027 | JHS Kodiak: A Closer Look at this Analog Tremolo Pedal | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 27 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. If you're a fan of tremolo, then you're going to love today's discussion where we unpack JHS' Kodiak analog tremolo pedal. It's a good one. And we can't wait to discuss it on the other side.

Hey everybody, Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today. And today we've got a fun pedal. And in fact, it's a fairly new pedal, only about a year or two old. Today, we're going to be talking about the JHS Kodiak analog tremolo pedal. Sounds like a mouthful right there, but we're going to be talking about tremolo today. In fact, if I'm not wrong, I think this is actually our first discussion of a tremolo pedal. So congrats to JHS and the Kodiak. They're the first runners up here on our tremolo discussion. So excited to be talking about this one with you guys today.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've always loved having a tremolo on like an amp or something like that. Because I actually own the Kodiak so I really like having this one on my board and helps me get everything I'd want to get out of an amp without having to walk back and turn knobs or turn on similar thing with the vibrato channel on AC30. So I really enjoy it. Really excited to be talking about this one.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It's interesting because tremolo is actually one of the oldest effects and I'm actually kind of shocked that we haven't covered a tremolo pedal up to this point. So yeah, really just excited to be talking about this Kodiak pedal with you guys today. And since we're on this topic of tremolo, it's probably just a fun time to even address some of those famous tremolo sounds that exist out there. Obviously, if you're tuning into this podcast or specifically this episode, you obviously probably have a passion about guitar pedals, but maybe if you're new to the pedal world and this whole idea of tremolo's new to you, some songs that immediately stand out to me that sort of really just embody what tremolo is all about, I think of songs like specifically Crimson and Clover by Tommy James, Rebel Rouser by Duane Eddy, even Gorilla Radio by Raise Against the Machine.

I mean, all those songs that really from kind of back in the day, even a little bit more modern, really kind of capture the essence of what tremolo is all about. And the Kodiak is really no exception here. I mean, it does all those great tremolo sounds really, really well. So before we actually get into the specs of the Kodiak, there's really some great history about this specific pedal. It's actually history that's probably about a decade long and if you want to learn more about it, Josh Scott, who is actually the founder and creator of JHS pedals, has a great little video about the Kodiak and kind of just the history behind it, but we'll just share a few of those highlights with you guys today.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I saw that video when it came out a couple of years ago and I actually found it really interesting that it took so long to get it to where he was able to actually release it. But yeah, so he started modding like Boss TR-2s and then that turned into the Honeycomb and the Honeycomb Deluxe and several iterations of that. And then when JHS launched their 500 series units, he released it in the 500 series format in 2015, and then the pedal format with tap tempo came out in 2018, in the fall of 2018 I believe.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. So it's amazing to know that it really almost took him about a decade from start to finish from all those mods to like you said the Boss TR-2 to eventually the Honeycomb and its many different styles and versions, to eventually the Kodiak and what it is today. And what's really cool about this pedal is it does capture kind of the essence of a vox or a fender blackface tremolo sound. And it does a fantastic job of really just sort of modeling that.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've found that I can get pretty much any kind of like amp simulation of a tremolo that I want, but also there's a couple of settings on there that they're a little more intense that you couldn't get out of an amp or something like that, that are just really cool for like an effect if you turn on to fuss with it or if you just use it to write a really creative part or something along those lines.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. And I think also in addition to that kind of the shining star of this is the whole tap tempo feature. As we mentioned earlier, when Josh was modifying the Boss TR-2 and I think you called that the Versa Trim, that then sort of morphed into the Honeycomb and as you mentioned, the Honeycomb Deluxe. All the things that were missing from that were the tap tempo feature, which he was able to add in this one, which is really what kind of helps separate this pedal apart from some of the others out there. I think he mentioned in the video that Cusack they're the first ones in the market with the tap tempo tremolo. So it wasn't the first, but it's one of the very few right now that actually have that option.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I owned a Tap-A-Whirl a few years back and I really loved it, and it wasn't like any of the newer ones that have like all the different options. It was like the old three knob one that you have three knobs and it can do like one thing, but it sounded really good and I really enjoyed it, but I actually forget why I sold it, but probably shouldn't have. But now I have the Kodiak. So it worked out. I now have a different pedal that's a tremolo that has tap tempo so it kind of works out.

Scott Schwertly:
There you go. So speaking of that tap tempo, if we had to talk about any flaws, those pedals pretty flawless. I mean, it's a solid pedal. There were a few things I've seen online and maybe it's just people not having a clear understanding of how to use it, but people just complaining about the tap tempo that they couldn't get it to work correctly or that there's just something that they wanted to complain about that. I'm going to assume that's probably more user error than it is the actual pedal itself, but beyond that, I think this is a solid stop box.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I don't know what they're talking about. It's been rock solid for me. I know I've really enjoyed having the expression output or input. Yeah. I think that's how you say it. I should know this.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. It was expression. There's the input jack for expression pedals.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So I've really liked using just like an expression roller with it and that way you can ramp it from just like super slow all the way up to just kind of like a rotary effect. That's been really cool for me. And then obviously having the tap tempo, I don't know why, but I've always felt like with a tremolo pedal like I needed to have a tap tempo with a delay or something. I know you don't. There's nothing wrong with a TR-2. There's nothing wrong with not having it. I've just always really enjoyed having it in the Kodiak. Having that as really helped me to use that as well as explore other options with that expression input.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. So on that note, this is a good transition to actually just talk about the specs of the pedal. So all these things that we're talking about, if you had to sort of like headline it for you guys, really what we're dealing with are two switches and five knobs on this pedal and Eric since you actually own this pedal and you're definitely closer to it than I am, yeah let's just kind of go through these five knobs. And we've kind of touched on a couple of these things already, but we'll just kind of start in the upper left hand corner and just kind of kind of go from there.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. So upper left hand corner is going to be your volume knob. So this actually will control the overall volume of the entire signal going through the pedal, so it's not like a weird name for a mixed controller or anything. It's actually everything that's going through there. So if you had like a part of a song that you have a tremolo pedal that really needs to stick out, you can throw up the volume and then that way it kind of works as a solo boost as well as you have your tremolo effect on top of it. And then all the way to the right of that one is the speed knob. Obviously, this will override whatever you have tapped into the tap tempo because they do the same thing. But then you move down and you have the ratio knob and you have quarter notes, eighth notes, triplets and 16ths for subdivision.

So basically whatever BPM you're tapping, it'll do that subdivision of that beats per minute. And then in the middle, you have the mixed knob which is going to go from all the way dry to all the way like the signal's cutting out. I think that's the best way I can say that. And then kind of where I found that this pedal is unique is with the wave control. And one in particular, so of all the waves, you have a sine wave, a square wave and a ramp wave, and then the second setting is actually a rhythmic. So it's a syncopated square wave. That is really cool. And if you turn it all the way up and turn your mix all the way up, it gets really wacky. And if you run that into like something like the Chase Bliss Thermae, it gets really fun.

So if you have those two, go for it. Yeah. I found that one to be just kind of really interesting, fun to play around with. I haven't really found like an actual application to use it, but it's cool.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Fun to play with nonetheless. So yeah. And it's really versatile and it really won't set you back that much. For most boutique pedals like this one, the price I think on this is about $199. So lots of great options. Yeah. The four wave pattern or just the four wave knob option, yeah those things are awesome. Plenty of different things you can do with it. So on that note, let's go ahead and take this thing for a test drive. Eric, what guitar are you going to go with today?

Eric Wilson:
I'll probably play the tele.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. Nice. What made you go with that direction?

Eric Wilson:
I haven't picked it up today. I think that's it, which I mean, I literally only picked up one guitar today, so I don't know why I'm saying that, but hey, it is what it is. I want to play my tele.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice, awesome. Well, we're going to get all of that connected and yeah, we'll take this thing out for a spin.

Eric Wilson:
All right that was the JHS Kodiak. I've really enjoyed having it. And I think you would too. So if you want to learn more, I'd fully recommend going to JHS' YouTube channel and watching that video and I actually recommend as well, the entire blog series they do. I always find it really interesting. They talk about a lot of fun stuff, a lot of history and things like that. So I'd recommend you check it out.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, Josh is always putting out such great content and just the whole JHS show that whole concept that you're talking about. He's such a historian and does a fantastic job and love that video as well. So yeah. I second that recommendation. So on that note guys, that is what we wanted to talk about with the JHS Kodiak analog tremolo pedal. Join us next time. We're going to get into another tube screamer variant. We're going to be talking about the Mad Professor, Little Green Wonder. Specifically, we're going to be talking about the hand wired version of that. So it should be fun. If you love tube screamers and you love all things related to tube screamers, you're going to love that discussion. So until then, have a great day, have a great week and we will see you guys next time.

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