No longer will you need to peruse second-hand gear sites or pay eye-watering amounts to get your hands on an original Marshall Guv'nor Bluesbreakerpedal, as the legendary UK brand has reissued its pedal range, delivering all of that mojo and style once again! Meticulously designed and hand-built at Marshall's famous Bletchley factory, you can now own the real thing—but which one is right for you? Sam Bell tells us more.
Marshall has listened, and they have brought back some of their legendary drive pedals from the 80s/early 90s! In this review, I'll be looking at the Guv'nor and the Blues Breaker pedal. I've also taken a look at the Drive Master and Shred Master, so be sure to check those reviews as well to get the full story and as always, check out the video section of this review to hear these pedals in action!
It all starts with 'The Guv'nor'. This is a drive pedal that Marshall released in 1988 and named after Jim Marshall himself. This changed the definition of a distortion pedal could be. This became a sought-after pedal from weekend warriors to groundbreaking pro guitarists. It was the first time that the public could get a 'Marshall' in a box sound all in the stomp of a foot. How could we guitarists possibly resist? Fast forward 50 years, and we're here today celebrating the reissues of this pedal and its siblings. All these have been re-created faithfully from the aesthetics of the unit itself all the way through to the circuit. This is as authentic as it can get, plus the price isn't too shabby!
The tone of The Guv'nor is what you'd expect, it's very Marshall, and it's very versatile. On low drive settings, you can get a nice breakup all the way through the shades of gain until we reach maximum drive for a cranked Marshall sound that can be tailored with the pedals' Bass, Middle and Treble controls. It's very fun to play through, there is a natural and musical compression that comes with the distortion, and this is perhaps one of the reasons this pedal is so popular with guitarists. Notes sustain as if you were channelling the great Gary Moore himself.
Feature-wise, the pedal is very simple; I've already explained the main control knobs. But in terms of extras, it's straightforward. You've got 1x ¼ inch jack input, 1x ¼ inch jack output and a Y- Insert send/return loop for adding effects post EQ (Y-Insert cable not included) The pedal is powered by 9v battery or 9v DC power supply (this isn't included with the pedal).
Moving onto the Blues Breaker Pedal. After the success of The Guv'nor and a variation of this pedal, Marshall went on to release the 'Blues Breaker' pedal in 1992. This pedal sought to capture the spirit of Marshalls' legendary Bluesbreaker amp, which has been used by almost everyone that you'd associate with Blues and Marshall, maybe starting with Clapton himself. Once again, everything about build quality, aesthetic and design is the same as I mentioned for The Guv'nor pedal. Except this pedal is a little bit simpler and has its own unique character.
First of all, the Bluesbreaker sound is a powerful crunch sound with a unique and lovely mid-range. Having heard Robin Trower play through a Bluesbreaker amp only a few meters away, it's like an ice pick; it's incredibly detailed and cutting whilst still having a blooming sustain. It's almost clean whilst having some stubble to it. The BluesBreaker pedal captures this wonderfully.
Very simple controls on this pedal, just gain, tone and volume. The gain doesn't really come into any 'drive' until we get past the 2 o'clock setting. The tone gives you everything from maximum warmth all the way to ice pick. The volume sets the volume! And unlike the Guv'nor, this pedal features a simple ¼ inch jack input and output. This sounds great as it is in front of a clean amp, or could be used to drive a crunchy amp even further. This pedal works brilliantly for Bluesy single note soloing and also as a 'pushed' clean sound with plenty of sustain.
I have to say both of these pedals are seriously great, and no wonder Marshall is making reissues of them. Coming in at around £169 RRP, this isn't too bad at all, considering an authentic original MK I 'Guv'nor pedal can go for more than £300 on some websites. You might as well get a brand spanking new one, with new wires and your own stories to share with it. Go check them out!
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