Stompbox Fever(4)

April 1, 2004

Carl Martin Hot Drive N’ Boost MK3

The Carl Martin Hot Drive N’ Boost MK3 ($240 retail/$168 street)—a rugged, “two-in-one” grind machine—offers a variable Boost, as well as a Drive mode. With my Tele plugged into the Boost-engaged MK3, my Marshall became weak-kneed as it tried to accommodate the MK3’s +20dB of love. But the Marshall’s pain was my gain, as the amp was pummeled into singing, searing overdrive.

In Drive mode, I was stoked with the range afforded by the Gain knob, which provided everything from subtle splashes of dirt to complete molten meltdown. The sound remained smooth and musical no matter how much distortion was piled on, and was dynamically sensitive to my picking attack. The pedal’s tone control—called “Wave”—is only capable of fine tuning, so you’d better like the sound of your amp, because the Hot Drive N’ Boost MK3 is designed to complement your sound.

—Darrin Fox

Option 5 Destination Rotation

The Destination Rotation ($299 retail/$249 street) is a compact stompbox that uses analog technology to re-create the sound of a miked rotary-speaker cabinet. The handmade pedal sports cool tone and flexibility enhancing features, including dual output modes with a Bi-Amp setting that splits the high and low frequencies to simulate the response of a two-rotor Leslie model 122, and a Flat-Output mode that sends an undivided signal to both output jacks to replicate the more midrangy (and less spatial) sound of a single-rotor Leslie model 16 or Fender Vibratone. The Drive circuit adds harmonic grit and density, and the Keyboard/ Guitar switch enhances depth and body when set to the latter position.

The Destination Rotation does an admirable job of producing juicy, Leslie-vibed tones, and it replicates more subtle characteristics, as well—such as the unique phasey texture that occurs when gradually accelerating from slow to fast.

—Terry Buddingh

Reverend Drivetrain II Overdrive

The Ibanez TS-808 and TS-9 are two of the most popular overdrive pedals ever made, but a host of other pedals strive to emulate the TS-9 sound and then some. Reverend’s Drivetrain II ($169 retail/$109 direct), uses the same JRC4558 chip that powered the original Ibanez circuits, but offers greater output, dedicated Bass, Treble, and Volume controls, and a neutral-buffered bypass circuit that not only prevents “tone sucking,” but allows you to drive long cable lengths without signal loss.

With its Drive knob at zero and the Volume cranked, the Drivetrain II packs enough output to grungify a Fender Twin Reverb or whip a non-master Marshall 50-watt into a frothy rage. Nudging up the Drive control brings on plenty of ballsy, ’Screamer-flavored grind, which, as with a TS-9, remains fairly mild even when set to maximum. The Drivetrain II’s distortion dynamics are perfect for working your guitar volume to morph between rhythm and lead, and it also boasts an open, uncolored voicing and a powerful Bass control. This is a cool pedal for a great price.

—Art Thompson  

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