Gurus 1959 Double Decker – A Pedalboard Essential
WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln
UPLOADED: 20th Jan 2016
Or a journey from “Yet another overdrive pedal” to “This pedal has inspired me to play guitar more than any other I’ve bought in recent years”…
[[NOTE: this blog refers to the original, Italian-made Gurus Double Decker pedal and not any future reissue that may appear.]]
When Gurus’ headman Chicco informed me that their next pedal after the Echosex 2º was to be a twin overdrive pedal based on a classic Marshall valve amp, I wasn’t exactly overawed. “Yet another overdrive pedal,” I thought to myself as I tacked a couple onto our re-order for yet more stock of the fabulous Echosex 2º LTD.
Named the 1959 after the legendary Marshall, and Double Decker because it sports dual channels. The first units arrived, looking stunning and instantly-recognisable as companion pedals to the Echosex 2º – sporting Ferrari (or London bus) red livery – but I was in no hurry to test one. We were busy and I had a stack of new and exciting vintage gear to check out, so that very pretty and undoubtedly lovingly-built pedal could wait.
I already had a bunch of drive pedals – boutique and vintage – and a mouthwatering selection of vintage amps at my disposal. When you can choose from three classic amps all from 1958 – Vox AC15, Watkins V-Front Dominator, Magnatone 280 Custom – as well as a pair of 60s Supros, several 60s/70s Fender Reverbs, and a couple of passing Marshalls, – you don’t exactly leap to try a diminutive amp-simulator pedal.
At home, I was quite happy at low levels with my trusty ’63 Watkins Westminster, or Dallas Scala – both great amps for low-level crunch. However, when I started rebuilding my pedalboard late one night – working on headphones – I found I needed a speaker sim pedal. I started hunting for something online when I remembered that the 1959 had a DI output with a 2 x 12 speaker emulation option.
Onto the board it went as a temporary solution, and it’s not left since. I plugged my Suhr Jack Rabbit tremolo into the FX loop, quickly removed the Klon clone from the chain, and I was set. I swiftly forgot about rebuilding my pedalboard and spent the next few nights just playing my Tele, losing myself for hours with a widening grin on my face: this little red box is a cracker!
As soon as it powers up, the preamp valve glows green and the shiny backlit plexiglass-style faceplate glows alluringly – there’s no doubt this is a sister pedal to the Echosex 2º and the build quality is superb. You have the option of two separate channels each with five pots for Volume, Gain and Tone Stack (Bass, Middle and Treble).
The first channel was initially a clear favourite – I’m not one for huge rock/metal tones, preferring a subtle, edge of break up, thickening amp sound – and I found I could swiftly find a huge range of great amp sounds, all through my headphones. The second channel has considerably-more gain than the first and can take you from thickening crunch all the way up to howling Marshall Stack territory. The addition of the solo boost footswitch (with its own volume pot) – which can be used clean or in conjunction with either channel – makes this a superbly-versatile pedal.
Over the following weeks, I found the second channel, when used more conservatively – backing the volume pot off on my Tele – could produce heavenly tones that made this ham-fingered player feel like Gilmour.
And that for me is why I love the 1959 – it just nails that sound. If it can make me feel like I’m DG leaning back into a glorious wall of vintage valve amp tone, on my headphones when the kids are asleep upstairs, then it’s a keeper.
My Tele sounds heavenly through it, as does our office Strat – I lent a 1959 to Joel, our Muse-loving guitar-wielding apprentice, and he didn’t want to give it back – there’s a lot of bang for your buck, whatever your taste/sound.
This pedal has inspired me to play guitar more than any other I’ve bought in recent years. I’ve found myself casting aside much-loved amps for the simple convenience swiftly creating credible recordings when inspiration has struck using the DI output.
Whether you’re practising at home, or need a front end for DAW recording, or convenient amp-free gigging (plug the DI output into the PA and you’re good to go), I believe the Gurus 1959 Double Decker is a winner. Try one from us, and if you don’t like it, send it back for a full refund – I say this in full confidence as nobody’s returned one yet. See video demos, the full spec and buy yours here (currently with a limited time offer of FREE WORLDWIDE SHIPPING as well).
But don’t just take my word for it: this is what they are saying on about the Double Decker on The Gear Page (“best Marshall in a Box pedal ever…“), and the always reliable gearmandude has posted his excellent Gurus 1959 Double Decker demo.
We use it a lot in the office (it pops up a lot in our Instagram feed, including as a distortion effect for drum machine, but that’s a whole other blog post…) – here is one post with me playing through it and using it to split the output through two Binson Echorec T7Es (yes, showing off):
Tony Miln is the co-founder (& Head Gear Head) of Soundgas. See/hear him in action on Instagram.