JF-36 Sweet Baby Overdrive
andy474x, on january 31, 2013 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Price paid: $ 50
Purchased from: Amazon
Ease of Use: The Joyo Sweet Baby is probably the easiest to use Overdrive I've ever laid hands on. With its simple controls, dialing in the tone you want is almost effortless. The volume and gain knobs are familiar to most other OD pedals, but the 'Focus' control sets this unit apart. It has a subtle effect on the EQ, as well as the overall stiffness and punch in the tone. Turned down, the pedal has a softer attack, good for mellow blues and jazz, and turned up the pedal takes on more of a rock flavor. My only gripe is that the power supply jack is on the side of the pedal instead of the top - a bit inconvenient in my setup. Also, if you use a 9v battery, the back panel has to be removed via 4 screws to change the battery out. Could be better overall, but for tone tweaking it's a no-brainer. // 8
Sound: I use this pedal with a variety of gear - a 57/08 loaded PRS, a Strat with CS 54's, and a 335-style Ibanez, among other guitars, and for amps, PRS SE 30, Egnater Tweaker 40, and a heavily modded Valve Jr Head. It's an all around great sounding pedal with whatever I match it with, simple as that. I bought this pedal for a smooth, velvety blues/jazz overdrive, which it definitely achieves, but I quickly learned it has something else going for it: transparency. I'm constantly fighting with Drive pedals to adjust the tone knobs to match my amp settings, or even worse, adjusting my amp settings to match a pedal's tone, but the Sweet Baby is dead on, all the time. It's like I just took the sound of my amp, and added Overdrive - no woofy bass, no nasally mids or highs, and no thinned out harsh tones. Finally a pedal I can just set and forget, and not have to adjust every time I tweak the clean tone of my amp.
Aside from the transparency, the Overdrive character is very smooth and pleasing, and extremely touch sensitive. I can max out the gain and still get clean tones just by changing my Pick attack. On higher settings, there's enough gain for nice classic rock tones, and with a good dose of kick from the volume knob, you can push an amp into some very distorted territory.
As I said before, the Focus knob is really what sets the Sweet Baby apart functionally. It has a mellower attack at low settings, and when turned up gives a nice, rowdy Marshall-esque kick to notes. But the beautiful thing about the Focus is that the pedal stays transparent at any setting. I literally can't get a bad sound out of this pedal, and that's coming from someone who has a bad history of being very critical of OD pedals. Even if I don't nail the tone I'm after with the knobs, the touch sensitivity and transparency of this pedal make it easy to work with if I'm in a sticky live situation and have to compensate with my playing style. // 9
Reliability & Durability: This is the spot that might get this pedal in trouble in the future. I haven't had any problems with it yet, but I suspect the switch might go out after a lot of use. The jacks also seem like they could be sturdier, but again no problems as of yet. I did drop the pedal once on pavement, and other than a few scratches it held up fine, so the casing seems to be well made. But if anything did happen down the road, the worst that could happen is I drop another $50 on a new pedal, and I'm certainly not going to complain about that for a unit that sounds this good. // 6
Overall Impression: The tones of the Sweet Baby are foolproof, and the price of admission makes it a purchase that won't come with a cringe. This pedal has been a great match for me, I play a lot of blues and classic rock, and it's dead on. If something happened to it, I would definitely replace it rather than go searching in vain for something else. The only thing I can't say about this pedal is how it compares to the Mad Professor Sweet Honey that it's modeled after, because I've never played one. But the PCB version of the Mad Professor pedal is still $150+, and I highly doubt there's a $100 difference in tone between the two. If you're looking for a heavy metal distortion, look elsewhere, but if you just want to add a good layer of Overdrive to your existing amp tone, this is where it's at. Can't recommend it enough!
Video from YouTube: