Joyo Badass BanTamP

The lunchbox sized 50W bass amplifiier.

I was excited when Joyo was finally able to sell the bass guitar version of their BanTamP series of amps. They’ve done well with their guitar versons, so I wanted to see what all the hubbub was. Out of the box, I was very surprised at just how diminutive these amps are! Bantam is a small breed of chicken or duck, so I figured it would be little. I expected something about the same size as a loaf of bread, but this is a bit smaller, maybe the size of a bag of bagels. Mmmmm, bagels.

Inside the box, Joyo puts the usual goods, such as signal cable, power adapter, instructions; but this time we have a footswitch and an extra cable for connecting the switch to the amp. All nicely packaged. The perplexing thing is why the footswitch is even in there, because it’s for switching the compressor on and off. Yeah, I know. More on that later.

On the back of the amp, there’s the usual connections and also a Bluetooth antenna which is nice. You can easily pair this amp to your PC or mobile phone via Bluetooth and play the audio through the amp. Very handy for practicing; play your backing track from your phone or PC into the amp and jam along. Interesting that Joyo decided to have an effects loop on these series of amps, but I don’t know of anyone who is a bass player that actually uses an effects loop. As another reviewer said, he thinks an XLR output would have been a better choice and I agree. To be able to use this as a DI-type box would be huge. More on this later. Seeing a trend here?

Stock image from Joyo’s website. L to R: Bluetooth antenna, DC power, speaker out, footswitch, headphones, FX loop.

As for Joyo stuff, I really like most of the things I’ve bought and still use quite a bit of Joyo products on a regular basis at gigs. My band gigs out just about every week. Their stuff is made well and I’ve only had a couple of things break and since one of them was under warranty, it was replaced without issue. I think their weakness is market research or asking musicians what they want instead of putting things into products that aren’t that useful.

Case in point: Joyo’s Jem Box III. Spec-wise, it’s great. XLR and 1/4″ outputs, built in expression pedal + a jack for another, USB, users can import impulse response (IR) files for amp or cabinet emulation. There’s even a great Windows and Mac companion app. What’s the downfall? They haven’t updated the software since it was released in early 2019. Why? It’s such a simple fix for polishing an already great product. I was so excited to buy and use one because I use Joyo pedals across my bass pedalboard. Unfortunately, there aren’t many options built in if you’re a bass player. Sure, you could make your own, or import some IRs, but it would not be difficult to hire a pro bass player or two to create some usable settings and maybe ask these musicians what kinds of things they’d like on a product.

So that brings us back to the BanTamP Badass bass amp. A switchable compressor? Why? Why would you turn that off and on? That of all things? Volume boost or gain channel control from the footswitch? Sure! How about a mute or FX loop on/off? That way if you had a tuner in your FX loop you could mute the signal by turning the FX loop on. Work with me here.

So what’s my overall impression? I like it. It’s a good little amp. Is it perfect? No, but what is? If it had an XLR out on it, I would absolutely bring it to a gig and run my bass signal through it. I was able to dial in a pretty growly, good bass sound, so it’s definitely usable as a bass amp. But I’m not lugging a big head and cab to gigs anymore. Been there, done that. For testing, I actually plugged it into my cheese-wheel Leslie speaker and it sounded great! So it may be my go-to for my DIY Leslie project. As my dad would have said “That’s project 431 out of 500.”

Anyhew, I’ll definitely use it for practice. I wish the Bluetooth could pair to my AirPods. That would be really cool, but I think that’s more than just a software update. I can always use the FX out to go into my audio interface and record some stuff that way. If you like Joyo stuff a small footprint and not a lot of bells and whistles, this is a great, little amp! Go for it! We can hope they do a Mark 2 model with an improved featureset.

October, 2021