I just don’t have the nerve to refer to myself as a “professional guitarist”. I’ve been playing for about seven years, and during that time, my infatuation with music software has always managed to pull me away from my Stratocaster. I’ve never had a “gig” and I probably never will. I’m a hobbyist, a passive enthusiast. You won’t find me sitting in front of a boutique guitar rig playing through stomp boxes and amp heads that cost more than the mortgage on your house. My rig is made up of cheap patch cables and entry level gear. As a sound designer, I’ve always made use of guitar recordings, but I am by no means a “pro”.
That being said, even the beginning guitarist (of the electric variety) will need a good amplifier, nothing too spendy, but hopefully something that won’t find its way to the nearest pawn shop anytime soon. There was a time when “starter” amps were pretty much your only option, but today there are a good number of amp modelling pedals, some of which are so reliable, they aren’t just a backup for when you’ve blown a tube, but they can also completely eliminate the need for a traditional handmade amp altogether.
In search for a small, affordable amp modelling pedal that ranges from pristine clean to filthy tones in just a few knob turns, and also captures the crispy goodness of vintage American (specifically Fender) amps, I hit the message boards in pursuit of a budget-friendly gearhead consensus. A lot of people recommended perfectly reputable pedals slightly out of my price range, but I couldn’t help but notice a common favorite: The JOYO JF-14 “American Sound” pedal, which was significantly under my price range.
At a retail value within forty U.S. dollars, the JOYO JF-14 is an approximate (though surprisingly realistic) emulation of the legendary Fender ‘57 Deluxe 12-watt tube amplifier. Of course, I’m very certain there are a good number of people with a more intimate knowledge of this amplifier who might be more qualified to weigh in on this matter. I’ve never owned a Fender amp, so I’m afraid I have no personal experience with the Fender ‘57 Deluxe, but there are a few “blind test” videos on YouTube (often using the more popular Fender ‘64 Deluxe Reverb instead) that demonstrate how the two signals are nearly indistinguishable.
The JOYO JF-14 has a rugged design with a sturdy metal enclosure, a surprisingly sensitive “push button” footswitch and six vintage “pinch” style knobs. I’m very happy with the build quality, especially considering the price range. I won’t test this theory, but I could possibly drop it a few times and it would likely still work. Also, the 9V battery compartment is easily accessible via the backplate; the plastic cover snaps open with effortless ease, so you won’t have to mess with any screws or anything that will require you to put down your guitar. If you’d rather use a power supply (which is sold separately) there is a 9V AC adapter input.
The first thing that really jumped out at me was how LOUD this pedal can get! I normally use a boost pedal just in case I need to “push” the amp, but now that I have so much gain on tap, I no longer have much use for a boost pedal, which is great news for anyone who lacks one! The “Low”, “Mid” and “High” controls are more or less self explanatory, but you can dial in the mid-range in a few different ways. I was confused by the “Voice” knob at first, but it’s basically a pre-gain peak EQ band that will either cut or boost the mids; I find this especially useful for overdriven tones, but for clean tones, I leave this knob at around 7 o’clock with the “Mid” knob at around 2 o’clock. Also, the “High” knob has a generous amount of high-end boost, which brings out the sparkle and chime of your guitar signal. If you want to get down and dirty, you need to crank the “Voice” and “Drive” knobs way up, but you must be mindful of the mid-range or it could get ugly.
Some people might prefer the sound of a Mesa Boogie Mark V or a Vox AC30, which is why JOYO has similar amp modelling pedals on offer, such as the the JF-15 “California Sound”, the JF-13 “AC Tone”, and the JF-16 “British Sound”, all of which are equally affordable, which makes me want to scoop them all up.
On the whole, I can’t recommend the JF-14 strongly enough for anyone who wants that “American Sound” as the pedal is aptly named. I’m a huge fan of that vintage Telecaster twang, so I naturally gravitate toward amps that really color mid-frequencies, something that Fender amps are well known for. I’ve also taken up more interest in playing since I’ve been using the JF-14, which is a testament to the fact that even novice guitarists owe it to themselves to purchase quality gear… only this time you won’t require a small fortune.
Product page: JOYO JF-14 (Gearbest.com)
Joyo JF-14 Review
On the whole, I can’t recommend the JF-14 strongly enough for anyone who wants that “American Sound” as the pedal is aptly named.