• JHS Pedals – David Gilmour tones

    JHS Pedals David Gilmour

    I’ve always been a great fan of JHS pedals and with their growing collection of pedals I get more and more questions about how these pedals would apply to David Gilmour’s tones. In this review I’ll present some of my favourites. The Unicorn, Charlie Brown and the Pulp N Peel.

    The essence of David Gilmour’s tone, apart from his mind and fingers obviously, is the combination of loud Hiwatts and fairly mids scooped uncompressed pedals. Right from the early days, with the Powerbooster and Fuzz Face up until more recent years, with Big Muffs and Tube Drivers. Despite minor changes in the selection of pedals, the essence has always been the same.

    As I’m sure you’ve experienced, this can be hard to achieve unless you have that loud Hiwatt or similar sounding amps. Mid range and compression is the key to getting smooth tones and tones that cut through the dense band mix.

    Personally I’ve gone from trying to replicate David’s tones to experimenting with more mid rangy and compressed overdrives and distortions. Part because I now tend to use other types of amps that demands different pedals but also because I find that scooped uncompressed pedals often have their limits.

    Charlie Brown V4

    The Charlie Brown is described as a Marshall JTM45 in a box, which to my ears at least, it really is. It’s got that classic early Marshall tone fairly similar to the early Fender tweeds, with a fat low end, sparkling top and smooth mid range.

    Unlike most JTM style pedals, the Charlie Brown has a considerable output and an overall much smoother character. You can certainly crank the treble for that bright late 60s tone but the powerful 3-band EQ makes this an incredibly versatile pedal capable of anything from a glassy Powerboost to the warmer sounding Tube Driver and beyond.

    Now you might think that Marshall and Gilmour doesn’t quite fit but those early Marshall amps had a lot in common with Fender tweeds, which has been David’s choice for studio recording since the early 90s. The Tube Driver is also no doubt based on the JTM/Bassman circuit.

    I use the Charlie Brown both as a stand alone overdrive but also as an EQ stacked with other overdrives, like the Buffalo TD-X. Its transparent volume boost and onboard EQ makes it a great tool for shaping your tones.

    Pulp N Peel V4

    The Pulp N Peel is a super transparent compressor capable of anything from smooth and subtle compression to really deep and squeezed limiting. Like most pedal compressors, the Pulp N Peel feature the common level and compression controls and additional controls for blend and tone as well as a toggle switch for adding a bit of dirt.

    The blend control allow you to finely tune the amount of compression, while always keeping the signal transparent and clean.

    The tone control allow you to roll of some of the high end that’s often boosted with higher compression or, if needed, add a bit of sparkle if you’re tone gets too dark.

    The dirt switch simulates the effect you get from cranking tube compressors. It adds a hint of dirt or gain boost that’s great for either adding a bit of life to your tones or for adding more bite to an already overdriven tone.

    What I like about the Pulp N Peel is that while similar compressors like the old Boss CS2 or MXR Dynacomp either gets too subtle or too squeezed and hard to tame, the Pulp N Peel always retain your guitar’s tone and character, while allowing you to have full control over the amount of compression and attack.

    Much like an optical compressor, it makes everything sound better and more dynamic without ruining the tone. This is certainly a pedal that you want to leave on all the time.

    Unicorn

    The Unicorn is a classic Uni-Vibe based on an analog photocell circuit just like the original late 60s models made famous by Hendrix, Trower and Gilmour. In addition to the familiar depth and speed controls and option for phasing or vibe, the Unicorn also sport full analog tap-tempo.

    A Univibe is essential for David’s Dark Side of the Moon tones. The liquidy slow phasing is heard on Breathe, while a faster rotary throb was used to create the unique Any Colour You Like.

    Unlike David though I prefer having the Univibe in front of the dirt pedals. This makes it sound darker and smoother and it just blends better. The Unicorn deliver classic tones whether you place it in front or after. Whether you prefer Gilmour or Wylde.

    What I like about the Unicorn is that it’s capable of delivering that deep tremolo modulation on even the highest speed settings that crucial for songs like Any Colour You Like. Not all clones seem to do that.

    A couple of years back I also did a review of their excellent Muffuletta. A Big Muff that feature no more than six super authentic classic Muff tones. See the Muffuletta review here.

    See jhspedals.com for more info.

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33 Responsesso far.

  1. Luca says:

    From JHS, you should really try the moonshine V2. I use it both with a Twin reverb and a Marshall, and wow… Astonishing. Really. It’s an overdrive that goes from almost zero gain to almost hi gain, and you can also mix your clean signal, maning that, if you want, you can use it with zero gain. It’s based on 808, but does really a lot more and man… It sounds amazing…

  2. Ed says:

    Hey Bjorn I was just wondering how does the JHS Charlie brown compare to the wampler plexi drive? Is it worth it to upgrade or should I just stick with the plexi drive? Thanks!

    • Bjorn says:

      Out of the box, the CB is darker and perhaps a tad more compressed. They’re obviously both based on that JTM style amps. I like both and think they sound different enough to keep both or to compliment each other. The CB has the 3-band EQ which is a pluss.

  3. Marvin says:

    As usual Bjorn – great column. I want to try these pedals out myself.

  4. bryan mears says:

    Hi Bjorn thanks for yet another terrific review. i have been following your site for many years now and i always learn something new. In this review on the JHS pedals your interpretation of Breathe was wonderful and i’ve learnt a variation i really like. Also some different pedals to try. Congratulations and keep up the best site on the net.

  5. jc says:

    Hi Bjorn, thanks for the info on those pedals. where and how would you suggest implementing the Pulp N Peel?

  6. Silvio says:

    Hi bjorn, I have to tell you some things and I’m sure you will not like them. Honestly: for some time now, I’m having a hard time following you, so I decided not to follow you anymore. Lately you do nothing but change your mind about things said by you previously. example: you’ve gone full years advising the boss blues driver saying it was an excellent alternative to the tube driver, calling it a fantastic pedal and now I read that you say that the “mid scooped” pedals are best avoided because they have problems. you have never liked the pedals and today you say the opposite, you have always said that you would never have replaced the mistress with the mooer e.lady and today you say the opposite You did not do anything but talk badly about the mxr pedals because of their bad by pass but then you say that the script series logo is exceptional.You are full of contradictions, I could add other examples but they are so many that I do not remember them.I think you have a great responsibility towards who reads you and that maybe you save with fatigue of money and then spend them following your advice and I am convinced that you should follow only the gilmourish line when you talk about tools on your site: lately you are creating really a lot of confusion, risking to nullify all the good work done until recently. Best regards.

    • Silvio says:

      I forgot: you always said that it was not necessary to use a univibe for TDSOTM and that a good 4 stage phaser would be enough to cover those tones and other albums, now you say that it is absolutely necessary the univibe … I repeat: I think you have a big responsibility towards those who read what you write.

      • Bjorn says:

        Hi Silvio. Thanks for your comment and for your honesty. I’ll reply to both comments here.

        I think you’re completely missing the point and I’m not sure what you think gilmourish.com is. I’m not responsible for anything whatsoever. YOU are. Only YOU are resonsible for the choices you make and how you want to spend your money. I’m not associated with any of the brands I write about. I don’t make any money and have no interests. Nor in David or his camp. This is MY site and I write about the things I like and what I know most of my readers are interested in. You are welcome to visit, read and comment but don’t for one second think that I’m an authority or write a ghospel on how you should spend your money or build a guitar rig. I’m not.

        I have always stressed the importance of doing proper research and seeking out several sources for the best information. That should be obvious, whether it’s for guitars or any other subject. YOU are responsible for the information you want to use and trust. Read more about that here in this feature I’ve written about tracking down relieable information.

        I have always stressed the importance of knowing your gear. As I describe in this feature, knowing what amp and guitar you have is crucial for knowing what pedals to get and how to set them up. Yes, I love the BD2. It’s one of my all time favourite pedals and still one of my go to units for recording. BUT, whether or not the BD2 is for you, depends on whether or not it’s matching your guitar and amp.

        As for the Univibe VS phaser. David did use a UniVibe on Dark Side of the Moon so if you want authentic Dark Side tones, then you probably want a UniVibe. BUT, a Univibe is basically a 4 stage phaser and a cheaper alternative is a similar unit, like the Phase 90, which David also used, instead of a Univibe, to simulate the same tones during the 1973-75 tour.

        I have adviced against the MXR custom shop pedals because they have hardwire bypass. Hardwire bypass will roll off some of your high end and not drive your signal like a buffer. That certainly doesn’t mean that these pedals are not worth checking out. If you want authentic 70s MXR tones and are aware of the consequenses, then I stronly urge you to check them out. If you want pristine signal and cheaper alternatives, then go for the Mooer clones or similar.

        So, if you want to leave then fine. I’m continuing anyway. If you want to understand why I often, in your words “contradict myself”, then simply ask like everyone else. Why do I talk highly of the BD2 but suggest pedals with more mid range? Could it be because I know that not everything is a good match? Could it be that I know that what works for me doesn’t instantly apply to you?

        I aslo recommend that you read through my Buyer’s Guides, with detailed descriptions of each item, including recommendations for what amps and setups each pedal fit.

        • Mike Brennan says:

          …Hi Silvio, I feel I must reinforce 3 of the biggest things I learned, from Bjørn; any time I thought Bjørn might have made seemingly contradicting observations/comments, I always remind myself of these, and then it all makes sense:

          1) Pedals that *usually* sound damn good through a smaller amp (and/or at bedroom volume levels), *usually* don’t sound as good through a larger amp (and/or at loud, “feedback inducing” volume levels). The opposite is also true: Pedals that *usually* sound damn good through powerful amps at very loud levels, *usually don’t sound as good through smaller amps, at bedroom volume levels.

          2) Some pedals that sound fairly bad through Tube amps, sometimes give *anemic* solid-state amps some *magic* and helps them sound at least usable. Example: using a Tube Driver, at/near the end of the signal chain, might help an anemic solid-state amp. That same Tube Driver would usually not cut it as your only/main distortion.

          3) (This is related to point #1): Whenever a Tube-Amp is pushed into its limit, it tends to sound darker; fine detail in your sound may be lost at this level. Some pedals absolutely sound great in this situation, but those same pedals *usually* just doesn’t sound *right* when that same amp is turned down. This FACT is a BIG reason there are so many builders trying to make ultra-low wattage Tube Amps – to get some of that “loud amp mojo” at much lower volume levels.

          …As you see those 3 points could be expanded upon AND the interaction of the fine details of each point above could seem paradoxical or at least VERY complex and abstract to fully understand.

          …Silvio, if you really want to get the most out of the GREAT information and demos, by Bjørn, then I must suggest that you really need to have a Guitar-Tech-Expert, help you understand the complexity and paradoxes, of how Guitars, Pickups, Pedals, Amps, and Room Acoustics can interact and “mess” with each other.

          …Silvio, now that I think about it, I have to assume that you try to digest info from Gilmourish to rapidly; you are very likely just not taking the time to slowly read and actually understand the paradoxes, that are real and NOT the result of Bjørn “contradicting” himself.

          Silvio, you simply came across as mean-spirited – almost disrespectful. Do you actually believe that Bjørn would actually not take a moment to make sure he is being thoughtful and accurate? You seem to imply that he has some sort of agenda!! Take a look around this sight – NOT ONE SINGLE ADVERTISEMENT. I never met Bjørn, but I feel like he is a close friend, and I got angry when I read that the first comment to this JHS Demo-thread was from such a negative place AND has absolutely nothing to do with what you think of the specific demo, and/or what you think of JHS.

          … Good Luck, on your tone-quest, Silvio. Apparently , you’ve been getting a lot of bad luck, on your own tone-quest, and you felt the need to “blame” Bjørn.

          Hope this helps,
          Mike
          -

        • Alan O'Neill says:

          i will keep coming back, love the website…
          We don’t’ need no naysayers..

        • Oleg says:

          I think that many of us may consider Bjørn responsible for keeping our wallets from being too thick :) But it is not Bjørn pulling the money from our pockets. And it’s not his pockets that our money going to.

          Instead, we have here one of the most comprehensive resources on guitar equipment, music production and just tons of wisdom and experince to learn from. Yes, everyone’s tastes are changing with time and there’s always a new gear appearing. But not sticking to dogma and using our own heads and ears is one of the things that Bjørn constantly points out. The man already deserves a full respect for running this site only. Not to mention all the great music written and recorded. 6(!) LPs in 9 years… while living a normal life with family and day job. How many people here can boast of something like that?

          I don’t think that there’s a great need to stand up for Bjørn here really. Just an occasion to say what I wanted to say for a long time.

          Cheers!

          • Bjorn says:

            Thanks for the kind words :)

          • Mike Brennan says:

            Oleg,

            …Thank You for sticking up for perhaps the most important Guitarists/Technician on the ‘Net!!! If I was told that ALL sites would be closed but one – and I could pick it – it wouldn’t take me more than a microsecond to say “GILMOURISH.COM” !!!

            Mike
            -

        • ChrisD says:

          Bjorn, thank you for all you do for us, we do appreciate all your time and hard work you put into.this..

    • Spencer Landreth says:

      Silvio, one thing you clearly do not understand. When you have a career and family, an entire life to lead, running a website on top of everything is a sacrifice. Not a priviledge. The priviledge is yours for receiving knowledge that can literally only be found here. There are no other sites that teach so much so clearly about using effects, amps, and guitars.
      Perspectives change as people do. Don’t whine. Say “thanks Bjorn!” And learn to let a man share his hobby and be grateful it teaches us about Gilmour. Cause this just keeps getting better and better.

    • Brad Roller says:

      Silvio, perhaps you should consider whats best for your own setup and tones. If you cant decide what pedals you like without the absolute approval of someone else, then you probably aren’t ever going to be satisfied. As for not coming back, thats on you. We will all keep on rocking and enjoy discussing things, so see ya!!

  7. Alan O'Neill says:

    Great improv work Bjorn, Sounds absolutely fantastic, can you tell me if the Charlie Brown was the only drive pedal you used on the demo in conjunction with the other pedals?

    Cheers Al

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! Yes, as you can hear on the last clip the amp is set all clean. It has lots of gain and obviously the compressor adds to that.

  8. Mike Brennan says:

    … Hi Bjørn, As always, thank you for your passion and dedication to the tone-quest, and more importantly, sharing that quest, and inspiring us!! JHS is near the top of my wish-list. My comment(s) might seem confusing, as I am bringing up different issues. My apologies! LOL! First 2 comments, just to give you an idea of my situation. I know I’m writing a lot here, but I hope you & others can benefit & share some feedback (who doesn’t like some good feedback?? ;) ):

    1) Out of these 3 pedals you reviewed, I really like the fact that the JHS P&P Comp has a blend knob – something I wish I had on all of my comp pedals! I’m using a yellow BBE Opti-Comp as my “always on” first effect. I use it more for “reinforcing” my signal, for its journey through my complex signal-path. It adds a little *magic* to my tone and for me , it is VERY transparent. This Opti-Comp seems to have no negative impact on my tones or pedals or amps… I then use a black MXR Super-Comp, on my “B/C” Loop. So, sometimes, I’m going through both comps. I set the first (Opti-Comp) for minimal-compressing/slight gain boost, and the Super-Comp to “minimal-to-medium” Compression/unity-gain… So, for now I’m content with my Comp(s)..

    2) My 1995-ish Dunlop Uni-Vibe used to sound better, so I don’t yet know if I can “fix/tweak” it, or if I will simply replace it. Like you, I prefer it before my Dist/OD/Dirt, mainly because I use my Uni-Vibe for more Trower-ish stuff. I never quite liked my Dunlop-Uni-Vibe for the DSotM stuff…The JHS Uni-Vibe seems like one I should try, before making any final decisions.. So, that is now on my “play it/try it” list..

    3a) The Charlie Brown is definitely intriguing. I had been using a “Vintage FX Colordriver”, as my #2 Distortion. I just never quite liked it. I bought that Colordriver AFTER I stopped playing LOUD; I currently have no drummer, and just play in my room….

    3b) So, my gut tells me, that to use the Colordriver – or even the original Power Boost – “properly”, it needs to be heard LOUD – it MUST played through a very LOUD and/or “Darker” sounding TUBE Amp, I think..

    3c) My main Amp is a Mesa-Boogie “Simul-Class” 2/95 (2 x 95watts) Stereo Power Amp. I am only using “1/2″ of it. It has a cool feature: the “Simul/Class-A” switch. In Simul mode, it combines a pair of 6L6s in “Class AB”, for about 60 watts AND a pair of EL34s in “Class A”, for about 35 watts = 95 watts Tube Power. In my Bedroom, I use the EL34 Class A only mode – 35 watts – still “too” much.. . I could never find a really good PEDAL preamp for this Simul-Class Power Amp. Long-short, I re-purposed my Colordriver….

    3d) My main amp was a Vintage Showman (85 watts 763AB circuit) – it was absolutely SUBLIME – incredibly Versatile.. AND… It got me into VERY Gilmour-ish Territory…. That amp blew up; I will fix it when I can afford it.. So, I always wanted to get the Mesa 2/95 to sound like a “Vintage Blackface” Fender – to sound like that Showman… I tried MANY rack pre-amps, but was never happy. I tried about 10 different pedals to act as a proper “pre-amp”, no luck.. On a whim, I just tried the Colordriver, with the (4th added “extra” knob) Master set to 10 (like a “stock” vintage Power-Booster), the Bass to ~noon, the Treble on “10” and the gain on “0”. Voila! – it got me back into my Fender Showman tone-area! That Colordriver is now one of my most important pedals.. It is set and sounds ULTRA clean and adds that “glassy-ness” to the Top End.. (By itself, the Power Amp sounds muddy, dull, and lifeless; it just NEEDS a pre-amp to sound “right”…)

    3e) Question: Why does JHS call it “Charlie Brown”? (Perhaps, it is because Eddie Van Halen’s famous modded-Marshall had a sound that Eddie called the “Brown Sound”?) I guess I should be asking JHS (Josh Scott)!!

    3f) Either way, I’d love to hear the JHS C. Brown Pedal A/B-ed to my Colordriver, as a “Preamp-substitute” pedal, because it is based on the JTM45, which is loosely based on the early Fender designs…. So, that’s on my list now, also..

    4a) What really gets me excited about JHS is their collaboration with Boss: My “secret weapon” is the Boss SD-2 Dual Overdrive – I got it in about 1994. I won’t get into “why”, for now – I’ll just say that it has served me well and is EXTREMELY versatile for ME. I never quite liked it’s “Crunch” mode, so, I use it in it’s “Lead” mode 99% of the time. I have tried replacing it, over the past 20+ years, but always went back to it. For me it is the solid-state equivalent of a compromise between the distortions of: 1) a JCM-800 (AC/DC), 2) a Mesa-Boogie “Santana-ish “High Gain” Tone, 3) a “Laney-ish”/Iommi tone, and 4) a Vai/Cantrell “Bogner” sound… … all “that” surrounds my idea of a Gilmourish tone … I have played in a Floyd/SRV tribute Band, an “all-around” Rock Cover Band, as well as in an electric blues original Band..
    .
    4b) The new Boss/JHS “Angry Driver” is functionally identical to my Boss SD-2; here’s where it gets interesting: You have mentioned and others seem to like the Boss BD-2 Blues driver. If my SD-2’s crunch mode was the same as the BD-2, I’d have a more usable “other” mode, rather then the SD-2’s “Crunch” mode… Well, this is what the “Angry Driver” does: It combines the Angry Charlie, for it’s “Lead” mode, with a BD-2 for it’s “Crunch” mode!! THAT is THE next pedal I YEARN to try out!! LOL!!

    4c) Question: Have you tried the new Boss/JHS Angry Driver? (I haven’t searched your site for it yet; I’m about to..)

    5) Happy New year to you, yours, and our fellow musician friends!! Cheers and Good Luck to ALL YOU do!!

    Your friend,
    Mike Brennan
    -

      • Mike Brennan says:

        oops … I forgot to mention to scroll down to “overview”, for the article..

      • Brian says:

        Yes I’m thinking after hearing the Charlie Brown from Bjorn and pairing it with the proven Gilmourish BD-2, we might have a great option for all Gilmour dirt tones in a box with the JB-2.

    • Bjorn says:

      Hi Mike! Thanks for your comment! I’m not sure what to reply to here but let me try…
      The old Powerbooster, and all the clones, were designed in the late 60s to take loud tube amps into distortion so yes, you need to play loud to really get the most of it. Keep in mind that this was a period when you either had to crank the amp or, use fuzz or treble boosters for more gain. The Powerbooster had a lot of headroom that could push the amp and utilize the amp’s tone and tubes for distortion and you would be able to control it better unlike a fuzz pedal. The Powerbooster is not something I recommend for smaller amps and bedroom setups. More modern overdrives are designed for that purpose.
      I’m sure Charlie Brown refers to the Van Halen comment… which was from Alex who tried to describe Eddies tone… or so I’ve heard :)
      The Charlie has a lot more mid range and compression compared to the Powerbooster circuit but you can set them up for something similar. I also think the CB benefits from the mids control.
      I haven’t had the chance to try the Angry yet… but I hope to!

      • Mike Brennan says:

        Bjørn, thank you so much for taking the time to read my long comment and reply!! I can’t wait to really let the “Colordriver” sort of “breathe” (no pun intended ;) ), when I get a chance to Boost an Amp LOUD, as it was designed for.. YOU are the kind of person that spreads massive amounts of positive energy on Planet Earth, and I – and I think ALL of us – are forever indebted. I WILL be supporting you and your Band(s) ASAP!!

  9. Gabe Aguirre says:

    Whoa, Bjorn did you find something that setttles that it was a Univibe on Any Colour and not the HiFli processor on the Auto-Wah?

    • Bjorn says:

      Not really. It could be the hi-fli but to my ears it sounds like a UniVibe. Could be a combination but it’s hard to tell because you can do so much to process those tones in the studio and Any Colour probably has the most processed tones on Dark Side, with panning, reverb, delays etc.

Hey! How about a comment on this post?