Marshall's new range of valve amps, announced weeks ago at Musikmesse 2015 are now available to pre-order: the Marshall Astoria Series. These guitar amps look unlike any other Marshall, and they also feature unique specs not found on other models by the brand. It seems that Marshall decided not to rest on past laurels and are seeking to really innovate in 2015. Whether more conservative Marshall fans will approve this remains to be seen, but they are pretty amazing...
If you think you know Marshall, think again! The Astoria series looks unique, unlike anything else the company has done in the past - and sound great, too, of course! Marshall have decided to go for a more vintage, boutique vibe with the new Astoria Series. These amps are about loud cleans and sublime saturation. At 30-watts, they are obviously not for a typical hard rocker, more accustomed to a 100-watt stack.
The new series seems perfect for blues and indie artists, and recording pros: it has been built not only for the sonic connoisseur who craves hand-wired, point to point, all-valve tone, with world-class build quality and attention to detail, but also for anyone who desires contemporary features and functionality. To this end, the Astoria Series features footswitchable Channels, gain Boost and series FX Loop, with push/pull tonal switching and power reduction.
To achieve this innovative marriage of authentic tonal character and switching features the Astoria Series uses turrets mounted on the PCB – allowing the hand-wiring and more complex switching circuitry to elegantly coexist on a single board.
The Astoria Series is expertly crafted and is designed, engineered and constructed to the highest possible standards at the Marshall factory in Bletchley, England. Astoria’s all-valve heart comprises of an ECC83 (12AX7) preamp, GZ34 rectification, and a KT66 output stage, which is cathode biased and has no negative feedback – a characteristic of many classic, vintage amplifiers. No other Marshall amp has such valve configuration!
The Astoria Series consists of three models, each available as a 30 Watt combo or head and a matching 1 x 12” speaker cabinet. The combos and the speaker cabinet are loaded with a custom-voiced 75 Watt Celestion Creamback speaker.
The Astoria Series look is unique, with a quirky ‘boutique’ flavour. The Astoria combos have their control panel on top of the cabinet, like vintage Marshall combos. The Astoria heads are a ‘small box’ design with a vintage-style ‘letterbox’ front panel.
The front panels have a stylish contemporary aesthetic: brushed aluminium, with quality switches and indicators. Combos and heads have leather strap carry handles. All Astoria amps and cabs feature colour-coded, vintage-style ‘Plexiglas’ Marshall logo badges inspired by the rare ‘oxblood’ logo badge used for a very short time in the mid ‘60s, and are covered with coloured vinyl: Blue & Cream for Dual, Red & Cream for Custom and Green & Cream for Classic. The Astoria 1 x 12” cab is available in each colour to match.
The Astoria Classic is a single channel amplifier that will appeal to purists who want loud, clean valve tone, and to boutique pedal enthusiasts who will find it the perfect pure-valve foundation for their sound.
The Astoria Custom is a single channel amplifier for tone seekers who want it vintage but with the convenience of contemporary features and switching: footswitchable valve driven FX Loop, tone shaping pull switches and footswitchable gain boost.
The Astoria Dual, with two footswitchable channels, goes from vintage pure-valve cleans, to dirty-sweet overdrive, to higher gain harmonic distortion. Combine this with footswitchable FX Loop and extended tonal shaping for added performance flexibility.
The Astoria Series will be available this summer.
By Ivan Silva