Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Drive and the Great Clone Wars

Clones are not exactly a new thing in our industry. Almost every guitar manufacturer makes a strat copy. Supposedly Marshall was copying Fender's Baseman when he started building amps. And while some people have plenty of money to burn most of us don't mind saving a few bucks on something that delivers the same sound. Enter Joyo, Mooer, and a host of other pedal builders that copy, without hesitation, some of the more popular pedal designs. You have to decide for yourself if you would rather support original designs or the cheap knock offs and whether it is ethical or not but here is my review of the Joyo Ultimate Drive.

 Lets start with the look. It's ugly. It has some sort of devilish tribal tattoo looking graphic on a matte black finish that I'm sure appeals to a certain demographic. The controls are a Gain, Tone, Level and a high and low switch and of course a true bypass stomp switch. For the most part that's pretty self explanatory, the high/low switch changes the mid frequency that that is emphasized. There is a lot of gain on tap and it sounds more saturated than a lot of pedals, more like power amp distortion than preamp distortion in my opinion. There is also a lot of volume boost available in the Level knob, so if you want to use it to push the front of your amp or another pedal it's great for that. The Tone knob is a bit different than other pedals as well. It rolls of the high end but not the low. If you like a nice tight bottom end this may not work for you. And this brings us to the overall tone of the pedal. It's fairly transparent and reactive to the sounds your using. As I mentioned above it works great as a booster. It sounds beautiful in low gain big loose bottom end type sound. And it's very reactive to your pickups and volume knob. I love running a fuzz into it too, together they make a very powerful combination. Some people feel like they sound great in any combination, but when I hooked up to a friend of mines amps it sounded thin and kind of anemic. This goes to show it really doesn't work for everyone and while I like the pedal, it doesn't stay on my board.

 This brings me to something I hinted at at the beginning of the review. With very little digging around on the internet you'll find that this pedal is confirmed to be a copy of the Fulltone OCD which is hailed by many people as the best Overdrive out there. There is a video on YouTube where a guys compares the OCD to a Suhr Riot. In his demo the OCD and Riot sound very similar. They are NOT. The Riot has a tighter type of distortion and a very tight bottom end. The OCD is much looser and spongier sounding to my ears. Both work great for different sounds. After reading a lot of reviews and being a fan of Overdrives I was planning on buying a Fulltone OCD but now I'm glad I didn't. I decided that I would buy the Joyo. I figured as cheap as it was it would probably break at some point and if I liked it I could buy the Fulltone which are better built. I like the pedal but I as I stated earlier it doesn't stay on my board and I probably wouldn't replace it.

 When I do use it, I like using it in the low gain range, and using the level to boost the sound of my amp. The low setting seems a bit smoother to me but it really depends on which guitar and pickups I'm using. As I said earlier I also like using it with a Fuzz running into it, it's kind of tricky but if you get it set up right it sound very alive. If you get the chance to try one of these or and OCD and you like it, my personal thought is you should get the OCD. If you like overdrives and haven't gotten the chance to try one of these the price on the Joyo pedals make them disposable. You can get three or four different Joyo pedals for the price of the one OCD try them out and not feel bad for having something expensive sitting there for occasional use. Of course the flip side is you really can't sell the Joyo for anything on ebay where the OCD will bring almost as much money as you paid for it. So is it the Ultimate Drive or a cheap knockoff? At this price it's easy for you to decide.
This review was completely unsolicited, I received no compensation for it and all views and opinions are my own.


  1. "Some people feel like they sound great in any combination, but when I hooked up to a friend of mines amps it sounded thin and kind of anemic."
    I can't agree in my experience, I test the Joyo UD with more than 7 amps and 2 guitars (Tele and Les Paul kinda of), valved and solid state, and only with a cheap Marshall MG I got some thin or weak tone from UD, this gem does bring a plentiful low end and crisps "dirtied" highs if you know how to roll the pots in the right way.

    1. Interesting point, my friends amp was a mid sized fender solid state amp that sounds surprisingly good for what it is. And the UD didn't work with that particular sound. But it's a fun pedal for sure. After a TS type pedal, I tell people they should check out the UD. Thanks for checking out the blog.

  2. the ultimate drive on 18 volts= insane!!