The History of: Valvestate


The History of: Valvestate

Exploring the history of the ever popular Valvestate Series.

With Marshall dominating the world of guitar amplification with the JCM and reissue models in the late eighties, the company decided to step into the world of solid state amplification in 1991. Enter the Valvestate series. With its signature look and unique technology, it quickly became one of the best selling guitar amps.

Aside from a few of the models, the Valvestate technique was to put a single 12AX7 (ECC83) valve into the preamp section of the amplifier, whilst the rest of the amp retains its solid-state technology. Thus, creating a hybrid, valve-state amplifier. Retaining all the traditional Marshall valve tone in a much more reliable and robust amp.

During the valve-state period the amp was released in a large assortment of head, combo and cab configurations, including stereo chorus combos, racks, heads and a variety of different cab sizes. The amps were originally met with some speculation from the market, due to most people being committed to an all-valve sound, but the series sold extremely well and were met with an extremely positive reaction.

“There’s no way one combo can handle every style convincingly, or replace prized items like small vintage combos and modern hi-gain valve heads, but Marshall’s 8280 comes as close to that ideal as any I’ve heard, and closer than most. At least six distinct, good-quality sounds are available with ease…” – Guitar Magazine

One feature that the Valvestate series became popular for was the ‘Contour’ knob. This knob controlled and re-shaped the mid tones, taking you from vintage blues to modern metal tones. The valve-state amps were most famously used by artists such as Tommy Victor (Prong), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top) and Chuck Schuldiner (Death)


Although these amps remain extremely popular they have since been replaced with different solid-state configurations, and were followed on by the MG series amplifiers.

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