Marr Live 1985 – Amps and Effects

What amplifiers & effects was Johnny Marr using in 1985? This is my best guess based upon information I can find online and in print. If anyone reading knows more about the specifics, please leave a comment.

For info on how I’m attempting to replicate this setup for my videos please have a look at Marr Live 1985 – Chasing The Tone.


For the first UK leg of the Meat Is Murder tour, Johnny Marr continued to use his mainstay guitar amps that he had deployed throughout 1984 when touring in support of the debut album – Fender Twin Reverb & Roland JC 120

The Fender twin has got loads of power and that handles the bottom to mid range. The Fender has also got the best reverb, so I just let the Roland handle the top end most of the time; it’s a dream and sounds great

Guitarist Magazine, February 1985

Fender Silverface Twin Reverb

Fender have been manufacturing some version of a ‘Twin’ amp on and off since the early 1950’s. In 1968 the entire Fender amplifier line switched to a new brushed aluminum faceplate with light blue labels, hence the name ‘silverface’.

This variety of Twin amps is typically characterised as being loud (100 watts), clean (it doesn’t distort unless you really turn it up) & heavy (somewhere between 70-80lbs). You can read more about the history of the Fender Twin amplifier here. Given at this point Marr was generally going for cleaner guitar tones at volume – the Fender Twin is basically considered the gold standard amplifier for that type of sound. In 1972, Fender added a master volume and although different speaker manufacturers were used, often they were equipped with 2 x 12″ JBL.

Roland Jazz Chorus 120

Introduced in 1975, the Roland Jazz Chorus JC-120 is a 120-watt solid-state guitar combo amplifier with two 12″ speakers and an on-board chorus effect. In the original versions of this amp, the effect used the same circuit as the Boss CE-1 Chorus Ensemble pedal, which is known for its rich, warm, analog chorus sound.

“The Roland JC-120 was a brand-new innovation … to use a Roland amp was very unusual and exciting and a lot of people did it. I got one as soon as I could afford one. I had a Fender Twin, but the next thing I got was a JC-120, and those two amps fired together were really quite amazing. That was a big part of my sound, you know, that clean, chorus-y sound. It’s not really a surprise that your gear dictates the way you play, and so I was fortunate.”

Roland – Johnny Marr Guitar Anti-Hero


Aside from the Chorus effect built into his JC120’s, Johnny Marr was still using a relatively simple setup in 1985.

If you look at images from live dates during this period, you can see that he often has one or two pedals placed on top of or nearby his Fender Twin amp.

Boss CE-2

Boss CE-2 (courtesy of

The CE-2 was the first compact pedal chorus from Boss. The CE-2 built on the design of the CE-1 Chorus Ensemble but generally provides a more subtle and smoother effect.

Boss GE-6

Boss GE-6 (courtesy of

The Boss GE-6 was one of the original pedals that the company first produced in 1977. It featured a six-band graphic equalizer. It is difficult to establish exactly how Johnny used this pedal. However, it is not uncommon when using a Fender Twin to add extra mid-range frequencies via a graphic eq.

“The sound of a 10 inch speaker with the effect chorus on it and delays going through it, sounded much better than if you added it afterwards. It sounded like it was meant to be, really. I decided then and there that I was always going to do that as a policy. So I went back to some of my old stomp boxes that I had when I was in The Smiths, most of which were Boss. I used to love the white GE-6 equalizer, and the very first light-blue CE-2 chorus that still sounds really good”

Roland – Artist Johnny Marr

Korg SDD-1000

Korg SDD-1000 - ranked #248 in Effects Processors | Equipboard
Korg SDD-1000 (courtesy of

In 1985, there were a few songs in the set where Marr would use an obvious delay effect of some type – That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, How Soon Is Now? being two examples. The first delays seen in recorded shows are contained within a rack (stage far right) and some excellent investigation captured on the Smiths On Guitar site revealed these to be Korg SDD series devices.

I’ve actually started using a digital delay line, just because for one song in particular I needed to use it. I just sent the effect straight through the Fender twin…it’s called ‘How Soon Is Now?’ which is a ‘Bo Diddley’ thing, so I had to have the vibrato. I sent all the signal through the Fender twin and just put straight guitar through the Roland.

Guitarist Magazine, February 1985

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: