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Quick Hit: Carl Martin Comp/Limiter Review

Quick Hit: Carl Martin Comp/Limiter Review

Go from Nile Rodgers to Lowell George with this simple comp.

Recorded using a Schroeder Chopper TL with Lollar Special T pickups, going into a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV miked with a Royer R-121 feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Both comp and level at noon.
Clip 2: Comp at 3 o’clock and level at 1 o’clock.


Plenty of make-up gain. Pleasing compression ratios.

Not enough control for in-depth tone tweakers. No parallel compression.


Carl Martin Compressor/Limiter


Ease of Use:



Compression might be one of the few guitar effects that can be used to improve feel almost as much as sound. From the classic MXR Dyna Comp to the grey-box Ross, compression in pedal form has been around for generations, but still can be somewhat divisive among guitarists. Carl Martin made waves with their original black box Compressor/Limiter, and the recently upgraded version is slimmer, easier to use, and tough as nails.

A good place to start with this two-knob setup is to turn the level to unity and then add comp to taste. Transparency isn’t exactly at the forefront of the new design, which, depending on your application, could be a great thing. Once the comp control gets past 9 o’clock, the walls start closing in. The real sweet spot hovers around each side of noon. On one side you have Nile Rodgers; the other is Lowell George. Overall, the sound of the compression is a bit on the dark side, and without any blend control the character of the Comp/Limiter can cover up too much of your sound. However, if compression is a core feature of your tone and you need to feel it as well as hear it, Carl Martin’s upgrades would might be a welcome addition.

Test gear: Schroeder Chopper TL, Fender Modern Player Jaguar, Fender Hot Rod Deluxe IV