First Impressions: VS Audio Royal Flush Dual Overdrive Pedal

This photo shows three pedals on my practice board.

On the far left is the VS Audio Royal Flush - the subject of this blog post. In the middle is the Analogman King of Tone. On the right is the gold JRAD Archer Ikon.

The Royal Flush has a distinctive graphic on the top, of a woman's face. Half of the face is a skull with Medusa-like snakes for hair. It's really quite striking.
The VS Audio Royal Flush on the left, next to the legendary Analogman King of Tone

I recently managed to snag one of my bucket list pedals: the VS Audio Royal Flush. Here are my First Impressions.

What Did You Buy?

I bought a second hand VS Audio Royal Flush.

It’s a dual-channel overdrive pedal. Rightly or wrongly (he says, because he can’t find an authoritative reference to link to …), this pedal is often talked about as being based on the bluesbreaker circuit. Other notable bluesbreaker circuit pedals include Analogman’s King of Tone and Wampler’s Pantheon.

Why Did You Buy It?

This is one of my bucket list pedals. I’ve been after one of these for a long time now.

It doesn’t matter what their style of music is; every time I’ve heard someone playing this pedal, I’ve loved the tones they got out of it. Granted, there’s a big difference between recorded tones and in-the-room tones. I’m hoping that it lives up to my expectations there.

What Do The Two Sides Do?

The left side features a medium overdrive, and the right side features a very low gain overdrive (more of a boost, really). Which is really confusing, because the included manual describes the left side as the boost 🤷‍♂️

Personally, I’m glad that the manual is wrong. I prefer to run boosts before overdrives, so the way the pedal actually behaves in practice suits me down to a T.

Unlike some other dual overdrives that I’ve tried over the years, I think each side suits different guitars. That gives me options (something that regular readers know that I love!)

The Right Side Is Fantastic For My Telecaster

Crank up the gain on the right hand side of the pedal (I’m running it pretty much on max), and I’ve got my kind of low-gain crunch rhythm tone.

I think it suits a Telecaster bridge pickup or a P90 the best. Maybe it’s because of just how low-gain this side is, I don’t know. There’s an openness to the sound that (imho) just really complements the thinner pickups out there.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s definitely usable with humbuckers too.

The Left Side Is Fantastic For My Les Paul

I grabbed my Les Paul, switched over to this side, and I think something like an hour went by before I even noticed.

While it doesn’t sound the same, it has the same quality that the JRAD Animal had for me. Neither of these pedals had an initial ‘wow’ moment. If anything, they were a little underwhelming at first. And then, once I started actually playing (rather than fiddling with the pedals’ controls) time … stood still.

Is It A Cheaper / Easier-To-Get King of Tone?

I’ll cover this in a lot more detail in a followup side-by-side comparison post.

Short story is: no. While the VS Audio Royal Flush and Analogman King of Tone (KoT for short) sound similar, they do not sound the same. If you’ve heard the KoT and you’re chasing that sound, you’re not going to find it from the Royal Flush.

While it is cheaper, I wouldn’t say that it’s much easier to get, either. Here in the UK, these have all but disappeared from the stores, and I had to wait a long time until one turned up on the second hand market.

Final Thoughts

Some pedals have such a distinctive sound that you can’t use them all the time: you feel that you have to move on from them after a while simply to show progression to your audience. These kinds of pedals end up defining an era or a phase of your music.

The Royal Flush isn’t one of those pedals. It’s much like the legendary Nobels ODR-1 in that respect: a sound that’s simultaneously so unique yet so generic that you could use this over many many years without comment.

I’m looking forward to using this pedal a lot.

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