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9 of the Best JHS Pedals

Analog DelayBig Muff Style FuzzBlues Driver Style OverdriveBoostBoost and OverdriveBrown Sound DistortionChorus and VibratoDelayDistortionDriveEffects Pedal MakersFuzzJHS PedalsMarshall Style DistortionModulationOverdriveSilicon FuzzTremoloTubescreamer Style OverdriveUni-Vibe and Vibe+-
2018GPX9BestJHSPedals700-min.jpg

You may have noted that JHS has gotten quite a lot of coverage on this site - being mentioned on no less than 47 different posts, and featuring pedals in just about every category. Yet to date I have only 2 of these in my collection - the two ’greatest hits’ editions as I call them, or the Bonsai Multi-Tube-Screamer and Muffuletta Multi-Big-Muff.

 

In fact I have more JHS-modded pedals than JHS original - these include the recent 4 EHX Big Muff Compacts, the Satisfaction Fuzz and Soul Food, plus the modded Boss DS-1, ProCo Rat and 4-Star modded King of Tone. I would also snap up a modded Klon KTR if I came across one on Reverb.com.

 

I’ve often wondered why Josh doe not do more special editions of his own pedals - as for a pedal-tweaker like me - the more clipping and voicing and tone-sculpting options the better. I would really love limited edition Bonsai and Muffuletta pedals with active 3-band EQs!

 

In any case, I digress slightly as there is much to love about Josh Scott’s core line of pedals - as you can see of course by how many times I’ve featured them on my site. There are actually 3 pedals here that I’m very likely to add to the collection relatively soon. The excellent V2 or @+ Andy Timmons Signature JCM800-style pedal with separate boost switch; then the rather tasty V2 Kilt Expandora clone - part of me really wants to see that also with the boost switch that the bigger V1 had - but it’s still a great pedal, and finally - the V2 Unicorn Vibe is my favourite from the recent Uni-Vibe style pedal roundup, although I really wish this had stereo outputs too.

 

As mentioned, I have plenty of love for the Bonsai and Muffuletta, and they both get regular rotation in my pedal-chain although they aren’t necessarily my favourite favourite pedal within their respective categories - still really great all-round dirt pedals.

 

Finally, there is a quartet of really smart pedals which though I have preferred alternatives for each - even though these are all great in their own right and should be rightly considered within their categories. For Chorus I prefer the Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl, Boss DC-2w Dimension C and Neunaber Inspire - although the Emperor V2 wins some series points for its second tap-tempo footswitch. I also see the Kodiak as a really decent sort of second-string Tremolo which is fantastic in its own right, but not quite as good as my Chase Bliss Gravitas or Stone Deaf Tremotron - and I have probably another couple of preferences that I would put ahead of the JHS for my own needs - such as the Coda Effects Montagne, Flower Pedals Dandelion, Native Audio Heat Wave and Swindler Effects Red Mountain.

 

I really don’t need to add much about the Morning Glory Bluesbreaker inspired overdrive - it is most likely the most popular of all JHS pedals and has a huge following, but I already have a King of Tone, Wampler Pantheon and Snouse Black Box 2 which cover similar territory with a few more bells and whistles. The Panther Cub is also an excellent compact analogue delay - but here again I have several preferences in the compact category - including the 2 Chase Bliss options and the Stone Deaf Syncopy - none of those will shift my Empress EchoSystem or Strymon TimeLine in any case even though once more they are all very decent and multi-talented representatives of their genres.

 

So the reason I don’t have more of these in the collection is that I already have preferred alternatives that preclude the JHS equivalents from getting a slot on the rotation. That said, I will most likely be adding the newer Andy Timmons signature at some stage - while I may wait to see if we get an updated Kilt pedal, and if something dramatic happens in the Uni-Vibe genre to finally deliver the perfect pedal for my requirements!

 

Pedals are listed alphabetically by name:


The @+ or Andy Timmons Signature Drive V2 - £219

I've long had my eye on both the JHS Angry Charlie and Andy Timmons pedals, and the inclusion of a separate boost switch on the latest Andy Timmons incarnation really swings it for me - I'm something of a sucker for dual-footswitch compact pedals, and drives and distortions in particular. I have plenty of alternatives already for this category, but feel this would be a useful alternative, and I fully intend to add this one at some stage this year - for rotation within the principal MI Effects Super Crunch Box slot - which also has backup from the Suhr Riot and Bogner Burnley to name a few. Great sounding distortion though which is now more versatile than ever.


Bonsai 9-way Tube Screamer Style Overdrive - £219

This is a fantastic 'greatest hits' Tube Screamer compilation pedal as such - featuring authentic analog circuit replications for the Boss OD-1, Ibanez TS808, Ibanez TS9, Ibanez Metal Screamer, Ibanez TS10, Exar OD1, Ibanez TS7, Ibanez TS808 Keeley Mod, and Ibanez TS9 JHS Mod. My favourite flavour here is the Polish Exar one - and this pedal retained a slot in my pedal-chain for quite a few months, although it has been rotated out right of this moment. It's still nevertheless a fantastic 'Tube Screamer' and essential for fans of the genre - as both a reference piece, and as an experimental pedal for figuring out which is your favourite type of Tube Screamer - there are other Screamer types which give you more tone-sculpting ability and versatility, but this one is wholly fantastic in and of itself.


Emperor V2 Chorus - £195

JHS issued 5 fantastic pedals for Winter NAMM 2018 and they are all featured in this listing, including this tap-tempo chorus. It's for sure a great pedal of its type, although I have my own preferences in this category - which include the Boss DC-2w Dimension C, Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl, and Neunaber Inspire - which are probably just a touch ahead in the pecking order for me. The Emperor Chorus though does sound great, and it's the only one beside the Chase Bliss to offer tap-tempo at this level.


Kilt V2 Overdrive - £179

With its rich ZZ Top heritage it's a surprise that the Bixonic Expandora - particularly its 2000r incarnation does not have more clones. There are the very occasional made-to-order boutique version of this, but the only generally available version of this pedal is JHS's Kilt - which in some ways I prefer in its V1 medium-enclosure incarnation with it separate boost switch. I really desire an Expandora type pedal, and am not sure whether to stick or twist on this in the hopes that something better may materialise. I'm also torn between the slimline form factor of the above picture compact, versus its more versatile predecessor! Decisions decisions ...


Kodiak Tremolo - £195

I featured this in my fairly recent Tremolo roundup, where I already have a number of favourites. I already own the Chase Bliss Gravitas, Stone Deaf Tremotron and modded Boss TR-2 and have a further slew of cool tremolos with extended feature sets. The Kodiak is not that unique in feature set with its tap-tempo footswitch, as several now offer that option - and have second Harmonic Tremolo mode or stereo outputs and other advantages. And while the Kodiak is a really solid entry here, it's not quite at the top of this category.


Morning Glory Overdrive V4 - £195

There's no question that this is one of the very best Bluesbreaker inspired type pedals and already has legions of dedicated followers - which I believe make this the best-selling JHS pedal of all-time. I however already have the slightly more versatile Analog.Man King of Tone (funnily JHS 4-Star modded variety), Snouse BlackBox Overdrive with multiple clipping toggles, and the recent Wampler Pantheon. I may still acquire a Morning Glory at some stage, along with a VFE Blues King - also there is a newer BlackBox to mine with even more switches! - so I may add one of those too, but none of those are really a priority at the moment - with both the King of Tone and Pantheon pretty firm favourites in my pedal-chain.


Muffuletta 6-way Big Muff Style Fuzz - £219

This was my first JHS pedal and it still gets a fairly regular rotation in the chain - with its 6 flavours of Big Muff it's a great way for you to get into that style of fuzz - Civil War, Green/Black Russian, The Pi, Triangle, Ram's Head and JHS's own 2015 flavour - all very decent. There are other Muffs out there with more range on board - in terms of tone-sculpting and gain saturation, but there's nothing quite as neat as this for an overall picture of the genre. I'm definitely a Big Muff fan, and this one of several such that I favour. I still feel that this and the Bonsai are JHS's essential pedals in many ways!


Panther Cub V2 Analog Delay - £289

A classic analog Bucket Brigade Device delay with 1,000 ms of delay, tap-tempo with subdivisions and modulation. The only bugbear here really is the lack of modulation depth control - which was an issue raised on That Pedal Show. There are plenty of other BBD style delays at this level which offer the same functionality, but also have a depth control. My own favourites in this compact category are the Chase Bliss Tonal Recall and Thermal, Bondi Effects Art Van Delay, and Stone Deaf Syncopy. That's not to say the Panther Cub is not a decent proposition - it will be perfect for some, it's just lacking that one vital ingredient for others though!


Unicorn V2 Genuine Photocell Uni-Vibe Style Modulation - £195

I've only very recently completed my Uni-Vibe category overview, and the Unicorn is one of my 3 favourites, and the most likely of those for me to acquire, albeit I would really like stereo outputs too. There's no doubting the technical pedigree here though as this is the only tap-tempo enabled Uni-Vibe currently available as far as I'm aware. When I say that I mean - has an include second footswitch on the main unit - other pedals can be connected to separate mini switches - which is not the same thing really. The JHS Unicorn is a great sounding and functioning device at this level, but would be even greater with stereo outputs!


Final Thoughts

I have to say that I really admire Josh Scott's production output here - both his own pedals and his many modified varieties. The visual appeal with simple outline graphics and clever use of colours is exemplary, and he is always one to try to push the level of the technology - albeit he is not quite at the speed of say Alexander Pedals, Chase Bliss Audio and Red Panda - which seem to be somewhat moving away from the chasing pack currently.

 

I love the adherence here to analogue circuitry and componentry where possible, and the use of a smart digital control / switching layer where necessary. These are all by-and-large fairly simple pedals - which will appeal to those sorts of players, while I'm distinctly more of a Chase-Bliss-Aholic style 'Tweaker' who loves tiny attention to detail and lots of additional voicing and feature capabilities - I generally feel that JHS gets the balance of that pretty much spot on.

 

As stated above, I have no particular beef with any JHS pedal, and no hesitation in recommending each one, just sometimes there are other pedals in the same categories that are more to my liking. This means unfortunately that JHS ends up as my second or third-string choice on a variety of occasions - while I can whole-heartedly recommend the @+, Bonsai, Kilt, Morning Glory and Muffuletta - most everyone should be satisfied with those choices.

 

Of the current crop of JHS pedals I will very likely acquire the @+ first, then possibly the Unicorn Vibe V2 also - and I am sort of currently in a holding pattern for the Kilt - I may actually spring for a V1 of that - if I can find one of the right quality and at the right price!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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