I have had a hundred or more amps, each does it's own thing and the Marshall 5100 is no different. It gets you in the ballpark of the killer 80's Marshall sound. My #1 amp is a JCM-800. For small gigs this amp does the job just fine. 99% of the audience can't tell difference.
Model Year: 1987
Where Obtained: ebay
The amp has Treble, Bass, Mid, Presence, Volume and Master controls. Effects loop on the back panel. No reverb. All solid state. Plenty loud enough for 100 cap club, medium sized club needs to be mic'ed but you would do that anyway for sound dispersion. Anything larger than 100 capacity should be mic'ed to cover the venue.
So far I have only used he amp with my Les Paul and have had excellent results. YOU CAN DIAL IN A GREAT TONE WITH THIS AMP. Definitely has a good crunch to it. It has a high and a low input. With the low you can cover funk and country and the high for blues and rock. No noise at all until maxed preamp volume and the master past 7, which is not bad.
This amp is easy to use, which I prefer. I don't need an amp to do 100 things, I can get great tones with my hands. As with most amps you can find the tone you want with tweaking, some amps have a multitude of great tones, some a few. This is one that has a few, but the few are pretty killer.
Almost 20 years old and still going strong, that says alot. I don't think reliability is a problem with these amps, unless you do stupid things like dumping a beer in it, throwing it down 2 flights of stairs, leaving it on top of your van to fall off at 55 MPH or leave it at your ex-wives house for her to mutilate.