While at the launch of the Pure Evoke 1S Marshall DAB/FM radio, Pocket-lint was also privy to a tour of the Marshall Amplifier factory. If you’re a rock/audio junky you can arrange a visit of your own by appointment too but, just in case you happen to live rather a long distance from Bletchley, we made sure we took our cameras out and got snap happy while we were there.
The story begins with Jim Marshall as a drum shop owner and teacher who would time and time again get guitarists coming into his premises complaining that, firstly, he didn’t sell equipment for them and that, secondly, noone sold any good reliable audio power for their kind at all. It didn’t take a genius to work out the gap in the market and so, with the help of shop repairman Ken Bran and EMI technician Dudley Craven, the Marshall amp was born.
The vacuum tube valve amp system and "Marshall Crunch" was what made them famous, along with fans that included Hendrix, Clapton and The Who, the latter of which was influential in Marshall’s most legendary creation - the speaker stack system.
The tale goes that Pete Townsend and John Entwistle were looking for some amps louder than 100W so that they could hear their own playing over the noise of drummer Keith Moon. Marshall came up with the idea of a single amp head with two speaker cabinets underneath, it housing 4 x 12-inch loudspeaker cones in each and one above it with a further two speakers.
Originally, both guitarists' two stacks were together until The Who came back complaining that their roadies couldn’t actually lift them. The unit was cut down the middle and the Marshall Stack as we now know it was born.
Marshall prides itself on using the same hand wiring techniques and valve systems from back in the day to provide what the musicians of this world still crave. Take a look at the gallery and see how they’re put together. Don’t miss the museum collection at the end.