Platinum Supporting Member
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!