Though Danish pedal, amplifier, and
rack-effect builder Carl Martin enjoys
a reputation as a sort of volume boutique
builder, the company has built effects
for the working musician for years. The
recently released Vintage Series, which is
built in China, are among his most accessible
yet. And the Blue Ranger (which
Martin himself allegedly decided to build
after a good, long stare at the Stevie Ray
Vaughan statue in Austin, Texas) is the latest
addition to this line.
Hip and Handy
Housed in a distinct, royal blue case with
cream-colored knobs and an ’80s videogame-
type font, the Blue Ranger would
make a handsome addition to just about
any pedalboard. The control layout consists
of knobs for Drive, Tone, and Level,
and a true-bypass footswitch. The back
of the pedal is covered with a carpet-like
surface that’s ready to be attached to the
’board with Velcro—a pretty convenient
design feature. You do, however, have to
remove the screws from the four corners
of the pedal’s rear to get to the battery.
That’s not as convenient, but most players
these days use external AC power supplies.
Full Range Drive
I tested the Blue Ranger using an Ernie
Ball Music Man Axis Sport through a
Fender Super-Sonic head and 4x12 cabinet.
Initially, I had a
hard time dialing
up a setting that
sounded as full
as I like. And by
itself, the Blue
is less organic
than I prefer.
With a live band,
Blue Ranger cut
through the mix
a little harsh in
came to life
in the group
Drive all the
way off, the Blue
grit that did
wonders for my
and supplied heft without dirtying up the
tone too much. Nudging the Drive up
between 11 and 1 o’clock and switching to
humbuckers gave chords an open and airy
AC/DC-like crunch, much to my surprise.
Goosing the Gain gave me a more compressed
sound. And while turning up the
Blue Ranger’s Drive adds a lot more dirt,
it also increases the volume noticeably, and
when maxed, the pedal gets pretty unruly,
bringing you very nearly into the realm of
distortion. Compared to the granddaddy
of Stevie Ray pedals—the Ibanez Tube
Screamer—I found the Blue Ranger to
be less transparent, more aggressive, and
much louder than a Tube Screamer. This
pedal definitely longs to be heard. The
Blue Ranger also puts out a lot of highs.
Even with the Tone knob all the way off
it was as bright as my Tube Screamer is at
about 2 o’clock.
Although ostensibly an overdrive pedal,
the Blue Ranger’s character is often more
akin to a distortion pedal. It’s nowhere
near as reserved as Ibanez’s famous green
pedal and can roar like a beast if you need
it to. But for having a more aggressive
voice, it’s a much more individual pedal.
If you’re looking for yet another Tube
Screamer clone, the Blue Ranger might be
too in-your-face. But if you are looking for
an overdrive pedal that isn’t quite as subdued,
the Blue Ranger may be the trigger-happy
Lone Ranger you’re looking for, too.
you want an aggressive Texas-inspired pedal that won’t break the bank.
you’re expecting a repackaged Tube Screamer.