Do you crave the nostalgia of tube amps? Got an itch to play blues or classic rock styles that only a tube amp can scratch? In this Marshall Origin 20c review we’ll take a look at the middle sibling of Marshall’s Origin series. The Origin 20 is a rebuttal of digital and modelling amps, but does this homage to the old school have a place in a crowded market? Let’s find out.
Overview of the Marshall Origin 20C
The Origin series draws inspiration from the classic Marshall Plexi amps, both in design and in some of the tones it can produce. Let’s start with the basics. The Origin 20 produces 20 watts of output through a single 10″ Celestion speaker.
The amp houses 5 tubes in total. 3 ECC83 pre-amp tubes, which can cope with high gain and 2 EL34 power-amp tubes. These take their inspiration from the classic tubes of the 1950’s and are still much loved by tube amp enthusiasts. If you’ve not had any experience with tube amps one thing to bear in mind is that tubes can blow. When that happens you need to replace them, which can sometimes be expensive.
The Origin has a “Powerstem” control, which enables you to select between high (20 watts), medium (about 10 watts) and low (about 5 watts) power modes. This is all controlled via a vintage style switch on the control panel of the amp.
There’s only one channel but there’s a gain boost feature, which you can control via the control panel or via the included footswitch. You lose the ability to control gain on separate channels, however you can still switch between a sort of clean and overdriven sound. You may require a separate overdrive pedal to be able to properly flit between the clean and overdriven sounds dependent on your personal preference.
The footswitch can also be used to toggle the effects loop on and off. The Origin 20 has a full 3 band EQ and additionally “tilt” and “presence” controls. Effectively the tilt and presence boosts the brightness, so use it carefully. You don’t need much of either to create a balanced tone.
As with all tube amps, the master volume has a big say on how much overdrive is applied to the output. Mixed with the gain boost you can create some classic dirty overdriven sounds. That’s really all there is to the controls, which makes it super simple to use.
The Origin draws it’s styling from the classic Marshall amps, and the control switches have a vintage feel to them too. At the back of the amp are jacks for the footswitch, effects loop send and receive and DI output for connecting to a recording device or mixing desk. Its worth noting that the gain boost control on the top panel is disabled when the footswitch is connected.
There’s no headphones jack with the Origin 20, so you need to rely on the low power setting if you want bedroom practice without disturbing the neighbors.
The problem with the low power mode is that it sounds a bit weak when the gain is dialed up. It’s much better in either the mid or high power modes if you want to crank the gain. Being a tube amp, the Origin is great for Blues, Classic British rock and Rock and Roll styles, but it’s not great for higher gain styles such as metal.
It’s loud enough to play a small venue, but I don’t think it’ll cut it if you’re playing with a particularly loud band, or in a bigger venue. You’d either need to mic it up, or use something with a little more punch (like the Origin 50).
In terms of size the amp isn’t huge, but it has some weight to it. Weighing in at 31lbs or 13.9kg, there are lighter options, but then they aren’t tube amps, right?
Here’s a short video that’ll give you an idea of how the Origin sounds.
The Origin 20 is certainly great for those who like a classic sound that only a tube amp can provide. Here are some of the best bits:
- Great for blues and classic rock
- Footswitch included
- Power attenuator
There are a few issues with the Origin 20. I’m not going to focus on the lack of features, because this isn’t a modelling amp. Here are some of the issues with the Origin 20C.
- Not suitable for high-gain styles
- Single channel
The Marshall Origin 20C is great for classic rock and blues styles, and for scratching the itch if you’re hankering for a good old fashioned tube amp. One of the big issues is the power output. Tube amps tend to sound better when they have power head room. For that reason you might be better off spending an extra few hundred dollars and going for the Origin 50.
When compared to modern digital amps, you are paying a premium for the Origin. For example, you can get a Boss Katana 50 for over $200 less, packing 50 watts of power and a whole bunch of features. I realize that might be like offering Kryptonite to Superman for some, but it’s worth making the point.
Not sure what amp might suit you? Take a look at my post that explains a little more about guitar amps. I hope you’ve found this post useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Whether you decide on a tube amp or a more modern digital amp, find you tone and make some noise!
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