The Gurus 1959 Double Decker is a beast—a three-channel, tube driven answer to all your Marshall needs. The Double Decker has two overdrive channels and an independent (or stackable) solo boost, and includes an effects loop and a built-in DI. It manages to provide all of this with a nine-volt power supply, and in a footprint that’s about the size of . . . three pedals, which makes sense.
Each of the two channels has a three-band EQ and independent Volume and Gain Controls. The channel switching is a little odd: step on Floor Channel 1 to activate the first channel, step on Floor Channel 2 to activate the second channel, and step on Solo to activate the clean boost. To turn a channel off, you either step on another channel or step on bypass; that means the channel and Solo footswitches will turn those channels on, but stepping on the same footswitch again won’t turn that channel off.
Channel 1 is clearly based on a Marshall Bluesbreaker amp, and it does a fantastic job of emulating that amp. This channel loves single coils; I could dial in bite and grit, and the pedal was responsive and present, cleaning up when I backed off my attack, and barking when I dug in. I’m going to credit the 12AX7 tube with the Double Decker’s 3-D quality; there was a real depth to my tone that had me carefully comparing it to the (excellent) Bluesbreaker I’ve already got on my board.
Moving to Floor Channel 2, I initially struggled. Still using single coils, I was overwhelmed by the amount of gain on tap, and this channel’s more radical, Plexi-like EQ. I dialed the gain back dramatically, and found I had a decent low-gain setting—a little treble-y, but cool. Switching back to Floor Channel 1 and cranking the gain, I figured maybe Floor Channel 1 was for single coils and Floor Channel 2 was for humbuckers. That meant it was time to bring out the humbuckers. As soon as I switched to humbuckers, I was easily able to dial in Floor Channel 2, and that was when I hit upon the idea that the Treble tone control was kind of like the Presence channel on a jumpered Super Lead. Once I started using the Middle and Bass controls as the primary tone shapers, I was rocking. And I do mean rocking. Harmonics, gnarly attack, authoritative kerrang, all of these were at my fingertips as I bashed away at power chords and ridiculous, screaming bends. At some point in my fevered rock state, it occurred to me to switch back to single coils and, sure enough, I’d cracked the code: I had a much better tone, and while I probably still preferred the less intense attack of Floor Channel 1 with single coils, I felt that was an aesthetic choice rather than a failure to use the pedal properly.
The Solo boost is gorgeous. I couldn’t discern any frequency boosting—it just sounded good, even when amplifying the unhealthy gain levels I dialed in once I had Floor Channel 2 sussed. I didn’t want to turn it off and, on its own, the Solo could easily be one of those “always on” pedals you hear about. But those who want Marshall tones without a Marshall might say the same thing about the 1959 Double Decker in general.
Finally, a word about the onboard DI. I don’t like Dis; that’s not a judgment, just a preference, so when I say I really like the cab emulation setting on the DI—which is meant to mimic a Shure SM57 on a pair of Celestion Vintage 30s—I mean I really like it.
What We Like:
Fantastic, three-dimensional tones ranging from clean boost to low-gain drive to cranked-stack levels of distortion.
The tiny EQ knobs provide excellent control, but require precise dialing in. The footswitching isn’t intuitive, although it’s not difficult to grasp.