When Marshall released the first Bluesbreaker for sale to the general public in 1964, it quickly became a success due to its affordable price (about one-third less than a VOX AC30 and half as much as a Fender Bassman), signature Marshall sound and it’s connection with ‘60s blues rock. But when you get down to it, the Marshall Bluesbreaker was pretty much a JTM 45 combo amp. Also, Model 1961 was essentially a lead version of the Model 1987 JTM 45, fixed up with tremolo and fitted into an open backed speaker cabinet, while the Model 1962 used the bass version of the JTM 45 (model 1986), also fitted with tremolo and a similar open back cab. To get even deeper into its roots, the Marshall JTM 45 that led to the Bluesbreaker was pretty much a Fender Bassman amp with modified circuits. Since the Bluesbreaker ultimately came from the Fender Bassman, you can actually modify a Bassman into a Bluesbreaker.
As far as the current Bluesbreaker model offered by Marshall is concerned, it has remained pretty much faithful to the 1962 version but with a few minor modern adjustments – without the current inflated price tag of the original models. Like the original, the Bluesbreaker 1962 is fitted with two re-issue Celestion 'Greenback' 25 Watt speakers – which are pretty much one of the go-to speakers for that classic ‘60s tone. A bigger reason why the original JTM 45 was such a hit with rockers was due to its unique output stage compression and sustain and yep, this baby’s got it thanks to the included GZ34 valve rectifier along with a pair of more modern 5881 tubes. What all this means for the player is simply a raw, unadulterated and unmistakable vintage sound – but therein lies the problem, at least for some. As a vintage reissue, the Marshall Bluesbreaker doesn’t exactly feature most of the bells and whistles afforded by many of today’s modern amps and although that is no problem at all for vintage tone seekers, this can be a complete deal breaker for players that just HAVE to have effects on the amp itself (I’m looking at you, noobs). Personally, I’d go with pedals for most of my heavier effects but it’s a problem for some, so it should be mentioned. Remember how I just mentioned that it doesn’t come with many effects? Well, more like it doesn’t come with any effects – save for some tremolo that can be activated by the included footswitch. Just you standard three band EQ settings, volume knob and two channel input (one lead, one bass), but that’s only a bad thing if you are more into modern equipment. Finally, coming in at over 60 lbs, this amp will break more than just the blues if it happens to fall on an unsuspecting appendage or two.
When it comes to the bottom line, the Marshall Bluesbreaker amp definitely deserving of its reputation and place in rock history, but just like the genre of the blues itself, this amp is not for everyone. For those of you out there who are more into Cream than Coheed and Cambria, or who would rather play the blues than live it (I’m looking at you Emo kids), than the Marshall Bluesbreaker amp definitely has what you’re looking for – namely, that killer signature Marshall tone without any thing getting in the way (such as pesky built in effects). Now, if you’re a player more into today’s effects heavy, feature filled rock scene, that ‘60s blues rock tone is probably not going to suit your taste all too well. Also, it should go without saying that this amp is most definitely not for newer users. Not so much that it’s hard to operate (because it’s not) but more so because its lack of versatility along with the more sensitive nature of valve amps. But even with that said, if you’re a player who knows what they are looking for and it just so happens to be some awesome blues rock guitar tone, you can’t go wrong with the amp that defined the sound of a generation.