1985 Marshall Guv'nor MK 1 (Made in England)

Launched in the 1980’s, the Marshall Guv’nor distortion pedal became a classic effect known for high quality distortion tones. The Guv’nor was designed to create a full-featured overdrive pedal worthy of its Marshall heritage.

Personally named by Jim Marshall himself, "The Guv'nor" is British slang for "The Leader," or a musician's expression in the UK meaning "The Ultimate." Solid state technology was used to "unleash a stunning variety of the best-sounding classic and contemporary distortion sounds known to man," according to an article introducing the Guv'nor in the Vol. 6, No. 1 issue of Marshall Law issued in 1989. Everything is housed in a tough, steel-reinforced case.

The Guv’nor circuit uses two stages of gain with diode clipping and tone controls. The gain comes from a TL072 low-noise operational amplifier (op-amps) chip. This device is made for high-fidelity audio preamplifier applications and uses junction field effect transistors (JFETs) to achieve good gain with low noise and low harmonic distortion.

While used by many artists, “The Guv’nor” is perhaps most often associated with blues-rock guitarist Gary Moore (Skid Row, Thin Lizzy, Coliseum II, Phil Lynott, Greg Lake, BBM). According to Marshall, of all the various tones that have been heard on Gary Moore’s recordings, the sounds on the “Still Got The Blues” album are the most asked about by fans. During 1989 the JTM Amplifier Reissue series was in the final stages of development, and Gary received an early production model. Used in conjunction with a 1959 Les Paul Standard, a Marshall Guv’nor pedal, and a 1960B 4×12″ cab loaded with Electrovoice 12″ speakers, it became the featured tone of the album, heard on nearly all the tracks including the title track. As Gary Moore recalled “One of the guys from Metallica goes up to [producer] Bob Rock and says, ‘This is the sound I want,” and plays him ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ from Still Got The Blues. Then they proceed to go through all these pre-amps and processors to achieve it. I felt I should write and say, ‘That’s not how to do it. You’ve got the money now guys, go out and buy a ’59 Les Paul, a Guv’nor pedal and a JTM45!”

Marshall initially made the Guv’nor Mk1 in UK. The later models were made in Korea. Many say the Korean version components have cheaper parts. Many who have compared them say the UK made sounds more natural with more depth and clarity, like a Marshall stack and the Korean made sound much more closed in and fizzy, more like a distortion pedal than a stack.

* Disclaimer - This is a not an official site. I am not affiliated in any way with Marshall. I just like this pedal, own this pedal and have summarized as much informatin that I can find about this pedal.

Photos of an English made 1985 Marshall Guv'nor MK 1

image Marshall Guvnor Top image Marshall Guvrnor Front

On the Battery Door, the UK (English) made has a Slotted (Flat) Screw (the Korean has a Phlips screw).

image Marshall Guvnor Backimage Marshall Guvnor Battery Door

image Marshall Guvrno Battery Door Close Up


On the Battery Door, the UK (English) made has a Slotted (Flat) Screw and the Korean made has a Phillips Screw

Marshall Guvnor Back English versus Korean

English (UK) Made                                               Korean Made


image Marshall Guvnor Pedal

The Guv’nor pedal has five main potentiometer controls and a switch:
  1. image Marshall Guvnor Controls 1Gain - This controls the intensity of the drive and will provide a stunning range of overdrive selections. Lower settings will give a simple volume boost, while advanced settings will provide screaming solo sounds. Most suggest to keep the gain below the volume level, but others say the opposite. Most keep the gain at 10:00 to 12:00.
  2. Bass - Three-band EQ network which combines to give the fullest selection of guitar tones. Bass controls the lower frequencies giving a range from thudding, heavy rhythm, to tight and punchy solo response. Most people keep the bass up past 12:00.
  3. Middle - This control provides the key to an unbelievable range of distortion tones. When backed off, the sound is smooth and fat for more lyrical blues/rock playing styles. Increasing the contour changes the character of the mid response and enhances the treble and bass frequencies.
  4. Treble – High-end response control, which tailors the attack and enhances the harmonic content. All three EQ controls are truly interactive, letting the player dial in anything from hard-driving, modern Marshall distortion, to the sweet, syrupy sustain of classic Vintage models. Most people keep the treble down below 12:00.
  5. Level - Provides control of the overall level and amount of boost. (Most users say to keep volume above gain). Most keep the Volume at 1:00 – 2:00.
  6. Switch - On/off switch to bypass or activate the pedal with indicator LED to show the status.

  7. image Marshall Guvnor Controls 3



The Guv’nor pedal has Input, Output and also an FX Loop:
  1. Input Jack - For connection of the cable from the guitar. Use a mono 1/4" cable (shielded).
  2. Loop Jack - The FX loop output allows linking to other pedals using an optional "Y" cable, with the Guv'nor Pedal acting as the master switch for the whole effects chain. The "Y" cable needed is a TRS (tip-ring-sleeve) 1/4" type at one end, splitting into a pair of mono 1/4" cables at the other end.
  3. Mains Adapter - Input for a 9 volt DC mains adaptor.
  4. Output Jack - For the connection of the cable from the pedal to the amplifier input socket. Use a mono 1/4" cable (shielded).

Note: For best results, overdrive pedals should not be connected through the effects loop of your amplifier.