038 | JHS The Kilt: A Closer Look at this Overdrive and Fuzz Guitar Effects Pedal | Transcript

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Scott Schwertly:
Hello, and welcome to episode 38 of the Sonic Renegades podcast. We're exploring Renegade pedals that have changed the music landscape. Up for today's discussion we've got another fun one from JHS. Specifically, we're going to be talking about the JHS Kilt Overdrive pedal. There's actually two versions of these, but we're going to be talking about version one and it's a good one. We can't wait to unpack it on the other side. Hey everybody. Scott Schwertly and Eric Wilson of Siren Pedals with you guys today.

Hope you are having a good one. Today we are going to be talking about another fun pedal from JHS. I do love this company. I do love what Josh Scott is doing for the world of pedals. So much good stuff coming from this company. Today, we're going to be talking about, I think what we can collectively is one of our favorite JHS pedals, is the JHS Kilt. As mentioned in the intro, there's actually two versions of this pedal. They recently came out with version two, but we're going to be talking about the very first one, which is version one. This is kind of a two in one combo. It's a great one. I mean, this is a solid overdrive pedal.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I've always loved the, just kind of the clarity and the punchiness of this drive. I was lucky enough to buy it when it first came out and it's, I mean, it's been on my board ever since, and that was in 2015. I mean, it's been on my board for five years now, so it's been a great addition for me. Yeah, I'm excited to talk about this one.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, I mean that's such a great statement. I mean, it's, I mean, as we all know, we're all pedal lovers. If you're listening to this podcast, you love pedals and it's such a competitive landscape when you think about your pedal board, and so for a pedal to actually, standards beat the competition there for the last five years, that's quite a statement.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. Well, and it wasn't for shortage of trying to get rid of it. I tried a bunch of, because when I realized that the Expandora is kind of like a rat style pedal, then I tried other rat variants. I tried a 1981 DRV. I tried the Big Year Woodcutter and both of those are great drives, but I just always kept coming back to the Kilt, is my, it still was my go-to. It also, for me, it was my first intro into actually having a boost on my board. I had never had any kind of boost or anything. It had always been I ran two overdrives and that's kind of it and just don't worry about a boost, but it really opened up that world for me as well. It was kind of a gateway for me to get into a different kind of effect.

Scott Schwertly:
Nice. I mean, yeah. I mean just the variety and the versatility of this pedal is absolutely amazing and yeah, we're excited to walk you guys through all these different features and all these different bells and whistles that you get with it. Yeah, you can definitely accomplish a ton with it. I know, Eric, you mentioned the Expandora, that may be news to some folks, so yeah, let's just go ahead and kick start here and talk a little bit about the history of this pedal and where it actually comes from and the roots of it.

To do this, you actually have to go all the way back to about 1994, 1995. A company called Bixonic created a pedal called the Expandora, which was basically just a dirt box and had three simple knobs on it. You had a gain, a tone and a level. Just a really great dirt box. In fact, this pedal was really popular. In fact, some of probably your favorite musicians have played it at one point in time or are still using it today. Folks like Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, Joe Satriani, Megadeath even. I think Eric, you mentioned before this podcast St. Vincent has also use this pedal before.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. St. Vincent, Tom York, and then actually, so the Kilt was made as a signature pedal for Stu G from the band Delirious, who used this quite a bit in the 90s. Just on a bunch of Delirious songs. It's really cool to see the impact of the original pedal and then kind of it leading to this one that's been used by just from more musicians to mainstream artists, hard rock artists. The list really just kind of goes on and on.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean, for sure, it really does cover the whole gambit there of musicians. Again, just going back to some of the history here, this pedal originated again, '94, '95. There are basically two renditions of it after that. Again, we're talking about the Expandora here. In 2001, Bixonic released the Expandora two. This basically featured more tone control, better low end. Then shortly after that, they came up with the Expandora 2000-R, just again, slight improvements. The biggest change is they ended up taking the dip switches and moved them to the outside. One of the big complaints about the original one is that the dip switches were actually on the inside.
This pedal, as we mentioned, gained all kinds of notoriety, lots of famous musicians using it. Stu G being one of those, if you're not familiar, Stu G, as Eric mentioned earlier, he's from a band called Delirious. They were big in the Christian worship scene. I guess he approached Josh Scott or Josh Scott approached him. I can't remember the history behind this. I'm assuming Stu G maybe reached out to Josh. I really don't know on that one, but anyway, they decided to collaborate and they created the JHS Kilt, which was version one, which is the one that we're talking about today, which basically took the Expandora and really cloned it with maybe just a slight improvement. I guess that was just adding a little bit more boost. Is that right, Eric?

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. The Expandora 2000, the dip switches were brought to the front of the pedal. I forget if the low cut was on that one before, but there is a low cut on there. Then it also added the independent JFET boost that also had an order toggle on it. It really creates for just a lot of different usable scenarios, because this pedal goes from a light to medium gain, even to a crazy fuzz tone. You can really cover all of your overdrive and distortion space with this one pedal. Then, when you add that boost, that just kind of increases the options and the opportunities for different sounds.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, definitely. I mean, there's just so much that you can get out of it. The really cool thing about the one that we're talking about today, V1, it is just an all-in-one thing. It's a two-in-one, it takes up a little bit more space on your board, but everything's just right there. If you like having more of a streamlined set up, we would recommend looking at maybe V2, which is just a smaller size. To get a little bit more extra punch, you could buy a JHS' Red Remote, which activates some of the features. Particularly if you want to get more fuzz, you can turn that on. If you like more streamlined, the V2's great. If you like everything all inclusive, V1 is a great option. Kind of my subjective thing is, oh. Go ahead.

Eric Wilson:
Really what it comes down to is, do you need that boost and are you willing to pay an exorbitant amount more? Right now the V1s are going for crazy prices, like more than they were new. It's really dumb. I would say, just buy the V2, it sounds the same. It's a great pedal and it'll take up a lot less space on your board. Then just if you want a boost, just buy a boost.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah, no, that's a good choice. I hate that you have to use the little Red Remote though for some of the other stuff. I don't know. I guess, depending if you can get a good deal on V1, I guess I probably prefer having everything streamlined into one box, but-

Eric Wilson:
So V2, the Red Remote does something different than V1. So V1, the second switch is a boost and for V2, the Red Remote increases your gain. It's not like, it's not an independent boost, like it was in the V1. It's actually just switching parameters inside of the pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Got you. That's right. Yeah. Definitely lots to consider on that front. Both are solid. I mean, this is a great pedal. Again, it just comes down to personal preference and personal pocketbooks, I guess, too, as well. Yeah, how much you actually want to spend for one of these, but all that to say, to kind of wrap up this history part, really again, the JHS Kilt was inspired by the Bixonic Expandora. That's the roots of this thing. Yeah, it does it really well with some added extra features and benefits, which are cool. Now looks like a good time to go ahead and talk about those things that we like and dislike about it. I know, Eric, you've used this pedal a lot longer than I have. You've obviously, you have kept it on your board for the last five years. Anything particular about it that just you don't like?

Eric Wilson:
Honestly? No, because for a two-in-one pedal, it's really a great size, because it's not like the full, if you've seen the double barrel, it's not like that size. It's a little bit smaller than that, I guess. Really, for a two-in-one pedal, it's a great size. The functionality is fantastic. You get, like I said, you get all the way from lighter gain tones, all the way up to crazy fuzz tones. Then you also have the independent boosts. For me, I can get most of my gigging done with just this one overdrive and be more than fine with it. I really haven't found anything that's notable to dislike about it.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Yeah. I mean, it really is just a super versatile pedal. I think one of the things I love most about it, with that whole idea of just versatility, is that you can get everything from that light drive to that fat fuzz all through one box, which is just, it's awesome. You're really kind of getting an overdrive/fuzz pedal, which is yeah, which is really cool.

Eric Wilson:
One of my favorite features on it is having that low cut because in the context that I, well, do play in, but specifically where I was before I moved to Nashville, the church I was at, I had to put my amps in a closet and it's a long story, but I had to put my amps on a closet. That creates some weird bass buildup. Being able to cut those lows out really helped to keep my guitar, it wasn't shrill, but it also didn't have that flubby low end, where it still sat in the mix really well and our mix guy still really liked the tone he was getting from it. From my amps and from my playing and stuff. It really helped me out there. Just having that low cut switch and having that control.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Yeah. I mean it just, again, just testament to, yeah, all just the benefits that you get from it, right? I mean, it's just, again, incredibly versatile and yeah, I don't really have any complaints on my end. I even tried to look for other people who were saying negative things about it, and there's really not a whole lot out there. I mean, everybody seems to love this pedal. It's constructed well. It's a JHS pedal, so like a boss. It's built like a tank. It's going to last you a long time and it's yeah, it's got that fun lineage to it. Again, paying homage to the Expandora.

Eric Wilson:
I think this is a good opportunity to just go over the controls real quick. Obviously, as I mentioned, volume gain tone, and then that boost volume control. Then you have your dip switches, which is the low from left to right, is the low cut. Your gain one, which kind of flips you into more distortion from overdrive and then gain two, which is higher gain distortion. If you have gain one and gain two up, then you get into fuzz territory. You have those and then your boost control and then the boost order toggle above that, that controls where the boost is before your drive or after your drive. Yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
For those of you that love fuzz, like myself, it's fun to watch a few YouTube videos where people have G1 and G2 activated. It's some cool fuzz.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. It's not what you would normally expect from fuzz. It's a crazy gated, just insane fuzz. Honestly, it's one of my favorite fuzz tones I have. I mean, that's why I didn't really buy a fuzz pedal.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. No. Now it makes sense. Now that I know you've got that and have that option. Yeah. It makes sense that you don't have any other fuzz pedals because, yeah. That, yeah, that tone was pretty amazing. So very cool stuff. Well, awesome. Well, if you guys are curious about actually hearing what this thing actually sounds like we're going to do that right now. We're going to plug this in. Eric, what are you going to go with today as far as guitars?

Eric Wilson:
I'm going to go ahead and use my Les Paul.

Scott Schwertly:
Awesome. Well, can't wait to hear it. We're going to get everything set up here guys, and we will see you on the other side.

Eric Wilson:
All right. That was the JHS Kilt. My personal favorite overdrive pedal. I think it'll be yours too, if you pick one up.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. I mean this thing, super impressive. I mean, you really can't go wrong with, I mean, just again, just the versatility. The overdrive, distortion, fuzz, kind of get it all. I think that fuzz option is just a nice little bonus.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah.

Scott Schwertly:
So yeah, it's really cool. Definitely love this puddle as well. Awesome. Well, that's what we wanted to cover today with the JHS Kilt, the V1 version. Definitely, again, a very cool pedal to have. Join us next time as we cover one of our very own. In fact, we're going to be covering our Juno overdrive pedals. This was actually inspired by the very popular and famous Blues Breaker circuit. Ours is that with a little bit more. Particularly, we've added a little bit more gain to it. Just a little bit different than your standard Blues Breaker variety out there. Really looking forward to covering our very own Juno pedal in our next episode.

Eric Wilson:
Yeah. I'm excited about that one. I honestly haven't gotten to play the Juno too much because I've been busy building it, so it'll be nice to get to sit down and actually play the thing I've been building for a while.

Scott Schwertly:
Yeah. Definitely. It'll be fun to talk about that in the next one. Until then guys, have a great day. Have a great week and we will see you in the next episode.

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