For many guitarists, their tone starts and ends at the drive pedal, but simply put, finding the right overdrive pedal can prove to be a daunting task when there are so many options available. Enter Browne Amplification, handing you the decision on a silver platter: the brand new (and improved) Carbon V2, a guitar pedal that proves sometimes it is ok to judge a book by its cover one that looks and functions equally as simply.
Simplicity is a staple at Browne Amplification. Anyone who’s familiar with the company has likely heard of the Carbon’s predecessor, the Protein. A 2-in-1 overdrive that put a spin on some of the best-known overdrives in history, each side of the Protein was denoted by a green or blue LED. A few years later, Browne entirely ditched the green light for the announcement of the Carbon. The notoriously smooth blue light side of the Protein, modeling a Marshall Bluesbreaker, would be going solo. A star was born.
Gas is expensive! And you can always walk. Right? Wrong! When it comes to shaping your tone, walking is not an option. However, driving has never been made simpler than when using this pedal. All puns aside, for a box with three knobs and a dip switch, it really is amazing what you can do with this thing. I know I mentioned that Browne went simple with this one, but that was strictly in reference to the design. And while it may be simple to use, the results you can get from the Carbon V2 are anything but simple. Turn the gain all the way up, level halfway down, and lower the tone knob a touch, and you have a ripping solo tone that cuts but isn’t obnoxious. Lower the gain, adjust the level to your preference, and you have a perfect, transparent clean boost. Not many pedals with three simple knobs can perform with that type of versatility without being difficult to learn to use.
The Carbon V1 was already great. A simple machine, just a few knobs and great results, top mounted power input to maximize pedal space on your board. So- what’s the difference between V1 and V2? Well, it’s a good thing you asked. The folks at Browne are perfectionists, and like many of us tone nuts, they dial things in as much as humanly possible. It’s a difficult endeavor to one-up an already amazing pedal, but they did exactly that with the introduction of a high-cut toggle that can help keep the ear-piercing brightness of this pedal combined with a brighter amp, to a minimum. And, because of this pedal’s versatility, many people choose to use it as a clean boost as well as a drive, so a high-cut toggle can also allow you to keep things tame and under control if you’re stacking these bad boys. By the way, if you are stacking two of these, that works out for you, as they happen to come in two colors: in a sleek black as well as a beautiful blue. What’s better than having a nickel? Having two nickels, of course.
Carbon V2: Final Thoughts
A company that’s willing to obsess over the smallest details of a pedal like what Browne has done here with the Carbon V2 clearly cares. It’s that kind of obsession that makes this pedal cut through the noise, in both a figurative sense and a sonic one. The Carbon V2 boasts incredible versatility, a simple-to-use and easy-to-look-at design, and some new functions, and this thing is ready to be your best friend. Sometimes things are great and don’t need fixin’, but Browne’s decision to make some small tweaks paid off in a big way, and the V2 is a great addition to any board, overdrive or not already in the collection.