Archive for May, 2008


Posted in History: Marshall Amplifiers with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2008 by ivancheung

Since the beginning, Jim Marshall has not believed in giving away free amplifiers to musicians. If you use a Marshall it is because you recognise it as a high quality product.
You get what you pay for and Marshall = Quality.
As a result of this policy, Marshall has rarely done signature amplifiers (special edition amplifiers bearing the name of a well know player) in the past.

This all changed in 1996, and since then Marshall has produced a number of signature amplifiers.
This change may have occured due to changes in the market (with every brand associating themselves with famous musicians by releasing a signature product); Perhaps signature products are better advertisements and helps build a clearer brand identity; Or even maybe its because signature products often sell better than regular products.
All these factors certainly contribute to why Marshall have decided to do signature amplifiers. Below, I will list some of the most significant signature amplifiers.

1996 saw the Slash signature. Based on an older model of amplifier named the Jubilee (a silver amplifier produced for Marshall’s 25th anniversary) but repackaged like a classic Marshall amplifier (black) and bearing the name/logo of Slash, guitarist of Guns n Roses. Only 3000 units were produced.

2002 saw Zakk Wylde’s turn (guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne and his own band Black Label Society). The amp was based on the JCM800, but featured a few cosmetic differences (such as vintage spec. aesthetics, and a control plate with engraved bullseyes).

2006 produced the Jimi Hendrix amp. Modelled after the late 60s amp that Hendrix used, this amplifier features the classic Marshall look and sound. Also significant is that this amplifier is completely handwired (as they would have been in the 60s). Limited to 600 units.

2007 saw a existing Marshall product redesigned into a signature. The micro stack (a mini version of a Marshall stack amplifier) was given a new look and named the Zakk Wylde micro stack. Although this amplifier was originally made for the budget market, Marshall caught wind that Zakk Wylde was using it as a warm up amplifier before playing live. The price and feature of the amp stayed the same, the only thing that changed was the name and the aesthetics.

2007 produced a Kerry King amp (guitarist of Slayer). Based on the JCM800, it not only featured cosmetic differences, but the amplifier had some extra features built in to it (more control over gain, an eq and a noise gate). Unlike other signature products which are limited in quantity, the Kerry King model is in current production. This fact was a deal breaker for King who understood that signature products are aspirational products which should be made available to all rather than collectors.

2008, in conjunction to the previous years Kerry King signature amplifiers, Marshall releases the Kerry King practice amplifier. A small solid state amplifier targeted at the budget market.

2008 unveiled a Randy Rhoads amp (guitarist of Ozzy Osbourne during the 80s who tragically died). This amp was based on the classic Marshall 100 watt 1959SLP model. It featured a white exterior as opposed to black. Limited (quantity unknown)

Released two weeks ago! A Lemmy signature (bassist and frontman of Motorhead). A replica of Lemmy’s own (heavily modified) Marshall amplifier he has nick named Murder One.



Marshall Meets New Technology

Posted in History: Marshall Amplifiers with tags , , , , , , on May 1, 2008 by ivancheung

The years 1989, 1990 and 1991, all saw new products for Marshall.

In 1989 Marshall ventured into a new territory for them – effects pedals. Effects pedals are small solid state units which alters the guitar signal (usually before it enters an amplifier). Although effects pedals had been around in various forms since the 70s, 1989 marked the year Marshall would put its stamp on the market.
The pedal produced was named ‘The Guv’nor’, and its function was a overdrive/distortion effect. However the particular type of overdrive/distortion effect makes it significant. ‘The Guv’nor’ would provide an emulation of the trademark sound of a Marshall stack amp, (similar to digital modeling). The purpose of this was to provide the Marshall sound in a very affordable unit, and also making Marshall available to consumers who owned other branded amplifiers.
‘The Guv’nor’ was a huge success and opened the doors for Marshall within the effect pedals market and the solid state market. In the years to come, Marshall would produce other effects pedals. Initially they would all be related to Marshall in some way such as emulating the sound of their own amplifiers; But later they would branch out to effects which have little to do with Marshall such as tremolo effects.

Below: original design of The Guv’nor

The following year Marshall would return to tradition when they released the JCM900. The JCM900 was regarded as Marshall’s new flagship amplifier and carried on some of the attributes of the brand. The most significant feature of these new amplifiers were that they were marketed as “the amps that go to 20”. The message is clear: the loud just got louder.
Although the JCM900 was favoured by younger Rock / Pop Punk guitarists, it was associated with those who embody classic metal (though in a tongue in cheek manner) – Spinal Tap. Aside from the band/actors appearing in adverts and promotional movies for JCM900s, the amps themselves were featured in the second Spinal Tap movie and Marshall even went as far as building a guitar shaped like a stack amp for them (guitar built in conjunction with Jackson Guitars).

Below: JCM900 and the Spinal Tap guitar

After producing one product that was new for the brand identity, and one that embodied the classic attributes, 1991 saw a merge between both. The Valvestate amplifier range was released by Marshall which combined solid state technology with valves. Perhaps Marshall never got enough recognition for their efforts, but the Valvestate showed the market that you could produce an amazing sounding solid state amplifier (exceptions noted). This amp was a hybrid of technology and as a result, it contained the desirable sound of valves and boasted the practical advantages of solid state (more durable, more consistant, lighter weight, cheaper costs).
Combined with Marshall’s line of effects pedals, the company had secured a place in the amateur market more than ever now. Over the next few years, the Valvestates proved to be the best selling amplifiers of the companies history.

Below: the Valvestate range