The History of: JCM800


The History of: JCM800

The story of a true amp legend.

In 1981, Marshall had reached the end of a fifteen-year with their exclusive amp distributor, Rose-Morris, and following on from this deal the JCM800 Series was introduced (the name originating from Jim Marshall’s initials and car registration plate). Now more iconic across the globe than most amplifiers in history, the amps were first announced in March of 1981 and quickly became ‘the sound’ for rock and metal bands through the eighties due to their high gain sound.

Evolving from its original ‘Plexi’ head, some of the most unique features to this amp were the gold panel and grille cloth design, the JCM800 logo in bold writing, along with Jim Marshall’s signature, the master volume (2203/2204 models) and an effects loop. The JCM series were also the first to feature combos that had controls conveniently placed on the front of the amplifier, rather than the top.

In 1982, Marshall launched the first channel switching amp with built-in reverb, the 4210. This allowed the player to switch between clean and dirty, high gain tones. Through the years, the amp went through many circuit changes and refinements. The most iconic of all is the 2203 100-Watt version (’81-’84), which, to many is knighted as ‘The JCM800’ model. Built with one channel, no reverb and bags of tone, the reservoir caps in this model were changed which created a more solid and aggressive sound.

This amplifier was a huge success and helped define the tone of thousands of rock and metal bands of the era. It was eventually preceded by the JCM900 which featured more gain, lower noise and a high/low switch which drops the amp’s power from 100 to 50 Watts.

The JCM800 2203 is still available today in Marshall’s Vintage Reissue series, find out more here. The JCM800 2203 Re-Issue features all the classic features that made this amp so popular, the only modern addition being a tonally transparent Series FX Loop.

Still used today as much as it ever has been, the JCM800 2203 is favoured by many artists, including Kerry King of Slayer, James Lynch of Dropkick Murphys, Chris Webb of Milk Teeth, and Mike Duce of Lower Than Atlantis.

For a more detailed look in to the history of the JCM800, purchase a copy of The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years.

Find out more about the JCM800 2203 at