Launched in 2006, Marshall's current pedals reiterate that the race is on to see just how many functions can be crammed into a single stompbox. This RG-1, and its sibling pedals the RF-1 reverb and EH-1 echo, pack six individual voices each.
Marshall's redesigns means the metal footswitches are now a little larger and more confidence inspiring than those initially featured on their pedals, but otherwise the housings are virtually identical. The units themselves feel weighty and hard-wearing, and we still think that the battery access panel that can be opened with a coin is a great idea. Even if you haven't got a screwdriver mid-gig, somebody will always have a coin.
What of those voices? The Regenerator's six-position mode selector gives access to a pair of chorus voices, a vintage-voiced flanger, phaser, step phaser and vintage vibe. The step phaser function is essentially a step filter effect that may be familiar to those used to a unit such as the Roger Linn AdrenaLinn. Rather than providing a smooth modulation curve, the signal is chopped into more dramatic 'steps' that pulse and bubble in a synthesiser-like manner. As on the RF-1 Reflector reverb, there's a connection for an expression pedal to control modulation speed, while when both outputs are connected in stereo, the second output is phase inverted to increase the sense of space.
In the dark early days of guitar multi-FX, many 'jack of all trade' pedals inevitably surrendered to the cliché and proved to be masters of none. And in truth the performance of the Regenerator is something of a mixed bag. Far and away the highlight here is the vintage vibe mode that recalls numerous classic recordings and, in combination with an expression pedal, is truly inspiring to play through. Similarly the bubbling step phaser is something of a welcome anomaly at this low price, and for some it will be worth the admission price alone. At the other end of the spectrum, we were left cold by chorus, flanger and phaser effects that lacked any real individuality or character. Maybe inevitably, they don't compare favourably to the voices on offer from many standalone units.