Dr. J belongs to the Joyo family. Joyo is one of those much talked about Chinese manufacturers, In the past couple of years, Joyo was quite successful in making cheap and decent pedals, albeit mostly clones of existing circuits. Now Joyo is taking its business to the next step with a new line of boutique effects; Dr. J pedals, made in China. I'll switch to corksniffer mode now.
Well it's an overdrive pedal, so you get the standard controls for Drive and Output, but also controls for High and Low, and a 3-way toggle to select between 3 different clipping stages. True bypass switch. In- and outputs on the side and the familiar Boss style 9V DC adapter plug. No battery lid.
Odd sized die-cast metal casing, it's a bit larger that a Boss compact pedal, a bit smaller than a 1590 Hammond casing, with what appears to be a polyethylene type pale green powder coated finish and white lettering in a dull typeface, MXR style knobs. The Green Crystal also has a red Status LED
Comes in a padded cardboard box.
Okay, it's obviously one of those "tube amp in a pedal" pedals, particularly a tweed amp. Pedal makers often claim that – typically after years of research - they finally succeeded to put the characteristic overdrive tone of a tube amplifier in a pedal. Clear, transparent, warm and natural, organic, dynamic, no compression all are terms that are often used in relation to such pedals. Most of the times, it's just a reinvented Tube Screamer.
Hmmm, I don't know about the whole transparency thing. In my opinion, most overdrive pedals will color your tone to some extent, and so does the Green Crystal. As a clean boost, it adds a little crisp and a bit of warmth as well. It definitely isn't tone neutral or transparent.
However, the Green Crystal isn't yet another Tube Screamer. You can get that classic mid-range hump if desired. But with the individual High and Low controls in conjunction with the toggle for 3 different clipping modes, it has far more tonal options and is quite versatile, it even takes a bit of fine-tuning to dial in the sound you want or to find the sweet spot. But it definitely has a lot of usable sounds, even for the most demanding overdrive aficionado.
The Drive control is very wide, going from extremely low all the way to high gain overdrive, a nice one. The Output control has plenty of volume on tap, the pedal can get so loud that it would have made sense to just add a foot switch for boost, always a useful mode to switch from rhythm to lead.
The toggle switch sort of functions as a low-mid-hi boost in a subtle manner, whereas the High and Low controls are very responsive and dramatically boost or cut the high and low frequencies and really breathe some life into your overdrive sound. Also, the wide tonal and drive gain makes this a user friendly pedal for any combination of guitar and amp. It will fit in and do what it's supposed to do.
So what have we got. Yet another boutique overdrive pedal to end that never ending search for tone. Nope, it's more yet another addition, to that never ending flow of overdrive pedals. It is quite a saturated market already with the Green Crystal trying to be the overdrive pedal that attempts to fulfill all your overdrive needs, of course it doesn't. No pedal can. But it really feels like you're having an extra channel on your amp. Quite useful. And effective. Not bad, not bad at all.
I suggest you try the Dr J. Green Crystal if you get a chance and decide for yourself whether it is the right choice for you. It will certainly appeal to tweed amp lovers, the Green Crystal will be an ideal pedal companion for blues and rock players.
Switching off corksniffing mode and I'll go play some guitar now.
- More info: Dr. J D50 Green Crystal Overdrive