Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Marshall ShredMaster review

Back in January I stumbled across a killer find at a Flea Market. An original Marshall ShredMaster. I talked about the great deal I got here. This legendary pedal is pretty amazing but it wasn't exactly what I expected. For being called a ShredMaster this thing doesn't have a ton of gain on tap. I don't use a ton of gain when I play so this being on the low end of the high gain spectrum is fine with me. Back when JCM800's came out they were considered very high gain but compared to today's high gain monsters like Diezel, Engl or even the new 5150 III (which is fantastic IMO) it sounds pretty classic rock. But if you crank it up and hit it with a boost like a Tube Screamer or similar and it sings all day long.  The ShredMaster is the same way. Some of the more famous users of this pedal are Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead, and Kevin Sheilds from My Bloody Valentine.

My original Marshall ShredMaster!
The pedal is in remarkable shape for something that is over twenty years old and get's stepped on. When I first got the pedal the pots were a little scratchy. I checked with my tech guru that I use and he told me to order some DeoxIT, which cleans, protects and lubricates without using any overly harsh solvents that could hurt the circuit. Once that was taken care of I spent some time checking out all of the classic sounds in this pedal. You can nail easily JCM 800 sounds as well as hot rodded Plexi sounds with this thing. Early Van Halen? check, Zakk Wylde sounds? easy, ACDC? all day long! Honestly it's probably the original Marshall in a box. Compared to a Suhr Riot there is no where near as much gain but tone wise it's in the same family. One thing I'm not crazy about is the lack of volume in it. I keep the volume knob around two o'clock for unity. That's not a lot of front end boost. In fact I keep almost all of the knobs past twelve o'clock almost all of the time. But that's really not a deal breaker. My favorite feature is the contour knob. You can get great scoop sounds, which make it sound really heavy, or bring the mids back up for a ton of presence. I really don't know if it uses a buffer or not but the sound is very full, there doesn't seem to be any tone sucking going on but I'm pretty sure it's not true bypass so if that's important to you you may may want to skip this one.

 If your thinking you'd like to try a ShredMaster they seem to always have a couple over on Ebay. I've been checking Ebay for the last few months and have seen these pedals go for anywhere from $140-$200. Another option these days is that there are several pedal makers who are making clones of this pedal. A clone isn't always a direct copy. Often pedal makers change parts of the circuit or values to enhance a pedal if they think they can improve the sound. That's why there are so many Tube Screamer variations that all sound a bit different. If your wanting something in the same family but with more gain the Suhr Riot is pretty amazing. And the Visual Sound Jekyll & Hyde is a Tube Screamer and ShredMaster in one unit, which seems like a match made in heaven. I haven't tried one yet but I've been impressed with the sound quality and build of their other pedals and the Jekyll & Hyde is one of their best selling products. So that is worth checking out too. I was going to add some clips to this but that will have to wait until a couple of other things come into play. Very exciting stuff happening behind the scenes here, get ready for more.

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