New Boutique Guitar Effects Pedals on a Budget: JHS Pedals’ 3 Series
When it comes to guitar pedals, the sky is quite literally the limit. If there’s a sound out there to be made, chances are there is an effect that makes it. If there’s a sound you didn’t know existed, there’s also an effect (or ten) that creates it! With names like phaser, flanger, echoplex, fuzzface, loopers, univibe, envelope filter, gonkulator?! - there is no shortage of sounds and styles in the pedal universe. When it comes to guitar pedals, outer space is the limit.
That being said, there are a few pedals that each guitarist ought to have in their arsenal; staple pedals of guitar tone that every player must try at least once. (After all, how will you know if you love or hate chorus if you’ve never tried it?) Even for the ‘meat & potatoes’ players who love plugging straight in and not mucking up their signal path with a bunch of floor boxes - having a few pedals offers a bit of extra spice to keep your tone recipe fresh and diverse!
So, what are the basic pedals that will cover the bases in the world of effects? Typically, there are 3 large schools of effects: modulation, time-based, and gain-based. We can further break those down into a pedalboard that might look a bit something like this: chorus, phase, flange, delay, reverb, distortion/overdrive, and maybe a compressor for good measure. With this lineup, you’ll have a good foundation in place to create a variety of musical styles on both clean and dirty tones.
With our basic tones in place, we come to the inevitable question: “How much is this going to cost and how angry is my significant other going to be if I buy ‘just another stomp box?” We’d like to stop at a few select pedals to cover our needs, but great tone doesn’t come easily. In fact, with great tone can come great damage to the wallet, especially when you get into high-end and boutique gear.
Pedals, like so many things in life, tend to cost more as quality increases. This is especially true with smaller, artisan builders who often craft their effects by hand and build their products in small quantities with purists in mind. These pedals can cost hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars when the demand becomes high enough. For instance, the elusive Klon Centaur (gold case) pedal can go for up to $1,500 per piece, or a real deal 67 Vox Clyde wah can demand pricetags north of $2K!
With higher quality comes better tone, less loss of signal, and of course, cooler looking pedalboards. You can buy an imitation phaser, but there’s no way it will ever sound as good as the real-deal MXR Phase 90 Script Custom Shop editions for $130-150. You can pick up a knockoff generic overdrive for cheap, but it’s not going to sound like that Vintage [Handwired] Ibanez TS808 or TS9 for $500. When it comes to sound, especially in a professional setting, these things really shine in terms of both tone and reliability. Whether it’s the ‘industry standards’ like the phaser and tubescreamer we listed above, or the boutique interpretations of those pedals, we are officially crossing over into the land of very expensive, amazing-sounding effects - a land called “tone country.”
One of the main figureheads of tone country is a builder and musician by the name of Josh Scott. His name got on the map with his ultra-boutique JHS branded pedals which cater to true enthusiasts. He has also built up a massive YouTube following, where he routinely shares his vast wealth of knowledge about effects pedals. If you just Googled JHS Pedals and found yourself reeling at the triple digit prices - that is normal! Quality gear demands such prices. Thankfully, for all you budget-minded players out there who are looking to experiment with new sounds, Josh now has not just one, but a full lineup of SEVEN pedals with the launch of his brand-new JHS “3 Series” lineup.
The 3 Series brings JHS custom shop quality to almost all of the pedal ‘styles’ we discussed above, at a price of only $99 per box. If you’ve wanted to try out a new sound, add some dirt to your tone, or replace the $50 delay that got you laughed out of a studio; these might be just what the doctor ordered to take your pedal board to pro-level status.
Handmade in the USA with top-tier components and build quality without breaking the bank? Yes, please! But don’t just take our word for it. You should grab some coffee, your guitar, and sit down to watch this great 30-minute intro where Josh himself discusses and demos his new line.
Josh begins with a great ‘historian’s account’ of how the big manufacturers got into the game of budget pedals (Arion, Rocktek, Soundtank, etc in the 80s), including the infamous, yet awesome Danelectro Food Series and Behringer clones of the late 90s/00s (I own a few of these, and despite the build quality, they sound awesome!). He discusses how budget pedals lacked in certain areas due to cost-saving measures. As a result, he set out to create a series of pedals that could be had for cheap, yet be rugged enough to take on the road and last a lifetime; all while sounding great.
“Those old budget lines of effects let me try sounds that I never would have been able to hear otherwise. But as a pedalmaker, I wanted to fix some of the glaring and obvious problems.”
💥Fix the case, build quality, and make it road-ready. The 3 Series are ready to tour.
💥Use high quality hardware on footswitches, jacks, enclosures, etc.
💥Clones are cool, but they aren't always the answer. The 3 Series pedals use all-original circuits!
💥Simplicity is beautiful, as most new pedals have too many controls, are hard to learn, and carry a hefty price tag. The 3 Series are 3 knobs (get it?), 1 toggle, and 1 footswitch.
💥They must sound great.
With these rules in mind, Josh asked himself: “Josh, can you make a line of pedals that are under $100 bucks and easy to use?”
Thankfully for all of us, the answer is yes. You can get yours here.