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Quick review of Rockett Pedals Afterburner, a 500$ OD pedal

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261


I haven't got the Afterburner long enough to do a very in detail review but I'll share with you guys my impressions so far:

Amazingly versatile pedal
Very, very amp like in its sound and especially in its touch sensitivity!

Build quality is over the top. I wouldn't be afraid to drop it from the 3rd floor of a building. Everything looks super well done, it's heavy and guts look highly accurate soldered. But I do expect that at this price for sure.

It has got too many sound possibilities to even slightly discover all of them in any short period of time. It sounds overall good but not in every setting awesome (well is there actually a pedal that does?).

It's a better than average clean booster and it definitely doesn't emphasise the mids but it's not a 500 $ clean boost. What I'm trying to say is: it's pretty good doing a clean boost but it would be a waste to only use it as a clean boost. E.g. a Durham Electronics Sex Drive can do the job as well but is way cheaper (they sound different though) .

It sounds stunningly amazing in low - mid gain territory and has an amazing amount of variations there with its high cut filters, different diodes etc.
You can do pretty much anything "modern" with it. It definitely does not sound vintage. Tweed amp style OD won't be done with it... But it does everything a Marshall JCM can do for example. It's got its own sound though. It's not a amp in a box copy.

I'm thinking about a pedal I can compare it to but I know none. The only comparison I have - as the Afterburner actually doesn't sound like a pedal - would be a Mesa Boogie Mark V. Especially in its versatility. That's a great compliment for a pedal.

I lack for words describing all the possibilities with it but you definitely get AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top rhythm tones out of that thing.

I don't play much high gain but it does that too if you want it to and it does it fairly well. You definitely can use it to get a thick, muscular lead sound out of pretty much any amp. You even could use it for metal which is totally weird. I never thought you could actually do something like a massive Laney stack in a pedal.

My personal verdict:

If you want a vintage 50s and 60s sound in a pedal (like a Fender Tweed in a pedal) this is not the one for you. If you want a TS-type pedal look further.

Everything else pretty much can be done with this thing without any exaggeration.
This pedal seems to be hugely underrated and under-used. It does everything from very subtle to very mean.
Is it worth 500 Bucks? Depends...for me it is. I'd definitely rather have this one than pretty much any other pedal I can think of (Vintage TS, Klon, Zendrive, KOT, you name it...) if I had to choose one.

EDIT:

Rockett chimed in in this thread later. I'm gonna quote their clarifications here for easier access in case you guys care.

Ok, so I have to pipe in.....we realize that both the Afterburner and Rockett Boost are expensive units now. They were both introduced about 5-6 years ago and were the only pedals we made. Since then we have introduced the Pro Series line and the Signature series line which are far more affordable and frankly a better value. At the time the Master Built series were hand wired labor intensive units with expensive parts like Auricaps and several hi fi components. The cases were also custom made by Hamilton Metal Craft in Pasadena, then were actually copper plated, polished and clear coated....not cheap.

They originally sold for $299.00 (AB) and $349 (RB). We got so busy with building the other lines that we limited production of both units eventually. As anyone knows small quantities drive prices up. Subsequently we ended up retiring both units to concentrate on the other lines.

For a period of time we received multiple calls asking to build just one more and just one more that we paid even higher prices for one off's so to speak and had to charge for the extra costs not only for materials but for labor and labor lost on the other lines as well.

Are they worth $500.00? that is up to the buyer but we did ask ourselves the same question about not only our pedals but many others as well. Why are some expensive and some not, there is not that much diff in any OD or boost to justify pricing that high. Some pedals are rare, some pedals are back ordered and some just charge high prices.

An interesting point of view comes from Mark Sampson, we will be introducing 4 of his new pedal designs at NAMM this year. Mark told us that if he were to hand build these units in limited quantities he would have to charge well over $500.00 per unit. I am sure people would probably pay that since he is such a brilliant designer however, we are able to build in larger quantities thus bringing parts costs down and limiting labor. The pedals are still built the same and will sound the same but Mark does not have to sit at his kitchen table and build one at a time.

I wish I could say that we have magic pixie dust and diamond plated switches in these pedals but we don't. They do have some special features and they do sound great but we just could not continue building them without the higher costs.

I hope that clears it up but more so I hope that if any of you have a chance to play either the AB or the RB that they bring something unique to your sound.

One thing to note is that the RB is really more a of a preamp based on an old RCA radio circuit...it makes for a great acoustic guitar preamp, harmonica preamp, bass preamp and even a vocal preamp....really whatever you can throw at it. I know that Peter Stroud uses it as simply a preamp straight into his DAW.

Cheers, come see us at NAMM if you are there.
Rockett
 
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Messages
567
As long as people buy it, they've priced it correctly.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against high priced pedals (I have a Boiling Point and a Timeline on my board), I am genuinely curious about the pricing.

Is it labour intensive? Are the components rare? Are they using the pricing to build a mystique around the product?
 

afterosmosis

Member
Messages
2,342
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against high priced pedals (I have a Boiling Point and a Timeline on my board), I am genuinely curious about the pricing.

Is it labour intensive? Are the components rare? Are they using the pricing to build a mystique around the product?
I don't get it either. I watched a demo clip where the enclosure appeared to be made of brass, which will raise the price a certain amount. Otherwise, I'd imagine it's probably the last thing you mentioned ;)
 

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261
It's built very, very well. I agree with your guys though that the components used surely won't justify this high price. The Afterburner is part of Rockett Pedals' Master Built series which possibly states that they put extra effort in those pedals. So it might be labor intensive.

That's what Rockett Pedals says about the Afterburner:

"The Afterburner is our Ultimate overdrive which we created to be as amp like as we could make it. The pedal settings are very interactive, so spend some time tweaking!​
This pedal can achive just about anything you need, although pretty. it is built like a tank and can take a beating... however, not recommended!!"​
 

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261
Soundwise the Youtube vids available don't do it full justice even though the one made by the Rockett Pedals guys sounds nice in my ears.
It's actually too versatile to cover all its sounds in a 10 minutes video.

Regarding its price of 500 Bucks I agree that it surely won't be worth it for everyone. Probably even just a few people. For me it definitely is worth it because I now can start to sell a couple of OD pedals I don't need anymore.

I'm sure many of you guys spend more than 500 $ in total for all your OD trial and errors considering this is TGP. If someone can spend 275$ on a Klon KTR that can do way less than this pedal (I got one...) buying this one from the start probably will be cheaper than trying a couple of other ODs while never being really satisfied.

Is it better than an actual good sounding amp? Sure not!!! If you got enough money for a different amp (like a Mesa Boogie Mark V) for some new OD flavors, go and get one of these!
I'm totally good though with this pedal as a boost or for my rhythm crunch sound and a D-Style amp for lead.
 

afterosmosis

Member
Messages
2,342
I'm sure many of you guys spend more than 500 $ in total for all your OD trial and errors considering this is TGP. If someone can spend 275$ on a Klon KTR that can do way less than this pedal (I got one...) buying this one from the start probably will be cheaper than trying a couple of other ODs while never being really satisfied.
I'm sure I've spent far more than $500 on OD pedals over the years, but I've yet to break the $200 mark for a single dirt pedal. I just can't justify much more than that when all dirt boxes are basically derivatives of a handful of circuits.

I can see where a box like this would be considered versatile in a recording environment, not as much in a live setting.
 

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261
I'm sure I've spent far more than $500 on OD pedals over the years, but I've yet to break the $200 mark for a single dirt pedal. I just can't justify much more than that when all dirt boxes are basically derivatives of a handful of circuits.

I can see where a box like this would be considered versatile in a recording environment, not as much in a live setting.
You totally got it right. Live I'd prefer more than one dirt box to have different settings on the fly. Actually it'll be a waste to play a 500$ pedal live anyways. The audience won't give a damn if you use this one or a 50$ Bad Monkey. So why even bother.

I'm sure most guys in the audience at a gig don't even hear a difference between a Strat and a ES 335.
 

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261
I'll see what I can do.

I'll ask the Rockett Pedals guys if they're ok with it first though. I respect intellectual property.
 

DeVilleDude

Member
Messages
2,379
This thread has got me wondering if some boutique builders of pedals and amp are testing the waters to see just what the limit in pricing might be, if there indeed IS a limit for some. As long as there are consumers buying, why drop price point.

Many marketing studies have been done proving that human nature will naturally associate quality with price. Starbucks is a good example. Is a cup of coffee really worth 6 bucks? Certainly, if you believe so.....
 

TwinRev

Member
Messages
261
Even if this wasn't good sounding and I only thought so because it's expensive, there wouldn't be a problem with that for me - honestly. I don't make my living out of good sounding OD pedals and as this is a hobby: as long as it feels good and it's fun I really don't care about reality or whatever you wanna call it.

Having said that: that pedal just sounds awesome, man. I played all day long today and had hell a lot of fun. I also believe that my ears are trained quite well while my degustion isn't. Starbucks tastes like regular coffee for me but this pedal sounds way better than everything else I have and had. Like many people at TPG I had quite a few of OD pedals... :p
 
Messages
6,861
This thread has got me wondering if some boutique builders of pedals and amp are testing the waters to see just what the limit in pricing might be, if there indeed IS a limit for some. As long as there are consumers buying, why drop price point.

Many marketing studies have been done proving that human nature will naturally associate quality with price. Starbucks is a good example. Is a cup of coffee really worth 6 bucks? Certainly, if you believe so.....
A cup of "coffee" at Starbucks is more around $2, but if you're talking about the sweet, fluffy, hardly-coffee cups of liquid dessert that they sell, then yes, you're right on point! :beer

Price point aside, its a good analogy. Even if the flavor is SLIGHLY different, is it worth the extra money? I guess it all depends on the flavor and who is tasting it. I prefer a Lovepedal Kalamazoo over an Ibanez TS. Sure, they're the same idea, but I prefer Starbucks to Folgers. Maybe you really like Folgers...
 




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