In this JangleBox JBX review, I will talk about this compressor’s features and compare it to the older JangleBox JB3 model. After reading this article, you will have an excellent understanding of how a compressor works and what makes the JangleBox JBX a great choice for capturing that elusive Beatles-era sound.
Who Is JangleBox?
JangleBox, LLC is a company in Reston, Virginia, that manufactures compressors as well as an EQ Boost and a noise gate. All their units are hand-made in the USA. Their compressors have been used by bands like The Byrds (Roger McGuinn), The Beatles (George Harrison), R.E.M., Tom Petty, and The Pretenders.
Their compressor is apparently designed from the onboard compressor circuit in the Rickenbacker 360/12RM, which was the original 12 string Roger McGuinn model guitar.
JangleBox claims their compressors are unlike any other unit on the market because they have the original bright and clean-ringing chime that creates the jangly even tone that The Beatles and The Byrds popularized.
Their primary marketing strategy is to partner predominantly with high-end boutique stores like Chicago Music Exchange and Willcutt Guitars, but they also make their products available through reliable music chains like Sam Ash. They will also sell directly to the end-user.
JangleBox features a rather extensive list of artists on their website that use their products, including Roger McGuinn and Mike Campbell.
What Is Audio Compression?
If you already know about audio compression, then you can skip to the next section entitled “What Is The JangleBox JBX” otherwise, keep reading for a basic explanation that will help you understand how compression works.
Ok, so here it is in a nutshell. Compression, also known as dynamic range compression (DNC), is a process during which an audio signal (a guitar sound, in our case) is electronically modified to reside in a certain dynamic range. This is achieved by increasing the volume level of notes that are too soft and decreasing the volume level of notes that are too loud.
The overall effect is to make your music very “even sounding” or “compressed.” The notes you play can also be made to sustain longer by making simple adjustments to the unit, which makes it a great effect to use when playing guitar solos!
For more info see What Is A Guitar Stomp Box – Attractive, Little, Tantalizing.
Types Of Compressors
This technology was originally only available for use in professional recording studios. Eventually, it became available as portable units that could be purchased by guitar players at an affordable price and plugged in between their guitar and amplifier.
Compressors are available either in a stand-alone stompbox configuration or as part of a multi-effects unit. You can also buy compressors as software “plugins” for digital recording studios.
Ways To Use A Compressor
Here is a video by Philip McNight that demonstrates how a compressor can be useful in your playing and shows you 5 basic ways to use a compressor.
A “Limiter” is different from a compressor in that it is used for a more specific application. It is a type of compressor that generally has a higher gain reduction ratio in a specific frequency range and produces a shorter attack time. This makes it useful for compression of a narrower frequency band. For example, it can be set to “limit” the volume and attack of notes above a certain pitch that might otherwise be too harsh-sounding.
What Is The JangleBox JBX, And How Is It Different From The JangleBox JB3?
The JangleBox JBX is JangleBox’s flagship compressor/sustainer. They basically did a re-design of their JB3 compressor to create a unit that is even more versatile and better sounding over a larger range of settings.
JangleBox wanted to reduce the overall noise level and switch-noise of their JB3. They addressed this by moving the EQ circuit after the compressor, which can make a noticeable difference even at high volume levels.
The JBX replaces the signal chain “mute” switch of the JB3 with a more useful treble boost, which helps reduce some of the dark overtones that compressors can add to the high register of the guitar. The treble boost makes a significant difference in your instrument’s lower end, especially when using semi-acoustic or acoustic guitars that tend to sound somewhat “dull” in the midrange and bass ranges when overly compressed.
The JBX also has more independently functioning attack and gain controls, which allows you to really dial down the compression level without losing output volume. This helps retain the JangleBox sound quality without sacrificing your playing dynamics.
Why Would You Buy The JangleBox JB3 Instead Of The JangleBox JBX?
You may be asking yourself, at a price difference of only 10 dollars more for the JangleBox JBX, why would you ever buy the JangleBox JB3? You might have your reasons, but I can assure you that I definitely would not!
With all that you get with the JBX, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would pass it up and buy the JB3 instead unless it is available at a price that can’t be beat and justifies the downgrade.
Some players may consider the JB3 over the JBX to utilize the signal chain mute for quickly isolating their sound output, but there are many easy workarounds for this, like using an A/B box.
Who Is The JangleBox JBX For?
The JangleBox JBX is for the guitar player that is looking for that special 60’s-era sparkly jangly sound that is most reminiscent of music that used 12 string electric guitars, especially Rickenbackers.
If you like this sound, it will work with any guitar and amplifier configuration, but It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right settings to suit your particular taste.
This compressor won’t necessarily replace your favorite unit if you play stuff like metal or country. It is definitely a bit of an “acquired taste,” so make sure you try before you buy.
Features And Benefits
Here are some of the things you should consider before buying a compressor. JangleBox offers several models to choose from but if you have the money then here’s what their top-shelf unit has to offer.
What Sets The JangleBox JBX Aside From Other Compressors
The JangleBox JBX, like the JB3, is essentially a two-sided compressor. It has separate bass, treble, and gain controls to contour the tone and volume (amplitude) of your guitar signal before and after the device compresses it. There is also a common “attack” knob that adjusts the level of aggressiveness of the unit’s output.
By having separate “T-Boost” and J-Boost” switches, you can use the unit as a dedicated compressor, treble booster, or both simultaneously. This is a convenient feature and is great for those “over-the-top” guitar solos that really cut through the mix!
Like the JangleBox JB3, the JBX has an updated IC chip that is quieter and more stable. It also has dual mono outputs, so it can run through to separate signal chains or amps simultaneously.
The JangleBox JBX Can Save You Money And Pedal Space
The JangleBox JBX is like two pedals in one because it has the EQ boost built right into it, so you don’t need their JangleBox J Boost EQ volume pedal. This can save you some money and space on your pedalboard. It really helps you run your compressor “full-throttle,” making the booster an indispensable addition to the pedal.
JangleBox JBX Specifications
Dimensions: 5.625” W x 4.625” H x 1.56” D (1432mm x 101.6mm x 40mm)
Recommended Power Adaptor (NOT included): Use a 9 Volt, 100mA, DC Adaptor with a 2.1mm x 5.5mm barrel, pin-negative
Note: Pin-negative polarity, which is the industry standard, is used on all JangleBox products except the original (red-lettered) JangleBox compressor that used a pin-positive polarity.
Warranty: One year from the date of purchase.
What I like About The JangleBox JBX
It’s not difficult to love the JangleBox JBX. It has a great uniquely voiced sound that fills a compressor niche that not many if-any other compressors can handle. This device has sonic goodness to spare with a beautiful “spacy” sound.
I always prefer products that are made right here in the good old U.S.A. The compressor’s internal components are very high quality, and each unit is hand-assembled, just like back in the old days! The JangleBox JBX features a sturdy case with a great purple sparkle finish that makes me feel like breaking out my tied-dyed shirt, headband, and bell-bottom pants.
True bypass helps keep your guitar signal strong and pure-sounding. I am usually reluctant to buy newer-generation stompboxes that don’t feature true bypass, although I will readily make an exception when it comes to vintage devices.
The company claims that their units sound “glorious” when using a 12 string guitar and specifically a Rickenbacker, which totally makes sense. They also mention that guitars with single-coil pickups have a better sound profile than those with humbucking pickups. In point of fact, I love the way the JangleBox JBX sounds with a Telecaster and Strats sound great as well, especially if you put the unit first in the signal chain (just after the guitar)!
I like that JangleBox always seems to be thinking ahead and updating their products, in this case, with a new IC chip and redesigned circuit path.
By all accounts, their user support is pretty good, although I have not had any experience with it personally.
What I Don’t Like About The JangleBox JBX
At a list cost of $325, the JangleBox JBX may be out of many guitarists’ price range. That doesn’t mean the product is not worth the money, but it is a limiting factor.
JangleBox claims that their pedals do go on sale, especially around the holidays, and they will send you a notification if you join their mailing list, which is very cool!
They will allow you to return a JangleBox pedal within five days of receipt but charge you a twenty-dollar “restocking fee,” which is not so cool.
JangleBox has significantly reduced its compressor’s noise by redesigning its circuitry and adding a new IC chip. Even so, the JBX still can be fairly noisy at certain settings, especially when running the compressor and treble boost together. They make a noise gate called the “J-Gate” that will go a long way to solving the problem, but that will set you back another $225.
The JangleBox JBX can run on a 9V battery or power adaptor and comes with a 9-volt battery pre-installed. The power adaptor is not included with the unit’s purchase, but to be fair, very few stompboxes actually include one. Still, for the price of this unit, it would be a nice addition.
Most people who have a big pedalboard these days use a single high-quality power supply to run all their units, improving performance and lowering the noise floor.
A comprehensive JangleBox manual that outlines specific settings for classic sounds would definitely be preferable to the scant documentation that comes in the box, especially on a device that has so much potential.
All in all, there’s really not much to dislike about the JangleBox JBX or any of their other products, for that matter.
Beware Of Poorly Designed And Cloned Substitutes!
There are several cheaper compressors with similar claims that don’t measure up to the JangleBox JBX or any of their products! There are also generic clones available on large independent-sales websites like eBay. Some of these units are homemade, and their poor design sounds awful!
Always remember that when purchasing musical equipment, as with pretty much everything else in life, you usually get what you pay for. Great sound can often be the inspiration you need to take you in a totally unexpected and new musical direction.
In the world of compressors, there many more choices for products than there are individual applications. One company that definitely stands out is JangleBox. They have essentially created a compressor with its own unique and identifiable voice, which comes in two flavors, their classic JangleBox and the JangleBox JBX.
The JangleBox is their standard “meat and potatoes” unit that will create that elusive 1960’s compressed “jangle” for guitarists on a budget, while their JangleBox JBX is their deluxe model that was upgraded from their JangleBox JB3.
If you are looking for a stompbox to add to your collection that will make your music stand out, then the “delightfully quirky and Beatle-Esque” sound of a JangleBox JBX might just be “your on-all-the-time pedal.” 12-string Rickenbacker optional but definitely recommended.
Tell Us What You Think
Please leave a comment below if you enjoyed this JangleBox JBX review or want to leave your own personal review.
If you have any questions about this JangleBox product, I will be happy to help you.
- Do you use a compressor in your playing?
- Have you used a JangleBox compressor, and did you like it?
- Would you buy a JangleBox product after reading this JangleBox compressor review?