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!

Marshall Origin: Is It Plexi Enough?

There seems to be two debates about Marshall’s new Origin amp at the moment: is it too bright, and is it Plexi enough?

To answer the second question, here’s some sound clips to listen to:

Sorry about my ugly mug – it’s because I’m too cheap to pay SoundCloud for access to their mini player 😀

Have a listen to all four demo tracks, and let your ears decide which you prefer. 3 of the tracks were recorded with the Origin, and 1 with my Metro Plex. Can you tell which is which?

Answers below. No cheating!











Okay, here’s what you’ve just listened to:

  1. The first clip is the Metro Plex.
  2. The second clip is the 20W Origin, with a Carpe Diem drive pedal giving it a helping hand.
  3. The third clip is the 20W Origin, this time with a TC Electronics Dark Matter helping out.
  4. And finally, the last clip is the 20W Origin on its own.

The Origin Is Vintage Voiced, But It Needs Help To Sound Like A Plexi

To my cloth ears, Marshall’s Origin has 3 key characteristics that differ from the famed Super Lead sound.

  1. It isn’t just that Origin’s a bright amp, it’s that more of Origin’s perceived volume is in those upper mids. Dial them back, and you’ll hear the amp start to thin out a bit. On its own, it doesn’t have a huge amount of meaty mids.
  2. The Plexi sound is bright and aggressive. Although Origin is bright, it’s got very soft clipping (assuming you’re in a position to crank it enough to clip at all!). That stops it sounding as aggressive as a Super Lead can.
  3. Finally, the Origin has so much input headroom that it just doesn’t saturate no matter what I try.

On its own, it’s not an affordable version of one of Marshall’s plexi reissues.  But give it some help, and it can get close. Certainly close enough for us home tone chasers.

A Little Help From My (Pedal) Friends

For me, the Carpe Diem got pretty close – in part, thanks to the harder clipping that it has. It’s not a cheap pedal, and it can be quite hard to get hold of, but 2nd hand examples do turn up on eBay from time to time.

The Dark Matter also sounded pretty good – and I thought it sounded excellent considering they currently cost £40 brand new. The clipping is perhaps a little too soft to go head-to-head against a real Plexi, but I tell you what: out of all the pedals I’ve been using this week, the Dark Matter is the one that’s been hooked up to the Origin the most.

The end result still sounds like an Origin amp, no matter which drive pedal you use. You can’t radically change the sound of an Origin using drive pedals alone. But with a little help, the end result’s pretty nice – and a hell of a lot more affordable than a real Plexi 🙂

What do you think? Comments below!