Of Amps And Apps – An Interview On The New Marshall CODE Series

Marshall CODE series unveiled at NAMM 2016

New Marshall CODE series

Marshall have been very busy recently, releasing two great new series of amps at NAMM 2016, namely the CODE and 2525 Mini Jubilee. It is the CODE series that has really captured our attention, with its huge selection of classic preprogrammed sounds and its seemless connectivity with smart devices.

At the NAMM 2016 show, Dawsons caught up with Steve Smith (Product Specialist and Demonstrator) and David Randall (App Software Developer) at Marshall to talk through the benefits of this innovative new series.

Could you please give a brief introduction to the CODE range of amps that Marshall is showing at NAMM?

The CODE is our new range of digital guitar amplifiers. This includes the 25 watt combo CODE25 , which is the smallest one, and we also have the CODE50 and CODE100 combos.

Feature wise they’re all the same, so a guy with the 25 watt amp will have the same capabilities as someone with the 100 watt amp. This means the same amount of effects, pre-amps, power outputs etc.

How user friendly is this series?

The actual amplifier itself is pretty easy to use. We have our traditional settings on the top – gain, bass, middle, treble where you’d expect them to be. Above those, we have different buttons that are our signal flow.

We have pre-effects first, which are ‘stomp’ style effects, like compressor or distortion pedals, which are completely built-in. Then we have the pre-amp type effects, which includes modulation effects such as flangers, chorus, delays and reverbs.

Further along we have the power amp and cabinet type effects, with which you can mix and match any combination of pre-amps with different power amps or different cabinets, mixing British and American sounds.

Marshall CODE panel

How do you get generate distortion/overdrive through the amp?

A lot of that is down to the characteristics of the different pre-amps, so if you go for a high gain American pre-amp then you are going to get distortion anyway. Conversely a Fender clean is going to give you a ‘clean’ sound. There is additional distortion available though,  as there are 3 distortion pedals actually in the pre-effects unit.

Are these used to emulate specific effects pedals?

Not really, they are mostly generic overdrive/distortion, although there is one that is emulating one of our stompboxes – the Marshall Guv’nor.

Further to this, the pre-amps are designed to model some of the best loved Marshall tones, such as the JTM45 2245, the 1962 Bluesbreaker and the 1959SLP Plexi among many others.

Could you tell us a little bit more about the integrated app?

Everything that you can do on the amp you can do on the panel, or you can connect wirelessly with Bluetooth to an app, which we have called Marshall Gateway, which is a free download for iOS or Android devices.

That enables you to control any parameter or setting directly from your phone or tablet – volume, tones, presets and everything in between. So you can completely remotely control the settings on the amp via the app, and it also works vice versa, so any change to the amp setting will be picked up by the app in real time.

The Marshall CODE family of amps

What pushed Marshall towards this more digital route?

I think it is the way the market is now –  people want a lot of features when they go to buy an amp. Also, the processing power is there now to make sure you actually get a good sound out of it!

What are some of the further key benefits of this digital approach?

Firstly it is very reliable, and also you can get the same sound at any volume you want. With a valve amp, traditionally you have to crank it to get the sound you want out of it, but with the CODE you can get your perfect tone in lots of different settings.

Also, it’s not just for the guy that’s just starting out and wants an ‘all in one’ amp that does a bit of everything. For me personally, I love having one of these at home instead of a big amp sat in the corner of the living room with loads of pedals, which takes up a lot of space. Plus you can get a good tone out of a low volume, so it is a perfect practise amp.

Another feature that makes it great for practise is the music playback, which means you can easily jam over the top of your favourite Zeppelin track.

Can you gig with the CODE as well as use it as a practise amp?

You can definitely gig with these, especially as we have the 100 watt head which you can connect to a 4×12 cabinet. For the type of player who might need a lot of different sounds at a gig, so they might be a session musician or play in a function band, this is a lifesaver. They’re playing 2 hours straight of quite a variety of music, so they could well need a different preset for each song.

Lastly, could you tell us a little about how to use the amp presets?

If we look on the actual amp itself, we can change any of the sounds by going through the library, where you have 100 presets. And you can store over any of those, so you can have 100 of your own sounds instead. Independently on the library on the app, you can have a further separate 100 sounds, and still play those through the amp without having to store them on there. So effectively you have a couple of hundred preset sounds at your disposal ready to go.

You can also walk up to somebody else’s amp, connect to it, and play your sounds without affecting whats on their unit, which is great for bands with several guitarists, or just jamming with friends.

So the amp is easy enough to use on its own, but its even easier to use with the app!


About The Author

Gary Thomas is a guitarist and songwriter from Shropshire, England. A lifelong classical guitarist, Gary has also written, performed and recorded with several rock bands, and also as an acoustic solo artist. When he is not writing content for Dawsons, Gary dedicates time to recording his own material and learning pieces by some of his heroes, including Nick Drake and Elliott Smith.