Marshall’s reissue of its classic OOP Blues Breaker overdrive pedal is one of the worst-kept secrets of all time, and one of the greatest mysteries too, that so many players could have got their hands on one this week, before any official release has been forthcoming.
Well, we know the how they did; some retailers jumped the gun and put pre-sales links live and the people paid their money. But it’s bamboozling that there had not been a peep out of Marshall that any pedalboard reissues were in the air. The only statement the British guitar amp company made was to deny anything was happening. Is this reverse psychology at play? Well, who can say what the grand plan is.
Among the players to get a hold of a Blues Breaker reissue was the player, builder and gear collector Luca of the Luca.Guitars Instagram account, where he said exactly a year ago today, 17 February, that Marshall was bringing the pedal back. That was the catalyst for much speculation, but he was proven correct, taking receipt of the pedal on Monday, and posted the unboxing videos.
Here it was, a Mk I Blues Breaker ‘Vintage Reissue', complete with box, manual, a detail shot of the internal circuit, and an endorsement from Luca that it was worth the wait. “The pedal sounds amazing, and I hope everyone can get it soon!” he wrote, noting that the other Marshall guitar effects pedals – The Guv’nor, Shred Master and Drive Master – are to see a similar release.
It sure looks like the original, which if in excellent condition, now changes hands on the vintage market for 600 to 700 quid. But how does it sound? Well, luckily British effects brand Pedal Pawn bought the pedal – via the German online retail giant Thomann, which is hardly the Dark Web – and its head honcho Chris King Robinson has shot a quick demo video that should add a bit more anticipation for the Blues Breaker’s return.
In short, it sounds like a Blues Breaker, giving a spanky Stratocaster single-coil that extra bounce and lo-gain juice. You can hear why someone like John Mayer would add it to his ‘board, why other pedal builders would clone them. And, surely, we’ll all be able to add one to our ‘boards without remortgaging the house or going to drastic measures such as trading in that Lovetone Big Cheese that's been gathering mould on your Metro 16.
Pedal Pawn’s story of how they managed to buy one of the reissues, however, only adds to the intrigue. They were told the stock was on back order. Then it arrived. They had heard stories that Marshall were keeping something under wraps, but not sure what. Visitors touring the Marshall factory were allowed to take photographs wherever they liked, save for one section, Area 51 for stompbox nerds. The plot thickens.
If you’re curious about the long discontinued Marshall effects line and want to hear them in action, this explainer video from JHS Pedals is as good a place as any to start.
It is also a reminder that some of the most important effects pedals of all time can be a relatively affordable mainstream line. When the Marshall pedals were first released, they were successful enough but no one knew they would be fetching silly money decades later.
And if you’ve added any vintage Marshall pedals to your watchlist, now’s the time to hang tight and see what happens in the coming weeks from Marshall. Maybe they’re holding on for NAMM on 13-15 April.