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 Although this amplifier was originally made for the budget market, Marshall caught wind that Zakk Wylde was using it as a warm up amplifier before playing live.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.