How To Tweak Your Marshall JCM 800 Settings to Find Your Amps SWEET SPOT

Recently on YouTube I was having a conversation with a guy about how Darren dials in the Marshall JCM 800 settings to get his great Rock tone, so yesterday I asked Darren to do a couple of videos explaining how he finds the amps sweet spot for getting a great Rock sound out of the Marshall JCM800 combo.

In this first video, Darren goes into a fair bit of detail on the process he goes through to find the Sweet Spot when he dials in his amp. He also explains the difference between the treble and presence and how to get a good balance between the two.

In this next video we go from using the fender Custom Shop Fat 50s single coils in my Fernandes “The Revival” to the Seymour Duncan Seth Lovers in the Fernandes Gold Top “Super Grade” Les Paul.

Here is a pic that I took straight after shooting the video, the Marshall JCM 800 Settings are the exact same settings on the two videos you see above.

Marshall JCM800 Amp Settings

Marshall JCM800 Amp Settings

7 thoughts on “How To Tweak Your Marshall JCM 800 Settings to Find Your Amps SWEET SPOT

  1. Hi Jeremy,
    First up I must say it’s great to see an informative article with some really useful and well researched tips on the Jcm 800. There are a lot of clips on YouTube of this amp that aren’t good.
    I picked up a 2204 50w head recently and watching the videos I realised that Darren dials in his settings very similar to my own except the presence which I’ll have to try.
    One thing I haven’t quite worked out is how to get a nice boost in sustain for lead breaks.
    With my Vintage Modern 2266 I use a tubescreamer 808 and this works fine with this amp but with the 800 it just makes the sound too
    Ice picky and screechy. Maybe I have the settings wrong?
    Could you pass this on to Darren to see if maybe he has any suggestions on a good boost/overdrive for the 800?
    I didn’t notice any of his videos that
    cover this.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi jules. There’s 2 sides to your question. Firstly the volume boost needed for soloing needs to be placed after the gain stage. Normally use an equaliser pedal or a volume pedal or a multi effects processor. This needs to be put into your “effects send and return” if your amp has one. You can choose to try boost a clean boost or an overdrive pedal (with little to no gain dialled in) , but adding any gain in this set up may not work kindly. Personally, I prefer an equaliser pedal and I slightly boost the low mid frequencies, reduce the highest frequency and boost the overall volume level. My volume boost is quite loud, but it needs to be to get the solos audible in a band mix (especially if you are playing with a second guitarist or keyboardist.
      Secondly, adding gain needs to be in front of your amp and choosing the best pedal to suit your setup and taste becomes the hardest search in the world. Most overdrive pedal will alter your tone (especially in the midrange). Many products claim to be tonally “transparent” but they are not. My suggestion would be to look at some higher end brands such as JHS. However, you may prefer an overdrive that does slightly change your tone. I know players that have many diffent drives to choose from, giving them the ability to a wider variety of tones.
      In the end it’s your ears that tell you what you like. I accidentally came across something that works for me. I have a very old Boss Overdrive/Distortion pedal. I set the dail to 3/4 distortion and 1/4 overdrive. The volume level is full and the gain is off. (Now it gets weird) the tone is turned off, and yet it still has enough treble and clarity. Overall, this pedal (in my setup) scoops out a little mids and looses a little bass BUT I love it. The reason I mention this, is because you should never be afraid to experiment. Some players use the weirdest gear to get their desired sound 🙂

      • Hi Darren,
        Really great videos on the 800. It’s good to see someone getting a good old school sound and not the typical metal shred videos. Thanks for getting back and for the advice. The funny thing is I owned a Jcm 800 50w combo in the 80’s and gigged with it. But this was pre internet and I didn’t know how to get a good sound out of it. I sold it and went the high gain two channel amp route with a Peavey 5150. It took me years to realise that these high gain amps are really gutless and sterile sounding. Hence I went back to the 800.
        That’s interesting that you use the boss os 2. I could pick one up for £40 or are the new ones any good? Also did you try a tubescreamer? I know what you mean about the endless search. I thought the Ts 808 was it as it works like a dream with my Vintage Modern but it reacts differently with the 800.

        Apologies If this post comes twice. Couldn’t tell if it had sent.

        • Hi. When we did the video Jeremy wasn’t wanting to add pedals in front (which we had done a few times with other amps).
          Personally, I’m more inclined to use a pedal that add a tiny bit of gain breakup. Most overdrive pedals are still breaking up even when the gain is dialed to zero. I’m not a fan of using a clean boost, but I can see it works to achieve certain sounds.
          When I was covering a Santana tune I would add a Boss Blues Driver in front (again with gain on zero and very little tone). Sometimes I use a compressor pedal with the level boosted to get more fuller bluesy lead tones.
          Some shedder guitarist like Vai use a Boss DS1 which compresses and creams up your amp tone.
          So many options.
          I started using my boss overdrive/distortion (OS2, I think) by chance. Actually it’s a part a Boss BE5 which I bought for $50 from a porn broker. It’s great! It’s light, has a gain, compressor, chorus and delay all in the one unit. Using the chorus in front of a crunchy amp sound creates an “over the top 80’s sound” (think Flock Of Seagulls lol). And using a tight delay in front of a crunchy amp creates a very broken up chaotic sound (think The Black Keys). Just before I bought the BE5 I was going to part with a load of money and buy a JHS “Steak and Eggs” which I’m sure would be much better quality. 🙂

          • Hi Darren,
            Sorry a bit slow getting back. Thanks for the tips. I think you’re right about experimenting with gear for sounds. I actually have a Boss ME – 5 which is very similar to the BE – 5 from what I can tell. It’s got some great effects. The overdrives don’t have a tone control unfortunately. I’ll go back to my TS 808 and try different settings. Also I have access to a MXR custom badass OD which is supposed to be good.
            As far as a volume boost when I play gigs with another guitarist I started going back to the old approach of setting my Vintage Modern pretty high at its sweet spot about 7 master vol. Then backing my guitar volume off for rhythm then up for solos with a TS on top.
            When the other guy does a solo I back off and play lighter and the amp responds really well to this.
            Not sure where the sweet spot is with the 800 though.



            • By ‘sweet spot ‘ Meant to say the ‘volume sweet spot’ i.e. Where the amp goes into power amp saturation.

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