Best Amp Simulator? – The Joy of Joyo Emulation

Well, I do not make the claim that Joyo makes the best amp simulator pedals available. But for the prices, they compare splendidly to the Tech 21 models.

Simple Black and White Computer Graphic of Guitar Effects Pedal - Best Amp Simulator Page

Photo by diegomadero / CC0 1.0

My favorite guitar amp of all time is the Mesa Boogie Mark III. I’ve also owned the Mark IV, but there is something I like a little better about the Mark III. I’m not quite sure what it is. Could it be that it actually has a little bit more warmth and punch than the Mark IV? Or could it just be a sentimental feeling because I owned the Mark III first and during a time that was much more exciting and significant to my musical development? Regardless, the Mark III is my favorite, and I hope to own another one someday (currently kicking myself for selling the one I had). But until that day arrives, I have to make do with another option. So with limited funds, I have to go the way of emulation. I have an old Tube Works MosValve MV-962 power amp, which I love, so I’ve got that piece of the equation accounted for. For a while I was using the Mark III setting on my Behringer V-amp. It was definitely not the best amp simulator for me. It got the job done, but it wasn’t quite the sound I ultimately wanted to achieve. So I sold it and set out to find the best amp simulator… for what little money I had.

Then it was time for what I do best… research, research, and more research. I needed to find the best amp simulator in my extremely low price range. And I found some promising pedals to maybe get me “in the ballpark.” I knew a pedal was not going to give me the exact sound I was looking for. But I did find some interesting options: Tech 21 California, ToneBone Classic, and Dr. Boogey (a homemade pedal which is actually an emulation of the rectifier head, not the Mark Series). These three all seemed to have good reputations and a bunch of success stories. But there was yet another that I found. This pedal is the Joyo California, which happens to be a clone of the Tech 21 California pedal mentioned above, and at a fraction of the price. In fact Joyo has a bunch of pedals that are based on the Tech 21 Character Series: JF-14 American (Fender), JF-16 British (Marshall), JF-13 AC Tone (Vox), JF-17 Extreme (Rectifier), and of course the JF-15 California, which I’ve already mentioned. Since the Tech 21 California was my favorite among the pedals I initially found, I was instantly intrigued by the Joyo clone. And when I discovered this video on, I knew I was going to have to give it a go. It seemed that it would be the best amp simulator for the price. So I purchased it. And I must say, it sounds great through my Tube Works MosValve. I do not have a Mark III available that I can do a side-by-side comparison with, but so far the Joyo California has given me the main tone I’m looking for – a thick, full overdrive without too much brightness and with a clean bottom (no mud)… not too metal, but not too classic rock either. However, those sounds can also be dialed in if I ever get the urge. It is definitely the best amp simulator I have encountered.

In addition to the Joyo California, I’ve also decided to add the Joyo AC Tone to my setup to give myself a little more variety of crunch. I’m not going to say these Joyo pedals live up to the Tech 21 series 100%, but at the prices they sell for, they’re definitely fun pedals to experiment with. Try them out for yourself. Go into it with an open mind. Emulation will most likely never replace the sound of tube saturation, but it can still sound awesome.

JOYO JF-13 AC Tone (Vox Emulator) Guitar Effect Pedal - True Bypass


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JOYO JF-15 California(Boogie Mark Series Emulatior) Guitar Effects Pedal - True Bypass


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Joyo JF-14 American (Fender Simulator) Guitar Effects Pedal


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JOYO JF-17 Extreme Metal (Dual Rectifer) Guitar Effects Pedal With Boost - True Bypass


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