Marshall MG Series Review
Marshall MG CFX Guitar Amps
Marshall MG series guitar amps have been around for a long time, and models like the MG15CFX, MG30CFX and MG100HCFX meet the needs of a wide array of guitar players. They're reliable, great-sounding solid-state amps that capture that legendary Marshall sound.
Marshall is a leader in the amplifier industry, and known for mind-blowing tube amps with their classic British tone. With the MG Series they let you bring that legendary Marshall attitude to practice, to the stage or to the recording studio for a fair price. There is no beating a Marshall tube amp, but the MG Series may be the next best thing.
If you think you know the MG series, you might want to look again. A few years back I probably would have told you, except for the MG15 and maybe MG30 for practice, you were better off looking elsewhere when it came to solid-state amps.
Now, it seems Marshall has improved the MG Series to the point where the larger models are viable options for gigging musicians. Today's Marshall MG amps sound even better now than in previous generations.
There are a few different versions of these amps, from the bare-bones models with no effects, to the "R" models which feature only reverb. In this article we'll look at the CFX versions, with onboard effects that sound amazing and are very easy to use. The Carbon Fibre look is just icing on the cake, and gives these amps a unique appearance.
There are a lot of choices out there, but you know Marshall is one of the top guitar amp brands in the world. Here's a look at the Marshall MG Series along with my thoughts and advice on each model.
The MG15CFX is one of the best small guitar amps you're going to find, and the pre-Carbon Fibre version was my practice amp for a long time.
This little dynamo pushes 15 watts through an 8-inch speaker and features four channels (Clean, Crunch, OD1 and OD2) along with six very good effects: Reverb, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Delay and Octave. The reverb can be applied independently of the other effects, and your settings are programmable.
This is an outstanding little amp that packs more features than you'd expect. It's even footswitch compatible.
If you want an amp with a bunch of bells and whistles you may be better off with something like the Fender Mustang Series. But, if you are looking for a straight-up rock amp, a beginner's amp, a practice amp or a portable amp for jamming with friends, this is a great choice.
I give the MG15CFX high marks for sound and value.
Check out the Marshall MG15CFX
MG15CFXMS Mini Stack
The MG15 also comes in mico-stack form. How cool is that? The MG15CFXMS Marshall Mini Stack features all the good stuff I mentioned about the MG15CFX, except instead of a single 8-inch speaker it is setup as a head plus a pair of 10-inch speaker cabinets.
That means this little stack is essentially like a 15-watt 2x10 combo, and it's going to sound bigger and beefier than the MG15CFX 1x8 combo.
When you dream of owning a Marshall full stack this probably isn't what you imagine, but it's a worthy amp all the same. It doesn't take up a lot of space, but of course toting it around means dealing with three separate pieces.
A better choice would be to set up the Marshall MG15CFXMS somewhere in your home where you'll be able to plug in and play any time you want. For experienced guitarists it's a great accessory for a man cave (or woman cave) or den.
The MG30CFX is what I think of as an "in between" amp. That means it really doesn't have the power to gig or rehearse with a band, but it's bigger than most practice amps.
Still, I'd call it a practice amp, and if you want something with a bigger speaker and a bit more power than the MG15 it is a good choice.
Otherwise, these two amps are quite similar. A larger 10-inch speaker means a bit better projection and better low end. More wattage (30 watts vs 15) means slightly more headroom. In other words, you can turn the amp up louder before it starts to break up.
I mentioned the MG30 in my post on top guitar amps under $200, but it wasn't the best of the lot. If you intend to play at lower volume levels the upgrade from the MG15CFX to MG30CFX will mean better sound.
If you intend to play loud, you'll get more out of the MG30CFX. But remember it is still not going to be loud enough to play with a live drummer. You'd need to mic it up for that, or choose a more powerful model in the MG series.
The next three amps in the Marshall MG lineup feature very similar preamp sections, but vary in their power output and speaker compliment.
The MG50CFX is the smallest of the three, with a power rating of 50 watts and a single 12-inch speaker.
Is this amp powerful enough for a band situation? Personally, I'd never think about playing with a live drummer with a solid-state amp under 100 watts. However, I was always in heavy rock bands, and if you play in a lighter genre with a more restrained drummer you may get by with the MG50CFX.
The MG50CFX, MG101CFX and MG102CFX feature four channels like the smaller MG models, but a more advanced palette of effects to choose from. There's also an external speaker jack and effects loop.
Hear the Marshall MG50CFX
The MG101CFX made the cut for my top guitar amps under $500 post. Most of the other amps were digital modeling amps, and onboard effects were part of the criteria.
However, what I like about the Marshall is the limited but very functional effects section along with a more classic interface for dialing in solid-state overdrive sounds.
You can gig with this amp, and use it in your band. With the footswitch and available effects you won't need any external pedal, which will make setting up your rig much easier.
However, there might be a better choice if you want a powerful Marshall solid-state amp for gigs and band rehearsal:
This is the next step up from the MG101CFX and features a pair of 12-inch speakers instead of a single. This allows better projection and, while it won't make the amp any more powerful, can make it sound fuller.
Because of this additional air movement thanks to the extra speaker, the MG102CFX is a good choice for guitarists who don't feel like carrying a half-stack around. It's a nice middle-of-the-road option and still allows for good volume, tone and of course all of the features already outlined in the Marshall MG series.
MG100HCFX Head and Stack
Or, maybe you do feel like carrying around a half-stack. If so, the MG100HCFX head is a very affordable way to get one. It has all the great features and sound of the MG50CFX, MG101CFX and MG102CFX packed into a head.
Combined with the Marshall MG412ACF 4x12 cabinet, there are few better ways for up-and-coming guitarists and hobby players to put together a budget half-stack that sounds awesome. Or, throw in the MG412BCF bottom cabinet too for a full stack.
Bet you never imagined you could grab a full Marshall stack for around $1000!
For big boys who like big toys the half or full-stack version of the Marshall MG is the way to go.
Which Marshall MG is Right for You?
So how do you choose your Marshall? All I can do is give you my opinion, so here it is:
If I wanted a practice amp, or if I was a beginner looking for my first guitar amp, the MG15CFX is one of the best options out there. You can upgrade to the MG30CFX if you feel you need the bigger speaker and greater power.
If I wanted an amp for my recreation room, or somewhere people would see it, and I wanted it to be as much a conversation piece as a usable, great-sounding amp, I'd choose either the MGCFXMS mini stack, or the full MG100CFX stack.
Yeah, maybe that sounds weird, but to me both "stacks" have the same function. They aren't really practical, but they are so darned cool to have around and play.
That said, I also think the MG100CFX half stack is a good choice for younger players and hobby players who want a half stack with the word "Marshall" on it, but don't have a lot of cash to spend.
If I were in band and needed an amp for gigging and rehearsal, I'd choose the Marshall MG102CFX. The MG101CFX would be fine too, but I think I'd prefer the extra speaker.
The MG50CFX is a great amp for hobby and bedroom players who want a feature-packed, great-sounding amp, but know they aren't going to need it for playing in a loud band. For softer styles, it may work fine.
So, there you have it: My thoughts on the Marshall MG CFX series. The decision is yours, so make the most of it!