Joe Satriani is by far one of the most skillful guitar players in history of music. He has influenced so many other legends, but has changed the way we understand guitar tone as well. However, it is not only his pure shredding skill nor his creative abilities that make him so impressive. It is also his sense for tone designing that really makes him stand out. Today we are going to take a look at one guitar amp head that was heavily influenced by his visions and thoughts. Marshall JVM410H brings a number of solutions that can easily be attributed to Satriani. As we go deeper into details, this will become apparent on its own.
Even though Satriani has a certain taste for guitar tone, with or without effects, JVM410H is not a one show pony. We will go over the benefits and drawbacks of this setup in detail. Without further ado, let’s get right to it.
Marshall JVM410H Review
Marshall is one of the largest and most influential amplifier brands out there. As such, they come under a lot more scrutiny than most of their competition. Every new amplifier causes a lot of hype, especially if it is a full fledged head designed for serious stage use. Same thing happened with JVM410H. When it finally hit the stores several years ago, first reactions were mixed. Some said that Marshall completely nailed it with this unusual design, while those that were more conservative didn’t share the same sentiment. Even so, the amp has withstood the test of time quite formidably.
At a quick glance, JVM410H might look like any other Marshall head. Only for a split second, though. As your brain adjust to what the eyes are seeing, you will quickly notice two rows of knobs divided into four different clusters. In a way, it looks like a love child of a Mesa Dual Recto and JCM800. Under the hood, we have four 12AX7 tubes in the preamp stage, an additional 12AX7 and a set of four EL34 in the power stage.
The main question here is what makes the JVM410H so different from a standard unit? Well, there’s quite a few things that Joe changed, which ultimately influenced the overall performance of the amp. For starters, he simplified the FX loop considerably. There are no built in effects either, which is not strange at all considering that Joe runs all of his effects through the effects loop. Speaking of which, there are two available. You have the series loop and series/parallel loop. However, the biggest difference is in the profile of the channels.
JVM410H features four different channels. You have your Clean channel, Crunch, OD1 and OD2. Each of these has its own control cluster, including an EQ section. On top of that, each channel features three different modes which are designated by red, orange and green LEDs. In essence, green mode is the default while every next mode adds a new gain stage to the channel.
One more interesting thing about the hardware under the hood, is the complete lack of chokes. Santiago Alvarez, the well known prodigy and amplifier engineer from Marshall, took chokes out of the equation. Some people have opted to mod the amp and install chokes, but that hasn’t really made much of an impact on the tone.
If there’s one word that perfectly describes Marshall JVM410H, it’s ‘versatile’. The tone itself is massive, which is something we can thank Satriani for. When used with a decent cabinet, you can really feel the power in all channels, especially OD2 in Red mode. Whether you are looking for that recto tone, or just a neutral Marshall signature, you will undoubtedly find it.
Let’s start with the clean channel. On default setting, it sound more or less like your standard Marshall clean. There’s plenty of girth and warmth, plus you get that classic tube vibe going. Switch it to Orange mode and you got yourself a bit more gain. When you hit the Red mode, things go a bit crazy as the result feels like boost pedal driven clean tone.
Crunch is probably the most versatile channel on the amp. You can take it anywhere from Hendrix territory to what sounds like JCM800 on steroids. Similar description can be applied to the OD1 channel. The default setting, or Green mode, sounds very similar to Crunch on Red. However with enough difference to be noticed. In Orange mode, you are well within proper metal tone. Push it into Red and you got a whole new level of gain in your signal.
Now, OD2 is where things get crazy. The only way to describe it is to compare it to high gain Marshall tube tone we all grew to like – one that works with anything from rock to metal. However, push it into Red mode and you’re really taking the brakes off the train. The amount of gain available is ludicrous, but works extremely well with modern metal tones. As a matter of fact, this thing is a perfect metal machine.
At the end of the day, Marshall’s JVM410H is an amp on a level of its own. Satriani took the vanilla version and completely opened it up. Channel profiles he went with can be deemed extreme by some, but they work for what he looks for in amplification. If you are not into Satriani’s music, JVM410H might be attractive to you if you need what feels like an infinite source of gain. What we like about it is that no matter how much gain you it pushes out, it never feels chaotic. There is definition and control on a level that can only be found in true stage worthy amps. Needless to say, Marshall JVM410H belongs to this category. Is it worth the price? That question had more relevance back when JVM410H first hit the stores. These days it’s an easy yes.