The origins of the Overdrive pedal go back quite some time. And like many creative inventions, it happened by accident.
And was quite unlike the one we are featuring in this JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal review, which is most definitely a planned event. Gibson claims the first distortion pedal, the Maestro FuzzTone released in 1962, but they are not even close.
It goes back way further…
Just about the first time, it was used as an effect preceded Gibsons’ awful fuzz box’ by 11 years. In 1951, Willie Kizart was recording with Ike Turner on a song called Rocket 88. He had a tube amp, of course, and blew a speaker. It created distortion. They liked it and kept it in.
Others experimented, and you can hear early efforts from Chuck Berry on Maybelline in 1955. It seems his ‘cousin Marvin Berry and the new sound you’re looking for’ may have influenced his sound after all.
The Ventures dabbled with it in the 60s even Marty Robbins had a go. It really caught hold with the Spencer Davis Group and the Rolling Stones and others, and away it went. Today there are endless models, but all doing basically the same thing.
In the beginning, it was dire…
Some players like Hendrix and Blackmore used the awful sounds to their benefit. But it rapidly became more sophisticated. Feedback was reduced, and softer, less harsh sounds included. A good many guitar players can’t play without one.
So, before you go and buy your Les Paul, make sure you’ve got a good distortion pedal and a silly hat, and you will be fine!
It wasn’t long before the signature pedal arrived. A marketing ploy really rather than an idea to improve the sound. It seems that everyone who knows which way up to hold the guitar has got one. Of course, the majority sounds nothing like the ‘hero’ they are supposed to represent.
Some people think that by using the same pedal, you get the same sound. Wrong. Add in the guitar, amp, cabinet, other effects, guitar strings, and some ability. They all have an effect on how a player sounds. Quite often, these ‘signature’ pedals have minimal contact with the player concerned.
However, some, like this particular pedal from JHS, have the player in the design phase from the beginning.
JHS is not the first name you think of when discussing pedals. So before we look at the pedal, who are they?
In 2007 Josh Scott repaired a Boss Driver pedal. He thought, “I can build this,” and JHS was born.
They are not a big company by any means. Based in Kansas City, they have built a good reputation amongst a small clientele who appreciate the efforts of a company trying to do it right. Andy Timmons began to use one of their pedals and liked it. He became involved in the design of his signature pedal. But they both took it a stage further and added in a few extras as well.
If you would like to find out more, not only about JHS pedals, but all pedals, including their history and development, then check out the JHS Channel on Youtube, it’s well worth it, and Josh is a very entertaining host.
So, let’s have a look at this pedal…
JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal – Overview
Inside this pedal are the options to create a similar tone to that used by Andy Timmons. He has been involved in the design decisions and testing from the start. Therefore he has managed to stick closely to the feel and the tone he creates. There are, though, a couple of added bonuses. One of those is a switchable boost circuit, but we will look at the performance later.
This is the next stage in the JHS ‘Angry Charlie’ range, and it offers some soaring overdrive and distortion. So, what is this pedal made of? Let’s find out…
Nothing fancy at all in the build. It measures 6 by 3 by 3 inches and weighs seven ounces. Standard size to fit in your pedalboard. It has the tough construction that all stompboxes need. If anything, it is a little too small for the number of controls it has, and it looks and feels rather cluttered.
The two footswitches and the active lights are ok toward the bottom of the pedal. But as you move up, there are five control knobs in a three by two pattern and also a toggle switch. The line of three are so tight they are virtually touching each other.
These five controls take up less than half the total space available on the top of the pedal. Not sure that is a good design move as it has crowded those control knobs. It has left a large empty space in the middle where the ‘@’ logo appears. If you do want to make some adjustments during a live show, it won’t be that easy.
The five rotating knob controls cover the Volume, Air, Drive, EQ, and there is a boost control. The Volume is self-explanatory, but it is the Drive that takes you from a high gain to screaming distortion. The EQ is about the standard and really only offers you a sound that goes from a basic bright to dark sound.
Not much more than a standard single tone control would do if we are honest. The Air controls offer a little extra and give you some nice presence at the top end. The boost also speaks for itself.
Choice of amplifiers…
The toggle switch though is very interesting. It is a three-way switch that moves you between 25, 50, and 100-watt amps and their natural sounds. It works well and re-creates the sounds generated by those different wattage amps. We will have a closer look at this when we discuss its performance.
The controls are quite standard really apart from the toggle switch and what that brings. But as we have already said, they are quite difficult to move easily. And they certainly won’t be easy to reset on a dark stage.
If you are going to compare this pedal to the ‘Angry Charlie’ from which it is devised, the big difference comes with that toggle switch. As we mentioned in our intro, there were a few extras, and this is one of them.
This is a switch to adjust the headroom. The 100 watts will obviously give you the most. The 50-watt adds just a touch of compression to try and simulate it being cranked up a little. The 25-watt, as you can imagine, is the most compressed and overdriven. It is an effective control and definitely adds options to the sound.
Another interesting addition that is quite useful is the variable boost option. There are times when you just need a little more, and this control provides it. This is activated by tapping the button with your foot.
JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal Review Pros and Cons
- Quality build.
- The wattage switch allows for a customized tone.
- Can be run at 18v for more headroom.
- Capable of some very heavy tones.
- You can’t change the order of the boost and overdrive.
- The drive range may be excessive for some.
Looking for more superb pedal options?
JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal Review Conclusion
What we think?
This is most definitely an interesting pedal and will no doubt appeal to many because of Andy Timmons’s name and the fact that it is made by the excellent JHS. But if we are honest, it does not bring that much more to the table than other models, particularly the Angry Charlie. And we must say, other models that are considerably cheaper. This is not a cheap option at all.
The toggle switch adds some coloring to the sound and is a good addition, but some other pedals have a similar function. The boost is also a valued addition but again not unique to this pedal. We find it a great sounding pedal with some nice features but rather overpriced for what it is.