Marshall Origin and Boost Pedals

So far this week, we’ve looked at how the Marshall Origin compares to other Marshall-style amps, and we’ve looked at giving it a helping hand with affordable drive pedals from Boss and TC Electronic.

Today, we’re going to try and give it a helping hand using the oldest trick in the book: boost pedals.

Boost pedals work by overloading the amp’s input, so that the amp’s circuit starts to clip. The result is a natural-sounding overdrive that can sound saturated, with good sustain thanks to the compression that happens.

They’re a great choice if you already like the sound of your amp’s overdrive.

MXR Micro Amp

First up is the Micro Amp from MXR:

It’s marketed as a volume boost for quieter guitars, or for adding back lost volume at the end of a long cable run. But with +26db of volume boost on tap, it’s perfect for slamming the front end of an amp too.

Compared to the reference track, there isn’t much difference between the Origin’s own overdrive and what you get when you use the MXR Micro Amp. That’s exactly how clean boosts work.

Maybe the extra boost from the MXR Micro Amp is producing a slightly fatter, slightly more compressed tone. That could just be wishful thinking.

How will we fair with a different boost pedal?

TC Electronic Spark

The Spark is a modern boost pedal, made popular by its frequent use on Chappers and The Captain when it first launched.

One of the reasons why the Spark is such a popular pedal is that it isn’t just a clean boost. It’s got 2-band active EQ, a 3-way voice switch to shape the gain – oh yes, and it can provide gain too.

That provides more control over what the boosted amp sounds like. Being able to fatten up the mids and add a bit more saturation really helps with the Origin:

Again, compare it to the reference track to hear what this pedal brings to the party. To my ears, there’s a bit more drive and a fuller sound. It sounds fatter, and I think it’s an improvement over how the Origin sounds without any pedals.

Boosts = More Origin

If you don’t like how the Origin sounds, a boost pedal isn’t going to change your mind. A boost pedal is just more of what Origin already does. Yes, with the Spark we can shape it a little bit – the fatter mids are most welcome. But these pedals can’t do anything about Origin’s relatively soft clipping. They can’t turn it into a Plexi monster.

The other issue that they don’t really work at home volumes – not with Origin. It’s got such huge input headroom (the amount of signal it will accept before clipping) that I had to crank the amp anyway to get these tones with the boost pedals. You need both preamp and power amp to be providing the overdrive together to get this amp rocking.

For home volume levels, you’ll get more joy out of a traditional drive pedal like the ones I’ve already covered.

What do you think? Comments below!

7 Replies to “Marshall Origin and Boost Pedals”

  1. Having owned a Marshall 50 watt Plexi for years but sold it to go back to Canada I was delighted to find that though the Origin 50 head I bought sounds a little different then my old one I would never say one is better then the other.
    I have 70 pedals and 26 are OD’s I have them mounted on 2 boards linked together with 2 small patch bays and I use them ALL live in a 3 piece guitar, bass an drums doing my tunes.
    They go thru the Amptweaker Depth Finder and an A/DA analog speaker simulator then into the ORGIN …They turn my 1×12 Celestion cab into a convincing Marshall 1960a 4×12 cab complete with the thump! Ad a power soak to get the level always right and presto! I have a compact rig that I can create a post production sound LIVE!!!
    I also use 8 guitars livetoo. For example I have a Fender Duo Sonic with a Tele PU at the bridge and a Ric PU at the neck. So by using pedals I can do a great faux Roger McGuinn Byrds 12 string sound complete with his Vox treble booster then to a 70’s Metal sound in the same tune. So I all my guitars cover 2 distinct sounds …with Goldfoil, PAF P90, Strat, Tele, Ric and even a Magnatone late 50’s sound covered lol
    The BK video’s were a big help in making the right choices.

    1. Hi, I have the Marshall origin 20c, would you recommend me a overdrive/distortion pedal for 80s hair metal tones?

      1. Yes the T.C. Electronics Tri Overdrive pedal on the “British” setting. It is one of the very best pedals for 80’s ROCK tone. Mine is an early 1990’s pedal.

  2. I have a EQD Tone Job EQ/Boost pedal. Would this pedal work best ahead of my dirt pedals in front of the Origin 20h for more gain? Also, could I use a TC Spark after modulation pedals in the effects loop for even more gain?

    1. I’m honestly not sure if there’s more gain to be had from the Origin amp itself. In the unit I have, most of the gain seems to come from the poweramp not the preamp. Cranking the master up past 6 helps a lot, as does running it on full-power mode.

      It’s worth trying a boost pedal in the effects loop, to see what happens. If I was running a boost pedal into the front of the amp, I’d be tempted to put it after the drive pedals, so that it’s pushing the preamp harder instead of pushing your pedals harder.

      Good luck. I hope that helps.

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