Balls Piglet (Nov. 2015)

Holy smokes its been FOREVER since I wrote a post….time to catch up!

The more savvy among you may have heard of a rare Marshall called a “Pig”.  In the late 60s, Marshall’s very first foray into 200 watt amps was a unit called the Marshall 200.  It utilized 4 KT88 tubes, and a very unique preamp not used by any other amp in the Marshall line.  The 200 in this configuration only lasted about a year or so and was replaced with the more common Marshall Major which used a preamp much more akin to the other JMP amps at the time.  The original 200s are rare.  And theres really only one famous guitar player known for using them: Mick Ronson during his time with Bowie and The Spiders from Mars.  The story goes that Ronno nicknamed it “The Pig” because of its large size.

The controls on a Pig were unique.  The preamp circuitry actually separates the input signal into two paths, one filtered for increased treble and one for increased bass.  Each path has a volume control associated with it to allow the player to turn up/down the highs and lows respectively.  Following that there is a single master volume control to rein in the overall volume, and thats all you need! The amp had intrigued me for some time but no one really needs a 200 watt amp nowadays, so what I set out to do was capture the same tone but with a smaller output section.  Instead of four KT88 output tubes, I went with two KT66 tubes to get it down to a much more reasonable 45-50 watts.  Other than that the preamp is essentially stock the way Marshall made, with information culled from various schematic snippets, photos of original units, and the input of other experts.  The result is the Balls Piglet!

No clips yet, but they’ll be coming soon.  Sonically it nails the Ronson/Bowie sound!