The author is a guitarist and bassist with over 35 years of experience as a musician.
I’ve amassed an interesting collection of distortion and overdrive pedals over the years. The thing is, I usually prefer the sound of the overdrive from my amps, so I never like to spend a lot when I buy a pedal. I like to find affordable pedals, dial in some cool sounds, jam away, and have some fun. Because playing guitar is supposed to be, you know, fun or whatever.
Some guitar players take the pedal hunt much more seriously. They are always on the lookout for that one pedal that will define their sound. Or, at the very least, one that will find a spot on their pedalboard for years to come. Great overdrive pedals that ooze realistic tube tone tend to be somewhat expensive, and they aren’t the kind of gear you buy just to mess around with.
But, every now and then, I come across an affordable pedal that seems like it should cost a lot more than it does. The TC Electronic MojoMojo is such a pedal. At a street price of under $50 as of this writing, I decided to check it out.
In this review, I will cover what I like and don’t like about this overdrive pedal so you can decide if it is the right option for you. I don’t think the MojoMojo is for everybody, but I believe there is a certain type of guitar player who will absolutely love it.
TC Electronic MojoMojo vs Dark Matter
A few years back I grabbed the Dark Matter Distortion pedal by TC Electronic. Both pedals share a similar design. I will say from the get-go that if you are more interested in heavier styles of rock, you will probably be happier with the Dark Matter Distortion. While these pedals look similar, they each have a very distinctive sound.
The MojoMojo is a rugged little pedal in a metal chassis. It has four control knobs, one each for Drive, Level, Bass, and Treble. The knobs themselves have a sturdy feel and turn smoothly. The Treble and Bass controls have a center notch they click into when set to noon. A mini-toggle switch controls voicing and is the only thing on the top of the pedal that looks a bit wimpy. However, it is safely located between the Drive and Level knobs and therefore seems unlikely to get damaged.
The switch to activate the pedal appears well made, and I know from my years with the Dark Matter that the design is durable. The input/output jacks, as well as the power supply jack, all seem solid. The battery compartment is accessible through a single screw on the back that releases the bottom of the pedal. In other words, no flimsy plastic battery compartments.
All told, this appears to be a robust little pedal at any price point, let alone for under $50. Even the gold TC Electronic name and MojoMojo logo look kind of boutique with the color of the pedal. But none of that matters if the thing doesn’t sound good, so let's move on to what’s important.
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The MojoMojo is a versatile stompbox. Here is a look at the controls one-by-one along with my thoughts and some things I discovered while messing around with this pedal.
- Gain: The Gain control is one of the things that make this pedal so impressive. As with the Dark Matter, twisting the gain knob doesn’t just mean more or less distortion. It changes the character of the pedal. With the knob cranked, it has a nice sizzle that approaches hard rock territory but never quite crosses over. Dialing it back brings out warm, tube tones, as well as a nice, throaty pop I can’t quite put my finger on but is outstanding for blues. From around 9 o’clock to about 3 o’clock is the sweet spot
- Level: Since I like the MojoMojo as a main distortion sound, I just set the level to noon. I did crank it up a little and experiment with it as a boost and it performed very well. I think I would stick with my TS9 for that, though.
- Voice Switch: In the up position you get the natural sound of the pedal. Clicked down, the switch cuts a little bass from your signal. I prefer it up.
- Bass and Treble: It is always a balancing act to get the EQ of your amp working in harmony with the EQ on your pedals. I started out experimenting with the amp EQ controls at noon and the Bass and Treble of MojoMojo at the midway notch. I eventually figured out it is best to just dial in my amp however I want and use the EQ on the pedal for a touch of boost or cut on Treble and Bass. This worked best on my Marshall tube amp, and each control only required a little budge. With my solid-state amp, a little more adjustment at the pedal level was required. Every guitarist would obviously need to experiment to figure out what works best with their amp.
It does take a little fiddling to get things dialed in just how you like them with this pedal. There are a lot of good sounds here. Overall, this is a thick, beefy overdrive with excellent tone shaping capabilities and beautiful texture at every gain level.
How I Use the MojoMojo
As I said at the beginning of this article, I tend to prefer the overdrive from my tube amps instead of relying on a pedal. I will occasionally use my Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer as a boost or to tighten things up on my Marshall DSL or Peavey 6505, but otherwise, I get what I need from my amps.
Still, I have a lot of fun with the MojoMojo. It sounds very good through my solid-state Peavey Bandit Red-Stripe, with plenty of punch. If you are a blues/rock guitarist with a solid-state amp and you’re trying to decide if you should invest in a tube amp, I suggest trying the MojoMojo pedal first. It might be just what you need, and you can save yourself a few bucks.
The MojoMojo really comes alive when paired with a tube amp, and through my Marshall it sounds amazing. It’s gutsy and thick with more than enough gain for anything short of hard rock and metal. I love the sound of my Marshall’s overdrive, but if I didn’t, I could be a very happy guitar player just relying on the MojoMojo.
I consider this a “main sound” kind of distortion pedal. It has the flexibility to act as a kind of extension of your guitar amp. I expect for many guitar players, from beginner to advanced, it is the perfect addition to their rigs. Sure, it can also be used as a boost, and I am sure some players do that. In my opinion, that is missing a lot of what this cool pedal can do.
More on the MojoMojo
Is the MojoMojo Overdrive Worth It?
I recommend the MojoMojo for blues, rock, and country guitarists who are looking for a do-it-all distortion pedal for the main overdrive sound. While it sounds best with a tube amp, I think players with underwhelming solid-state amps can use it to change their sound without dropping hundreds of dollars on a new tube amp.
It is also a great overdrive for players like me who like to experiment with guitar pedals without spending a lot of cash. It sounds amazing, especially for the money, and it is a lot of fun.
So, who isn’t this pedal for? While the MojoMojo has more gain than you’d expect from an overdrive pedal, I don’t think it is a great choice for guitar players who are into hard rock or heavier kinds of music. Those guitar players are better off with the Dark Matter Distortion, in my opinion. Or look at a high-gain pedal like the EVH 5150.
I will also say, even though I prefer my Marshall for overdrive, if I were in a band, I would probably find a use for the MojoMojo on my board. It just sounds too good to let it sit on the sidelines. So, check it out to see what you think for yourself. Let me know your opinion in the comments!