Quick Hit: Gervana Ji Wei Distortion Review

Five EQ bands and footswitchable mid-scoop boost converge in a stomp inspired by high-gain Mesas.

  Recorded with a Schecter Ultra III’s TV Jones Magna’Tron bridge pickup into the Ji Wei and then routed to a Jaguar HC50 miked with a Royer R-121 and a Fender Rumble 200 miked with a Shure SM57, both feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.


Decent variety of Mesa/Boogie-esque sounds. Respectable amount of gain.

Lacks high-end clarity and note articulation. Could use more low-end oomph. Somewhat noisy operation. Street:

Gervana Ji Wei Distortion


Ease of Use:



The Chinese-made Ji Wei aims to replicate the tones and functionality of high-gain Mesa/Boogie amps. The rightmost footswitch activates distortion dialed with the seven top-panel knobs—low, mid low, mid, mid high, high, level, and gain—and a 3-position toggle that’s labeled “boost” but seems more like a gain-level selector. The left stomp engages a mid-scooped boost inspired by the footswitchable 5-band EQ on many Mesas. Two internal trim pots adjust the boost’s low and high frequencies, and a third fine-tunes levels between the boost and distortion effect.

Ji Wei does indeed capture much of the scooped-and-saturated essence of a Boogie dialed to match corpse paint.

Ji Wei does indeed capture much of the scooped-and-saturated essence of a Boogie dialed to match corpse paint. However, I found myself expecting a little more fine-tunability from a 5-band setup. Even with the mid-high and high knobs cranked, treble lacked clarity and note definition. Likewise, though I simultaneously routed the pedal through both a brawny-sounding 50-watt combo with an oversized cab and a cranked 200-watt 1x15 bass combo, maxing Ji Wei’s low and low-mid knobs left me wanting more muscle. (I tested the same setup, with both amps at the same volume settings, with a simpler, similarly priced dual pedal featuring a gain channel and a separately footswitchable boost set to scoop mids, and achieved heavier, more articulate tones, even with less available gain.) Even so, the Ji Wei does yield a respectable variety of useful metal and hard-rock tones at a reasonable price.

Test gear: Schecter Ultra III, Jaguar HC50 running in tandem with Fender Rumble 200 1x15 bass combo

Plus, the Fontaines D.C. axeman explains why he’s reticent to fix the microphonic pickup in his ’66 Fender Coronado.

Read More Show less

The emotional wallop of the acoustic guitar sometimes flies under the radar. Even if you mostly play electric, here are some things to consider about unplugging.

I have a love-hate relationship with acoustic guitars. My infatuation with the 6-string really blasted off with the Ventures. That’s the sound I wanted, and the way to get it was powered by electricity. Before I’d even held a guitar, I knew I wanted a Mosrite, which I was sure was made of fiberglass like the surfboards the Beach Boys, Surfaris, and the Challengers rode in their off time. Bristling with space-age switchgear and chrome-plated hardware, those solidbody hotrod guitars were the fighter jets of my musical dreams. I didn’t even know what those old-timey round-hole guitars were called. As the singing cowboys Roy Rogers and Gene Autrey strummed off into the sunset, the pace of technology pushed the look and sound of the electric guitar (and bass) into the limelight and into my heart. Imagine my disappointment when I had to begin my guitar tutelage on a rented Gibson “student” acoustic. At least it sort of looked like the ones the Beatles occasionally played. Even so, I couldn’t wait to trade it in.

Read More Show less

Need an affordable distortion pedal? Look no further.

We live in the golden age of boutique pedals that are loaded with advanced features—many of which were nearly unthinkable a decade or so ago. But there’s something that will always be valuable about a rock-solid dirt box that won’t break your wallet. Here’s a collection of old classics and newly designed stomps that cost less than an average concert ticket.

Read More Show less