Menatone J.A.C: This boutique/handmade pedal was out of production for a while, but Menatone will be re-releasing it with a new look in the near future. The initials JAC stand for "JFET Audio Compression". JFETs are a type of transistor that is often used to emulate the sound of tube gain stages, but they can also be used as a dynamic gain-reduction element, as in the classic Urei 1176. So I thought since this says "JFET compression" on the label that the JFETs would provide the compression--but in fact the JAC is an optical compressor, and the JFETs are there to simulate tube gain. Supposedly the JAC design is based on the Urei LA2A (a high-end vintage tube comp) but only the concept is similar, not the components or the sound.
That said, it sounds really good. There is no loss of highs or lows. The mids seem a bit scooped though, so if you like that "smiley face EQ" then this pedal will sound fantastic to you. The main reason the mids sound that way is that the high end is boosted a little and has a sharp, biting quality that really cuts. The tone is otherwise clear and full. The JFETs do not provide overdrive or much of the "vintage" coloration or fatness most people think of as "tube tone". All the posts repeating how the JAC is based on the LA2A are misleading in that way--you might buy it expecting a really fat old-school sound from this pedal. Instead I would describe it as crisp, aggressive, and bright, with about the same amount of warmth as the Diamond and Demeter pedals.
Because the ratio can be set quite high, and the attack is fast, this pedal is very good at controlling big signal spikes and will even work for slappers. In fact the bright crisp tone and action, combined with the limiting, make this pedal a killer for slap. The gain stages are a bit noisy, so you will get lower noise by feeding it a very clean input signal, and using low/moderate gain and volume settings. Increasing the Gain can significantly increase your sustain, by effectively lowering the threshold, but as with any other sustainer you get more noise that way as each note decays. The compression attack is snappy and the release is long and smooth.
The Gain knob allows this pedal to work well with just about any level of output from your instrument. I wish more comp pedals had a good input level control like this. The footswitch is not true bypass, but the bypass is very clean. The construction quality is pretty good. This older pedal I'm testing is in the same "medium sized" housing as the Diamond or BBE, but the photo on the Menatone website shows the new version will be in a smaller housing like the Demeter or Keeley.
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