january 2014

This affordable, battery- or DC-powered multi-effector is a sonic smorgasbord for guitarists on the go.

A lot of old-school guitarists will turn tail and run at the sight of a multi-effects unit. But multi-effect fear isn’t altogether irrational, because, let’s face it, a lot of multi-effect pedals and rack units are bears to work with, especially when time is short and you just want to plug in and play.

With the new ME-80, however, Boss clearly prioritized ease of use, and this surprisingly utilitarian, powerful, and portable unit is relatively simple to operate, a lot of fun, and great for home demo studios, small, informal gigs, and even unorthodox tinkerers who like the straightest possible line to the most possible sounds.

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Marshall's 40th Anniversary JTM45/100 head reissue.
Photo courtesy of Marshall Amplification.

How Marshall went to hell and back to create their first 100-watt amp.

It’s the stuff of rock legend: In the summer of 1965, Pete Townshend asked Jim Marshall to build an amp even larger and louder than Marshall’s current JTM45 model. Marshall delivered with model 1959, sometimes called the JTM45/100 due to the fact that early models featured the JTM45’s distinctive front-panel. It featured four output tubes in place of the JTM45’s two tubes. The Who first used the new model—with a colossal 8x12 cabinet—sometime around November 12, 1965. Finally, the band had amplifiers loud enough to compete with Keith Moon’s explosive drumming.

But there’s more to the story of the first 100-watt stack. Jim Marshall (who passed away in April 2012 at the age of 88) and his visionary colleagues, Ken Bran and Dudley Craven, had to surmount countless design hurdles and battle the technical limitations of available components. It’s a tale of ingenuity, dogged determination, and sheer lust for power.

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