|TC Electronic MojoMojo OverdriveSummary: This is a no-frills dirt pedal, and that’s a good thing. With toggle-switchable voicing and very responsive EQ controls, dialing in the pedal to work with your amp is a cinch! This overdrive will add an ever-so-slight dark coloring to your tone when active, but that’s a good thing as well.
Pros: Amp-like dynamic response. Works great as a dirt enhancer, and was obviously made for stacking. Nice, open distortion, and sags nicely at higher gain settings with minimal compression.
Cons: Can sound a bit compressed and mushy if EQ is not dialed in correctly, and finding the sweet spot can take a bit of time.
Price: $129.00 Street
Tone Bone Rating: 4.75 ~ Yet another winner from the TC Electronic compact pedal line! As sort of a “mainstream” kind of overdrive, I really didn’t want to like this pedal. But after I got it dialed in with my amp and guitar, I found that I REALLY like this pedal!
Maintaining my objectivity is the hallmark of this blog. And when manufacturers send me gear, I am extremely careful to be honest with my reviews; not just in my writing but also honest with my tests; always doing my best to give the gear a fair shot. I want to exhaust all possibilities before I render a verdict – especially if I don’t like something, though that is certainly not the case with the TC Electronic MojoMojo Overdrive. As I mentioned above, I REALLY like this pedal and am impressed with it for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:
- First off, this pedal is absolutely no-frills. One of the slogans that TC Electronic has used in the past is “No frills with a sound that kills.” That’s a very apt description of the MojoMojo. With this pedal, you set the voicing and EQ to match your guitar and amp, then set the level and drive where you want, and well… play.
- Also, unlike a high-end overdrive like the Keeley Luna Overdrive that I recently reviewed that employs a fairly sophisticated Baxandall EQ that can drastically affect the voicing of the pedal to produce different overdrive sounds, the MojoMojo produces one type of overdrive. Once you dial in the EQ, you just adjust the drive and level to how much you need at a particular time.
- I found that treating the pedal as if it was another gain stage in front of my amp worked best, as the pedal was designed explicitly to act with tube amp-like dynamics. Like high-end pedals, it’s super-responsive to pick attack and volume knob adjustments just like you’d expect with a tube amp. Very nice.
- Though relatively inexpensive compared to other TC Electronic pedals – it’s $100 less than the Nova Drive – the quality that obviously went into the pedal from both a tonal and mechanical perspective is apparent. Tone-wise, the overdrive is open and smooth, with great note separation. Physically, the pedal is simply very well made. The knobs move smoothly but with good tension, and the on/off switch seems rock-solid. This is the type of quality that I’ve come to expect out of TC products.
I’ve known about this pedal for over year, and have read feedback on forums. From what I was able to gather, it’s a split-decision with how people feel about this. The people who like it, love it; there wasn’t much negative feedback that I found, but more tepid responses along the lines of “I couldn’t dial in a good sound with this pedal.” That actually puzzled me because even though I recorded playing through my DV Mark Little 40, I tested the pedal with four different amps and was able to get a great sound out of all of them.
What I came to realize is that more than any other pedal I’ve tested and reviewed, overdrive pedals are the most challenging to get to work in a rig. Dialing in EQ is usually pretty easy for me (there are exceptions, like the Keeley’s Baxandall tone stack that took me awhile to dial in because that was unfamiliar territory, EQ-wise). Where overdrives are challenging is balancing the distortion and level gain to fit with the amp. This is where I take a lot of time because I have to make a decision: Where do I want the distortion to come from? With some pedals, it’s better to get most or even all of the distortion from the pedal, with level set to unity gain. With others, I might want just a touch of distortion from the pedal, and add more level gain so that my pre-amp tubes do most of the work. Still, with others both amp and pedal may share equal duty.
With each different amp I tried the pedal with this evening, I had to go through the process of finding where I wanted the distortion to come from. With my DV Mark Little 40 (with 6L6′s), I found the best result was to let the pedal do a lot of the heavy lifting, and I set the level to just past unity gain so I could get a little volume boost, plus push my pre-amp tubes just over the edge to slightly break them up. Then I could vary the amount of drive to my heart’s content. On the other hand, with my Aracom VRX22, it was a more balanced affair, with the amp and pedal taking equal responsibility for the overdrive.
I think this is where a lot of people who didn’t really like the pedal – many claiming the tones to be too thick and harsh – may have strayed a bit in their evaluations. Quite simply, dialing in overdrive takes time because not only are you dealing with a clipping section, you’re also dealing with level gain. Add getting EQ dialed in, and it can get a bit hairy. Looking back, I’ve perhaps panned a lot of overdrives simply because I didn’t take enough time.
As for the MojoMojo, getting the pedal dialed in took less than a 1/2 hour. At first, I had everything at noon, but at that setting with my Les Paul and my DV Mark that outputs into a speaker that has a pretty big bottom end, the tone was a little muffled. Thank goodness for the voicing switch on the pedal. That cleared things up a bit almost immediately, then rolling off the Bass to about 11 o’clock and boosting up the Treble to about 2 o’clock added all sorts of clarity. With the EQ set, I was able to vary the Drive and Level, and maintain clarity, no matter where I set those controls.
How It Sounds
To me, the MojoMojo sounds killer. It’s mostly transparent, but it does have a bit of a darker color to it. There’s lots of midrange on tap, but apparently TC Electronic designed the pedal to retain lows. What has really sold me on the pedal though is its amp-like dynamics, which are superb. Here are some clips that I did:
The first clip, I wanted to demonstrate the response to volume knob adjustments. The first part is my amp with my Les Paul in the middle position with both volume knobs at 5. In the second part, I switch on the pedal, and you can hear how well the pedal’s breakup blends with the amp breakup. In the final part, I do a simple lead line with the pedal engaged, then crank up my bridge pickup. The pedal really responds!
In the next clip, I cover more dynamics; basically following the same pattern as the first: Amp only, guitar volumes at 5, then pedal enaged, then bridge pickup cranked:
The thing that’s very noticeable in the clips above is that the pedal loves a lot of input gain, and like a tube amp, with more input gain, reveals more sonic content in the form of harmonics and overtones. By the way, the pedal was set in both clips with Level at just above unity, and Drive at about 2 o’clock.
Finally, I thought that I’d try it out within the context of an actual song. In this clip, it’s the bridge section from a song that’s going to be on my next album that’s actually played underneath the vocals, which I muted here. For this, I had the Level at about 3 o’clock and the Drive at 11 o’clock, which slams the front end of my amp, plus adds a healthy amount of distortion. The result is a very touch-sensitve, singing overdrive distortion.
The original track is actually a bit on the brighter side. But what I love about this particular track is the darkness of the tone. I feels so much richer, and though there’s a LOT of gain with the combination of the pedal and amp overdriving, there is a distinct smoothness to the tone. To me, it’s very magical.
It shouldn’t be too hard to deduce that I dig this pedal! I’m a huge fan of open-sounding overdrives, of which the MojoMojo produces. But that slight darkness is absolutely killer! I think this is a pedal that I intend to keep for awhile. Can’t wait to bring it to a gig!