Carl Martin Surf Tremolo Pedal Review
Under: Guitar Gear Reviews
The Carl Martin Surf Tremolo Pedal was inspired by classic amp tremolos of the 50s and 60s. I had one of the first version which has a usual shaped case and stole a lot of pedalboard space.
Thankfully Carl Martin saw sense and have released it in a smaller, more pedalboard-friendly package. However, the circuit is the same, which is the important thing.
The idea for the Surf Tremolo was to recreate classic tremolo sound of the 50s and 60s often found in tube amps. These classic amps produced a subtle tremolo, that was easy on the ears and perfect for ballads – think of Wes Montgomery.
Yes, this pedal musically swooshes in a very Fenderish way.
Carl Martin wanted the pedal to sound authentic, so they build an amp with the tremolo circuit in it. Then, they tried to model the pedal’s input so that it behaved like the input of an old tube amp, thus faithfully recreating the sound.
Build Quality: 8/10
Carl Martin are well known for their excellent build quality and even though this pedal is one of their cheapest, the build is just as high as their other pedals.
The seafoam green case is attractive and hard wearing. The input and output jacks are on the top which some guitarist prefer as is the power in.
The battery compartment is, sadly, well hidden. You have to remove the base plate to gain access, which isn’t user-friendly at all.
Controls and Features: 7/10
The pedal has two controls: Speed and Depth. The Speed knob controls how slow or fast the tremolo is. The depth knob controls how much effect is blended with the original guitar sound.
While the pedal does not have true bypass, the buffer doesn’t add anything nasty to the sound. And as you might use the Surf Term last in the chain, having a buffer at this point is perfect to maintain sound quality over long cable runs back to the amp.
The footswitch is easy to use without knocking any settings and LED is very bright.
Tones and Sounds: 7/10
The pedal has a really musical sound and offers a range of subtle tremolo sounds. While it doesn’t do over the top hard wave choppy tremolo sound, every setting is pleasing and the rate control has a wide range.
My favourite thing to do with tremolo pedals is to start with all controls at 12. This setting produces a middle of the road kind of tone which usable for most situations. I’d then tweak the rate control to match the song’s vibe.
Overall: Carl Martin Surf Tremolo Pedal
If you’re looking for an aggressive hard wave tremolo sound, then frankly this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a vintage and more subtle tremolo sounds then you should consider the Carl Martin Surf Tremolo Pedal.