The latest collaboration between Denmark's Carl Martin and jazz-fusion great Greg Howe is a 3-channel unit that aims to shatter any preconceived notions that a signature pedal might carry. The channels are simple with boost, crunch, and high-gain functions that can be activated independently or in combination. It’s exactly the type of pedal you can throw in your gig bag on the way to a jam and know that you’ll be covered with the right sounds, no matter where the music heads.

The one-knob boost channel proved to be robust and transparent, and it didn’t add much noticeable coloration to my base tone. (Bonus: The boost also worked exceptionally well with other drive pedals.) When I think of Howe’s playing, I imagine a thick, bottom-heavy lead tone that lends itself to fluid legato runs. The crunch and high-gain channels fulfill those ideals, and do so in a streamlined, yet versatile, way. Though each of these channels have only a single tone knob, I found the range of both knobs to be quite balanced. I was also pleased by how effective they were with both single-coils and humbuckers. My preferred tone settings hovered close to noon, depending on the guitar/amp combo. With the gain set at noon, I could dial in a rootsy rhythm tone on the crunch channel, and still have plenty of gain on tap via either the boost or—if I needed to get really crazy—the high-gain channel. Admittedly, I had some doubts about how useful a “Greg Howe” pedal could be to my particular tastes, but the Lick Box smashed those notions in a most inspiring way.

Test gear: Fender Stratocaster, Fender Telecaster, Les Paul Custom, Fender Hot Rod DeVille ML212

Ratings

Pros:
Plenty of tone options for the non-shred set. Very organic crunch channel.

Cons:
No independent routing.

Street:
$266

Carl Martin Greg Howe's Lick Box
carlmartin.com

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