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Carl Martin Hot Drive 'N Boost mk 3 Pedal

The Carl Martin Hot Drive'n Boost MK3, featuring a complete new overdrive design that gives a even more authentictubesimulating overdrive than the original HDB, which is know to be one of the best.With the boost feature the Hot Drive'n Boost MK3 is ...

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Worthy addition to my pedalboard featured

Ease Of Use There really isn't anything about the Carl Martin Hot Drive N' Boost mk3 that could make it easier to use, save for perhaps a slight word change on one of the knobs. From left to right you have Boost Level, Level, Wave, and Gain. Which one of these four phrases seems slightly out of the ordinary? You guessed it: "Wave". Thinking about it for a moment, it becomes obvious they're talking about waveform, and in my brain that equates to the standard "Tone" knob we're all used to. Yep! That is in fact what it does, too. Of course, this really has nothing to do with ease of use really.. It's just that most of us guitarists are quite used to various pieces of gear having a Tone knob. I see no harm in making us think for a moment, though. But the knobs all function as you expect.

Below those knobs are the two foot switches, Boost and Drive. When Boost is engaged, the signal gets boosted by the particular Boost Level you have set on the knob above. I rather like this little feature, it is the perfect 'solo' switch.

On the left side there's the normal output jack, as well as a clean out. Once I get a strobe-tuner for my pedal board, I'll probably use that output to feed the tuner and never have to worry about bypassing it.

You probably would have expected this pedal to take a 9V battery or external 9V power. Nope! It plugs straight into your power strip or wall socket. It has its own power transformer built into the unit. Thankfully my pedal board has a small power strip which made the connection easy.

Sound For this review I focused on my Ibanez JS1200 and Ibanez JEM7V. I have used the pedal in front of both my Boss GT-10 when plugged in direct to the mixer, as well as directly into my Carvin Legacy II head. First, I was rather impressed by an absolute lack of noise. Perhaps the fact that the pedal has its own wall plug & internal transformer is what allows it to be so clean? It seems plausible.

Immediately the crunch & rock type of sounds struck me as quite pleasing to the ear. The qualty of the sound can best be described as pure tube-overdrive, and I've found it very suitable for various classic rock to hard rock sounds. I have it currently plugged in line with my BB pre-amp and I can see many cases where I'll be engaging either of them for different moods (but likely not together at the same time).

The amount of gain you can get from this pedal is rather incredible, especially due to its Boost feature. I was able to push my Legacy's second channel into a rich, smooth overdriven sound with a gain set on the pedal at about the 10:00 position.

But I was also surprised at how nicely it integrated with my Boss GT-10 even for direct recording. I've tried various other distortion and overdrive pedals (the Satchurator, Gemini, and BB being the most recent), and must say this Carl Martin unit delivers its own unique brand of sound that is going to become quite useful in the studio. Its sound is quite warm, and has none of the "fuzz" that both mY Gemini and Satchurator can exhibit.

Could this richness be due to its internal 12v power supply? Perhaps.. And I am finding myself wishing more of my pedals had their own as well.

For me, I think the best sound combinations I've found so far have been with my JS1200 using its single coil-tap. You'll have a chance to hear what I'm talking about in the attached sound samples. With the JS, I can get a fantastic tubey-blues sound on the neck pickup that is just perfect for soulful solos. I can also get some nice sounds out of my JEM, but it does seem the JS and the Carl Martin Hot 'N Drive mk3 are made for each other.

Sample Track #1: Ibanez JS1200 Guitar, various pickup configurations on both the Rock & Crunch type of sounds.

*** Rock/Rhythm sound, Level 12:00, Wave 11:00, Gain 2:00
0:00-0:19 - Bridge (DiMarzio FRED)
0:19-0:34 - Neck (DiMarzio PAF-JOE)
0:34-0:47 - Bridge single coil-tapped
0:47-1:19 - Neck single coil-tapped

*** Crunch/Rock sound, Level 12:00, Wave 11:30, Gain 11:00
1:19-1:37 - Bridge
1:37-1:51 - Neck
1:51-2:06 - Bridge single coil-tapped
2:06-2:31 - Neck single coil-tapped

Sample Track #2: Ibanez JEM7V Guitar, various pickup configurations on both the Rock & Crunch type of sounds.

*** Rock/Rhythm sound, Level 12:00, Wave 11:00, Gain 2:00
0:00-0:19 - Bridge (1)
0:19-0:39 - Neck (5)
0:39-0:59 - Bridge/Mid (2)
0:59-1:19 - Neck/Mid (4)

*** Crunch/Rock sound, Level 12:00, Wave 11:30, Gain 11:00
1:19-1:38 - Bridge (1)
1:38-1:57 - Neck (5)
1:51-2:17 - Bridge/Mid (2)
2:17-2:34 - Neck/Mid (4)



Reliability No issues yet, but it seems to be built like a tank -- as sturdy as they come.

The switches seem like they'll be pretty reliable.

Customer Support I've not had any dealings with the Carl Martin company so far.

Liked about it -- Very nice overdriven sounds, wide range of gain, smooth crunch.
-- Internal power supply (no changing batteries!)
-- Clean output will be useful for tuner eventually

Didn't like I've actually not found a single thing (yet) that I dislike. I mean, sure, it could have its Wave knob labeled as "Tone" like we're all used to, but that's not a real complaint. I think Carl Martin really got things right with this unit.

Overall satisfaction:

By PortlandAxe
Feb 15, 2010
Last updated: February 16, 2010
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