Side-By-Side: Marshall The Guv’nor and Warm Audio ODD Box v1 Overdrives

In a previous blog post, I said that I wanted to hear how Warm Audio’s ODD Box v1 overdrive pedal compared to Marshall’s The Guv’nor.

The Guv’nor and ODD Box v1 on my pedalboard

Read on to find out!

Table of Contents

What Are You Comparing?

Today, I’ve got two pedals on the pedalboard:

  • Marshall’s The Guv’nor overdrive pedal, and
  • Warm Audio’s ODD Box v1 overdrive pedal

The Guv’nor is a legendary pedal. It chases the sound of a Marshall JCM 800 stack: the sound of 80s hard rock and metal. Mine is one of the Vintage Reissue pedals that came out back in February 2023.

The ODD Box v1 is based on another legendary pedal, the Fulltone OCD v1.4. The OCD isn’t marketed as chasing the sound of any particular amp stack, but to my ears at least it delivers cranked Marshall-like tones.

Why Are You Comparing Them?

Curiosity, mostly. I want to hear how the ODD Box v1 compares to The Guv’nor, to help me decide when I might choose one pedal over the other. (Regular readers will know that I like having options.)

I think The Guv’nor sets the standard when it comes to classic hard rock tones in a pedal. Not so much the pedal to beat, more the pedal that I’d reach for first for the sound of the 80s.

If I’m going to keep the ODD Box v1, it’s got to give me something different … and, preferably, something that will complement The Guv’nor.

My Rig Today

Today, I’m playing:

  • my Les Paul
  • into the Axe-FX 3 (mostly for the tuner)
  • out to my pedalboard
  • back into the Axe-FX 3 (for amp, cab, delay and reverb)
  • and out to my DAW

On the pedalboard, I’ve got each pedal in a separate loop of my Gigrig G2. This allows me to take unused pedals completely out of the signal chain, so that they cannot colour the tone in any way.

How Do They Sound?

Marshall’s The Guv’nor

Here’s how The Guv’nor sounds with my Les Paul. I’m on the bridge pickup.

Les Paul > The Guv’nor > Axe-FX 3

Before I talk about how it sounds to me, let’s listen to the ODD Box.

Warm Audio’s ODD Box v1

Here’s how the ODD Box v1 sounds with my Les Paul. Once again, I’m on the bridge pickup of the guitar. I’ve got the toggle switch on the ODD Box in the up position.

Les Paul > ODD Box v1 > Axe-FX 3

How Do They Compare?

I found that the recording experience was quite different to how they sound when I play back each clip.

The Recording Experience

During the recording, I had such a hard time trying to get them to match that I gave up on that, and instead focused on trying to get both pedals sounding as good as possible.

Here, I felt that The Guv’nor had a clear advantage, thanks to the 3-band EQ, and also because the gain and volume controls seem to have larger sweet spots. It just felt very easy to make The Guv’nor sound really really good.

I also got the ODD Box v1 sounding really good too, I think. I did feel that I had to work harder, and I had to resist the temptation to dive into the amp controls to tweak the tone.

When I sat down to do each demo, I felt that the two pedals sounded quite different. The Guv’nor sounded warm and balanced, while the ODD Box sounded cold, aggressive but less saturated.

But listening back afterwards, I’m not so sure …

The Listening Experience

Listening back to the demos, I’m surprised at what I hear. The Guv’nor sounds exactly like I thought it did when recording, but the ODD Box does not.

In a blind test, I’d say that the ODD Box sounds more like my idea of a cranked hard-rock tone than The Guv’nor does. I am hearing less in the lower mids with the ODD Box and harder clipping with the overdrive/distortion, which translates to a feeling of coldness and aggressiveness. That matches the experience I had many years ago when I compared my Marshall Origin amp with some alternatives.

I’m hearing more upper-mids in The Guv’nor and more lower-mids too, which is giving it a more vintage vibe and making it sound more balanced. I do prefer that balance for playing alone at home, for sure.

The big surprise for me is how the ODD Box sounds thicker and more saturated than The Guv’nor. When I was recording, I felt the exact opposite: that I couldn’t get the ODD Box sounding as cranked as The Guv’nor did.

Which One Do You Prefer?

I’ve gone back and forth over this quite a bit. I think that shows that there isn’t a clear choice here.

There’s no two ways about it: I think The Guv’nor is the easier pedal to dial in, and I think it just sounds straight-up awesome. If I could only keep one, it would be The Guv’nor every time.

But … the ODD Box v1 gives me a sound that I don’t know how to get out of The Guv’nor. It’s a harder, more aggressive tone. I don’t think that I’m getting the best out of the ODD Box yet, either. It’s definitely got me wanting to spend more time with it.

Final Thoughts

I’m leaving this with more questions than answers.

In particular, I’m now wondering how the ODD Box v1 compares to the Marshall Shredmaster pedal. Will the harder clipping of the Shredmaster result in a closer match?

I’m also thinking of grabbing my Synergy 800 amp module and doing a side-by-side comparison with the ODD Box v1 too. But that will have to wait until the Christmas hols, when I’ve got time to revisit my Synergy-into-Axe-FX-setup.

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