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SoftDrive GV

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SoftDrive GV

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SoftDrive GV is a virtual-analog model of the Marshall "Guv'nor" and "Guv'nor GV-2 Plus" guitar distortion effects. The Guv'nor is a solid-state distortion pedal first issued in 1989 to recreate the sound of a cranked up Marshall stack in a small stomp-box format. It became rather popular in the 90's and is still used widely nowadays for its quality high-gain sound and a its tonal versatility. It was re-issued in the early 2000 in an updated housing and incorporating a new "Deep" control to mimic the effect of a JCM2000's "Deep" switch.
This VST model is a tribute to the original effect and models the circuits of both the "vanilla" Guv'nor and its modern GV-2 variant.
SoftDrive GV expands on the original design and brings in new possibilities unthinkable of outside of the digital realm. In the spirit of my prior creations, this plug-in also features a few things to visualize what's going on inside the box.
I hope that SoftDrive GV will find its uses in your digital guitar effect chain, just as the original Guv'nor did in my analog one.                        

The Model

The overall effect structure is as follows:
  • Input Filter 
  • OpAmp A (gain, filtering, clipping)
  • OpAmp B (gain, filtering, clipping)
  • ToneStack (LED clipping, filtering)
  • Deep circuit (filtering)
  • Output Filter (attenuation, filtering)
Each stage is modeled separately and using different techniques. A care is taken to make sure that no inter-stage dependency is lost during the decomposition.
The input filter is a simple high-pass filter digitized with Bilinear Transform.
Two OpAmp stages are treated as non-linear filters and digitized as non-linear state-space systems with trapezoidal integration rule. The OpAmp feedback is solved implicitly without adding any extra delay. The nonlinearity was carefully modeled after TL072 op-amps and is kept parametric to allow for online changes of power supply voltage and the open-loop gain. The open-loop gain affects the sharpness of the saturation region and the Q-factor of the feedback filter. The whole stage is re-modeled online upon the parameter change to allow for very fast computation. This optimization is very similar to the one employed in SoftAmp 3OD.
The OpAmp stages are followed by the LED (ligh-emitting diode) clipper and the tonestack. The LED clipper is inseparable from the tonestack and effectively forms another non-linear filter. It is modeled as a non-linear state space system. The LED clipper can be switched on and off in the VST plug-in. Note that GV-1 and GV-2 tonestacks are different. 
The Deep circuit is a linear filter that has a narrow peak in the low frequencies as well as more subtle peak in high frequencies. It is modeled as a state-space system with trapezoidal integration rule.
The Output filter consists of the Level potentiometer shunted by capacitor. It's a low-pass filter with cut-off frequency dependent on the position of the Level pot. It's digitized with matched-z transform with an additional compensating single-zero filter to reduce the discretization error at high frequencies.
The topology of every stage is preserved during discretization to allow for smooth parameter changes without any artificial discontinuities in the output signal.
The whole model can be optionally oversampled 8x to minimize the aliasing.
There's an additional option to scale the time base of the discretized model. It results in linearly shifted frequency responses of all stages. For example it can be tweaked to obtain more pleasing sound with your particular instrument or to move the whole response down an octave to use on bass guitar or a synth.
All controls are carefully linearized to produce a linear change in audio (logarithmic) scale.

UI Controls

The effect's controls are broken down into 4 sections:
  •  Six control knobs of the original analog effect
  •  Four switches to toggle different stages
  •  Four sliders to tune the physical parameters
  •  Four buttons on top to control the VST plug-in
  1. 1. Knobs
  • Gain - input gain, also affects the pre-emphasis filters
  • Level - output attenuation, frequency-dependent (see "Bright")
  • Deep - low-end resonance, also gives a slight top-end boost (GV-2 only)
  • Bass - low frequencies in the output signal
  • Mid - middle frequencies in the output signal
  • Treble - high frequencies in the output signal
2. Switches
  • Mode - switch between GV-1 and GV-2 circuit models
  • LEDs - toggle the LED clipping stage of the circuit
  • Bright - toggle the treble roll-off of the "Level" control (The famous "C22 Mod")
  • Power - toggle the whole effect on/off
3. Sliders
  • Voltage - power supply voltage (the default is 9v)
  • Fidelity - Op-Amp's open-loop gain non-linearly from 100 to 200000 (default is 200000)
  • Scale - "time scale" of the model, effectively shifts the frequency response.
  • Mix - dry/wet mix
4. Buttons
  • About
  • Check for updates
  • Toggle HQ mode (oversampling)
  • Toggle Stereo mode

UI Visualization

The plug-in UI has 2 areas that visualize the model:
1. Overdrive Stages - features an icon for each stage where saturation occurs:
  •  OpAmp A
  •  OpAmp B
  •  LEDs                           
2. Filtering Stages - features two logarithmic plots that show the amplitude-frequency characteristics of the filtering stages:
  • Pre  (Input filter + OpAmpA + OpAmpB)
  • Post (Tonestack + Deep + Output filter)


Unzip the archive and put the "AXP SoftDrive GV.dll" or "AXP SoftDrive GV x64.dll" to 
your VST folder. Make sure to select the one appropriate for your system (Win32 or x64).


  • Enabling the HQ (oversampling) mode introduces an 8 sample delay. It won't be compensated by the DAW. It will be fixed in future releases.
  • It is my hobby to develop VST audio effect models. I'm not getting paid for it and I use my own limited spare time to do this work. If you like my projects and would want to encourage the future work please consider doing something from the following list:
  - Tell your friends about my site and my plug-ins
  - Send me audio samples you've made with my plug-ins
  - Drop me a line or two with any comments and suggestions
  - Make a small donation through my web site


This software is licensed for an unlimited usage by everyone, including personal, commercial and scientific applications. You are NOT allowed to modify it (including both the binary code and the copyright information) or sell it, in either stand-alone or bundled form. The plug-in is provided "as is" without a warranty of any kind. In no event I shall be liable for any damage associated with the usage of this software. I encourage further distribution by sharing a link to the effect web page.
Please send your questions and suggestions to my e-mail or post them on the site.
VST is a registered trademark of Steinberg, GmbH
"Marshall", "Guv'nor", and "Guv'nor Plus" are registered trademarks of Marshall Amplification plc.
AXP is not affilated with or endorsed by Marshall Amplification
AXP SoftDrive GV (c) 2013 Alexander Petrov-Savchenko
Some sound clips:


Version History: 

1.0.0 - 03 Sep 2013 - Initial release

1.0.1 - 07 Sep 2013 - Fixed sound corruption when multiple instances are open



Pickasso (not verified):

Softdrive GV sounds really very good. I have a Guv'nor 2 which I use a lot for monitoring, and it sounds really similar. It's really very accurate. I had this pedal sitting around forever not in use, ready to sell it, somewhere I heard about this C22 mod, I just opened it up and removed the cap on the circuit labeled C22, and it just was magic. Thanks for including it!! Now I use the pedal mostly for bass, but it does great 80's metal and crunch tones. Really great job modeling it.

I did a side by side test Softdrive GV on the left, Guvnor pedal on the right. Sounded pretty good, then I hit the Bright switch, and it's almost identical. Basic repeating riff:
Example A (switch off; 1st bar Softdrive, every other bar Guvnor Pedal):
Example B (Bright switch on; same alternation):

AXP's picture

Pickasso, thank you very much for your feedback and for recording the samples, do you mind if I use them for demo'ing around the web? 

Pickasso (not verified):

Sure. In the examples the 1st bar is the Softdrive GV, 2nd bar modded Guv'nor 2, then keeps alternating.

AXP's picture


Dean Aka Nekro (not verified):

Alex, You have done it again and delivered a quality addition to everyone/everybody's plugin folder.
Even if it was not really anywhere close to the Govner and beloved deep switch on the DSL 50 it still
would merit a lot of praise due to the quality and scope SoftDrive GV offers but to me on the above
mentioned which I've had for along, long time you've got so damned close. Easily my go to Marshall
ITB solution.

Thank you very much for the great work


AXP's picture

Dean, thank you for such good words and of course for beta-testing it.

I'm already neck deep in my next project. It's going to be quite an opposite to Marshall ;)

Daniel Ceniza (not verified):

Superb work. I lost a Guv'nor long ago, now days i mostly work with a Marshall Drive Master. But this VST, it is precisely what i'v been trying to obtain.
Great, great job.

AXP's picture

Thanks a lot! I've just had a look at Drive Master's schematic and it's very similar to Guv'nor. It seems like I can create its model very quickly. Do you think it's worth it?

The Mickster (not verified):

Do it, Alex. You love making plugins and we like using them.

Have you thought about making an IR loade? Adding one to plugins you've already made would put you above others.

AXP's picture

My latest plugins have speaker cabinet IRs, so technically, the engine is already there.
So yes, I was thinking about making a separate IR plugin. But it needs to have something special to differentiate  from others. I have some thoughs on this, acrually the idea is lying around for about 10 years now. I was going to implement it in Flextron's cab sim, but just didn't make it on time.

animalu (not verified):

Hello ,how can i play this ? its sounds great and also can i play this using a electric guitar? thanx

La Griff (not verified):

i just did a test its for hard rock or metal guitar players...other too...thankx i will try this cool drive deeper later

La Griff (not verified):

ok.....sorry for first post.,,,,,i did delete my test it was a real crap....but this morning i did another test and now it rock!!!! thank a lot for you incredible work!
my test