First Impressions: Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive

Earlier this month, I revisited my first-ever tweed-tone pedal: Joyo’s Sweet Baby Overdrive pedal.

Many years have passed since I’ve played one of these. Is it going to be a happy reunion, or am I going to get a crash course in why I replaced it with my beloved Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive?

On the pedalboard: Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive, Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive, and the Klon KTR

What Did You Buy?

I bought a Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive pedal. I got it from the second-hand market.

Why Did You Buy it?

I had one of these a long long time ago. I can’t say exactly when, because I don’t have a record of when I bought it. I’m pretty sure I got mine no later than 2013. It was my first tweed-tone pedal, and it started everything for me.

I sold mine on the 5th Feb 2015, about four months after I bought the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive that’s also in the photo at the top of this blog post. This is years before I started this blog, and I’ve no memory, notes or recordings about how they compared.

During lockdown, I became curious enough to want to revisit this old pedal. The Sweet Baby Overdrive seems to have been discontinued a long time ago, and they’ve become very rare. I’ve waited over a year to get one – and thankfully for my wallet, two turned up on the second-hand market in the same week.

What Is Your Signal Chain Today?

Today, I’m using:

  • My PRS Paul’s Guitar (known as The Earl)
  • into the Axe-FX 3 (mostly for the digital tuner)
  • out to my pedalboard
  • back into the Axe-FX 3 (for amp, cab, delay and reverb)
  • out to my audio interface
  • and into my DAW

On the pedalboard, I’ve got the Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive, the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive that replaced it, and my Klon KTR. All three pedals are in separate loops on my Gigrig G2, so that they can’t interfere with the tone when I’m not using them.

Any noise you hear in the audio demos isn’t from the pedal. As much as I love my PRS Paul’s Guitar, it’s got very noisy pickups, and it’s being especially bad today for some reason I haven’t figured out yet. It’s worth it, though, because I think it’s also sounding great today.

How Does The Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive Sound?

My first audio demo is the Sweet Baby on its own. Here’s what that sounds like:

PRS Paul’s Guitar > Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive

The recording is a little bit of a surprise to me. In the room, it sounded a little thin and lightweight, lacking in low-mids. On the recording, though, I’m not hearing that. It sounds perfectly fine to me.

How Does It Compare To The Sweet Honey Overdrive?

This is the acid test, so to speak. How does it compare to the gold standard, the very pedal I replaced it with all those years ago: the Sweet Honey Overdrive? Here’s what that sounds like:

Paul’s Guitar > Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive

Comparing the two recordings, I am even more surprised. Again, in the room, the SHOD sounded quite a bit better than the Sweet Baby Overdrive did. There’s something in the mid-range that just feels absolutely spot-on with the SHOD.

But, comparing these recordings, there’s very little in it between the two pedals.

I can hear that I haven’t quite matched the settings between them both. The Joyo is set a little cleaner than the SHOD is. It may also be a little louder too.

Even so, I’m not sure that I could tell these two pedals apart in a blind test. I’m seriously impressed by that.

Does It Klon?

A good way to exaggerate the differences between two pedals is to stack them with other pedals. In my case, I love stacking overdrive pedals after my Klon KTR.

First up, here’s how the Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive sounds. I’ve gone with a different piece of music this time, to try and emphasise any differences in the lower-mids.

PRS Paul’s Guitar > Klon KTR > Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive

There’s no doubt about it: the Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive definitely stacks with the Klon KTR. And, for comparison, here’s my beloved SHOD too stacked with my KTR:

PRS Paul’s Guitar > Klon KTR > Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive

Once again, I’m really surprised by how close both pedals are. As before, in the room I thought I heard a clear advantage to the SHOD … but it’s just not there in the recordings.

What About With A Les Paul?

When I sold my original Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive, I was only playing Les Pauls, so let me grab mine and do a quick comparison.

There’s no point in recording this, because the result’s the same: the Sweet Baby Overdrive sounds incredibly close to the SHOD. To my ears, the SHOD has the edge, but I really doubt I could tell which was which in a blind test.

Final Thoughts

When it first arrived, I thought there was a night-and-day difference in how the Joyo Sweet Baby Overdrive compared to my beloved #1 Sweet Honey Overdrive. The audio demos, though, tell a very different story.

It does make me wonder: why did I sell it back in 2015, when I can’t hear a significant difference on the recordings that I’ve made today?

I’m going to stick with my beloved #1 Sweet Honey Overdrive, but it’s nice to know that I can throw the Sweet Baby Overdrive on a small board if I ever wanted to gig it or go jam round at a friend’s house.

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