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7 Jul 2020

Review: Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage 1959SLP 20W guitar amp

instruments Review: Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage 1959SLP 20W guitar amp

In collaboration with Algam Benelux we wrote the following review about the Marshall SV20C Studio Vintage 1959SLP guitar amplifier. 

The in London based company Marshall is bringing back the legendary amplifiers of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s in a small format. This Marshall studio line was announced at Winter NAMM 2019 and it features these relatively small studio amplifiers in which both a combo and head variant are available.

SV20C Studio Vintage

This amplifier was designed to capture the sound of the big and loud 1965 released Plexi amps which deserved their name to their original Plexiglas front panel which is also introduced in this SV20C. Like all amplifiers in this studio line, this amp is provided with a three-position standby switch for either 20W, 5W, or standby. It also has the usual controls such as: presence, bass, middle, treble, high treble/loudness I, normal/loudness II. So the SV20C has both normal and bright channels, each with gain control and two input jacks. As on vintage Plexi’s, there’s no master volume, but you can summon extra gain by linking the channels with a jumper wire.


  • 4 input channels (2 x high, 2 x low) "Lead and Bass"
  • 20W output (with power reduction option to 5W)
  • Celestion V-type 10” speaker (16Ω, 50W)
  • 2 x ECC83, 1 x ECC83 preamp valves (phase splitter)
  • DI-out
  • Weighs about 16 kg
  • Also available as head amplifier (SV20H)
SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage

The sound

Do you want a sound like Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin? Then this might be the amplifier for you. The SV20C does not only sound awesome with all the drive you can add up to the sound but clean it sound pretty good as well. Also, it is nice to have the big sound of the Plexi in a smaller size so you won’t damage your ears. The treble of this amp is sharp and aggressive while the bass is very clean and responsive and captures the full sound. Check out the video above for a small sound fragment (03:45 - 04:09).

The sound varies, in terms of John Mayer, to mode 2: Only Heart (Heavier Things), to mode 4: Perfectly Lonely (Battle Studies), to mode 5: Good Love Is On The Way (Where the Light Is). From here we come more to the examples below of Led Zeppelin and Queen.


The characteristic sound of an amplifier with vacuum tubes is absolutely not lacking here. The SV20C uses 3xECC83 tubes in the preamp and 2xEL34 tubes in the output stage. By adjusting the normal channel you increase or decrease the thickness of your overdrive to the edge of distortion. For the sound á la Immigrant Song and Black Dog (Led Zeppelin) or Queen I and II, turn this nice towards 10 and count on it, that once the tubes have warmed up, this new edition will give you a rock-n-roll sound!

SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage
SV20C Studio Vintage


Given that it is a tube amplifier with heavy transformers, at 16 kg the SV20C is compact and portable enough to be called 'portable'. With the sturdy handle, it is easy to pick up this box and take it to a gig and that is exactly what Marshall is aiming for with these new reissue series. To pack a punch in a relatively small package and she certainly did.


This new series from Marshall gives the option to connect additional speakers. On this model, the connectors are mounted perpendicularly downwards for a clean look at the front and back. If you still need more decibels, you can connect external speakers and use the SV20C as a stack. Here there is room for up to 4 extra speakers, of which you can choose how many Ohm (Ω) speakers you want to use.

Speaker setups per connection that are possible:

  1. 1x16Ω (here the built-in speaker is already connected)
  2. 1x8Ω (if you use this together with 3, you can connect a single 16Ω speaker)
  3. 1x8Ω (if you use it together with 2, you can connect a single 16Ω speaker)
  4. 1x4Ω (if you use this together with 5, you can connect a single 8Ω speaker)
  5. 1x4Ω (if you use it together with 4, you can connect a single 8Ω speaker)

So in total, you could have connected 5 speakers:

1x16Ω + 2x8Ω + 2x4Ω


This amplifier is perfect for gigging guitarists or studio musicians. Especially when you want to have that big Plexi sound but you don’t have the room or money for the original 1959. Additionally, this amp could excellently be used as a pedal platform with its dedicated effects loop.

To sample some of the musicians who have used the original version: Jimmy Page, Angus Young, Randy Rhoads, Slash, and John Frusciante. This in itself gives a reason to try the amplifier. From rock to heavy metal, this amp gives you the ability to overdrive to the edge of distortion. The authentic Marshall Plexi sound is a phenomenon in itself and makes the simplest licks sound good.

In our video review, the amp is played with a Les Paul and with a nice clean sound. We did this to let you hear the beginning of the range and give you the idea, compared to the aforementioned artists, what range the SV20C has. Compared to the 1959 original, the reissue is more portable and affordable with the same great sound.

In the following song, the bassist (John Paul Jones) and the guitarist (Jimmy Page) both use a Marshall 1959SLP Plexi:

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