Marshall confirms the worst-kept secret in gear and unveils Vintage Reissue pedal series

In an announcement that confirms possibly one of the worst-kept gear secrets of all time, Marshall has now officially unveiled reissues of its most famed stompboxes.

Guitar fans first began to speculate that Marshall had something in the works a year ago this month, when a gear collector named Luca cryptically claimed the amp icon had an updated Blues Breaker overdrive pedal in the pipeline.

For a year, everything went quiet, but a few weeks ago that same gear collector had physical pictures to back up his claims, and not long after, the entire run of pedals – comprising the Bluesbreaker, Shredmaster, Drivemaster and The Guv’nor, as now formally stylized by Marshall – was demoed by the Pedal Pawn YouTube channel.

This all occurred without a peep from Marshall, so it really comes as no surprise that, yes, the pedals are actually back, with aesthetics and tones that are said to be faithful recreations of their original forebears.

Now, we’d be far more excited about this drop if it had been a total surprise, but although the sheen of the reissue range has been somewhat tarnished by spoilers, there’s no denying this is a pretty big release from Marshall, which hasn’t released a new product in quite some time.

As an overview, four of Marshall’s most famed effects pedals have been faithfully revived to their original dimensions – those with already crammed pedalboards may not be too keen – and tonal capacity.

Starting with the Bluesbreaker – because we’ve seen it a few times already – Marshall has labeled the stompbox an “authentic reissue”, retaining controls for Gain, Tone and Volume, as well as a familiar circuit in an attempt to harness the Mark 1 Bluesbreaker tone that John Mayer used throughout Continuum.

Despite its humble design, the 2023 Bluesbreaker is also said to be capable of harnessing the same overdrive tones that Eric Clapton captured while using the 1962 Bluesbreaker amp, from which the pedal got its inspiration. 

It’s also a far cry cheaper than original Mark 1 Bluesbreaker pedals from 1991 – which command prices of up to $1,000 on the used market – with its $249 price tag.

The Bluesbreaker is joined by The Guv’nor – a distortion pedal that takes inspiration from the original 1988 unit and which promises a faithful recreation of its “smooth overdriven sound with a touch of compression”.

Again, the control layout throws up no surprises, with the pedal featuring knobs for Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble and Level.

Notable users of The Guv’nor include the late Gary Moore, who revealed to Guitar World back in 2004 that he had used the Marshall stompbox on his legendary Still Got the Blues album.

From The Guv’nor came the slightly updated Drivemaster – another pedal that has received a new lease on life from Marshall. The idea of the original Drivemaster was to take The Guv’nor a stage further, with a three band tone network acting as a de facto “extra amp”. 

It’s a design aim shared by the reissued Drivemaster, which – with its Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble and Volume controls – aims to meticulously bring that same tone back to life for modern players.

Completing the set is a revived take on Marshall’s “first ever high-gain pedal”, the Shredmaster, with the new-for-2023 unit promising to “accurately recreate that iconic Shredmaster sound”. Again it’s very straightforward and very familiar, with Gain, Bass, Contour, Treble and Volume parameters.

Just like the Bluesbreaker and The Guv'nor, the histories of both the Drivemaster and Shredmaster are littered with the names of high-profile players, with the likes of Jeff Buckley using the former and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood favoring the latter.

And, just like the Bluesbreaker, each of the remaining reissues all carry price tags of $249, making them all far more affordable in comparison to their vintage forebears. A number of online retailers, such as Guitar Center, have the pedals up for preorder.

If you want to find out more, you’re in luck, because Marshall has finally put them all on its official website.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.