Marshall Origin And MIAB Drive Pedals

This week, we’ve been looking at the new Marshall Origin amp. It’s an affordable, vintage-voiced amp that can get close to a classic Plexi tone with a little bit of help from pedals. Today, we’re going to look at two pedals to do exactly that.

The two pedals I’m featuring today are both boutique pedals, with prices to match. You could buy all the Boss pedals I’ve featured so far, and all the TC Electronic pedals, for less than the cost of these two pedals. Will you hear the difference between them?

Carpe Diem

If you watch That Pedal Show, you’ve probably seen the Carpe Diem pedal by now. It’s a MIAB – Marshall-in-a-Box – and a firm favourite of Dan on the show.

I’ve had mine quite a while, and it’s spent most of its time on my pedal board acting as flavouring, rather than being a source of main drive tone. Origin prefers to act as the colour with any pedal, so will the Carpe Diem add enough texture to be a good choice?

Oh yes.

I have a confession to make. I threw this pedal into the demo pile because I was getting frustrated with folks on forums complaining that the Origin wasn’t Plexi enough. I was hoping that this pedal would get the Origin closer to that hard-edged sound of the Super Lead amp.

Boy, did it deliver. Compare it to the sound of a Super Lead clone – my Metropoulos Metro Plex.

The Carpe Diem brings the harder clipping and saturation that the Origin can’t do on its own. There’s still a difference in the mids between the two, but to my cloth ears it’s close enough for government work.

It’s an expensive pedal that’s become very hard to get – 2nd hand via eBay seems to be your best bet at the time of writing. Both budget and availability make it a difficult recommendation. But if that’s the sound you want, this pedal will get you there.

What about something a little less unobtainium?

JHS Charlie Brown v3

I picked this pedal because I happen to have it in my pedal cupboard. I got it at the tail end of 2015, and I’ve been using it for the last few months as my main Marshall-in-a-Box sound.

How well did it do? Judge for yourself:

If the Carpe Diem gets you 90% of the way to a Plexi tone, I’d say that the Charlie Brown is a good 80% of the way there. There’s just a little less of everything – a little less crunch, a little less aggressiveness, a little less saturation.

With the Carpe Diem, you dial it back. Maybe with the Charlie Brown, I just didn’t quite dial in enough when I made the demo.

That said, the Charle Brown is aimed at reproducing the JTM 45 sound, which isn’t quite as in-your-face as the Super Lead sound commonly associated with the plexi tone. I think it’s a perfectly usable sound, especially if you’re the rhythm guitarist in a band or recording group.

Origin + MIAB = More

Both of these Marshall-in-a-Box pedals work great with the Marshall Origin. Instead of trying – and failing – to overpower the Origin, they fill in some of the characteristics needed to get it closer to being a Plexi amp.

They cost a lot more than the other pedals we’ve looked at this week, but if you’re chasing that classic Plexi tone, you’ll be happier with one of these than with the generic overdrives and distortions.

These two particular pedals may be hard to find, but the good news is that there’s a lot of alternatives out there to suit any budget.

I don’t have any other MIAB pedals to try right now.  Based on how well these two have worked, I think there’s a good chance that other MIAB pedals will work also turn the Origin into a rock monster at reasonable home volumes.

Have you tried any MIAB pedals with the Origin? I’d love to hear how you got on, and what you recommend. Comments below!

5 Replies to “Marshall Origin And MIAB Drive Pedals”

  1. Oddly enough the Deep Trip Hellbender fuzz will do the job.
    If someone told me this I would have ignored them but listen to Brett K video
    The Tritonlab Labyrinth Jfet has both a pre and post gain so you can zero in on that just right Plexi sound It is the replacement to the Caravan another Brett review.
    Also the Dawner Prince Red Rox distortion. check it out to.
    you can trust me on this. I have a Blog Stomp box Steals with 568 posts an about 300 of them are dirt boxes. I have kept and use 26 of them. With a following of 126,804 I must e getting something right. LOL

  2. Really useful info. Thanks!

    I also was very pleasently surprised with the Origin 20c tones. Only one “disappointment” up until now, my Ocd sucks in front of it, unless as a almost clean boost. This is the first amp I’ve played that I couldn’t get a cool sound out of the Ocd. I was scratching my head for weeks because of it, but decided to give up and moved forward with my drive pedal choices.

    I’ll try the dark matter as you suggested in the other post.



    1. The OCD is one of the more famous pedals that I’ve still to try in person.

      Does your Origin 20C still have the stock V-Type speaker? If it does, I’m willing to bet that that’s your problem right there. I’m running my Origin 20H through a pair of 1x12s, fitted with a Celestion Blue and a Celestion A-Type. So far, with that combination, I haven’t found any drive pedals that don’t sound great through the Origin.

    1. @Shawn: today, I’d recommend the Marshall DSL 20HR over the Origin 20H for those kinds of pedals. The Origin is going to colour the sound of both pedals quite a bit. You won’t hear these pedals the way they are meant to sound.

      With the Origin, I would use the amp in ‘High Power’ mode, with the gain boost on, and gain set to 7. I’d start with Presence at 4, Treble at 6, Mids at 4, Bass at 4, and Tilt at 6. Roughly speaking, adjusting the gain adjusts the low mids, while the Mids control adjusts the high mids.

      Hope that helps.

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