Review: Joyo Ultimate Drive Overdrive Pedal

Scandal is rare in the world of effect pedals. It's probably because no major network has given a pedal builder his or her own reality-TV show.

Pedal Wars. Or how about Effect Stars? OK, it probably wouldn’t take off.

Regardless, I keep reading passionate arguments concerning the Ultimate Drive by Joyo. It’s supposed to cop the tone of a much pricier overdrive, for only $35.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like a $35 pedal. The enclosure is rock-solid aluminum. The switch is true bypass. It can be powered by a 9-volt battery or Boss-style power supply. The knobs are Gain, Tone and Level. Between the knobs is a two-way High and Low switch. High offers a flat EQ response; Low triggers a mid-scoop.

Joyo is a China-based company. To my knowledge, the pedals are available only online. There are, however, U.S.-based dealers; I’ve seen them for sale through eBay and Amazon. Still, I can understand how the lack of the in-store “Try before you buy” method will leave some skeptical. Hopefully, my sound clips below will solidify your opinion one way or another.

CLIP 1: “Chords” is a Les Paul that starts with the Ultimate Drive bypassed; then I click it on with everything at 12 o’clock, with the Low switch setting followed by the same settings with High switch setting.

CLIP 2: “Bass” is a Precision Bass clean, then a light gain setting, followed by a higher gain setting. I finish up with an overdriven, picked and palm-muted riff.

CLIP 3: “Strat” is a Strat on the neck pickup with the Level cranked on the Joyo and the Gain rolled back, similar to how Stevie Ray Vaughan set his Tube Screamers.

Price: $35

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

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