Marshall amps have marked the history of rock and metal, starting from the second half of the last century. They may like it or not, with different characteristics (but not too much at times, see Fender) from many of their competitors, but also within the same brand. Among the various models that contain its characteristic sound we find the JTM-45, JMP, Super Lead Plexy, JCM 800, Silver Jubilee, etc. Heads used over the years by the likes of Slash, Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck, just to name “some” guitarists… A lot, a lot of stuff! ????

Jim Marshall’s amplifiers were born around 1962, whose first model was the JTM-45 (practically one of the most iconic amplifiers in history), born from the 1959 Fender Bassman scheme, from which the circuit differs only for a few components. An example was the valves, replaced due to practical problems of finding the elements themselves rather than due to design choices. The cones used by the Fender Bassman instead were the 10-inch Spense (only 15 watts each, Fender had to use four in parallel). Marshall chose to adopt a single 12-inch English cone (Celestion), placing it in a closed case. The sum of all the changes made resulted in an amplifier with a distinctive tone and much more prone to distortion than the original Bassman.

So what about the Marshall Lead 12 3005? Simple, it is the re-edition with Mosfet type transistors instead of tubes. How does it work? Very well! Practically in 12 W of power you have (almost) all the tone of the historic Marshall heads, in particular the JCM 800. The circuit at the end is that… What’s missing? Well, apart from the tubes themselves, the sound pressure of the original 100W is missing… But you’re not going to be crazy enough to use it in an apartment, are you? But even in a stadium I don’t think he could fully let off steam … And a power reducer is like buying a very expensive sports car and then modifying the control unit to be able to get around easily in the city center … Bleah!


The model in question is aesthetically slightly different from the classic 5005, which has a slightly more elongated shape. What I managed to find, on the other hand, is more “classical”, that is, more square.

Marshall Lead 12 5005: mine, more “square”

Inside the circuit is the same, the back case is open and the cone is a 10 ″ Celestion (honestly I don’t know which model, sure it doesn’t look really expensive, but… it does its job, oh if it does! ).

On the front we have the high volume channel (great for distorting it well) and the low volume one, the classic Gain controls (similar to the preamp section of the older sisters), volume, others, mids and bass, and the Direct Out outputs and Headphones.

Marshall Lead 12 5005: front

Weight? Virtually null, it is very light.


I admit that, despite knowing the mini stack model well (see I don’t have a lot of expectations … A micro cone, unknown in addition, I don’t think can do justice like the double speaker of the 3005. Or rather, I didn’t think …

I put a reverb in front of it (the Lead 12 does not have one), I attack the guitar, I turn it on and… CAVOLO! A warm sound like I would not have expected, combined with a disarming depth of sound! To the point that I don’t even feel the need to attach it to an external speaker! :O The 3005 hadn’t impressed me that much, in fact, I’d say the mini stack model is cooler and has less depth.

Guys, it’s a show! Really, the clean is perfect. And like all nice cleans, it pairs perfectly with a good distortion pedal. I could also use the integrated distortion, but – thanks to the fact that the clean channel is so beautiful, and the fact that using distortion I would have to either give up the reverb or insert pre-distortion (there is no send-return), it makes a horrible sound – I prefer to avoid.

For a nice distorted channel I prefer to use a quality plexy-like pedal, like the lo Xotic SL Drive, attached directly to the clean of the 5005.

Do you like twang? Here you have it at will, as in the purest Marshall style. With a Stratocaster, a Telecaster, a PRS or even a Gibson, that “chime” you need to play with arpeggios or double stops is all there.

The volume? Enough and advance to call the police from the neighbors, trust me.

Marshall Lead 12: 3005 vs 5003 vs JCM 800

The Lead 12 3005 and 5005 should pretty much have the same circuit, but I’m not really sure, in fact the sound is a bit different. Furthermore, the fact that the outer case is less squared than the classic Lead 12 5005, with a more elongated shape, makes me doubt that it is the exact same amplifier, perhaps it could also be a special model. The front has the same controls, as well as the same inputs / outputs.

Marshall Lead 12 5005

The case of the 5005 is open at the back, while those of the 3005 are closed, for a more direct sound projection. Well, maybe that depth of sound I heard from the 5005 compared to the 3005 could be due to the open case.

Compared to his majesty JCM 800… it doesn’t look bad at all. In this article you will find some comparisons: In this other article, a reader of Accordo says the lead 12 5005’s sound can easily compare with a JCM 800 2204, posting a video comparing the 2204 with the 5005. It takes the sound from the lineout, throws it into the sound card and models it with the same IR (Amplitube 4) for both amps: a 4 × 12 Greenback plus a very light reverb, obtaining a truly comparable sound result …

On the his youtube channel Johan Segeborn, a true fan of amps, and of the Marshall / Gibson pairing in particular, has published countless tests and comparisons with all types of Marshalls, and not even to say it does it seem that Segeborn has a certain predilection for the Lead 12, in all its forms.


Best Marshall apartment plexy sound combo? For me yes. Aesthetically, I’m crazy about my Lead 12 3005 mini stack, but this, perhaps also thanks to the open box, sounds rounder and more enveloping, plus it’s so small that you can put it anywhere.

In terms of sound, it has nothing to envy to tube combos, at least in this price range. In my opinion these little 80s Marshalls with mosfets are very undervalued, in fact they are found at really affordable prices, even if there are not many of them around.

To buy? Well, I admit that I personally am buying up these little wonders… ???? In the end, I often and willingly check on music market or what’s new!

Finally, if you play more or less professionally, and you want to become a Marshall endorser, take a look at the official website:

Published on on: 18/10/2020.