Review of Carl Martin AC-Tone
and PlexiTone FX Pedal -
In the hugely competitive world of
boutique effects, Denmark's Carl Martin has carved out a reputation
for being among the best. Rick Graham lends a demanding ear to the
latest PlexiTone and AC-Tone pedals. But those names: which amps do
they remind us of...?
Founded in Denmark the early '90s, the
fledgling Carl Martin company began life as a professional PA
rental business. Not long after, fuelled by a passion for making
high quality audio products, it produced its first ever guitar
effects pedal, the Hot Drive 'n Boost. Since then, it seems to have
gone from strength to strength and in 2005 produced its first
handmade tube amplifier. Most of us, though, will more than likely
know the Carl Martin name from the extensive line of high quality
effects pedals, two of which, the PlexiTone pedal and the AC-Tone
pedal have found their way onto pedal boards the world over.
Recently, due to specific request by users of both of these pedals,
the company says, they have been re-released as single channel
versions. Apparently, while they offer similar functions tonewise,
there have been some slight tweaks to these new versions. Time for
a review, in that case!
Taking a look at both pedals, the first
noticeable thing about them is their size. Both are now housed in a
much more standard stompbox format, much more 'pedalboard friendly'
units, taking up far less space than their rather hefty
predecessors. While the original pedals were dual channel units,
these new versions have been condensed into single channel
stompboxes offering three main controls: Level and Drive for both
but with a 'Tone' control for the PlexiTone and a 'Cut' control for
the AC-Tone as well as the on/off footswitch.
Another requested feature, and I'm sure
one welcomed by many, is a change from the original internally
connected AC power supply cable to a more standard 9v feed.
However, as an element in the much-applauded tones of the original
pedals came about as a result of the 12v current, and in an effort
to preserve this, both new pedals come supplied with Carl Martin's
new converter circuitry, allowing for the pedals to effectively
operate on the same +-12v level as the originals. Note, however,
that this means batteries cannot be used with either pedal.
Having played both original Carl Martin
AC-Tone and PlexiTone pedals, which I consider to be excellent FX,
I was intrigued to see if the new single channel versions could
equal the originals.
Starting with the AC-Tone, it was
clear from the outset that I was dealing with the same quality of
tone as the dual channel version. Simple tweaks with the drive
channel produced some lovely AC30 tones, whether that
be very low gain setting for chiming cleans, or maxed drive
settings for that classic AC/DC style rock rhythm tone that
everyone knows and loves. The useful cut control, which essentially
acts as a low-pass filter, is a great feature allowing for taming
of those high end frequencies. Check out the video!
The PlexiTone pedal, offering more gain
than the AC-Tone, was just as impressive as the original, producing
those juicy lead tones tones made famous by the classic Marshall it
was inspired by. The slight reductions, in this new version, to the
low and high end frequencies make the PlexiTone a little more
mid-focused than its predecessor and the result sounded great - the
pedal having that unmistakable 'amp like' tone.
Carl Martin has done a superb job in
recreating the great tone of the original PlexiTone and AC Pedals.
Taking into account some of the changes they have made, it's clear
these new version have an edge, albeit slight, even over the
previous models, which makes them a great choice for those seeking
some high quality classic tones in a pedalboard friendly package.
Quality stuff indeed!
Check out the full review inc. video of the Carl Martin
AC-Tone and PlexiTone FX by Rick Graham featured in Guitar
Interactive Magazine Issue 16.