Carl Martin Hot Drive'n Boost Mk 3 review

One of the best overdrive pedals around with an authentic valve-like tone.

  • £149
  • $308
Mk 3 of Carl Martin's Hot Drive'N Boost

MusicRadar Verdict

It doesn´t really do extreme metal or rock tones - use your amp drive to really wind up the wick - but for everyone else, this is a versatile overdrive/boost you have to try.


  • +

    Valve-like tones. Second to none at this price.


  • -

    Not for extreme metal.

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Carl Martin remains one of the most underrated FX brands, and we hope that this third version of the excellent Hot Drive'n Boost will finally put the name centre stage in the consciousness of guitarists everywhere.

The idea behind all three versions of the HDB is to get as close as possible to the compressing beauty of the drive of an all-valve amp and the Mk 3 version incorporates a complete overhaul to the internal design intended to bring that aural goal even closer.

Features such as the wave control - in simple terms a subtle but very musical EQ sweep - and boost function, which can kick in as much as 22dB for either solos or a more aggressive drive remain from the original HDB designs.

Two switches, for on/off and boost, each have their own dedicated LED, and if you step on the boost without having the drive engaged, you have yet another useable tone at your boot-tips. Additionally, the pedal is mains-driven, which accounts for its rather squat appearance.


This has to be amongst the very best overdrive pedals we've tried, and through either a wholly clean, slightly crunchy or cooking amp, it authenticity replicates the tone and, most importantly, feel of a driven valve amp. The pedal works beautifully for soulful blues, rock and all points in between, and the boost option gives you huge headroom too.

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