The Big Review: Marshall Vintage Reissue pedals – believe the hype?

Marshall’s first drive pedals fizzled out in the 90s, but now they’re back with considerable anticipation – are they worth the wait?

Marshall Vintage Reissue pedals by Adam Gasson

Marshall Vintage Reissue pedals. Image: Adam Gasson

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There’s a little bit of wiggle room in the term ‘vintage reissue’. The first word means old, but the second means new… so how much old are you keeping, and how much new are you adding? In the case of the Marshall Vintage Reissue stompboxes, the answer is a lot more clear-cut than usual.

While many players might have expected the grand old British marque to update its classic dirt quartet with modernised components, the new Guv’nor, BluesBreaker, DriveMaster and ShredMaster are playing it straight down the line. They basically are the old units, only in redesigned boxes – and without 30-odd years of scratches, scuffs and congealed gig-sweat.

For anyone who was hoping for improved performance and reliability, that looks like bad news. For anyone who just wanted the original pedals back without any damage to that oh-so-fragile mojo, it’s Christmas. Or, quite possibly, four Christmases on the same day.

Marshall Vintage Reissue pedals by Adam Gasson
Marshall Vintage Reissue pedals. Image: Adam Gasson

Clad in black-painted mild steel, these four chunky wedges represented Marshall’s first serious attempt to make an impact on the world of effects pedals back in 1988. And naturally enough, they were modelled on the company’s own amps – from the low-gain crunch of the BluesBreaker to the metal-ready JCM roar of the ShredMaster.

But while there are now more ‘Marshall in a box’ pedals on the market than there are squirrels in western Europe, at the time these units were not a huge success – thus their short lifespan, being discontinued in 1992.

It’s really only because of associations with the likes of Gary Moore and (much later) John Mayer that a failure gradually became a legend… and ultimately led to the arrival of these UK-made reissues.

How closely they match the pedals from the initial production run is a debate for other, nerdier people to enjoy – what really matters here is, simply, how good they are. Click on the links below to find out.


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