JangleBox: This review is of the original black model made in the USA. I have not tested the cheaper silver model made overseas, and I have also not tested the larger JB2 or "Byrds Tribute" JB2, and the comments I've read from other users have made it a very low priority for me to review those. A new JB3 model is supposed to come out soon, so maybe I will got that one a shot.
This is a neat unit, intended specifically to give guitars the bright jangley tone and shimmery sustain heard in tunes by the Beatles, the Byrds, Tom Petty, the Pretenders, etc. I liked the idea of bright shimmery upper harmonics on bass tones (especially fretless), so I had to try it. The good news is that the tone really is killer, it seems to add rich fullness and shine to the tone evenly across all notes. It is capable of both subtle and extreme compression (high Gain settings squish a lot like an Orange Squeezer), and it retains the note attack nicely. It also provides a terrific amount of added sustain.
The bad news, as you might expect, is the noise. The Janglebox and the Black/White Fingers just slay me, because they would be the most awesome-sounding compressors ever if it weren't for all the noise. After a couple hours of experimenting, I found the setting that gave me the best signal-to-noise ratio (gain 1:00, attack 9:00); if on a loud stage, or using a cab with no tweeter, that would have been a very nice tone. But with a tweeter, or through headphones, the noise level was still way too high. And the very long sustain is accompanied by a serious incoming swell of hiss.
The pedal has a switch for Dark, Normal, and Bright tones; the Dark setting does roll off most of the noise, but it also rolls off enough of the highs to essentially cancel the whole point of this pedal. For comparison, the Boss CS3 gives just as much of a chimey bright tone, with noticeably lower noise, and it is half the price. The only things the Janglebox does better than the Boss are longer sustain and fuller/warmer low end. I guess it's up to the user to decide if they can work with the noise to achieve these tones (it might really be worth it depending on your setup).
The footswitch is "true bypass". The construction quality overall is quite good, and the housing is the "medium" size of Barber and Diamond. It runs on 9V DC, however the DC power jack is center positive (the reverse of most Boss-type jacks), so any ground noise from other center-negative pedals (like tremolo clock noise) may be audible through this pedal.
Price in USD: The original model is $130-$150 used, no longer available new. The silver model goes for $185 new.
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