NPD: J. Rockett Blue Note OD (review, more to come)

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591


Just picked up a J. Rockett Audio Designs Blue Note (thanks to @koa !) and had a chance to give it a whirl at lunch today for about an hour playing mostly blues and some alt-country stuff. In this time, I was able to glean a few traits about this pedal that I feel certain enough about to add some commentary. I'll be putting it through its paces more throughout this week, and give another update in that time.

I was playing a Tom Anderson Hollow T with a HSS p'up configuration. Each pickup was set to switch to series or split depending on how the "Switcheroo" controls were set. I played into a Maz 18 NR with a Celestion Blue, a trait which I emphasize and that limits this entire review.

Quick capsule review: enjoyable out of the box with the right settings, which are plenty, varied and not hard to find. Pedal can be set to smooth blues or bright with bite easily.

For those who don't know, this is advertised as a low-gain OD that is made to be highly transparent and good for playing the blues. Like most low-gain OD pedals, this pedal DOES sacrifice transparency slightly the more you goose the gain, but, in this case, it (1) doesn't color your tone dramatically when you goose the gain and (2) to the extent it colors your tone, it does so in a very likeable way.

Things of note:

The FAT Knob: Throughout all of my testing of the FAT knob (I started here out of pure curiosity), I kept the Tone knob and volume knob at noon. I will say that playing into this amp with a Celestion Blue equipped, as many of you may know, the bass can get loose easily. For this reason, I never have the bass knob on my Maz set above 9:00. My Middle and Treble knobs hover 2 "hours" +/- noon, and are adjusted to taste, venue, pickups, etc, and the cut control never goes above 9:00 (this is a conventional approach to the Maz's cut control, judging by comments on the Z-Talk forum). Due to the speaker, I found the "Fat" control start to make the speaker looseness kick in at 11:00. BUT, BEFORE that point, even on an EL-84, low-watter with a C-Blue, it does what it says it does: Add some sweet low-mid warmth that many find desirable in playing to blues. Even more so, I find the extra fatness lends itself to a "jammy" kind of tone a la Trey Anastasio. In other applications, it can fatten up what may be an otherwise overly-bright tone (think John Scofield). I found this out when I turned my amp's Mid knob to 10:00 and the leveraged the Treble to 2:00 and kept the cut control at 9:00. Sans the Blue Note, pretty bright. With the Blue Note's fat control at 11:00 and tone at noon and the hot switch down, the added warmth was very pleasing but kept the top-end sparkle. If I had to describe the "Fat" knob in relation to my amp, I'd call it the "older brother" knob in relation to my amp's cut knob. They emphasize equally-opposite frequencies on an EQ spectrum, but each one is a "little goes a long way" with a Blue equipped. I also found that when engaging the "Hot" switch (more on that later), I didn't necessarily feel the need to adjust the "Fat" knob to compensate for added brightness by the Hot switch. The added frequency of the Hot switch, to me, is smack in the middle of the mids, but it's not an obnoxious "spike" but more like a wide but short "hill" if that makes sense. Finally, the instructions for the Blue Note say that the Fat knob is useful for accommodating different pickups. Uh Oh! What about HSS guitars?! No worries. I didn't feel the need at all to reach down to tweak the Fat knob (or any knob on the BN for that matter) each time I switched from a single-coil setting to my bridge humbucker.


That's all for now. Hope you enjoy this epistle ... er... introductory review!
 
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petty1818

Member
Messages
3,703
The Blue Note is one of my favourite overdrive pedals. It's one of the only pedals that just sounds "right" to me. I usually run it with the switch down for a more transparent style of grit. However, with the "hot" setting engaged, the tone gets nice and thick and sounds awesome as well. My only complaint is that my Blue Note is very picky about how I set it up. Sometimes when engaged, it adds a buzz like you would get from a ground loop. Other times, it's quiet. I am tempted to buy another one just to compare, I like it that much!
 

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591
The Blue Note is one of my favourite overdrive pedals. It's one of the only pedals that just sounds "right" to me. I usually run it with the switch down for a more transparent style of grit. However, with the "hot" setting engaged, the tone gets nice and thick and sounds awesome as well. My only complaint is that my Blue Note is very picky about how I set it up. Sometimes when engaged, it adds a buzz like you would get from a ground loop. Other times, it's quiet. I am tempted to buy another one just to compare, I like it that much!
I'll BOLO for that buzz. I haven't experienced any sort of thing yet, and I've played cranked up pretty loud on it.
 
Messages
992
Congrats! Nice review

I actually just got to try one of these yesterday and I immediately fell in love. Definitely going to be picking one up
 

fred_

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
878
The Blue Note is one of my favourite overdrive pedals. It's one of the only pedals that just sounds "right" to me. I usually run it with the switch down for a more transparent style of grit. However, with the "hot" setting engaged, the tone gets nice and thick and sounds awesome as well. My only complaint is that my Blue Note is very picky about how I set it up. Sometimes when engaged, it adds a buzz like you would get from a ground loop. Other times, it's quiet. I am tempted to buy another one just to compare, I like it that much!
I had a similar, but not exactly similar, problem and it turned out to be a grounding issue within the pedal. Seems the powder coating can sometimes get inside the pedal, and affect the ground connection. Open up the pedal and see if there is any paint on the little area where the internal ground wire connects with the pedal box. It's the same place where the bottom plate screws screw in to the main box. A little 'platform' if you will. Mine had some paint/powder coat/whatever b/w the ground connection and the screw and i just used a little file to scrape it away. No more buzz.

Just a thought. It's a really nice sounding OD for sure!
 

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591
I had a similar, but not exactly similar, problem and it turned out to be a grounding issue within the pedal. Seems the powder coating can sometimes get inside the pedal, and affect the ground connection. Open up the pedal and see if there is any paint on the little area where the internal ground wire connects with the pedal box. It's the same place where the bottom plate screws screw in to the main box. A little 'platform' if you will. Mine had some paint/powder coat/whatever b/w the ground connection and the screw and i just used a little file to scrape it away. No more buzz.

Just a thought. It's a really nice sounding OD for sure!
Good to know! If I encounter the buzz, I'll know where to look. Thanks!
 

Figaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,777
The BN has been my favorite low-medium gain overdrive for a couple of years. I've compared it to many other lower gain overdrives but so far, nothing replaces it. The Hot switch boosts the mids at a little higher frequency than most pedals that have a mid boost, which is a good thing for clarity.

Here are my standard settings with my Tele. Volume set as needed...
Hot switch on - Gain at 1:00, Tone at 12:00, Fat at 2:00.
Hot Switch off - Gain at 3:00, Tone at 1:00, Fat at 12:00.

Standard settings with my ES335.
Hot switch on - Gain at 12:00, Tone at 1:00, Fat at 12:00.
Hot switch off - Gain at 2:00, Tone at 2:00, Fat at 11:00.
 

petty1818

Member
Messages
3,703
I had a similar, but not exactly similar, problem and it turned out to be a grounding issue within the pedal. Seems the powder coating can sometimes get inside the pedal, and affect the ground connection. Open up the pedal and see if there is any paint on the little area where the internal ground wire connects with the pedal box. It's the same place where the bottom plate screws screw in to the main box. A little 'platform' if you will. Mine had some paint/powder coat/whatever b/w the ground connection and the screw and i just used a little file to scrape it away. No more buzz.

Just a thought. It's a really nice sounding OD for sure!
Thanks, I am going to check that out! It's so weird how the other day I was able to completely get rid of the buzz by placing the pedal on top of the box that it came in. However, I tried that again yesterday and the buzz was back. I will open it up and have a look.
 

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591
One other thing I noticed about the Fat knob is that it seems to add extra "pop" when the gain is set low and the hot switch is off. It's as if it adds the function of giving your pickups a snappier, quicker attack while still staying open and without adding compression. The more you dail up the gain and hit the hot switch, the less apparent this trait is.
 

mixn4him

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,696
Just got one today and so far really digging it. Using it to push/drive my 2204 over the top. Love the fat control , nicely thickens up the bridge pickup of my strat.
 

ruger9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,364
I've been through them all (nearly, at least), dozens and dozens of all the famous ODS.....and the Blue Note makes the cut- one of my favorite, never-sell, ODs of all-time. One of the most amp-like, one of the best "more" pedals, like walking over and turning your amp up a couple notches. It's dead simple to set: it's sweet spot is enormous, and it never disappoints. It always WORKS.

IDK what's up with the new "Tour" version: no hot switch..... tsk tsk tsk.... bad idea... regardless whether the circuit is "hot" or "not".

BTW- never had any buzz with mine.
 

jerrylee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
632
Got mine 3 day ago. I just recently picked up a Headstrong Lil King and every OD I had was matched up with Marshall/VOX circuits - so I NEEDED something new for a blackface - and the Blue Note fits the bill. really sweet low /med OD without the typical TS mid-hump - so far I am really liking it.
 

Scuttlebutt

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
670
I've had one for a couple of years but it was never a mainstay on my board until very recently. I wasn't really happy with any of my other overdrives in front of my Little Walter VG-50, using my hollowbody H530 w Lollar P90s. I've been going for a very vintage, 50's/60's sound (soul, jazz-blues, funk, western swing) and needed something to make the amp sound just a little overdriven. The Blue Note ended up being the perfect partner to the Little Walter. So glad I held onto the Blue Note!
 

ruger9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,364
, using my hollowbody H530 w Lollar P90s. I've been going for a very vintage, 50's/60's sound (soul, jazz-blues, funk, western swing) and needed something to make the amp sound just a little overdriven. . So glad I held onto the Blue Note!
That's a good point! The Blue Note is one of the VERY few ODs I have owned that "works" with my hollowbody (Grestch Hot Rod)- one of the others being the Timmy.
 

amoodymule

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,158
quote ---
"IDK what's up with the new "Tour" version: no hot switch..... tsk tsk tsk.... bad idea... regardless whether the circuit is "hot" or "not". ruger9

I'm on the fence about this as well, for $10, will I miss the hot switch?

...and I do kinda like the new looks, ...but then the original is a good lookin' pedal too :D
 

Figaro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
12,777
quote ---
"IDK what's up with the new "Tour" version: no hot switch..... tsk tsk tsk.... bad idea... regardless whether the circuit is "hot" or "not". ruger9

I'm on the fence about this as well, for $10, will I miss the hot switch?
The hot switch bumps up the gain and boosts the mids. But it's boost is at a little higher frequency than most mid boosts so it also gives it more clarity. I like the Hot Switch.
 

ruger9

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,364
Yeah, with Hot switch on, it's still less mids than a TS808/TS9 circuit... sort of still the BN, but on steroids.

Truth be told, I DO use the switch OFF most of the time, but I'm glad I have it at my disposal if I want more juice.
 

papersoul

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,717
Guys, can it do a good lead boost into a driven amp? How about the low end, can it be tight and focused? I like such pedals that can hold up for most styles of rock, lught to heavy.

Other similar pedals I want to check out are the Menatone Blue Collar and Keeley Katana Blues Drive.
 

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591
Guys, can it do a good lead boost into a driven amp? How about the low end, can it be tight and focused? I like such pedals that can hold up for most styles of rock, lught to heavy.

Other similar pedals I want to check out are the Menatone Blue Collar and Keeley Katana Blues Drive.
Hey, it can do fat and focused low end for sure, but as long as you're going into a rig that can maintain that setting. For instance, in my Maz 18 with a Celestion Blue, I don't want to roll the FAT knob beyond 11:00 ever, lest I want my speaker to give me flub. HOWEVER, I just got a Dual Citizen from 3rd Power and a 1x12 dream (closed-back) cab with a celestion gold. With THIS rig, I can take the fat knob up to 3:00 and not flub out. I get a tight, punchy bass response that is GREAT with single coils.
 

Smashies

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,591
Additional update: I see why some have related this pedal to the Bondi Del Mar because of the HOT switch. The Del Mar is supposedly like a Bluesbreaker and TS variant in one pedal, depending on how you have the outside toggle switch engaged. In one position, you get the flat-eq'd and dynamic openness of a bluesbreaker pedal. In the other position, you get the mid-focused, smooth, and compressed drive tones of a TS. On the blue note, when the HOT switch is dis-engaged, the pedal doesn't sound just like a bluesbreaker, but it definitely behaves like one, if that makes sense (see also, Greer Lightspeed OD)--that is, amp-like and open, and fairly transparent. With the HOT switch engaged, it doesn't sound just like a TS (e.g., for one, the mid-hump isn't nearly as dramatic), but sure behaves like one--again, mid-focused, smooth and compressed.

I really wish J. Rockett would approach the Blue Note the way JHS approached their new drive pedals, where you can have a remote switch to engage the HOT switch.

Hmmm... @jhspedals.com, could you do a re-case like this!? :cool::cool::cool:
 




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