and gives a tone more fitting of metal players such as Zack Wilde.

EQ settings for this amp include the standard bass, middle and treble, with the additional Resonance and Presence knobs for greater control over tone. The presence knob adds higher frequencies to your sound and creates a more “crispy” tone, while the resonance knob adds low end creating a fatter sound. These extra EQ settings are perfect for slightly altering the tone without having to mess with the bass, mids and treble. The tone switch button is another feature among the DSL 40C, this button lowers the mids and gives a scooped sound which is popular amongst metal guitarists.

For those in need of an extra push, the Lead 2 tone stacks up even more gain and also a boost in the mids. We’re into Zakk Wylde and Kerry King territory, and it’s here that the tone controls come into play.Sonically, the DSL is as great as it’s ever been, if not better. Unfortunately, it’s also got the weight to match, and after a couple of days carting the amp around the houses, we’d give our kingdom for a couple of side handles.The other downside is that, for such a feature-packed amp, the supplied footswitch only manages a channel switch and reverb control.

You can drop it to 20 watts for practice sessions using the Pentode/Triode, so that you can get that natural overdrive from cranking valves without bringing the house down.Anyway this is a serious tone monster that has a good enough transformer and power supply to sound very nice played very very quietly at home or tearing the roof off a stadium. It is capable of delicate cleans but can also do the deepest, heaviest most monsterously bassy power chords. At full volume it would drown out the loudest drummer.The nice thing is that he tones are all so rich and fully of harmonics. The amp is very touch sensitive and reacts very well to picking intensity.


  • Clean/Crunch Modes for Classic Gain Channel
  • Lead1/Lead2 Modes for Ultra Gain Channel
  • EL34 Valve Power Stage
  • Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence Controls
  • Tone Shift Button
  • Variable Resonance Control
  • Pentode/Triode Switch
  • 2 Custom Voiced Digital Reverb Controls (one for each channel)
  • Footswitch Included (for channel change and reverb on/off)
  • 12” Custom Voiced Celestion 70/80 Speaker

Product specifications:

  • Country of Origin: UK
  • Additional Features: Output switchable to 20W; 4x 12AX7, 2x EL34 valves; 1×12″ Celestion Seventy 80 speaker
  • Audio Output Power: 40
  • Available Controls: 2 x Gain 2 x Volume Bass Middle Presence Resonance Reverb Tone Treble
  • Available Inputs: 1/4 Inch Jack AM In Footswitch input
  • Connectivity: Effects loop Speaker Outputs
  • DescriptionOutput is 40W (switchable to 20W)
  • Device Type: Valve amplifier
  • Dimensions: 621 x 490 x 252
  • Weight: 22.85
  • Channels: 2
  • Valves: 6


  • Loud
  • Great tone
  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • Good power output


  • Limited functions
  • Poor sound quality
  • Weak reverb

Final Conclusion:

Overall the Marshall DSL40C is the perfect amp for someone who is looking for a no nonsense good quality amp. The diversity of the amp allows you emulate everyone from Mark Knopfler to Malmsteen and everything in between. In both look and sound this amp lives and breathes Marshall.

I demoed the DSL at GC and I was blown away. The clean channel on this amp is the best that I ever heard. Its not glassy,but more dark and warm. The second voice on channel one is crunch mode,but be warned it sends the volume threw the roof which freaked me out at first. It really does the whole ?Plexi? thing that the old guitar players talk about. The second channel is where I spent most of my time. With the button set to Lead 1 you really can get a good classic rock sound. If you crank the gain on that setting you can pull of that 80’s brown sound perfectly. With the button pressed in to Lead 2 you are able to obtain classic metal tones all the way up to modern death metal. The other features on this amp are usable. The pentode/triode switch drops the output and cuts the volume in half. It doesn’t really effect the tone unless you are on the Lead 2 channel with the gain cranked. The presence and resonance were a surprise, as an amp for this price usually only has one…this one has BOTH!! This can be useful on low bedroom/apartment volumes which is where I will use this thing. The reverb is kind of weak for my tastes,but it is better than most. Some people are bothered by the shared EQ, but I don’t gig so I?m cool with that. I was really surprised with the sound and very pleased at how this thing handles modern heavy metal. It is a warm sound not fizzy like other high gain amps on low volumes and it is quiet when it is cranked. The build on the amp is high quality and for the price this is one of the best amps on the market…can’t wait to get one.

If you want true Marshall sound then this amp is for you. I ordered this amp because I wanted something portable with great tone and I got it sooner than expected. If you think 40 watts is not enough, let me tell you, this thing kicks butt! I use my Boss GT10 with the 4 cable system into the EFX send and return. The cleans are sparkling and the distortions are incredible. It has more power and gain than anyone would ever need. Check out the vids on youtube for more info. I wish I had one like this years ago.

Ayan Ayan

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