Marshall is one of the most well-known guitar and bass amplifier brands in the world. These amps have been used by renowned guitarists, such as The Who’s Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, and even Guns N’ Roses’ very own Slash.
Given how popular they are, have you ever wondered where Marshall amps are made? For your information, their factories are located in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and the UK.
Well, in this article, you will find out which country the brand originated from, as well as who the founder is and how it grew to be a global phenomenon.
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Where It All Began
Marshall amps are made in many countries nowadays, but the original Marshall amp had its main headquarters in London. It was founded by Jim Marshall and his son Terry Marshall in the ‘60s.
Jim Marshall was a professional drummer and drum instructor, while his son, Terry, was a Saxophone player. Jim used some of the money he had saved from his drumming days to build a humble shop at 76 Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, West London, in 1960. Then, in 1962, he hired Ken Bran to repair amplifiers.
One day, Bran told Jim that it wouldn’t make sense to buy so many amplifiers from other brands if they could just make their own. So, that’s what Jim did!
Fender was Marshall’s fiercest competitor back in the day. The said brand made high-quality amplifiers that produce good sound. The problem is that these amps are quite expensive, at least for most people at the time.
The idea was to create Marshall speakers that would rival Fender’s, only cheaper. And so, in 1962, the “Number One,” more popularly known as the JTM45, was born.
1. The JTM45
JTM, if you’re wondering, stands for “Jim and Terry Marshall.” It was simple yet effective. It had a good mix of controls where you could tinker with the bass, mid, and treble. But, this amp was iconic because it was able to create that “overdrive” sound, characterized by that infamous “crunch.”
While Jim and Terry handled the other parts of the amplifier, it was Bran and an electric whizz named Dudley Craven, who took care of the product’s inner workings.
The number “45” tells you the amp’s rated power of 45 RMS. RMS, also known as Root Mean Square, simply means the average power that the amplifier can handle. In layman’s terms, it tells you how loud the amp can be.
The JTM45 is an important part of the company’s history as it spawned other popular products, such as the JCM800 and JCM900.
2. Marshall Amp Manufacturing Locations
In 2010, the brand partnered with Zound Industries, a tech company located in Sweden. Since then, the two companies have expanded to different countries to further satisfy the global demand for Marshall speakers
- Right now, Marshall’s headquarters is located at Bletchley, Milton Keynes, in South Central England. However, the company also has an HQ in Stockholm, Sweden.
- Aside from Europe, Marshall has established manufacturing sites in Asia as well, particularly in Hong Kong and Vietnam. For example, Marshall Amplification Vietnam (MAV) currently employs over 300
The Difference Between Those Made in the UK and Vietnam
Now that you know that Marshall amplifiers are being manufactured in multiple production countries, what do you think is the difference between the ones made in the United Kingdom and those built in Vietnam?
The major difference is that most amps made in Vietnam use MDF – a type of heavy particle wood often known to muddy the sound blasted by the speakers. However, MDF is typically known to be sturdy compared to plywood, which most UK-made Marshall amps are made of.
Another major difference is the price. The pricing of the products is influenced by a number of factors, including local laws, production costs, utility expenses, etc. That’s why you’ll see that UK-made Marshall amplifiers are noticeably more expensive than the ones built in Vietnam.
Benefits of Buying a UK-made Marshall Amp
Even though the brand has expanded to multiple production countries, you could say that nothing beats the original. Now, are there benefits to buying a Marshall amp built in the UK? Yes, there are! Here are some of them:
1. Traditional Standards
Believe it or not, there are a lot of purists out there who would only purchase products directly from the source. But that aside, Marshall amps made in the UK are likely made with the traditional standards set by its founder.
2. Better Resale Value
Amplifiers are pretty sturdy. In fact, when it’s handled well, it can last for so many years! If it ever comes to a point that you have to sell it, a UK-made amp will probably have better resale value than those manufactured in other countries.
3. Iconic Crunch
While the company’s products have specifications, it could be that the ones produced in the UK have a more pronounced crunch – the sound that Marshall has been known for.
Marshall amps were originally made in the UK by professional drummer Jim Marshall, his son Terry Marshall, Ken Bran, and Dudley Craven in 1962.
The original amp was the JTM45, which produced the company’s iconic “crunch” sound that many musicians know and love.
In 2010, the company partnered with Swedish tech company Zound Industries. Since then, the brand has had production plants in multiple countries, including Sweden, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.
To this day, Marshall amps are regarded as one of the best in the industry. So, are you going to get one for yourself soon?
Sam Stephenson is a writer who grew up in Washington, North Carolina. He was 2010 and 2015 ASCAP Deems Taylor / Virgil Thomson Prize winner and a 2019-2020 Guggenheim Fellow in General Nonfiction. His books have been published by W.W. Norton, Alfred A. Knopf, and Farrar, Straus and Giroux