Klonnoisseur Josh Scott explains how his curiosity in Blues Driver mods inadvertently grew into JHS Pedals…
1. What was the first pedal you built and how did the design come about?
“I was so interested to learn about Robert Keeley’s modifications and why my modified Boss BD-2 Blues Driver sounded so different from the stock one I owned that I got a notebook, took them both apart and labelled what the differences were.
“When I first started, I had absolutely no knowledge of what I was doing - at that point I didn’t even know what a resistor was! But I bought an electronics book, did some internet research and started studying schematics and cloning circuits of pedals I really liked. I’ve been constantly learning and still am to this day.”
2. What do you think makes JHS unique?
“There is a bit of mystery to that, I think. I didn’t intend to get into pedal building the way I did; I never said, ‘Here is my 10-year plan of what I want this to be.’ I got into it because I love guitars and effects. Guitars can be, and should be, fun. We build everything passionately. We all really go for it, because we love it.”
3. What’s your best-selling pedal and why do you think that is?
“The best-selling pedal, historically, is the Morning Glory, which has now evolved into its fourth version. That was my take on the classic black-box Marshall Blues Breaker pedal. It’s pretty much neck and neck with the Angry Charlie right now.
“We just released the Bonsai, which is a multi-mode Tube Screamer type overdrive; all the vintage and rare ’Screamer circuits in one pedal, and that’s probably going to steamroll a lot of the things we’ve done previously… in a good way!”
4. Which notable players/bands have used JHS pedals?
“There are so many great musicians that I’ve looked up to for years using my pedals. One of my favourite bands is Spoon and they helped inspire what became the Colour Box with some of the sounds I heard on their records. The band - particularly Britt [Daniel] - then started using the Colour Box live for some of the sounds they got in the studio.”
5. What’s new on the horizon with JHS?
“We’re going into our 11th year and this year is going to be one of the most exciting in terms of R&D and getting stuff out into the world. We’re currently diving into a little more digital stuff and getting into some things that haven’t been done before.”
6. Tell us a secret about effects you’ve discovered...
“A fuzz almost demands you play it like it’s its own instrument. Try not to put an effect on your ’board and do what you always do - instead, put an effect on your ’board and see where it takes you. I’ve got racks of overdrives and the similarities between them all are very, very close. You have soft or hard clipping and you can’t reinvent that concept, but every builder can add their own personal touch.”
7. What’s your best tone tip?
“Invest in a good, clean power supply, like a Voodoo Lab Pedal Power, or one of the new Strymon power supplies. The sound of your drive pedals, particularly, will be much more consistent.”
8. Name some common mistakes guitarists make with effects...
“Pedal placement is really important. A common error people make is not putting their fuzz first in the chain - that’s a massive thing. If you don’t, it won’t sound like it should. Compression is a debatable one, but I’ve rarely seen anyone want the result of putting them after drive pedals. Compression before drive, in my opinion, is best. But it’s good to try different things, like tremolo after reverb - that’s like the sound of a Fender amp. Also, uni-vibes are so much better after dirt.”
9. What new pedal triggers your GAS most now?
“I’ve fallen in love again with Mike Fuller’s Fulltone stuff. He’s just put out the Full-Drive 1 again, which is amazing. His new pedal, the Mas Malo, is - and I don’t say this lightly - probably the best overdrive/fuzz/distortion I’ve heard in years. I was blown away by it. I was shocked; it’s a spectacular pedal!”
10. What’s your favourite vintage pedal and why?
“The Boss DM-2 Delay is just great, and the Foxx Tone Machine is a favourite of mine, but I’m a huge Klon Centaur fan. I use it as a clean boost and for overdrive stacking. I’ve collected all the different versions over the years; I’ve got seven of them and I own unit number 2.”