Marshall DSL40CR 2020: Review and opinion on this combo

Marshall DSL40CR 2020: Review and opinion on this combo
Share this article on

Marshall DSL40CR, review in which we analyze the characteristics of this great amplifier, we share our opinion on this British audio combo.

Marshall DSL40CR amplifier review

The Marshall DSL40 is the 40-watt midline combo amplifier from the iconic English manufacturer. This 100% tube amp is made in Indonesia while the previous version was built in Vietnam. The new DSL40, the DSL40C has been on the market for just over 3 years.

The Marshall DSL40CR is based on the classic JCM2000 DSL model. DSL stands for Dual Super Lead, as it has two channels. The Classic Gain, which has a gain structure that gives you the clean and crunch of the classic 1959 SLP. The second channel is the Ultra Gain whose gain structure is similar to that of the 2203 circuit or better known as the Marshall JCM800, delivering the classic Marshall high-gain -high-gain- audio.

Marshall DSL40CR: Review and opinion on this combo amp.

Marshall DSL40CR: British audio versatility

As mentioned above, this amp delivers both vintage and modern British audio. Which makes it a great amp for any type of style ranging from Blues, Classic Rock, to Hard Rock.

Its two channels also have two different modes, which practically transforms it into a 4-channel amplifier. Unlike the previous version, the modes are also Footswitchables, which is a huge improvement.

  • Classic Gain Channel / Clean Mode: This channel will give you warm, clean audio with enough brightness. It also works very well as a platform for the pedals. With this channel you can get Jimi Hendrix or Red Hot Chili Peppers type tones.
  • Classic Gain Channel / Crunch Mode: This mode would be the classic audio for which Marshall is so well known. It is a warm, mids crunch, classic from the 70’s. Ideal for both Blues to Classic Rock. You can get sounds like AC / DC, Led Zeppelin, and many others.
  • Ultra Gain Channel / OD1 Mode: This channel delivers Marshall’s classic 80’s highgain audio. With a sound approaching the famous JCM800, this channel / mode is ideal for playing Rock solos or playing Guns’ n Roses Slash-like Hard Rock styles.
  • Ultra Gain Channel / OD2 Mode: This is a channel that you will only need or use in case you like really hard rock. This channel / mode of the Marshall DSL40CR has tons of gains and lots of compression. Also, this mode is ideal for shredders who love the Marshall tone.

Marshall DSL40: Features

Marshall DSL40 Valves or Tubes

The preamp tubes are four 12AX7 / ECC83 tubes and the power amp tubes are two EL34s. One of the great things about the EL34 is that it is the tubes that give the traditional Marshall sound.

Two Master Volume

This is an improvement of the new version over the previous one, the DSL40C. These two controls are new, and are independent of the volumes of each of the channels. With this addition and the possibility of changing modes with the pedal, the DSL40 adds functionalities of the most modern amplifier of the brand the JVM. With a footswitch that is a digital controller, you can handle virtually all amp options. Remember that only the channels -no modes- and the reverb -ON / OFF- could be controlled from the Footswitch.

This allows two different volume levels to be used by activating one Master Volume or another. Thus, they can use it as a volume booster.

Marshall DSL40CR controls.

Marshall DSL 40 CR Reverb

The reverb or just reverb on this amp is digital but it sounds great. This is another very notable improvement over the previous version, in which the reverb left a lot to be desired.

Footswitch Stock

The amplifier comes with an included PEDL-90012 footswitch. This is two buttons: Channel and FX Loop. This only allows you to change channels and activate or deactivate the FX Loop – effects loop-. But it does not allow to select between the two Master or the modes of each channel.

In order to select between any combination of Channel / Mode, or Master, a PEDL-91016 Footswitch is required. This is the FS that comes in the Marshall JVM. Its functionality allows you to fully exploit this equipment. But it is worth clarifying that they are not cheap footswitches, it costs over € 80 in Europe, and USD 150 in America.

Marshall DSL40CR back.

FX Effect Loop

It has a serial FX Loop that allows you to use modulations at the same time as you use the saturation of the amp. It responds perfectly to delays or any other type of modulation effect. Finally, it can be turned on and off with the Footswitch.

Marshall DSL40CR speaker

Another improvement over the previous version. The new DSL40 features a Celestion V-Type, which has warmer, more classic audio than the Seventy 80 found on the previous model or the current DSL20.

Celestion V-Type, an excellent guitar speaker with mid-price.

Power attenuator

It is becoming more and more common to find dimmers. The Marshall DSL40CR is no exception and can be lowered to 20 watts. After many tests, at Guitarriego we believe that in most cases they are more so that guitarists feel calmer than anything else.

Most amplifiers when you use them attenuated lose audio quality, frequencies and tone. Therefore, with few exceptions, for example when you do not have Master or Gain volume, it is better to use the amplifier without attenuating its power by setting the volume to a lower level, than to attenuate it and turn the volume higher.

Quite simply, a 40 watt amp that is attenuated to 20 watts does not sound like it is actually 20 watts.

Does the Marshall DSL40CR get along with effects pedals?

As we said above, the effects loop or FX Loop handles the pedals perfectly. On the other hand, like all Marshall, you can throw any gain pedal, be it a booster, overdrive, fuzz or distortion that the amp takes them perfect.

An ‘all inclusive’ combo

With four channel and mode combinations, independent reverb for each channel, two masters, and effects loop, this pedal is ‘all inclusive’. Unless you’re a fan of gain pedals, you won’t need them with this amp.

Marshall DSL40CR: Review and opinion on this new combo amp version.

Tone Shift: a lower tone

The Tone Shift button is an option that allows you to change the EQ of the amp. It allows to achieve a more Scooped audio to achieve heavier audios.

The new Marshall DSL40 better than previous versions

As we saw, this amp is a great improvement over its previous version. Without a doubt, the brand did its job very well with this new Marshall DSL40CR.

Marshall DSL40 with Marshall Block Vintage logo.
As in the previous version, there is a special edition with a vintage logo aesthetic.

Marshall DSL40CR vs Marshall DSL40C

The Marshall DSL40CR, that is, the new version, comes with more and better features / functionalities than its older brother, the DSL40C. Although we already saw many, we reviewed it.

  • The new version brings two additional Master controls that the version did not have, allowing you to use different volumes without the need for any booster.
  • The new Marshall DSL40 is compatible with the PEDL-91016, six button Footswitch that comes in the JVM line. This allows the modes of each channel to be footswitchable, transforming it into a four-channel rig in practice. It also allows you to select between the two masters.
  • The new speaker is the Celestion V-Type, which while not high-end Celestion like the Creamback or Vintage 30, is a better option than the speaker from the previous version, the Seventy 80. Provided warmer and classic tones.
  • The gain structure of the Ultra Gain channel of the new DSL40CR is more balanced than that of the previous DSL40C, which was over-gain. The OD1 mode is more similar to the Crunch mode of the Classic Gain, making audio more coherent and balanced between the different channels and modes. An excellent improvement.
  • The digital reverb of the previous version was really very bad.
Marshall DSL40 Cream / Cream Limited Edition
Marshall DSL40 Cream Limited Edition

Build quality of the Marshall DSL40CR

The amp is well finished and looks solid. The original tubes are of acceptable quality, in principle they can be used perfectly, although you may prefer to invest in better tubes to get the best possible tone, but it is not really necessary.

Marshall DSL40 vs DSL20

The Marshall DSL 20 is a very solid amp as well. However, there are some advantages that put the DSL 40 over the DSL20CR. Here we list the advantages of both the Marshall DSL40 and the DSL20.

Advantages of the Marshall DSL20 over the DSL40

  • Marshall DSL 40 has more tonal options by having the two modes per channel that the DSL20 does not.
  • DSL40CR has independent reverb for each channel, the DSL20C has a single general one.
  • The two masters are available in the 40 watt version but not in the 20 watt version.
  • The speaker on the Marshall DSL40 is a Celestion V-Type and the one on the DSL20 is a Seventy 80, being another advantage in favor of the 40 watt version.
  • In addition to a better speaker, the Marshall DSL 40’s cabinet size, being much larger, gives a more fat audio. Which equates to a bigger sound on the DSL40CR vs the DSL20CR.
  • Finally, the 40 watts gives you more headroom to play in larger venues or open venues, which with the DSL20 will be tighter. Plus they both sound great at low volume.

Advantages of the Marshall DSL20 over the DSL40

  • The Marshall DSL 20 is naturally much lighter.
  • Maybe if you never take it out, the DSL40 is too big to play at home and the DSL20 is more of a fit in your space.
  • Logically the DSL20 is cheaper than the DSL40.
20 watt version of the new Dual Super Lead.
20-watt Marshall DSL20CR

Marshall DSL40CR: Price

The selling price of the new Marshall DSL40 in large online instrument stores is € 648 in Europe and USD 749.99 in USA.

Conclusion and final opinion on the Marshall DSL40CR

Marshall has done an excellent job with this new DSL40. While the version was already pretty good, it had some shortcomings or limitations:

  • Unable to control modes from the footswitch
  • Bad reverb
  • Improvable speaker
  • Unbridled gain on the Ultra Gain channel that was not fully compatible with the Classic Gain channel.

All these limitations, the new DSL40CR corrects them very well and effectively. In addition, he adds the double Master. In our opinion it is a great option for the ‘Marshall-ish’ guitarist who plays in a band and needs versatility of use.

For more information on the guitar, visit Marshall web site.

Related Posts: The 16 Most Iconic Classic Guitar Amps Ever and Best Free VST Guitar Amp Simulators.

You can share opinions or also chat about this and more with other musicians in our comments section.

Share this article on


We are a team of guitarists, bassists and ukulelist who are passionate about teaching music, testing instruments and equipment related to guitar, bass and ukulele.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *