Pro Audio

JHS Pedals: from mods in the attic to a leader in boutique guitar pedals

JHS Pedals has earned its place in the upper echelons of the boutique pedal market. Let’s delve into their pursuit of simplicity, and building front-end tone.

From humble beginnings in Jackson, Mississippi, modifying BOSS pedals under the monicker of JHS Mods, Joshua Scott has built a force in the world of boutique pedal manufacturing. Combining a love for guitar and simplicity, Scott has brought a no-nonsense approach to pedal manufacturing and tech. Today, their renowned overdrive, preamp, and tone-shaping circuit designs have earned their place among studio equipment, not just pedalboards.

Up there in the ranks of manufacturers like Walrus Audio, Death by Audio, and Strymon, JHS Pedals have been creating collections in recent times like the Legends of Fuzz, and the latest, ‘3 Series’ lineup. We think it’s time to flesh out what JHS Pedals have to offer across their 14-year production line.

jhs pedals

Humble beginnings

Scott began in 2007 by fixing up a flimsy BOSS Blues Driver switch plate. There began his fascination with how pedals and their circuits work. Fuelled by wanting to create pedals in a way that complements his guitar playing, he shared this with the world. Soon, Scott had created a small line of modded boss pedals, that sold out of his friend’s guitar store in Jackson MS.

Some of the earliest mods to be sold were the ‘Lexi Drive’ a modded DS-1 and the ‘Blu Drive’ a modded Blues Driver. These early designs were outfitted with a simple JHS mods label slapped on the front. All of these were completed on a folding card table in an upstairs attic room, which was his method for a good two years.

The pedals that put them on the map

In 2008, Scott delves into building his own pedals and thus changes to JHS Pedals to better reflect his product line. He brought out the ‘Morning Glory‘ a reinvention of one of his favourite Marshall bluesbreaker pedals. Designed to be super transparent, it’s a simple three-knob overdrive, that is now in its fourth version. This fourth version features a bright-cut, two times more headroom, a gain toggle, and a remote gain selector.

Over the following two years, demand was on the rise and JHS’s second relocation is at hand, as well as a collaboration with Drew Shirley of Switchfoot. Scott and Shirley come up with the ‘Bun Runner‘ a now discontinued fuzz pedal combining the JHS Astro Mess and a modified tonebender.

The Bun Runner featured a gate switch, a bias knob, and incredible versatility. Claiming the ability to do classic fuzz sounds, to modern synth-type tones, it quickly gave JHS the attention it deserved.

How good are preamps

Between getting products into more retailers, collaborating with Chicago Music Exchange, and write-ups from outlets like Premier Guitar. JHS Pedals unveiled the ‘Colour Box V1’ at the 2014 winter NAMM. The Colour Box is a nod to the way a piece of gear can have a significant effect on music, and not just guitars. Thus the Colour Box has found itself in the hands of producers and engineers, for a variety of instruments and applications in the studio.

The second edition boasts being a preamp, EQ, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, and a DI box. JHS took it one step further, to be able to mould your guitar amp to sound like other amps! Featuring a Pre-Vol knob that’s basically a ‘drive’ control, typical master volume control, and a five-position stepped gain switch. Other notable features include a three-knob EQ stage, and a hi-pass filter, which can help sculpt those great ‘straight into the desk’ guitar tones that we’ve all heard.

For a little snippet on how to utilise the Colour Box to shape your guitar amp check out this demonstration video by Scott himself!

The JHS legacy

The brand of JHS has gone on to create products in collaboration with the likes of Keeley Electronics, an overdrive/compression named the Steak and Eggs. In 2016 announcing their debut into the world of pro audio with the JHS 500 series outboard unit, with more included since.

More innovative overdrive products such as the ‘Bonsai‘, a tribute to the Tube Screamer. Featuring a rotary switch that has nine selectable tube screamer models from the classic, rare, vintage, and hard-to-find models. Each mode painstakingly cloned from original units, to bring you a collection of replicas, not mods.

With so many pedals on offer from JHS, not just drive and noise pedals, there’s just too much to go through. Head to the JHS Pedal website to see a full selection of the weird and wonderful things they do.