Hey, Im a newbee to the forum, but I have to say that I love the Marshall BB the old one in the big box, the new ones are not as good IMHO. I have two, O ne I set for a clean boost, sounds great!! The other is set too with the treble all the way up for a cutting beano tone...great pedal. They are getting expenive for a good reason.
I just picked one of these up. I owned one several years ago and loved it, but put it aside when I got my first boutique pedal (gold horseyman Klon). Ended up selling it along the way, wish I hadn't. I forgot how good this thing sounds! I was using a totally different rig last time I owned it, this time it's an EJ Strat into a Chandler C38 (tweed Super type circuit). I recently bought and sold a Menatone 8 knob WMB, that pedal really captured the JTM 45 vibe incredibly well but it wasn't quite working for me. The Bluesbreaker isn't a dead on JTM45 at all (IMO), but it has that flavor. It's definitely smoother sounding than the WMB, and a lot easier to dial in with it's minimal Gain, Tone and Volume knobs. I found myself constantly twiddling with the WMB's knobs thinking I could get it dialed in even better , drove me nuts after awhile.
Plugging into the Bluesbreaker is instantly gratifying. I had the amp dead clean, set the gain to about 4 o'clock, tone around noon, volume about 2 o'clock. I keep my Strat pickups very low, With the neck and middle close to flush with the pickguard, so my input signal is not too strong. The gain/volume controls are VERY interactive, if you don't have the gain up fairly high it's tough to get a significant volume boost out of this thing. But that's ok, somehow (and this is just my own baseless theory) I think the fact that it doesn't have a lot of output contributes to the sweetness of the tone, I just don't think it would sound as good if it had a ton of output on tap. I don't know, maybe I'm nuts :NUTS
The BB responds great to dynamic changes in your attack as well as guitar volume knob changes. The drive is nicely balanced with a Strat, you can dial it in for a good bridge pickup tone and the neck won't be too woolly. I tried goosing the front end with my JTK Harmonics Murano (another fairly low gain OD), and it sounds fat and crunchy with plenty of squawk without turning into mush. This is a great pedal, it's great to have it back on my board!
I used to have two of the big old black Bluesbreakers on my board, one for a boost and one for solos, (and I only used four pedals!). The TS-9 has left the board never to return after 16 years. I love the boost you can get out the BB very subltle but just enough. I also aggree that when you turn up the treble and teh gain just a hair into a BFDR, you can get Beano sounds, hard to describe, but it has the same voicing and repsonse.. Liek when you play 'Hidaway' with the pedal, it kinda just feel like you are working with the amp rather than playing througn a pedal.
Just my 2 cents
It has no trouble making your guitar cut through the mix - it increases the midrange as you turn the tone knob - but you can set it to be neutral if you want it to be. As the gain knob is turned, the sound gets gradually more compressed. I wouldn't say that the BB sound is harsh, but I definitely wouldn't call it "smooth" either. It makes my 50-watt EL84 amp sound very much like an old overdriven Marshall.
So far it's been the only overdrive pedal that I've kept for longer than a year (and still use). I haven't found another OD yet that has even came close.