Marshall vs Vox Amps: Which are the Best?


Marshall and Vox both make top quality British amplifiers, but which make the best ones? In this article, I’ll compare the sounds produced by Marshall and Vox, the control panels and the features and specifications of popular models across various price points.

The Quick Answer

Marshall amps have a more saturated distorted tone than Vox amps which sound more fuzzy and loose. Vox amps have a biting tone with more mid-range when played clean, compared to Marshall amps. Marshall offer a larger selection of both combo and head unit amps than Vox.

Comparing the Tones

Despite Vox and Marshall both being British amplifier brands, the tones can be quite different. Here are the key differences I’ve picked up on from listening to a lot of Vox and Marshall amps, but make sure to check out the videos below because they do a much better job at demonstrating the tone differences than just reading about it.

  • Vox amps have no negative feedback. The result is a more biting tone, more midrange and higher sensitivity. This gives Vox a more jangly tone with lots of chime providing richer harmonics.
  • Marshall amps use cold clipping which provides more gain and saturation.

Check out this video comparing classic Vox and Marshall amps to hear these differences in action.

Clean Tone

  • Vox clean tones can sound biting and saturated when the amp is pushed
  • Marshall clean tones can sound thinner than Marshall
  • Vox amps are brighter sounding whilst Marshall amp can sound more bassy

Distorted Tone

  • Marshall amps provide a more clear and smoother distorted tone
  • Vox distorted tones tend to sound more fuzzy
  • Vox amps have more upper mid-range focus

Check out this video comparing the tone of entry-level Marshall and Vox amps. The video is time stamped so you can easily switch to the right section.

Music Styles

So now we know a little more about the tone differences, which is best for different genres of music?

Both Marshall and Vox amplifies are capable of playing a wide variety of music styles as well as clean, gritty and distorted tones. Marshall and Vox amps are both associated with classic rock, with Vox famously being used by Queen’s Brian May and The Beatles. Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen and Jimmy Page have all been associated with Marshall amps.

The Controls

As well as talking about the classic tones that each amp produces, it’s a good idea to think about the controls available as well, to help you shape the sound. Both Marshall and Vox amps offer a variety of settings to adjust the tone, but they do offer different controls meaning that the the user-experience will vary between brands.

Vox Amp Settings

Here are the most common controls found on Vox amps:

  • Gain
  • Treble
  • Bass
  • Presence
  • Reverb
  • Switches e.g. Bright, fat, bias, hot and cool

Marshall Amp Settings

Here are the most popular controls on Marshall amps:

  • Gain
  • Bass
  • Middle
  • Treble
  • Contour
  • Presence
  • Reverb
  • Tilt

Most Marshall amps have a 3-band EQ (bass, mids and treble), whilst Vox amps usually just have bass and treble controls. Marshall generally offers more tone controls such as contour, presence and tilt, allowing you to adjust the balance, whilst Vox offers a variety of switches on many models instead.

The most common switches are “bright”, which adds more treble and “fat” which adds more bass. However, there are many others that can be found.

I have some in-depth guides to the controls and settings of both amplifier brands so check them out if you’re looking for some more detail:

Comparing Amp Models

I also wanted to take an in-depth look at the models produced by Marshall and Vox and compare the specifications and features at each price point. I’ve put pretty much every amp available from each brand into the tables below to outline the key differences. The prices are all based on Guitar Center’s prices at the time of writing. The tables are split into each type/ price bracket of amp, and goes from the lowest to the highest priced model in each table.

Contents

  • Solid state and hybrid combo amps (entry-level): $90-$450
  • Valve (tube) combo amps:
  • Head units:

Solid State and Hybrid Combo Amps

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
VOX Pathfinder10W$902 channels, gain, bass, treble
Marshall MG10G10W$1002 channels, gain, contour
Marshall MG1515W$1202 channels, gain, 3 band EQ
Vox Valvetronix VT20X20W$18011 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb
Marshall MG15DFX15W$1802 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger
Vox VX50 GTV50W$23011 models, gain, treb, bass, chorus, flanger, phaser, tremolo, reverb, delay
Marshall MG30GFX30W$2402 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave
Vox Valvetronix VT40X40W$25011 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb
Marshall CODE 25W25W$27014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Vox Cambridge5050W$30011 models, gain chorus, phaser, flanger, tremolo, delay, reverb
Marshall CODE 50W50W$32014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Vox Valvetronix VT100X100W$38011 models, gain, treb, mids, bass, compression, chorus, OD, distortion, flanger, phaser, tremolo, delay, reverb
Marshall MG50GFX50W$4202 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, chorus, phaser, delay, flanger, octave
Marshall CODE100W100W$45014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Comparison of Vox and Marshall solid state/ hybrid combo amps.

Key Points:

  • Vox offers the more complex built-in effects at a lower price
  • Vox offers the cheapest 50W amp
  • Marshall makes the highest wattage (100W) solid state combo

Valve (Tube) Combo Amps

AmplifierWattagePriceSettings
Vox AC4C1-124W$400Gain, bass, treble
Vox AC10C110W$480Gain, bass, treble, reverb
Marshall Origin20C20W$550Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence
Marshall DSL5CR5W$5502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Marshall DSL20CR20W$6502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Vox AC1515W$700Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Marshall Origin50C50W$700Gain, 3 band EQ, boost, tilt, presence
Marshall DSL40CR40W$8002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Vox AC4HW Hand-Wired4W$840Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble
Vox Custom AC15C215W$900Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Vox AC151X15W$900Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Vox AC30S130W$900Gain, bass, treble, reverb
Vox AC30C230W$1400Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Vox AC15HW1 Hand-Wired15W$1400Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble
Vox Custom AC30CX230W$1550Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble, tremolo, reverb
Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee20W$1600Gain, 3 band EQ
Marshall Studio Classic 20W20W$17003 band EQ, presence
Marshall Studio Vintage 20W20W$1700Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Vox AC30HW2 Hand-Wired30W$1900Normal and top-boost channels, bass, treble
Marshall JMV215C50W$26002 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Comparison of Vox and Marshall valve (tube) combo amps.

Key Points:

  • Vox offers the cheapest valve amplifier
  • Marshall valve amps generally have more settings available
  • Marshall offers the cheapest valve amp over 40W

Head Units

AmplifierWattageTypePriceSettings
Marshall CODE 100W100WSolid State$40014 pre-amp models, gain, 3 band EQ, 24 effects
Marshall Origin20H20WTube$450Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence
Marshall Origin50H50WTube$550Gain, 3 band EQ, tilt, boost, presence
Marshall DSL20HR20WTube$5502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb
Vox AC15CH Custom15WTube$700Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass, reverb, tremolo
Vox MVX150H150WSolid State$8002 channels, gain, tone, bass, mids, treb, reverb, presence, resonance
Marshall DSL100HR100WTube$9502 channels, gain, 3 band EQ, reverb, presence, resonance
Vox AC30CH Custom30WTube$1100Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass, reverb, tremolo
Vox Hand-Wired AC3030WTube$1300Normal and top boost channels, treb, bass
Marshall Studio Classic20WTube$1400Presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall Mini Silver Jubilee20WTube$1400Gain, presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall Vintage Studio20WTube$1500Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Marshall Studio Classic20WTube$1500Presence, 3 band EQ
Marshall JMV205H50WTube$20002 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Marshall JMV210H100WTube$22002 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Marshall JMT4545WTube$2600Presence, 3 band EQ, high treb
Marshall JMV410H100WTube$28502 channels, 3 band EQ, resonance, presence, reverb
Comparison of Vox and Marshall head unit amps.
  • Marshall offers a much larger selection of head units than Vox
  • Marshall produces the cheapest valve and solid state head units
  • Vox produces the highest wattage head unit (150W)

In the market for a new amplifier? Check out my complete amplifier buyer’s guide to help narrow down your selection and find the perfect amp for you.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

Recent Posts