JTM45 Vs Bassman: Which Is Better? (2023 Edition)

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If you’re curious about the JTM45 vs Bassman amplifiers, you’ve come to the right post!

Marshall JTM45

JTM45 is the first-ever amplifier model by Marshall. Jim Marshall made it back in 1963 and it’s pretty much a blueprint for all of the company’s models that came after it.

The initial idea was to replicate Fender’s Bassman. However, it had a few traits of its own. The earliest versions came with 5881 tubes, which was the same as with the Bassman.

However, later variants had KT66, EL34, or KT88 tubes. The preamp also had 12AX7 instead of 12AY7 valves. And Marshall made accompanying closed cabinets with Celestion speakers.

The power rating changed over the years. But it was anywhere from 35 to 50 watts. Marshall discontinued the model in 1966 but brought it back in 1989.

The earliest variants from the 1960s are still available on the market. And they’re insanely expensive.

Today’s Versions

The JTM45 reintroduced in 1989 is still in Marshall’s arsenal of products. It’s conceived as a replica of the earliest model, the original Marshall amp.

This amp has a pair of ECC83s in the preamp and a single ECC83 as a phase splitter. The power amp is equipped with a pair of 5881s. In addition, there’s a single GZ34 rectifier tube. It comes with the same controls as the old one, as well as the same input layout. You have two channels and two separate inputs for each.

The High Treble control is a bit unusual. While it adds some volume between about 2 and 5, it mostly saturates the tone. Of course, if you push the normal volume up, you also add some distortion in there.

The main difference compared to the original model is that it has 30 watts. I’d also say that it comes with just a slightly smaller headroom. But this makes it break up nicely, giving some tasty saturated tones. 

For a while, Marshall also had special JTM45 2245THW models. They introduced them in 2014. And these were hand-wired versions that came with KT66 tubes.

Here’s the original Marshall JTM45 in action:

1963 Marshall JTM45 at FULL VOLUME

Fender Bassman

Fender Bassman is a pretty wide term. Sure, it’s technically one amp model. But it changed significantly over the years.

What’s important to note is that Fender originally introduced it as a bass guitar amp. However, it eventually became popular as a regular guitar amp.

It also bears a very significant historical importance. Bassman was essentially a blueprint for modern-day electric guitar amplifiers.

The first one was the 5B6 model, introduced in the early 1950s. These had 5881 power tubes and 6SC7 preamp tubes. The output power was 26 watts.

There were countless versions over the years. However, the amp retained some of its main characteristics. I’d say that 5F6-A was pretty popular. We also know this one as the ’59 Bassman. Fender reintroduced it in 1990.

Overall, these amps usually had smaller headroom which made them distort more easily. Pushing the volume, you’d make them break nicely. But the overall tone was kind of fuzzy in a way. In addition, they had those boomy bottom-ends in the mix.

However, this would change with the bright switch or the bright channel on some versions. You’d cut off some of the bottom-ends and boost the high-ends. It makes the tone slightly tighter. However, you’d always notice that boomy loud bass.

You can check out some of the different old versions and how they compare in the video below:

This is what each of the 4 Fender BASSMAN versions EXCEL AT - Buying Guide!

Today’s Versions

These days, we still have the ’59 Bassman LTD. This is a reissue of the 5F6-A model. And, in all honesty, it does a pretty great job at representing these old amps.

This one comes with 45 watts of power. And compared to old variants, it has noticeably more headroom. These come with a pair of 6L6 tubes in the power amp and three 12AX7s in the preamp. It also has two channels, Normal and Bright, each with two inputs.

With the Bright channel, you get some seriously twangy tones. I’d even call them compressed. But by pushing the amp’s volume knob, you get that vintage kind of saturated tone.

JTM45 Vs Bassman: What’s the Difference

To make things simpler, let’s focus on the modern variants. After all, they’re all relatively close to old amps.

While Marshall JTM45 is intended as a clone of the Bassman, its tone is still different. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not too far away from each other. However, it feels like the amp just breaks up differently. I’d even say the same thing for older versions.

JTM45’s tone just seems grainy. Sure, it has 5881 tubes which today, ironically, isn’t a standard for Marshall amps. However, there’s slightly less headroom and the amp has tighter bottom-ends.

Meanwhile, the Bassman feels fuzzier and has loud and boomy bottom-ends. The high-end was also a bit piercing. I would call it scooped. This makes it a great choice for old-school blues and surf rock. However, with the right settings and an overdrive, you could turn it into a metal amp as well.  

Overall, I’d say that JTM45 stayed true to the original variants. You will notice a stronger mid and somewhat smaller headroom. This makes it a great amp for blues rock, hard rock, jazz, and classic metal. With an overdrive pedal, you can even get some serious chugging modern metal tones.

What’s similar about these two amps is that you can do cable jumpering. Although an old approach, it can give you some options for tone-shaping.

The controls on both amps might need some getting used to. This is especially the case with JTM45 and its High Treble control.

Either way, these are vintage-oriented amps that require some special handling. Although they have some noticeable differences, they’re not that far apart. We’re mostly looking at nuances here.

JTM45 Vs Bassman: Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you think through this amp comparison.

And if you want to read more about amps on this blog, check out:

Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related subject!

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