JHS Pedals launches much-anticipated Madison Cunningham signature vibrato pedal, the Artificial Blonde

JHS Pedals and Southern Californian indie folk-rock artist and electric guitar tone connoisseur par excellence Madison Cunningham have collaborated on a new signature guitar effects pedal, the Artificial Blonde.

Having been in the works for some time now, with Cunningham previously describing it as a pedal that emulates the classic true pitch vibrato of vintage Magnatone tube amps, the Artificial Blonde is officially here, and it is quite something.

The Artificial Blonde presents players with two channels of three-dimensional pitch vibrato. This setup allows players to do as Cunningham does, toggling back and forth between two different vibrato sounds of varying intensities.

For many players, vibrato can be a special occasion effect, something to add depth and movement to an arpeggiated part, or to add a Leslie-esque sensibility to their sound. But Cunningham is a fiend for this kind of stuff. It is the cornerstone of her sound.

Just as some players might leave their boost or compressor pedals always on, she tends to give the Artificial Blonde an active role in the signal chain at all times – dialling up the intensity when the piece calls for it, and switching pickups on her Fender Jazzmaster to introduce or emphasise a new feel in a song.

The pedal has two footswitches. One turns the effect on and off. The other toggles between Vibrato A and Vibrato B.

There are Speed and Depth controls for both sides of the pedal. Global controls comprise a Volume knob and an EQ that operates as an active tilt control, where noon is flat, clockwise from there boosts highs and cuts lows and vice versa.

JHS Pedals Madison Cunningham Artificial Blonde

(Image credit: JHS Pedals)

Cunningham got turned onto JHS Pedals when recording her second album, Who Are You Now, with producer Tyler Chester. Her go-to was the Emperor Chorus/Vibrato, and the Artificial Blonde evolved out of that design when JHS Pedals founder and big boss Josh Scott was tech'ing for her and noticed that she A) always had it on and B) was always switching the settings between a subtle and not-so-subtle sound. 

A prototype was made – BLONDE? – and road-tested and then the final pedal turned out as the Artificial Blonde. Scott also put her pedalboard together.

“Simply put, this is Madison Cunningham in a box,” says JHS. “Just add a clean Fender-style amp and tune your guitar strings down!”

The Artificial Blonde can be run in mono or stereo. It takes a 9V DC pedalboard power supply, has a buffered bypass, and it is priced $249. And you can hear Cunningham demo it in the video above.

For more info, head over to JHS Pedals.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.