This is a direct follow-up to my Pedal Primary Colour Wheel article where I noted the direct correlation between the colour Red and Marshall-style Drive and Distortion pedals. I named 6 that fitted the bill then, and I’ve found a few more to complete an elegant colour-matched grouping. The post was triggered by the original article, but also my recent acquisition of the Sitek Wuffy Distortion.
Note that these pedals vary between Plexi and JCM-800 styles of drive - some cover more territory, while others are a lot more focused. Not all of these specifically claim an allegiance to the Marshall sound - but they all have that signature crunch that most of us know and love so well.
With the acquisition of the Sitek Wuffy I now have 4 of this number - along with the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret Red Mod, MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2 and Wampler Pinnacle. I have also had the Dawner Prince RedRox and JHS Andy Timmons Plus on my wishlist for a while. The MadProfessor Mighty Red Distortion and MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion are included here for the first time. I obviously have thing for Marshall drives - and I feel a few more of these will certainly find themselves in the collection before long.
Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand as usual:
I've featured this pedal a couple of times on my site previously. This is a an excellent Crunchy Plexi-style pedal with 3 character modes - Plexi | Regular | Smooth, 3 Gain Modes - Fat | Regular | Tight, a variable Noise Gate and Volume | Tone | Gain knobs.
This recent limited edition souped-up DLS contains more tone-shaping and punchier gain than the standard MKIII version. It sold out pretty quickly, and I was lucky enough to bag a copy. As noted previously, the Catalinbread DLS has long been Andy Martin's favourite Marshall-style drive, while I have a slight preference for some of my others - which unfortunately are not red!
The RedRox has long been on my wishlist and is something of a Rob Chapman / Andertons favourite too - I dare say they took some cues for their Snake Oil Marvellous Engine Distortion from this. 4 simple controls - Contour (Mid Focus) | Tone | Master (Level) | PreAmp (Gain). Some lovely tones and textures available here - possibly a lower priority for me now since the acquisition of the not altogether dissimilar Site Wuffy.
Another wishlist long-termer - this time in the JCM-800 category where I already have numerous options - albeit none with a separate boost footswitch in this compact format. There is some degree of uniqueness with the controls here - 5 dials - Volume | Drive | EQ (Tone) | Air (Presence) | Boost (Level), and a 3-way Headroom/Compression/Gain Character toggle-switch - 25 | 50 | 100 .
This is the Mad Professor derivation of the venerable Björn Juhl BJFE Dyna Red Distortion - a classic Marshall-style distortion in its own right. This is a really versatile pedal despite just three controls - Volume | Distortion | Presence. There's certainly a lot of competition in this category while this is the simplest on offer here - so if you like to keep things simple - this is your likely choice!
This is still my favourite Brown Sound / EVH style pedal against all-comers - I have most of the key performers in this category - and while they all get in on the rotation - this is the one that has just the right amount of sizzle for me. 3 Clipping options for different degrees of compression, combined with 3 Gain Mode structures - Low, Medium and High - and then 3-Band EQ plus Presence. For some this pedal is a touch too fiddly, but for me I can dial in exactly the voicing I like - still my favourite of its kind - although I've yet to do a full head-to-head with the JHS Andy Timmons Plus.
The lowest cost option in this group with 'Crunch' clipping option over the Mad Professor Might Red. The 'Crunch' gives you more distortion harmonics should you prefer that - otherwise it's just the usual simple Output | Tone | Distortion. It's a decent pedal for sure - and at this price will be hard to resist for many.
I previously acquired the 4-knob Sitek Silicon Pandora Fuzz which I still love and it does well on the rotation - and this pedal was sparked by a superb demo by one Pete Honoré per the above. In many ways this is not dissimilar to the Dawner Prince RedRox above - very similar controls, but the Wuffy has an additional 2-way clipping switch which adds more harmonics into the distortion. There's a really cool hint of fuzz in the upper register of this pedal which I really like - and which swung the acquisition decision for me. Funnily on Pete's demo another critic cites that as a reason he did not like the pedal. While with my Empress MultiDrive I always added in some of the Fuzz voicing to deliver more distortion harmonics and texture! This is not cited as being a Marshall-style distortion but it certainly sounds like one to me.
I currently have 11 Wampler pedals and most of Brian's key Drives and Distortions including this one. It's another great sounding variety which though is pipped by some of my other favourites of this type in my own rotation preferences. Just like there are several voices of Plexi, there are several voices for JCM-800 too - and for me I sort of prefer the degree of sizzle on the MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2, Suhr Riot and Bogner Burnley. These are all great pedals though and different players will like one variety over another for simply personal preference reasons. For me each has a slightly different character which inspires different types of playing - all 9 here are 'Best of' you can't say any one of these is definitely better than the other - you will all likely have different favourites here.
This colour-matching exercise is largely just a bit of fun - and an annexe to my relatively recent '20 of the Best Compact Marshall Style Pedals'. There are several of the usual greats excluded because of their particular colour way - just as there are some which appear here because they match.
It's kind of funny that you have a veritable rainbow of colours associated with Marshall - including Red, Gold, Black, Purple and Silver! I chose the red grouping here as it had the most matches. As I mentioned in the intro I have 4 of these in the collection already - the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret Red Mod, MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2, Sitek Wuffy, and Wampler Pinnacle. The likeliest addition here is also the priciest option - the JHS Andy Timmons Plus - I will quite happy bide my time until I get that one at the right price. I might grab an Amptweaker Tight Rock Jr at some stage too - again depending on the right opportunity otherwise I have what I need from this grouping really.
From the broader Marshall-style roundup I still aim to get the Lawrence Petross Seventy 4 PreAmp and the Zvex Box of Rock - and that should probably do me for a while - it's not like I'm short of Marhsally flavour in my existing Tone Library.
As to what you yourself might like for your own rig - it really depends what flavour of Marshall you are looking for - this selection is very much Plexi and JCM-800 territory covered here. There is also the JTM45 / Blues Breaker - which with the aforementioned two makes up my 3 favourite Marshall style tones - I really can't get enough of Marshall tones - and it's alway interesting to me how different pedals can sound within the same supposed category - the harmonics, texture, core tone - bright/dark, degree of compression etc. can all be quite different - and I will like certain pedals for certain tasks or song styles even. Of course my favourites tend to get into the rotation the most often, and that trio is mostly the Wampler Pantheon, Menatone The King, and MI Effects Super Crunch Box - at least for now! ...