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Carl Martin

Carl Martin
( 94 user reviews on products )
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User reviews on Carl Martin products

A classic drive/distortion that remain tight even with maximum gain (panama)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 14/05/2019
SOUND:
Carl Martin has produced an awesome Classic 80s Plexi tone in a pedal.



Although there are comparable pedals out there, what sets the Panama apart is the Damping mechanism. Panama produces some good bite and crunch around the 9-10 o’clock range and begins to get aggressive at 12-noon… and certainly more so beyond that point. However, like many amps and certainly other ‘hot’ overdrive pedals, the higher you crank the Gain the more saturated and somewhat muffled or boomy the tone becomes. This is no different with the Panama, and you begin to lose that ‘cut through the mix’ quality beyond the 12-noon or 1-o’clock mark. However, with the Damping mechanism you can zero in on greater clarity as some bass gets pulled out of the signal. What you’re left with is a more aggressive tone that is clear and that cuts. As you dial back the Damping you re-introduce bass into the tone, which fattens up and darkens the tone (which you may want for leads, whereas the aggressive dirt may work better for rhythm). The Tone knob does seem to produce a lot of bass if turned counter-clockwise beyond the 10-o’clock position, and seems to sound best (with my gear) around 11-o’clock and 2-o’clock (depending on the cab-sim and microphone used). Turning the Tone up full, for more Treble, does sound agreeable and without any brittleness or harshness.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
A touch more pricey than some other Carl Martin pedals, at $199, Panama nonetheless remains a ‘typical’ pedal investment in today’s market (and for Carl Martin quality). Some may suggest that it’s not as ‘hot’ as some other Carl Martin Plexi pedals, but Panama is advertised as a moderate gain overdrive (although it sounds very distortion-like). Regardless, there is plenty of aggression for either rhythm or leads on a clean channel (the demo video alludes to that fact)… add a hint to a dirty channel and there are more than enough balls for anyone’s tastes. The overall tone sounds fantastic, and I was able to produce very good and usable tones with a host of different cab-sims and microphones, including Marshall, Vox and Fender. Most notable is the ‘brown’ grainy dirt characteristic of Panama, but also the ability to Dampen the signal so that as you crank the Gain you retain the aggression and clarity while reducing any mud or muffling (often caused by too much gain). Not many OD or distortion pedals allow you to go beyond 1-o’clock without losing clarity, but that is not the case with Panama. I should note that Panama was made in collaboration with Pete Thorn, a guy who knows tone.

GENERAL USE:
Panama is simple enough to use. The Level knob controls the output or volume, and should be turned to 9-o’clock when first firing up your gear (then adjust as required). The Tone knob’s sweet spot, in my use, tends to be between 11-o’clock and 1-o’clock, although it depends largely on the amp and pickups (whether dark or bright) – a bit lower or higher still sounds pretty good. Turning the Tone lower than 10-o’clock (more bass) produced too much muffle or fatness, but I did use humbuckers and more bass may feel quite at home with single-coils. Turning up the Treble high still sounded good to my ears, and without being shrill. The Gain begins to kick in well around 9-o’clock and then upward of 1-o’clock seems to be a sweet spot (although with this pedal it still sounds good to the max). The Damping knob is very cool, in that it adjusts how loose or tight the tone, viz., how much bass you’re leaving or trimming. Once Panama is up around 12-noon to 2-o’clock, the tone (like most pedals in its category) tend to get a bit more saturated and not quite as sharp. However, turning up the Damping increases tightness and clarity so that even with Gain up full you still hear crisp distortion cutting through; and, of course, if you prefer a slightly fatter tone then turn the Damping down.

OTHER DETAILS:
Panama is a regular-sized pedal, measuring 112 mm (L) x 60mm (W) x 50mm (H) with knobs (4.4 x 2.4 x 1.97 inches). The heavy duty anodized chassis has a silver top, black sides and light green lettering. It may be a vintage-type pedal (if you can call 80s Metal ‘vintage’), but it certainly looks modern and streamline. The four plastic knobs are a heavy quality and should withstand normal use and abuse. All knobs have good quality pots (smooth and solid when turned). The footswitch (on/off) produces a solid click when engaged or disengaged – there is no popping or significant signal noise when switching. The cable input/output and the power input all are located in the back, which saves on pedalboard space, but also keeps them in a more secure location. Panama includes Carl Martin’s DC/DC converter circuitry, which allows the pedal to run with +-12V internally (in other words, better parts and better sound). It does run on a standard 9VDC power supply while requiring 100mA of power.
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Warm and Lush while Blending Chorus with Vibe (Atlantic Chorus)

By MGR/Brian Johnston, 12/01/2019
SOUND:



The Atlantic Chorus is another in the line of great sounding vintage pedals by Carl Martin. And although considered a chorus pedal, it morphs from Chorus into Vibrato. At 12-noon the Rate knob produces a combination of Chorus/Vibrato. As you turn the knob counter-clockwise you hear a more traditional Chorus and as you turn the knob clockwise it sounds more Vibrato. Regardless of choosing a Chorus or Vibrato (or a mix of the two) the pedal automatically adds warmth to the tone, although more so within the Vibrato zone. This may mean adjusting your EQ slightly and depending on the ‘color’ of your pickups and the desired tone. In a very small dose (with Depth low) both Chorus and Vibrato can add a very pleasant and tasteful dimension to an overdriven lead tone – you know the sound is fuller, but the effect is not overly obvious. But even when pushing an overdriven sound with a lot of Chorus, the effect remains true in the mix and without weakening. As with clean tones, the warm swirling effect of the Atlantic Chorus encourages a guitarist to increase the mix and completely enjoy an exceptionally full sound. What is very notable about the Atlantic Chorus is that it has a very organic aura to it… warm and almost dream-like, and more subtle than modern-based chorus or vibrato pedals. This makes it easy to achieve a more vintage sound, but also a chorus/vibrato that maintains a highly natural presence. Another bonus is the Level knob, which adds quite a bit of boost to the signal, unlike other chorus/vibrato pedals I have tried, and so you need to be careful with that function.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Carl Martin has once again demonstrated that the company and its tech engineers can produce solid and well-intentioned gear. Certainly there are digital chorus and vibrato pedals that offer more options, but this all-analog pedal stands proud in what it offers. If you’re looking for a basic design with chorus/vibrato that ranges from almost inaudible to very noticeable, and yet have characteristics that sound so natural that it becomes part of the tone (rather than producing an effect), then the Atlantic Chorus is a solid buy at approximately $150 Canadian. The Atlantic Chorus will warm your tone, and so there may need to be some EQ adjustment, although I suspect it would sound fabulous on a Fender or Vox clean channel. Not only is there a very healthy boost with the Level control and, of course, you can alter the Speed and Depth of the effect, but the Rate knob allows you to select all Chorus, all Vibrato, or you can bleed one into the other for various levels/combinations.

GENERAL USE:
The Level control produces quite a boost in the signal; consequently, make certain that it is turned completely down or perhaps at 9-o’clock – then adjust as required. The Depth controls how much of the effect is mixed into the signal – keeping it around 9-o’clock produces a subtle effect, which adds nicely to lead solos or if you want some shimmer in your clean tones. The Speed knob controls how rapid a pulse you get, with either the Chorus or Vibrato, from an eerie Pink Floyd effect to a fast Surf Rock. The Rate controls how much Chorus and or Vibrato you get, which makes the Atlantic Chorus rather unique. At 12-noon you get a mix of both effects, but as you turn the knob counter-clockwise to about 10-o’clock, there is an obvious dominance of Chorus with some vibrato, whereas turning it even more to about 9-o’clock produces primarily a Chorus quality. Conversely, once you get to 2-o’clock and beyond when turned clockwise, the sound is more obvious vibrato and even warmer to the ears.

OTHER DETAILS:
The Atlantic Chorus consists of a two-tone die-cast chassis and measures 115 x 60 mm (about 4.50 x 2.4 inches). The off-white vintage-looking plastic knobs are of heavy construction and the pots are very solid and firm when turned (not stiff, but they will stay in place even if tapped slightly and accidentally). The bypass switching produces a solid click when turned on/off and there doesn’t appear to be any ‘noise’ when doing so… you do not hear a ‘click.’ The footswitch is a good distance from the knobs and the on/off LED is toward the back and between the upper two knobs. All inputs, including power, connect to the back of the unit, which is an ideal space saver on pedal boards. The Atlantic Chorus does not run on batteries and requires a standard 9VDC power supply (drawing 40mA minimum).
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News Carl Martin

Carl Martin releases Plexitone Lo Gain

Published on 11/11/15
Since sometimes, less is more, Carl Martin introduces the Plexitone Lo Gain pedal.