Marty Friedman Reveals Why He Stayed With Jackson for So Long, Explains What’s Special About Japanese Music Fans

Legendary guitar virtuoso and a former member of Megadeth, Marty Friedman, discussed his long relationship with Jackson Guitars and how he stayed so long with the company. Appearing recently on the Guitar Speak Podcast, Friedman was reminded of his signature model MF-1, and asked what kept him with Jackson for so long. He replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs)”

“Well, to be completely clear and honest, it’s the people. A lot of companies make great instruments, and a lot of companies make very impressive products, but at the end of the day, you have to deal with the people in the company.”


Sure, there are plenty of brands that can make a great instrument for a famous artist. But, after all, being in touch with people who understand the musician’s needs and requests. He continued:

“As an artist, there are a lot of very strange requests that I might have — or any artists might have — and the way people deal with those requests and the way they treat you really speaks volumes. Jackson was my first major signature model — it was my first signature model actually, and I’ve had several others with other companies.”

“They’ve all been really good, but even when I was working with other companies, the people at Jackson stayed in touch with me. It was a very unique bond — like Jackson was always my home, but I was exploring other things, and they were totally cool with it.”

Marty Friedman Answers Your Questions and Shows Off His Guitars | Questions & Axes | Jackson Guitars

Going into more details of how his signature model came to be, Marty said:

“When it came time for me to come back to Jackson, we all knew it was time, and it was just such a natural thing. And seeing the way they’ve made my MF-1 such a new popular guitar from scratch — like you said, people knew me from the Kelly [guitar model], so for me to come up with a new guitar, and then see that guitar do as well as it has done is completely thanks to the work of the people in Jackson’s behalf, their quality of instrument making, and their devotion to me as an artist to make it something that I’m proud to play and…”

“I can’t really put this into words strong enough, but they just match me, my vision of my music, and where I plan to take myself in with my music. And yeah, they’ve just always included me in their conceptualizing of what it is they want to do, and I’ve always included them in the same thing with my music, and it just fits.”

The fine people at Jackson created this to announce their latest monster of a guitar.

Finally, Marty added that “the people and the brand fit myself as a person and myself as an artist.”

Marty had his signature model with Jackson for a long time. We’re looking at a single-cutaway model that’s not like your usual LP-style instrument. For instance, there very useful ergonomic slopes on the back side of the body. You can check out the instrument below.

Marty Friedman Showcases his Signature Jackson MF-1 Models | Jackson Presents | Jackson Guitars

Elsewhere during the interview, Marty also reflected on the Japanese audiences and how they’re used to the sound of heavier guitars, way more than the average music fan in the West. Of course, Marty has been in Japan for many years now and has built a career with his original music there. Asked about the scene and the instruments that he’s using there, Marty replied:

“Well, the [answer] to your question, I’ve been here doing exactly what you said, injecting my own sound in Japanese music for quite some time. And I think the reason for that is [that] Japanese have stringed instruments in their traditional music history, going way back to the shamisen — that instrument with three strings that you often see in artworks of a Geisha playing, it’s got a box type of body with three strings and big tuning pegs.”

Marty Friedman 3rd live at Tokyo Haneda Airport, 2023.7.17

Comparing it with the US, he added:

“So people of all ages — even the very oldest people — are used to the plucking loudly, aggressive playing of a stringed instrument. Whereas in America, well, rock has been around for a long time, but when I was a kid, people from my parents’ generation just thought the sound of a strummed guitar, a plugged guitar was like Lucifer or something, they just couldn’t bear it. They couldn’t bear it.”

“But the Japanese people are very used to it for generations and generations. So when you put something like a heavy distorted electric guitar, in pop music, dance music, rock music, or punk music, nobody blinks an eye — rather, they enjoy it in there, because it’s part of their culture. I’ve done so much work in pop acts like, for example, Momoiro Clover, where I played guitar work that could have been on one of my records — very intense guitar work — but their music is extremely poppy.”


“It’s four girls singing and dancing in formation, and it’s just ultimate, very sweet candy-like pop music, but I’m playing this full-on metal, sonically metal, but the content is very melodic. It’s very much the type of melodies that I would do. It’s that clashing, contrasting thing that gets me excited about music — I mean, traditional metal is fine, but when you can do something new, that’s kind of off-limits, you know?”

“When I grew up, pop music did not allow that kind of cross-collaboration, and I loved doing that. So, I’ve done a lot of projects here, and tours, with that type of thing in mind — my sound invading this pop music where it shouldn’t be there, but now, all these pop people without even knowing it, they’re listening to full-on metal and loving it. It’s like being a double agent, so to speak.”

Photo: Hiroshi Yamazaki (Copyright holder: Marty Friedman) (Marty Friedman – 01)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.