Pedal Review: Mojo Hand Rook Overdrive
Versatile overdrive with a wide tonal palette
Price: $169 Availible Here
There are a few overdrives on the market that can “do it all” – they morph from being a boost, to an overdrive and finally into distortion territory. The Rook from Mojo Hand FX is one such pedal but with two improvements: a Baxandall EQ circuit and a wallet friendly. It sports a beautiful red and black finish, and just looks damn sexy. The craftsmanship is top notch, hand-wired in the USA, and is true bypass.
Stage or Studio, It's All Good.
Some pedals just seem to make sense for the gigging musician, while other pedals, either because of their complexity or cost, are better suited for the studio. But the Rook is one of those pedals that can straddle both camps with ease. For the stage, set the toggle to your favorite position, tweak the EQ that works best for your guitar, adjust the gain and volume, and you’re good to go. Simple right? But if you take the time with each position and really fine tune the EQ and gain adjustments, you’ll find that for studio session work you can get a multitude of different tones out of this one box.
Let’s take a closer look at the Baxandall EQ controls. The tone stack is basically active, so it's capable of boosting bass or treble, with the mids shifting depending on how the other two are set. Everything is relatively flat with both controls at noon, but unlike a traditional "treble bleed" kind of tone control, turning it above noon increases treble in the circuit versus just cutting bass. The same holds true with the bass control. Turning the dial above 11-12 o'clock adds bass. Here’s a rundown on the different toggle positions:
TOGGLE UP: This is the more “traditional” overdrive setting that can go from low gain to a fairly heavier medium gain with added saturation, but still retain note clarity. It has the least amount of volume of the three settings, yet there’s still plenty available. With the gain set around noon or more you get the nice classic crunch, with the EQ working to help you sculpt your tone just the way you want. I liked to goose both the bass and treble controls a bit, but it was always easy to find that sweet spot.
TOGGLE MIDDLE: The middle toggle position is the boost mode, which removes diodes to increase volume, but with less gain. Even with no gain, just the volume and tone controls turned up, my tone sounded better, fuller, more alive. With added gain and more volume – way past unity now, I felt like I was playing a Hiwatt amp – that alarmingly loud sound, perhaps reminiscent of the Who, that just sounds heavy, yet this tone is achieved without much added gain. A very cool effect.
TOGGLE DOWN: This setting gives you the trifecta - extra gain for a somewhat rawer tone, bordering on distortion when the gain is maxed. I wouldn’t characterize this as a metal setting at all, but it’s a heavier overdrive that moves into the distortion realm.
So all bases - overdrive, boost, and distortion are covered with this one pedal. When I switched to the Telecaster, I was pleased that I still got many of the benefits of the different modes that I did with a Les Paul, yet retained the Telecaster tone I love. The heavier crunch you can achieve with humbuckers is not quite the same with single coils, but you get a nice searing clarity that humbuckers sometimes don’t have, and your tone cleans up far easier when you roll back your guitar’s volume control.
Overall, the Rook represents a great value and should exceed most people’s expectations. Just take the time to understand how the EQ reacts with the gain/volume controls and with each toggle position and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Rating: 4 / 5
5 – Tremendous product; among the very best
4 – Great value overall; exceeds expectations
3 – Definite contender, but look closely at the competition too
2 – Average at best; probably better choices exist
1 – Not ready for prime time