Marshall Bluesbreaker MK1 (1992)

Why Does the Bluesbreaker MK1 Exist?

There are few pedals online that spark as wide or as varied a debate as the Marshall Bluesbreaker MK1. Released in the early 90s, the pedal was an attempt to create a portable, relatively affordable overdrive pedal that could replicate the sound of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers (featuring the now legendary Eric Clapton) playing through Marshall’s valve amps in the early sixties. With the popular transition from valve amps to solid-state transistor amps well underway, this pedal represented an attempt by Marshall, to capitalise on the distinct difference in tone between the two.

Did they succeed?

A Must-Have Pedal or a Waste of Money

These days, the Bluesbreaker MK1 is one of the most popular vintage effects units amongst second-hand buyers. Indeed, if you’re looking to buy one that’s in good condition, then it’s likely to cost you somewhere in the triple digits.

But while there’s a thriving market out there of enthusiasts singing this pedal’s praises, there are many who just don’t understand the hype. To some, the Bluesbreaker captures a unique, blues-rock sound, while to others it’s a clunky, flat sounding mess.

What’s going on?

Why the Debate?

Well, we’re not here to settle decades of disagreement in a few short sentences, but there are a couple of simple reasons why this pedal divides guitarists so much.

The first is that, when you attempt to recreate an iconic sound, the simulation is not likely to please everyone. For better or worse, there will always be those who feel that the sound of a valve amp cannot be beaten.

The second reason has more to do with how people use it. Many pedals, particularly modern ones, prioritise a level of versatility and ease of use. Put simply, the Bluesbreaker MK1 does not do this. It responds drastically to changes in volume and tone. In order to get a good sound out of it, guitarists must learn to work with this pedal and understand its quirks.

The fact of the matter is that you can get some truly amazing sounds out of the Bluesbreaker MK1, but it won’t just give them to you. This is an effects unit that will ask a lot of you but can be very generous in return.

Marshall Bluesbreaker MK1 (1992) technical specifications

Manufacturer Marshall
Made In UK
FX Overdrive
Type Pedal
Jacks mounted on Top
Bypass Buffered Bypass
Battery? Yes
Voltage 9
Polarity Center Negative
Circuit Analog
Tube equipped? No
Weight (in kg) 0.51
Famous Users John Mayer
Width (in cm) 11
Height (in cm) 6.7
Depth (in cm) 14.7

Marshall Bluesbreaker MK1 (1992) reviews & comparison videos

Bluesbreaker MK1 (1992) reviews & comparison

3 Videos

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