Gear talk for the GAS-afflicted.

Marshall Slash SL5 Combo – Meh.

Marshall Slash SL5 Combo – Meh.

Jul 28, 2013

Let me start off by saying that I am a raging Slash fanboy.

I’ve seen him at least 4 times live, I own a Marshall AFD100 signature head, I play a tobacco burst Les Paul with at least one Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro in it – hell, I even got his signature tattooed on my arm from when he signed it!

Suffice to say, if it’s Slash related, there’s a high probability that I’m going to love the shit out of it. Except his second solo album, that wasn’t great.

So when we heard awhile back about rumours of a new Slash combo, predictably I was pretty excited. Like, this amount of excited:

Spec check:

  • 2 footswitchable channels – Clean and Overdrive (something even the AFD100 lacks!)
  • Full 3-band EQ and Presence control (it ain’t no toy)
  • Digital reverb (max it out for your Sweet Child moments)
  • High and Low sensitivity inputs (who are we kidding, High is where it’s at!)
  • Celestion Vintage 30 (business as usual for Slash)
  • Switchable down from 5W to 1W (great for late night jams)

That’s the gist of it, as far as I’m concerned. And it sounds great! At local retail price of $999, this is in line with the new DSL combos which are made in… wait a minute.


Oh okay. It’s Made in China.

I guess that’s to be expected at this price point, but just be aware – if you’re expecting this to be made in the UK, as all of Marshall’s previous Slash amps have been… well, it’s not.

That’s okay. Lots of great amps are coming out of China and Vietnam these days – case in point the Vox AC4HW1 which is one of my favourite little amps today, so I’m not going to let a “Made in X” badge colour my opinion. The fit and finish was perfectly acceptable, and outwardly I found nothing to complain about.

First impression – great feature set, well thought out channel/control layout… now how does it sound?

What’s so civil about war, anyway?

Time to break out my GNR medleys! :D

When I think Slash clean tones, I think of songs like Civil War and Don’t Cry… and for me, this amp nails it. That sort of slightly jangly clean tone that is still warm and Marshally is here in spades. Let’s see what you think:

The clean channel is pretty much all about headroom – you only get a Volume control here, no gain or master, so it does get LOUD before even thinking about clipping. I don’t think I got it anywhere near clipping and it was already unbearably loud.

The digital reverb is a nice flavour – not too dark/subtle as to be unusable, as on the Marshall Vintage Modern that I owned a few years ago. It can go from adding a little bit of “space” to the tone to full out big hall Sweet Child sounds like this:

That’s actually pretty decent! But the core of the Slash tone for me has always been that springy, percussive Marshall high gain sound ala the AFD record (and the amp) – and that’s unfortunately where I feel this amp starts to come apart a little.

Try as I might, apart from that first bash at Sweet Child, I could not get a drive tone that I really liked out of this amp. I’m actually not entirely sure what it was, but I just didn’t hear anything that I liked. The signal chain was pretty standard – Les Paul straight in, and close miked with an Audix i5, so there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary there.

Don’t get me wrong… it wasn’t a terrible tone. It was Marshally, sure – but nothing particularly special, and nothing particularly Slash about it in my mind.

Have a listen to these clips and let me know what you think. EQ was set in the classic Slash “everything on 7″ manner, though I experimented with more radical EQ settings and still didn’t dig it very much.

Is it just me?? Or is that just a bit uninspiring?

I found that it wasn’t too bad on single note stuff – hell, it even had enough gain for me to get some EVH out of it. But I find that playing rhythm stuff is a bit more of a straightforward representation of an amp’s tone, because your mind isn’t busy confusing lead playing dynamics with actual basic amp tone. For instance… there’s so much playing in here that it actually covers up the fact that the overdrive tone doesn’t sound that hot, haha.  *one of my pet hates with many Youtube demos is that there’s often so much flash and shred that you leave not actually knowing what the hell the gear sounds like!

My hands are tied

I was a bit sad (okay, a lot sad) about this turn of events. I’d raced over to the local Rockshop, picked it up and brought it home, eager as all hell to be convinced that I needed another cool piece of Slash gear. If I’d even halfway liked it, I probably would have bought it.

Much like Kevin Sorbo, I came away… disappointed.

On paper the spec is cool, but in person it just didn’t move me. You may well feel differently – but sadly, I have to give this little slugger a record low 2.5 F*ck Yeahs. The specs are great on paper, but based on the actual tone, I’d much rather buy something else, even if I had to spend a bit more money.

For comparison, check out the clips of my Marshall AFD100 here, for some righteous Slash tones that really hit the mark.

Fuck yeah small colourFuck yeah small colourFyeah-small-colour halfFuck yeah small no colourFuck yeah small no colour


Have you played one? Did you feel the same way, or do you think I’m full of donkey doo doo?! Either way, come let us know here:



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