The Pedal: Mojo Hand FX Rook Royale
The Point: Versatile Overdrive and Boost
The Cost: $230
A few months ago I reviewed the Mojo Hand Rook and thought it was a really good, all around overdrive with a wide range of tones, from an almost clean boost all the way to a meaty, compressed medium-gain overdrive. One feature I would have loved, however, issomething to give it more oomph. Enter the Rook Royale – it’s as if the Mojo Hand FX read my mind. The Rook Royale is a real kick in the pants.
Everything I love about the Rook remains: the versatile two-band EQ and the three overdrive modes. But the Royale adds a boost feature, based on a modified Echoplex preamp circuit. What’s worth mentioning is the boost can be placed before the overdrive, or the overdrive can drive into the boost, or it can be used separately from the Rook altogether.
Integrating Rook and Boost
I recently reviewed the Bogner Ecstasy Blue Overdrive – a great pedal on its own. My only issue with it was the inability to integrate it with the overdrive. I loved the boost on, but turning it off caused too much of a loss in volume. When I wasn’t using the boost, and then engaged it, the increase in volume was too much. Not so with the Rook Royale.
The Royale integrates both effects beautifully. There isn’t a big drop or increase in volume unless you want it. Rather, the Echoplex circuit fattens up the Rook’s basic tone, making it meatier, thicker, nastier – in other words, just right. Having the option to decide whether the boost is placed before or after the overdrive is very helpful, and I was surprised that I preferred it coming after the overdrive. Usually I like to use a boost or lower-gain type pedal before my main overdrive. The Royale taught me there’s definitely more than one way to do things, and that it’s sometimes best to trust your ears rather than conventional wisdom.
The boost can also be used on its own —another bonus— and it’s quite good. The treble control affects the high end audio spectrum as you would expect, but it’s a subtle control – it doesn’t go to extremes in either direction. Its main purpose is to match the pedal and amp with the type of guitar you’re using. Although a mostly clean boost overall, it will drive your amp into overdrive if you’re already running it fairly dirty. I liked it better as a clean boost, or matched up with the Rook, where it really shines.
A Versatile Pedal for a Versatile Guitar Collection
I used a few guitars that I thought would add some diversity for this pedal, to see how it liked lower gain single coils, higher output humbuckers, and finally some P-90’s. I used a Fender Humboldt Blues Jr., set as a clean platform. Here’s what I found:
· Fender Custom Shop Telecaster:
With lower output single coil pickups, the Rook doesn’t have tons of gain, but the boost helps the Tele cut through better, and it adds some needed bite and snarl. I like the middle setting a lot, which has little compression, and a bright attack on its own. I also enjoyed turning up just the boost side, and using the neck pickup.
· PRS SE Singlecut
With higher gain humbuckers, the Rook really comes alive. I liked it best on the third setting, which has more gain and compression. Boost engaged, and you can easily achieve those great heavy “chugga chugga” tones, while maintaining clarity. The Royale with this guitar definitely plays in the distortion pedal category.
· Squier J. Mascis Jazzmaster:
The Squier JM offers a good value among budget guitars and with a couple of mods can be made to shine. I used the Rook’s middle position with the boost on and got a wonderfully heavy, saturated almost fuzz-like tone. Yet I still had nice clarity for basic chords. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this pedal and budget guitar matched up together.
The Royale is a number of things. First, it’s a great sounding pedal with and without the boost (although the boost is what makes it really come alive). It’s a versatile pedal in many ways, the graphics remind me of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven which look sharp, it feels well- built with top- notch parts, and it’s easy to power. Considering you’re getting two pedals for the price of one, it’s also a damn good value. If you aren’t thrilled with your current overdrive, this one won’t disappoint.