Released in 1992, the Marshall ShredMaster was the English brand's first real attempt to enter the effects pedal market, dominated at the time by Boss, MXR and a few others. Released at the same time as the BluesBreaker and the DriveMaster, it adopts a circuit almost identical to that of the Guv'nor but an additional gain stage and an EQ with an extended range of action. The goal is to recreate the “Marshall in a box” sound. Typically, that of the JCM800. It's not for nothing that My Bloody Valentine, Radio Head and other bands used it! In 2023, Marshall is re-releasing the original model with an extremely faithful MK2 version.
Aesthetically, we have a chassis that could be described as indestructible. The pedal offers classic controls: Gain, 3-band EQ and Volume. Inside, 2 handwired PCBs, identical in every way to the original version. The Marshall ShredMaster benefits from a simple but perfectly designed circuit: a double OP-Amp amplifies the signal using the Gain button, then it passes through 2 LEDs which will distort the signal (hard clipping) which is sent to the tone stack then to the output stage. Compared to the Guv'nor, except for the absence of a loop, we generally have a fairly similar circuit but with a much "sharp" EQ and a second, more massive gain stage.
Plugged into a super clean amp, because the aim of the ShredMaster is to transform any amp into a Marshall, we attack everything at 12:00 with a modern super-start. Well, let's just say it right away, the EQ is Marshall, so not really progressive. However, compared to other pedals in the range, the Mid (Contour) button is completely independent from the rest of the tone stack, so it does not impact the bass and treble. This allows us to dig into the mids (which fans of big sound will do) without altering the rest of the spectrum. Smart Marshall! We therefore have a much more precise and effective correction.
The signal being "flatter" and much straighter, we have a more articulate and stiffer dynamic than on the other models in the range, this, with a faster response and more compression.
In terms of frequencies, the ShredMaster is a little higher pitched than the DriveMaster, with less bass and booming highs. The pedal also delivers much more gain, with more pronounced hard clipping, without reaching astronomical levels either. It will not be suitable for Djent or Prog, not being "tight" enough, but it will excel in 80's/90's hard-metal and other punk rock styles.
In conclusion, Marshall brings out his legendary pedal identically with its qualities and its faults. A circuit that has been copied ten times because it is so qualitative and original. We prefer it with humbuckers and a guitar that sends. The good news is that it sounds very good and will allow fans of the brand to obtain the legendary sounds that so many appreciate.