Great-sounding Marshall-inspired overdrive in a pedal form. Flexible boost channel. Superb for rhythm-to-lead transitions.
Can lean toward bright for some tastes.
Carl Martin PlexiRanger
Ease of Use:
More than a few legendary artists have matched a Dallas Rangemaster to a Marshall plexi to screaming ends. So Carl Martin’s new PlexiRanger, which mates the Danish builder’s PlexiTone Marshall-in-a-box stomp to a treble booster in the mold of the Rangemaster and John Hornby Skewes Treble Booster, is a pretty natural pedal proposition. For players that have never experienced the joys of a Marshall and a vintage-style treble booster together, the combination of the two in one tidy little box could be an eye-opening—and ear-awakening—experience.
If Six Were Knobs
The PlexiRanger’s circuitry cascades the treble boost into the plexi side of the pedal, but each effect has its own bypass switch and dedicated control set. The boost side features an eponymous knob that unleashes up to 15 dB of extra kick, a “freq” knob, which determines the boosted frequency, and a range control that regulates the amount of boost applied within the selected frequency band. There’s also a 3-way switch that applies a slight or heavy low-frequency cut—or no cut at all.
The plexi side features familiar controls for gain, tone, and level. In addition to the input and output on the pedal’s top panel, there’s also a ¼" jack for remotely switching on the boost side, and an internal voltage multiplier that increases power from the 9V DC input to +/-12V DC (24V total) for improved headroom. It’s all housed in a ruggedly built aluminum enclosure, with a thin foam skid pad on its underside in place of rubber feet. (Pedalboard users might need to peel this off to apply Velcro.) It measures 4.75"x3.75"x2.25" and weighs around a pound.
I used the PlexiRanger with Gibson humbuckers, Fender single-coils, and Fender and Marshall-style amps, and in every case I readily found the familiar palette of crunch and hot lead tones that typify the vintage Marshall experience. The plexi channel is predisposed toward brightness. But even with the tone knob fully counter-clockwise, it yields a creamy, thick overdrive with high end enough to rise above a dense mix. Like its inspiration, the plexi circuit deals medium-level gain at its most aggressive settings. But it’s never boxy or congested sounding, as some Marshall-in-a-box pedals can be.
If the plexi side of the pedal is bright, the boost side can be very bright—particularly when those freq and range controls are dialed up for maximum treble. But when used judiciously, these controls can very effectively highlight frequencies you want to shine most prominently. It works well on its own as a boost, but the real magic happens when you use it to kick up the plexi side a notch, which can make the output so completely juicy and saturated that it’s hard to switch it off again. It’s very tasty stuff.
The PlexiRanger executes its mission beautifully. It might all lean a little bright for some tastes, and it can take a little practice to master the boost circuit’s freq and range knobs. But the sum is a super-wide range of tones brimming with sweet spots. A warning though: it may be difficult to go back to single-function overdrives after spending some time with this one.
Watch our demo of the Carl Martin PlexiRanger: