What do Slash, Zakk Wylde, Kerry King, Jimi Hendrix, Randy Rhoads, Lemmy, Paul Weller, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dave Mustaine and Joe Satriani have in common? They're all iconic Marshall players… but more than that, they each have their very own Marshall signature amplifier.
We’ve delved into the archives to take a closer look at two of the most famous examples; the Marshall JCM Slash and AFD100.
The 2555SL: Marshall's first signature amp
Slash's history with Marshall is significant; his original model was the first to feature a signature on the front other than Jim Marshall’s. The 2555SL was unveiled in January 1996 and was based on the 2555 Silver Jubilee; an amp that was already synonymous with Slash after years as his weapon of choice. But the first Marshall signature model actually came about through necessity for the Guns N' Roses guitarist.
A year before the 2555SL's launch, Slash was fast running out of 2555 Jubilee heads. Some of his collection had been destroyed by overeager fans at gigs, some had given up the ghost after taking a beating from relentless touring, and some simply went missing whilst on the road. To solve this Slash approached Jim Marshall, who suggested a limited run of 3000 to both replenish Slash’s collection and also satisfy fans who wanted to recreate Slash’s iconic sound.
The 2555SL itself boasted a number of aesthetic tweaks to integrate Slash’s trademark style. It was clad in black as opposed to silver and had a brushed gold front panel instead of the usual mirrored one. On top of this the panel featured the guitarists ‘Snakepit’ logo, the title ‘JCM Slash Signature’ and even Slash’s signature, taking pride of place right underneath Jim’s. Completing the package was a faux-snakeskin cover and a certificate of authenticity.
Marshall AFD 100
Slash is the only artist to have two Marshall Signature amplifiers. The second is the AFD100, named after Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, which turned the Marshall and Les Paul pairing into the rock sound that everyone wanted to emulate.
For the album’s recording Slash was believed to have used a rented 100w Superlead that had been modified, however Slash himself has hazy memories of the rig. “It had been modded to some extent," he said, "but I don’t know how or by whom. To be honest I’d be lying if I told you I could remember more.”
This meant for Marshall to create a signature model that recaptured that sound we would very much be starting from scratch. After the announcement of the AFD100 in early 2010 a dedicated website was set up to allow fans to follow the journey of recreating that tone and constructing the amplifier.
The key to getting the tone right was getting access to the Appetite For Destruction master tapes. From here Marshall engineers isolated Slash’s guitar tone and studied it in minute detail, allowing them to rebuild the sound from the ground up.
The finished amp has two modes, #34 and AFD. The #34 is based on Slash’s favourite JCM800 2203 whereas AFD mode brings in additional gain that’s modelled on the fabled missing rental amp.
The AFD100 is unique in that it has a silver front panel just like a Silver Jubilee. It also features 6550 power valves, an FX Loop, Auto-Bias and a special feature called Electronic Power Attenuation. This allows the player to reduce the amps volume output from the maximum of 100w right down to 0.1w without impacting its tone; meaning it’s suitable for any place, any time.
Only 2300 were made, but even rarer are the 100x AFD100SCE versions of the amp. These had the same sound and features, but also had – deep breath – mirrored front and read panels, black snakeskin covering, silver piping, mirrored rear vents, a rear plaque signed by Slash himself, flight case, dust cover, production certificates signed by Jim and all the Marshall staff involved and even a personalised, and numbered AFD100 work shirt. Phew!
Check out extensive demos of Marshall's signature amp range – including the Randy Rhoads 1959RR, Jimi Hendrix Super 100JH and Zakk Wylde JCM800 2203ZW – over on the Marshall Amplification YouTube channel signature amp playlist.
- For more information on Marshall’s history and current range, see www.marshall.com