Joyo DC-15There are many practice amplifier options out there for guitarists seeking to refine their technique. A lot of them offer modelling technology for a wide variety of tones, added effects, and lots of knobs for tweaking the sound. Not a lot of them include built-in rhythms to work one of the most important aspects of music: groove. The Joyo DC-15 is an exception to this rule and might interest guitarists with wide-ranging musical tastes, thanks to many tonal options.

I’ve recorded various sound examples of this amplifier. I’ve also included a few of the built-in drum tracks to give you an idea of what’s possible. The video also contains my first impressions of the unit.

Lots of useful options

The DC-15 is really full of features. First of all, its compact frame will make it easy to store and carry around. Its small speaker is fed by a 15 Watt power section, which is plenty for use at home. The adapter is integrated in the circuit, so you have a permanent cord attached to it. This is often ideal: fewer things to possibly forget. Apart from the guitar input, there’s also a headphone out and auxiliary in.

8 amp modelsThe unit has 8 amplifier models to choose from. These are based on widespread tones originating from popular guitar products. There are two clean options (including a selection based on the Roland Jazz Chorus), three crunch sounds (two of them emulating very popular stomp box pedals), and three distorted models. They cover an enormous amount of sonic territory, and every sort of guitarist will be able to dial in what they need. The controls include a gain knob (to adjust the amount of saturation), a volume potentiometer, and a tone. This latter is the only EQ-type control that you’ll be able to use to fine-tune the character of your tone.

You can activate two different effects at a time on the DC-15. You have a timed based effects section that lets you choose between delay and reverb. There’s also a modulation options which has chorus, flanger, phaser, and tremolo. These are the most common modulation types that are added to the guitar. All the effects are adjusted with a single knob that adds in the effect more and more as you turn it up.

2 effect sectionsFinally, there’s the rhythm section. You’ll be able to choose from 36 different drum patterns to help you practise. These cover a variety of styles including rock, pop, dance, heavy, funk, and more. A minimalist button layout lets you turn it on or off, choose the track, and adjust its level and tempo.

Great, versatile sounds and options

There’s a lot to like about the DC-15. It has a lot of different models to choose from, and this will keep you occupied for a while. The clean models have a nice variety of flavours. I was able to dial in thinner, more percussive tones like you would find in funkier styles. But it was also possible to get thicker, more luscious sounds—perfect for arpeggiated parts or jazz melodies and chords.

For those that need multiple options for distorted tone, you’ll surely be satisfied with what’s available here. There are three crunchy models that are perfect for blues, classic rock, or simply anything that needs a natural, overdriven colour. The gain control delivers a wide variety of possibilities, from a little bit of hair to a true wailing rock & roll guitar sound. For those that like it heavy, well the three distorted options really give you unique sounding voicings. You’ll find punchy rhythm sounds, scooped tones for chugging along, and heavily saturated lead settings. Thanks to a simple control scheme, it’s quite quick to set up and get to playing, which I like a lot. The sound examples in the video took mere minutes to prepare.

Lots of sound options

A wide range of effects

The effect sections in the DC-15 offer varied possibilities. Joyo has the tendency to blend in the effects very loudly and with a long tail. Even at minimal settings, they are quite noticeable and can be distracting. That being said, it’s exceptional and nice to have them at your disposal. With some experimenting, it’s possible to craft useable tones. The delay is particularly fun to use for over the top solos, while the reverb adds a cavernous ambience for a dramatic atmosphere. Too bad you can only select one of them at a time.

Rhythm tracks included

Rhythm TracksThe rhythm tracks are where the DC-15 really offers something different. It includes 36 different accompaniments, in various styles. I’ve used the straight ahead ones for the video I recorded, but there are some more adventurous selections, like shuffle, hip-hop, and swing rhythms. While I can’t say that all of them are perfectly usable (the programming on a few of them just doesn’t groove all that much), the ones that work are great for practice. This will help you lock in with a drum machine and tremendously improve your rhythm.

You can also set the levels independently of your guitar signal, which will help you find a good balance for your practice. You can also adjust the tempo or the speed of the track, so you won’t be locked into a single speed tempo, thankfully. It’s a bit hard to set the volume and tempo, unfortunately. Since you need to hold the up or down buttons for a change, it’s difficult to precisely select what you want.

Great tool for home practice

DC-15 back panelThanks to its different models, effects, and the drum tracks, it’s hard not to recommend the DC-15. When you take into account the price, it’s a very versatile tool that has a lot going for it. While it’s a bit too small and quiet to play with a full band, it’s an awesome tool to work on your chops and rhythm at home. You’ll have plenty of sounds at the tip of your fingers, and you can get creative with additional effects. It’s also very portable, so you’ll have an excellent sound arsenal at your disposal, no matter where you go.

You can find the Joyo DC-15 as well as other products by Joyo on BestBuy.ca.