An Expressway to "Super Lead" Sounds
VintageMarshall-plexi megatonnage and surprisingly chimey clean tones abound in this stompbox with uncommon range. The PG Skreddy Pedals Super 100 review.
A versatile preamp-meets-overdrive pedal with a broad range of voicings, and a bold take on the late-'60s Super Lead in a box.
Predisposed toward quite a bright high-end bite, which some players will likely want to dial out.
Skreddy Pedals Super 100
The Marshall-in-a-box (MIAB) is a burgeoning stompbox genre. These days there are even pedals built to emulate performance characteristics of more modern Marshalls, like the 2204, JCM800, and hot-rodded versions of those amps. But because the golden-age plexis are such near-perfect amps, there is never a shortage of ambitious builders eager to have a go at building a box just a bit closer to the real thing.
Skreddy Pedals, which has always demonstrated a refined ear for what makes the hottest fuzz and amp sounds roar, takes a focused approach to their own MIAB with the new Super 100—shooting directly for the tone and feel of a late '60s 100-watt Super Lead, with its chunky edge-of-breakup clean tones, and its pure, vintage-grade, double-stack overdrive. For Skreddy, achieving the potential of a real Super Lead also means assuring that the Super 100 works right with fuzz, boost, and overdrive pedals, and provides a path to contemporary high-gain lead tones. The Super 100 succeeds on both counts.
A Bite of British
The Super 100 is neither the simplest nor most complex Marshall-in-a-box, but it offers a genuinely utilitarian and flexible set of controls. Two rows of three knobs are home to controls for volume, drive, sag, bass, middle and treble. Most of these controls are self-explanatory. But the sag knob is a little unconventional and super useful, employing an optical compressor/limiter circuit in the preamp to enable both tight, in-your-face tones and softer, squishier output. The carefully assembled, sturdy, and thoughtfully laid-out circuit board is housed in an enclosure painted in gold enamel and loaded with silver-top knobs that clearly honors its amplifier inspiration.
The Super 100 reminds us that the Super Lead is capable of crispy, articulate, and blistering high-end fire.
When you think of classic Super Lead tone, your mind's ear probably hears thick, crunchy midrange sailing over a wallop of low-end thump. But the Super 100 reminds us that the Super Lead is capable of crispy, articulate, and blistering high-end fire, too, and Skreddy summons this facet of the plexi performance spectrum with ease. The drive control ranges from near-clean boost tones to medium-gain overdrive—all very distinctly Marshall. But when you get the gain up past 2 o'clock, you get closer to the thrilling about-to-explode sound that makes old Marshalls such a visceral experience.
While the very present top end led me to keep the treble knob below noon, I loved using the EQ, drive, and sag controls, and exploring the whole of their impressive ranges. I discovered a broad palette of edge-of-breakup tones in the process. And the finest of these lurk at the point right between classic-rock crunch and really soaring lead sounds. It's easy to tip the Super 100 completely into the latter tone realm with an overdrive. It stacked beautifully with both a Tube Screamer and a JHS Angry Charlie, but I can imagine users will find plenty of additional sweet spots and screaming sounds with other drive pedals and amps. Skreddy's efforts to make the Super 100 a, well … pedal-friendly pedal certainly succeeded.
If you don't have the cash for a Super Lead, the Super 100 and a cleanish tube amp will go a long way down the road to the next best thing. It's a bold and powerful take on the Marshall-voice and a discernibly more vintage-flavored one at that. The rangy and capable controls give you leeway for very focused and specific tone shaping. It stacks with other gain pedals quite happily. And even if you're limited to a 15-watt 1x12 combo on 3, it still dishes much of the heady, heavy attitude and wallop of old Marshalls, and serves as a reminder that—at least in the clubs and in the studio—size is really just a matter of perspective.
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