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Best Plexi Pedals 2018 – Buyers Guide And Reviews

The sound of a Marshall amp has defined a generation (or two, or three) of music. Guitarists do everything they can to get the same sound, but many neglect to consider using a plexi pedal - so named because of the plexiglass fronts on the Marshall 100 watt heads - to get that distinctive marshall sound.

And here the thing:

They are a fraction of the cost a full-on marshall amp set up. So let's take a look.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Plexi Pedals On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying a plexi pedal

Ultimately, the easiest way to get the sound of playing out of a Plexi is to do just that - but if you don’t have that kind of money or you don’t have the additional space for yet another amp then emulation is the best way forward.

  • Your first concern should be how well does it emulate the Plexi. You’ll want to listen to the same style of music being played through one as what you’d be playing in order to get the best idea of what you’re going for - the “marshall tone” can be a lot of different tones when you take a second to look at all the different musicians who like it for different reasons.
  • What do you need the pedal to do? If you’ve already got a great EQ that can take care of that side of the equation, then perhaps it’s just the gain boost you’d need. Knowing what features you can cut out can save you a lot of money
  • What kind of headroom will you be needing? A 9v and an 18v plexi pedal are not the same, and you will notice a world of difference if you get the right one. Ideally you’ll want a pedal that can choose between different power levels easily.

5 Best Plexi Pedals

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

1. Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe (Editor's Choice)

Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe Guitar Effects Pedal

Easily one of the most sophisticated, and best plexi pedals ever made for emulating the marshall without actually going ahead and getting one of the 100-Watt Super Drive amps.

  • Tons of control, you can tweak just about everything you can think of without having a dedicated EQ.
  • When set right for the particular guitar and amp you’re using, it can quite easily transform even cheap amps into a marshall if nobody looks too closely
  • Can operate in 9v to 18v so you can get whatever headroom you need
  • An expensive pedal, but justifiably so
  • Because of the complexity of the pedal it can be hard to use properly
  • As a fairly beefy pedal, it’ll take up a lot of space on your pedalboard

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Tech 21 Hot-Rod Plexi Distortion

Tech 21 Hot-Rod Plexi Distortion and Boost

This pedal focuses more on the rawness of the marshall sound, and it places a lot of emphasis on boosting your low end and volume.

  • Can give you an insane gain increase
  • Has a low pass filter so that your bass won’t lose too much clarity when pushing it hard
  • Hot mode that can give your pre-amp enough power to roar through even large venues with the strength to fill it.
  • Lacks some of the tone shaping ability of other Plexi pedals
  • Only works for heavier genres, otherwise you might not find that this resembles a marshall tone in any way.
  • Another wide pedal that you will struggle to fit on a pedalboard when space is at a premium

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Carl Martin PlexiTone-S

Carl Martin PlexiTone-S Guitar Distortion Effect Pedal

An upgraded version of the PlexiTone that can deliver a recognisable Marshall tone for a massive array of amps, and yet does so with a fairly basic set of controls and in a small package to boot.

  • Finally a plexi pedal that doesn’t eat up space like my fat aunt on a bus!
  • Low end and treble have been tweaked internally to provide a close resemblance of the marshall amps without needing to be adjusted manually.
  • Level, drive and tone give you a simple way to match the growl of heavy rock through smaller amps without difficulty.
  • As a basic model, you don’t get any EQ features aside from a single tone knob.
  • The low placement of the input and output jacks can make it a little awkward in a chain, but it’s not as bad compared to other pedals that inexplicably place them at the top.
  • Because you only get a small selection of controls, this won’t always turn every amp into a marshall just by plugging this in, and you will need to try this out before buying to ensure you’re getting what you want.

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Joyo JF-32 Hot Plexi (Budget Choice)

Joyo JF-32 Electric Guitar Audio Bypass Hot Plexi Drive Effect Pedal

It looks like a clone of the Carl Martin PlexiTone, and in many ways it’s the super budget-friendly option.

  • One of the cheapest possible plexi pedals available make it a good way to get started without breaking the bank
  • Has a true-bypass
  • Has an inbuilt distortion setting that can help you to get aggressive growls so ingrained into the Marshall rock sound.
  • You don’t get the headroom options that come with various power settings on other models of plexi pedals.
  • This pedal is designed to emulate the Marshall JCM800 amp, and if this isn’t the amp you had in mind when thinking of the “Marshall tone” you’ll be disappointed by the lack of flexibility
  • The distortion setting seems to take away from the Marshall tone rather than add to it, and an overdrive would have been a better choice.

Let's take a look at this product...

5. Voodoo Labs Giggity

Voodoo Lab Giggity Analog Mastering Preamp Guitar Pedal

Although not marketed as Plexi Pedal, instead being seen as a more generalist tone shaping pedal, it can do a wonderful job of helping you to take a cheaper amp and have it on par with some of the Marshall classics.

  • Extremely difficult to damage, voodoo labs are well known for making pedals that you could take to war and come home with still usable.
  • Has a brilliantly wide array of tone shaping features, although the names are a bit confusing, you can have plenty of control of the mid and low range, brightness, gain and volume without an overly cluttered interface.
  • Despite the range of controls, it’s much simpler to use than the similarly complex Wampler.
  • As it’s not designed to emulate Marshall amps, you will need to play around with it before you hit the right combination - and it won’t work for every amp and guitar combo.
  • Doesn’t have 12v or 18v for higher headroom, so adjusting the gain too high can be detrimental without already having a good amp.
  • The inputs are on the top of the pedal, so you’ll want to get some right angle cables for linking it up in a chain.

Let's take a look at this product...

So which should I buy?

Since all of these pedals are really trying to do the same thing, the best plexi pedal really comes down to two questions.

First of all, how much can you afford to invest in your plexi pedal? If you can splash the big bucks, then you should definitely go the extra mile and get the Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe for it’s superior tone shaping abilities. You’ll have no better way to get a marshall sound without actually owning one of those difficult to find vintage amps.

If you’ve got a little bit less, it’s worth checking out one of the more budget options. Whichever one you choose will do a decent job, but only go for the Joyo if you’re truly desperate for cash, as the Carl Martin is better and doesn’t cost that much more.

Finally, if you’ve got a hankering for the Marshall tone, but like to have a bit of freedom to experiment some more then the Voodoo Labs Giggity is an interesting choice for it’s tone shaping, and the Tech 21 has the best roar out of the whole bunch - so if high gain is the most important thing to you rather than the EQ options then this is one of the best ways to go.

By the way, if you're interested in purchasing an amp to compliment this guitar pedal, check out our articles on the best small guitar amps and the best cheap tube amps here!

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Djangology’ and when he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his Campervan.

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