Carl Martin Hot Drive’n Boost

Hot Drive'n Boost
Hot Drive'n Boost

We grabbed a Danish-made Carl Martin pedal for a test drive, just to see what was going on across the Atlantic.

Carl Martin shares many of the qualities of the Fulltone pedals in terms of quality of construction (aluminum cases) and high-quality stomp switches, but also sport some differences, like built-in regulated power supplies (no batteries or wallwarts), and chassis-mounted pots and jacks.

Hot Drive’n Boost/Hot Drive’n Boost Mk II
These overdrive pedals are set up very similarly, with gain, wave (tone), level, and boost level controls, along with drive and boost bypass switches and LEDs. The company says the original HDB is “…designed to imitate the sound of a good, old-fashioned distorting amp…” The Mk II, on the other hand, is designed to “…imitate the sound of a hot, overdriven tube amp.”

To help see what they could do, we grabbed a new Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Strat and plugged them into the house Peavey Delta Blues combo.

Very quickly, we discovered that by manipulating the Wave control, we were able to get a smooth, tight, tube overdrive with both guitars.

The Mk II’s overall lower tone was more suited for the Strat’s single-coil pickups. The boost level and footswitch worked great to boost solos and fatten up the tone for better note separation.

Regardless of the guitar, both pedals reacted like tube preamps when we used the instruments’ volume and tone controls to clean up the sound or soften the tone.

Carl Martin Hot Drive’n Boost (and Mk II)
Type Of Effect: Signal booster and tone control.
Features: Built-in power supply, tube-like overdrive, separate “boost” circuit.
Price: $189.
Contact: East Sound Research, Raadmandsvej 24, DK-8500, Denmark, ph. 45-86-32-51-00,

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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