After looking at the LunaStone Three Stage Rocket recently, it’s clear that the dirt/ boost pedal with two levels of dirt and a clean booster is becoming a hot format, certainly for Scandinavian pedal companies.
Carl Martin’s take comes courtesy of guitarist Greg Howe who was after a pedal to recreate his signature sound.
The resulting Lick Box offers two independently footswitchable dirt channels, voiced to Greg’s specifications and each with dedicated Level, Gain and Tone knobs, plus a separately footswitchable boost that offers up to 12dB of extra gain via its single knob. You can use all singly or in any combination with the signal path running first into the High Gain channel before hitting the Crunch channel; the Boost channel sits at the end of the signal chain for an increase in the overall output.
Trying the boost by itself, a setting at about eight o’clock gives our clean Fender valve combo a nice frisson of edgy breakup and that remaining knob-travel offers more than enough for any boosting task. The Crunch channel is strong on midrange with a full sound that’s naturally amp-like, and offers dirt upwards from a clean-ish boost to medium-level overdrive.
By contrast, the voicing on the High Gain channel has more of a scooped character with bottom-end girth and plenty of high-end emphasis. There’s loads more gain, delivering a harmonically rich sustaining sound with a practical tonal range - both channel’s Tone knobs work to emphasise or subdue the upper register and can add a touch of top-end crispness.
Using the channels separately gives three stages that will get you through virtually any gig, but reaching for Crunch and High Gain in combination offers yet another level as you’re cascading the gain stages for extra gain and distortion.
If you’re using High Gain and then give it a boost by adding Crunch, you’ll lose a little of the former’s low and high frequencies - but this immediately bolsters the midrange, giving you a saturated solid lead sound loaded with harmonics and sustain that will cut through the mix. It may be Howe’s choice of sounds, but this pedal’s potential is clear to non-fans of the guitarist, too.