The Mojo Hand FX Extra Special Overdrive is the company’s second take on the infamous Dumble amplifier, the first being the DMBL. The new Extra Special offers significantly more gain, for that sweet saturated lead tones that has been made famous by Mr. Dumble since the 1960s.
This reviewer does not own an original Dumble amp, and at $20,000–50,000 on the used market, he likely won’t ever own one; or if he does, divorce can’t be far behind! That’s not to say I wouldn’t want one. But I’ve listened to numerous recordings that have been made with Dumble amps, and likely you have too. If you’re unsure of what a Dumble sounds like, a quick scan of YouTube can give you a basic idea of its tone. It can be characterized by that sweet singing, saturated, liquid tube tone with great sustain.
Suffice it to say, a pedal emulating a highly sought-after vintage amplifier will give you an approximation of that tone. But consider how all other variables will come into play—your amplifier, guitar, and pickups to name a few. The Extra Special has the looks of the amplifier, with a matte black face and white sides. The black knobs and white lettering are fairly easy to see from afar, and controls are volume, gain, accent and tone. All controls have lettering from zero to 10. There’s also a small switch in the middle for a Jazz or Rock setting.
Let’s look closer at the two settings: Jazz has a little less gain and volume overall. I think it’s meant to help tame brighter single coil pickups, but overall, it felt less alive. I much preferred the Rock setting overall with all types of pickups and guitars. For the most part, this is the setting I used throughout.
The controls are fairly obvious, with the Accent acting sort of like a presence knob. One surprise for me was the Volume control. Usually I find a lot of overdrives seem to have tons of volume at very low settings. And then as I turn up the gain, it can be harder to control the volume to an appropriate setting. Not so with the Extra Special. With the Gain turned off, and the Volume control turned up all the way, I had enough volume for a slight boost, but not much more. But the amount of gain comes quickly with the Extra Special. You get a nice bite around three on the dial, and at 10 you have a very compressed, tube-like saturation gain going on. I preferred the Gain setting somewhere in the middle.
What we like: I liked the Extra Special with my Strat and Telecaster, with both having Custom Shop pickups in them. But this pedal really came alive with my Les Paul, featuring a pair of Burstbuckers. Their extra punch really brought out the best in this pedal, and that liquid, sustaining tone became rapidly apparent. You can hear individual notes even though a fair amount of that spongey, tube like saturation engulfs everything. But I loved how chords were thick and meaty, but never sloppy or congested—a tough trick to pull off sometimes.
Concerns: As mentioned, the Jazz setting wasn’t for me. I’m also not a fan of overdrives that cut bass—or at least gives the perception of doing so because the mids and in this case the treble too, are quite accentuated. But it’s not like a Tube Screamer either because the gain on the Extra Special is more saturated and thicker. But once I plugged in my Les Paul and just let ‘er rip, all was forgiven and forgotten. In fact, with a decent amp and this pedal, you might otherwise fool someone into thinking you just mortgaged the house to get that Dumble.