The new Joyo Bantamp series is seriously awesome, yet affordable options for guitarists that want to downsize. Today we take a look at the new models, and a special new cabinet designed for these amps!
JOYO Bantamp Series: New For 2022!
The first time that I ever tried out a lunchbox style amp, it was a JOYO model, that was way too affordable to possibly sound good. I was plugging in my guitar, dreading the sound that this little amp would make. To my surprise and delight, it not only sounded great, but it also took a good amount of pedals. We reviewed quite a few of these mini lunchbox amps, and they were all surprisingly awesome!
JOYO is best known for making affordable pedals that get the job done, and sometimes even work as well or better as more expensive models. I see these pedals on all kinds of pedalboards these days and I think that the guitar community overall has started to embrace more affordable gear. Because let’s face it; Guitar gear can be incredibly expensive!
Budget gear is really on the rise, and products like the BOSS Katana and the HX Stomp have been popular for getting some great tones without breaking the bank. “Solid State” and “Modeling Technology” are no longer bad words for guitarists. Most people will agree that there is nothing better than standing in front of a Marshall Stack at full blast, but this just isn’t feasible for most of us. Gigging guitarists need something easy, portable, and full of features for the studio and the stage.
But what if you could have something that is “in between” solid state and tube amps? That’s where the JOYO Bantamp series comes in. These are not only perfect budget amps that are small and portable, but they are also hybrid amps. This means that they use tubes for the preamp section, but solid state tech for the power section. So your main tone is coming from a tube, giving you that undeniable saturation and warmth.
JOYO also has released a cabinet to go along with the mini amp range, and when put together it takes up less space than your average combo amp! But the sound is definitely BIG, so don’t let the size fool you. I even tried a couple of these through a big 4×12 cabinet, and it works great! So let’s take a look at the new models, and talk about what kind of sounds they have to offer.
JOYO Bantamp Series: Features And Specs
The idea behind all of the JOYO Bantamp range is that each amps does a certain, specific sound. Some are based on popular amp models from other manufacturers. This means each amp has its own unique tone, and with how affordable they are, you could use two or three together if you wanted! All of the JOYO amps may be a little different, but they all the same basic features in common.
- 20 Watts Of Power
- Tube Based Preamp Section
- Headphone Jack
- Dedicated FX Loop
- Metal Housing
- Bluetooth Connectivity
Now 20 watts may not seem like a lot of power, but these amps can roar if you crank them up! At the same time, you can also use them at a reasonable volume to practice at home without losing any sound quality. The big question is: Can you gig with them? I think you can definitely gig with them, these little guys get loud and mean. The whole idea behind these JOYO amps is to be a small form factor for when you don’t need a half stack at the show.
Most use a 12AX7 preamp tube to handle the gain stages, and you can tell by the sound quality. You get all of the dynamics out of these amps that you would expect out of a tube amp. The amp reacts to your pick attack really well. They also work really great with your guitar’s volume knob to control the amount of gain. It may be a hybrid, but it reacts like a full tube amp.
The headphone jack has some sort of emulated output, because the sound quality is pretty awesome. This could be used for a “recording out” jack into an interface. If you are using some pedals, this is a great way to dial them in for the gig, in total silence. Speaking of pedals, all of the JOYO Bantamp models take pedals really well through the FX loop. You can also buy an optional footswitch for some two channel models. The XL Series comes with a single button footswitch already!
The amps are pretty rugged to be so affordable, with a colored metal frame on each for the housing. They don’t feel cheap or fragile at all. I tried out the Bluetooth connection, and it works excellently. This allows you to play backing tracks through the amp, and play along. This works best when you are using the headphone output. Through a speaker cab, it can be a little muffled.
This year, the JOYO Bantamp series has a special speaker cabinet that is meant to pair with any amp in the series. This is an 8 ohm cabinet, with an 8” Celestion speaker inside. This is a closed back cabinet, but its super lightweight and meant to be just as portable as the amps themselves. This little speaker cab is rated for 20 watts, just like the amps, and even at full blast the sound never degraded on me. The closed back adds a good bit of bass response to all of the amps. Seen below, I was shocked at the price!
I got to try out all of the new JOYO Bantamp models at our affiliate site, and some are brand new to the JOYO line. All of the new models fill a gap in the product line, and they each have their own unique character. At first glance, they may seem a little too simple for practical use, but the tones I was able to produce were outrageous for such a budget amp. These were my favorites, and they are in no particular order.
JOYO Bantamp VIVO: The High Gain Monster!
JOYO has plenty of high gain models, but the new VIVO has been my favorite so far. This is a two channel amp, and the clean channel has a bunch of headroom. I imagine you could use the clean channel for your own distortion from a pedal or overdrive, but by itself it sounds very clear if not a bit…sterile. This amp has a bit of a mid-scoop in both of the channels, and its less obvious with the clean channel. But the clean channel is not what this amp is made for!
Once you flick the switch, the high gain channel is crazy powerful. There is no traditional EQ on the amp, and all you get is a drive knob and a tone control. But to be honest, with everything at noon, this little guy was rocking the place! The mid-scoop is great for chugs and big chords. My 7 string sounded particularly nasty with this amp. Sometimes you just need an amplifier to do one sound really well without any fuss at all, and the VIVO does metal shred really well.
Don’t let the 20 watts of power fool you, this is more like 20 watts of tube power. The VIVO has a ton of bass in the EQ, and it was literally shaking the walls with the JOYO speaker cab. It was a little bit strange and disorientating to look over and see this tiny rig that I had myself plugged into. It may look unassuming and small, but it gets ridiculously loud. I’m glad I brought my ear protection along this time.
It really is hard to say what “big” amp the VIVO is based on. From the colors, I would think it was trying to be like a 5150, but the sound is not really like that amp. This is more like a REVV, or another metal-focused amp that has a serious mid-scoop. The gain is almost too much past the 3 o’ clock setting, and the tone knob acts like a tone knob on a guitar. I left the tone right in the middle, and that seemed to be where the amp wanted to be.
The JOYO Bantamp VIVO is definitely targeted towards modern metal guitarists, and that’s why I tried a 7 string with it. The bass response is ridiculously tight, and I think JOYO created this little guy for down tuned riffing. It mimics the sound of a hot amp, with an overdrive in front of it, and I am impressed with how tight the response is. With a noise gate, this could be a modern metal rig that can open up new territory for you!
JOYO Bantamp Blue Jay: Clean & Overdrive Heaven
The Blue Jay model is the complete opposite of the VIVO and that’s exactly why I liked it. This is obviously trying to be a Fender amp, but there is a little more to it than that. The clean sound has that 60’s Deluxe sound, and my Schecter NJ Traditional loved this amp. With single coils, you get some really amazing tones that bloom when you play lead.
The JOYO Bantamp official site says that this amp is made for blues and jazz players, and I have to agree. You get a big, fat, warm clean tone even when the volume is cranked. If you start to add gain, you get some tame overdrive that sounds a lot like a certain blue BOSS pedal. I like metal as much as the next guy, but sometimes you need some dirty blues in your life.
I used a BOSS Octave pedal through the FX loop, and cranked the gain a little bit. This gave me that modern blues sound that people like Gary Clarke JR have made famous over the last decade. You can also dial up some White Stripes tones on this little guy, and the midrange is really front and center. Again, you don’t have a regular EQ section, just a tone knob. Once again, the amp seemed to like the tone knob right in the middle for the best sound. If blues or garage rock is your thing, this is the amp for you.
JOYO Bantamp Jackman II: A Versatile Powerhouse
All of the amps so far have been two channels, but the controls have been limited. The JOYO Jackman II has two channels that each have their own set of controls for gain, tone, and volume. This can be controlled with the single button foot switch that is included with all of the new XL series, and if I were going to gig any of these amps…it would be this one.
The regular OD channel can go from clean, to AC/DC crunch with the gain control. The tone on this channel sounded the best all the way up to me, and the channel has some pretty rich harmonics. Chords sound big, and it has plenty of midrange on tap. With the gain all the way up, you have enough bass response to coax out a little bit of chug, but overall this is for classic rock and rhythm playing.
Kick on the footswitch, and you get to the high gain setting. This channel is a total monster, and the distortion sounds much different than the first channel. You still have a mid-focused gain tone, but the bass response is much higher. This sounds a lot like a cranked up Marshall that EVH would have used. This is perfect for metal, or for big solos if you add a delay and reverb pedal. I am pretty simple when it comes to my stage setup, and I need to distinct channels. The Jackman II delivers!
New JOYO Bantamp Series: Wrapping up…
As you can see above if you click the images, these are priced really well. For $250 you could have your own little mini half stack. I think these are best used if you have more than one, though. For example, I would use the Blue Jay in conjunction with the VIVO and have several tones at my disposal. The two amps together still wouldn’t be as large as one tube head, and I think that’s the appeal. These are small, and easy to transport. Almost every gig will have a mic setup for your rig, and these amps will work great in that situation.
I would totally gig with one of these setups. The head/cab setup will cover just about any small to medium size gig you would be playing. Most venues will use a mic on your guitar cabinet anyway. But if there was no mic available, these are plenty loud enough for most shows. I loved having my big, Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier half stack when I was gigging. But it was absolute overkill at almost every show we played. I never got to really turn it up, and let loose.
But if you do have a big rig already, then the JOYO Bantamp series can be a perfect practice buddy at home. These sound like a real tube amp rig, and if you don’t want a cheap practice amp at home, these are a great option. You can use the Bluetooth for backing tracks at home, and jam out. But I would use this live, all day long.
There was one other new JOYO Bantamp called the “Atomic” that I tried and just didn’t jive with. It was based obviously on a VOX AC15, and for some reason, the AC series has just never been something I love. Sure, The Beatles and Brian May can make those amps sound awesome, but they just aren’t for me. I just didn’t jive with it, but maybe you will if you dig the VOX style tones?
I think the JOYO Bantamp series is an affordable solution for gigs where the stage is small, or you just don’t want to lug around a full rig. Every model has a dedicated FX loop for your pedals, so this is a perfect stand in for small gigs. I was surprised at all of the tones you can get out of these little guys. So if you need something portable for local gigs, you could do a lot worse than these little tube-based creatures!
Are the JOYO Bantamp guitar amps tube based?
The Bantamp series uses hybrid technology. This means that your preamp that makes the sound is made by a tube, but the amp is powered by a solid state power section.
Can I gig with a JOYO Bantamp?
The amp may only be 20 watts, but it can get really loud. Most gigs will use a mic for your guitar cabinet anyway, and if that is the case you would have no problem gigging with these amps.
Are the JOYO Bantamp models for practice?
You can definitely use the JOYO amps for practice sessions. The Bluetooth function allows you to play jam tracks from your phone or computer into the amp, and you can play along. The JOYO Bantamp can be a great practice buddy.