JHS PG 14 Paul Gilbert Signature Distortion Pedal Review

NOT a bad looking pedal

Cost: $199.00 from Reverb.com, click here to get your own!

How it Works & Final Score: 9.2

Not only the is JHS’s PG-14 a great looking pedal, but it’s also incredibly diverse and versatile. The PG-14 is designed around a FET based distortion engine. This engine used to provide a classic, pushed tube amp tone through any rig. The volume, mid, and tone controls are pretty standard, but after that it gets really interesting!

The “Mid Freq” control acts as a preamp in front of that FET distortion engine. This gives you additional (and incredible) opportunities to sculpt your tone to your exact specifications, be that Paul Gilbert’s tone or not. Then, as you move into that FET engine portion of the circuit, you have your drive and push controls. The gain is fairly straightforward, adjusting the saturation of your distortion tone. The push knob is something special, where it emulates that pushed response of vintage tubes. This can help shape your distortion tone from crackle to hiss to stadium-sized stack tones. Playing with this knob with the gain low shows just accurately it emulates that beloved tube amp breakup.

Was that enough tone shaping controls for you? I hope so…

The PG-14 matches up pretty nice with this Schecter Ultra III huh??

Sound: 9.5

This is one of the best sounding distortion pedals out there, plain and simple. The only thing that could possibly be a criticism is that when playing I want to constantly tweak my tones between songs, which is hard with 6 tone controls. In the studio though, this pedal will absolutely shine.

The tube breakup emulation in the PG-14 feels so authentic. The touch response and sensitivity is there, with light pick strokes creating the quietest, compact distortion tones that quickly fade away. Start hitting harder and you get gushes of sustain and thick overdrive and distortion. It literally allows you to play so so much more dynamically without touching the volume knob on your guitar at all. It’s crazy.

The other big thing that the JHS PG-14 claims is that it can recreate these tones and overdriven sounds in any rig, high out put or low output. This was one of the most rewarding parts of the pedal. Whether it went into a small, solid state Orange Crush 20 or my louder, tube powered Vox combo amp, it sounded rich and responsive. It’s a phenomenal pedal full of stage worthy sounds.

Durability: 10

So it’s always hard to judge a pedals durability when you’re only playing it for a week or even a month, but JHS pedals have a sterling reputation and my full confidence. Some of my past reviews have been recently edited to reflect pedals that suddenly stopped working and weren’t as advertised, but the JHS line is not one of them. The JHS PG-14 is far more compact than equally versatile and complex distortions and is well built to stick on anyone’s pedal board in my humble opinion.

Value: 8

The only downside to JHS pedals is that you have to pay for all this quality. Not that that’s really a criticism anyway. The deal here is that the PG-14 sounds so dang good and is really worth all the hype, it just can’t really fit in everyone’s budget. Much like their amazing Muffuletta fuzz, the sound will not let you down, but you have to want and need this thing to shell out $200 for it. If budgeting is an issue, there are plenty of more suitable distortion/overdrive pedals in the under $100 range, which is the only limiting factor here. Otherwise, the PG-14 is still a great value in that it comes in less than a lot of high end, boutique pedals and blows pretty much every other distortion out of the water!

Demo clips and Ultimate-Guitar.com review up soon!

Boss CH-1 Chorus Pedal Review

Our first review of 2020, but does the popular chorus pedal live up to its popularity?

Cost: $119.99 new, or find one cheaper HERE from Reverb.com

How it Works and Final Score: 8.5

The Boss CH-1 Super Chorus is one of the most popular and reliable guitar pedals on the market. Built incredibly tough and resilient, like many Boss foot pedals, the CH-1 features 4 controllable parameters. Effect level controls the volume of the chorus effect while the EQ controls the high/low frequency contrast in your signal. Rate predictably controls the speed of the modulation, going from subtle to swirling chorus in no time. Lastly, the depth control allows you to shape the intensity of the chorus effect. Even better, the pedal has both mono and stereo outputs for shaping your tone through your live or studio rig.

Sound: 8.0

The Boss CH-1 certainly didn’t disappoint once I plugged it in. However, it certainly feels like a “safe” pedal, in the sense that it provides so many classic chorus tones, without the ability to descend into true modulation mayhem the way some newer, more pricey chorus pedals would. Everything from The Police to The Cult and even jazz and funk tones pour out of this pedal with a few turns of the dial. While I didn’t feel the EQ knob does much to drastically vary the tones, the depth, rate, and effect level controls give you a wide range of sounds.

Most importantly, the CH-1 is incredibly clear. The pedal adds all that muscle and harmony to your guitar tone without losing notes in chords or the full bodied tone of each note in a guitar solo. The CH-1’s ability to go from warm to cold at a moment’s notice is inspiring, even if it is limited in scope. For rock, jazz, or country players, the CH-1 is a perfect pedalboard partner, for more experimental players in the indie or shoegaze arena, perhaps looks elsewhere.

The Super Chorus has taken a place on my no-thrills pedal board.

Durability: 9.5

Just like any Boss pedal, this one deserves an almost perfect score. This pedals are simply built to last, which makes them that much more attractive to me. I love knowing that having this and DS-1 on my pedalboard means they will work today, tomorrow, and probably twenty years from now. The CH-1 feels exactly like every other Boss pedal I’ve played and I shouldn’t even have to say much more on this.

Value: 8.0

Value was a bit harder to judge for the CH-1 than the durability was. The $119.99 price of a new pedal seems a bit heavy for such a mass produced, simple chorus pedal, especially when many great Boss pedals like the DS-1 or Blues Driver are under $100. However, they can be found much cheaper used, in the $50-60 range. For the reliability and quality, “safe” tones, the CH-1 is hard to beat at that price point. For someone like me who uses chorus just to add a little thickness or dimension to their tone, there probably isn’t a better option at this price, as it beats out the vastly smaller and cheaper Ammoon pedal. Overall, it generally lives up to all the hype and popularity, though I wish it had just a bit more madness to it.

Where it all started just a short year ago…

Happy New Year!!

January and February 2020 are about to have more guitar reviews than all of last year, so now is a good time to make sure you follow us on Facebook or Twitter to stay updated! And stay tuned for our new Instagram page coming up the pipeline.

New reviews coming soon for products from Gretsch, Towner USA, Goldfinch Guitars, Schecter Guitar Research, Mooer, Harmony, and many many more!

Mooer Acoustikar Acoustic Simulator Pedal Review

Small size and price define the Mooer Acoustikar’s appeal for many pedal heads.

Cost: $88.00 new but search HERE for a deal on Reverb.com

How it Works and Final Score: 8.2

The Mooer Acoustikar is a fun pedal that’s small in both size and price. Sure to please most pedal heads, an acoustic simulator is far from a pedalboard staple, but provides some unexpected tonal fun. The Acoustikar has three modes, Piezo, Standard, and Jumbo, which model three common acoustic sounds. Jumbo has the louder, fuller Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar while Standard is a fairly straightforward Dreadnought sound. The true bypass Acoustikar gives you three controllable parameters, including the “Top” knob which gives you supreme control over the high frequencies in your tone. The “Level” setting pretty obviously cover the output, and the “Body” control gives nice control over the resonance of the simulated acoustic tone.

Sound: 8.5

The Acoustikar is a really fun pedal to mess around with, especially because it gives your electric a very clean and snappy tone even when it doesn’t quite get that acoustic tone you may want. I felt the Jumbo setting with the “Top” rolled all the way up gave the most rich, realistic acoustic tone. All three settings felt closer to a true acoustic tone when played fingerstyle, it really amplifies that percussive, bass response well. At some points it did make the guitar’s tone sound too thin or organic to really replicate the sound, and I would generally avoid the “Standard” setting if you’re trying to sound like an acoustic. What the “Standard” setting can do though is provide really interesting texture to your tone, that sounds really good mixed into backing tracks as a rhythm tone. The “Piezo” setting is the most responsive to mixing and matching the parameter settings, and to be fair does an excellent job of getting to that bright, metallic piezo tone.

Durability: 9

The all metal case seems incredibly sturdy, and the small size makes it incredibly easy to pack and travel without worrying about damage. While the Boss Acoustic Simulator may have the brand name and legacy of rugged performance, this Mooer pedal seems well constructed and gig ready. One issue for me was the amount of noise produced by the pedal, which was far and away worse with my single coil Telecaster than with my humbucker laden guitars. For me, that’s not a durability concern, but for some players it may require them to have some sort of noise reduction pedal on their board.

Value: 7

The Boss Acoustic Simulator is probably the biggest competition here, and the Acoustikar is a good bit cheaper. However, in my opinion it doesn’t quite provide the same level of acoustic simulation as the Boss alternative. While I don’t have a review up of the AC-3, I have used it extensively and really enjoy it. The Acoustikar’s Jumbo and Piezo settings get really close to a nice, acoustic simulation, but just not close enough to justify purchase over the AC-3. It’s a phenomenal little pedal, but it is more fun if you’re just looking for a cool pedal to use live. It’ll add some snappy, percussive textures, and as long as you aren’t expecting pristine acoustic tone, it may make you re-think taking an acoustic on stage.

TC Electronic Ditto Stereo Looper Pedal Review

My top rated, and go-to loop pedal!

Cost: $125.00, new or cheaper from Reverb.com

How It Works and Final Score: 8.3

The big brother of the best selling TC Electronic Ditto Looper, the Stereo version adds a few helpful tweaks to help you get the most out of your looping experience. The pedal adds a stereo I/O (or dual mono) functionality and lets you connect the pedal via USB to your computer. This way, you can upload backing tracks or import/export saved riffs. You can save riffs and loops thanks to the “store” switch that sits atop the pedal. To save a quick demo or riff, hold down on the “store” switch, export it off the pedal, and then delete it by simply holding the switch up. This pedal can be as complicated or as simple as you like, running exactly like the simpler Ditto Looper or taking on a bigger part of your digital footprint. Oh, and did I mention that stereo setup means you could have multiple rigs (bass + guitar) running into the same pedal for live shows? Imagine how tight a band could sound with that much control…

Sound: 8

When discussing the sound of a loop pedal you want to look at a few key features. First off, how is the output level of the pedal? Is it useable for live use, do you lose a lot of sound volume? How sensitive is the control, etc..Next, you want to look at the sound quality and make sure the sound it is spitting back out sounds like the original, true guitar signal. In the case of the Ditto Stereo looper you get amazing sound quality with little to no noise or buzz. It’s incredibly inspiring as a songwriter to be able to layer long, repeating chord sequences or riffs while trying to form lead lines or melodies. You can record and loop up to 5 minutes of total audio with the Ditto Stereo Looper, all with unlimited tracks. That’s a whole lot of music to create.

The only downside I noticed is that at the lower end of the volume knob, you don’t have as much control over the sound. It quickly goes from loud to too quiet. I’m not sure if all the pedals feature this (only) decent volume sweep, but for the price I was expecting a bit more control. However, it wasn’t a major issue and the pedal still provided ample amounts of playable and useable sounds and volumes.

Durability: 9

The metal case on this thing is so damn rugged, it’s probably the pedal that takes the biggest beating on my board and it still looks good as new. This pedal has now made it through 4 years on my board without a single issue, all the input jacks and connections are rock solid with no adjustments necessary or signs of wear and tear. Usually, the power connecter jack goes first on all my pedals, so far this one has had the longest life. It’s just a well built, reliable pedal. It’s as simple as that!

Value: 8

While it’s no where as expensive as some of the most complex looping systems out there, the Ditto Stereo Looper is almost $30-40 more expensive than the Ditto Looper. So unless you feel you need the USB interface or dual mono functionality, you may be better off just getting the little brother. This limits the overall value to the average player, making it a reliable if not overly complicated option for people who just play in their bedroom. Overall, I think it fits my needs perfectly and I have never regretted my purchase or looked to upgrade. I would only recommend either of the Ditto Loopers to players looking for a simple, around the house looping pedal. While the live functionality on here is great, people playing in bigger bands may want to have more control over multiple channels.

Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive Pedal Review

A reliable overdrive with some nice, extra features such as a remote jack for complicated rig setups. Find yours here!

Cost: $99.00, new

Huge thanks to Ed for making all these great Osiamo product reviews happen!

How it Works and Final Score: 8.7

I have to start this review out by saying that this pedal should not sound different than the ODR-mini logically, but honestly, the ODR-1 sounds SOOO much better than the mini. It features the same three, simple controls: drive, spectrum (tone), and level. The pedal is German engineered, Chinese made, and covers a wide range of tones from thick distortion to more touch sensitive, natural overdrive. Furthermore, the remote control jack switching systems means you can control the pedal remotely, via something such as a footswitch or control board, for players who route all their pedals into racks, and then control from the stage. Or, if your guitar tech controls your effects, but you still want the pedal onstage, this input makes that possible.

Sound: 8.5

The sound is great, I’m impressed that the pedal earned the distinction as Nashville Guitarist’s #1 overdrive pedal, but I’m sure it has something to do with the mix of sound quality and durability. The spectrum knob works much better on this pedal than the mini, I don’t know, maybe I got a dud of a mini, but you could really dial in humbucker tones, single coil tones, and incredibly levels of clarity using the knob. The drive control goes from searing distortion, similar to some of the more tame Boss DS-1 tones, to cranked tube amp simulations favored by blues, pop, and country players. It certainly sounds versatile, and I would love to have this on my board.

Durability: 9

I’m a huge fan of pedals that have this type of build design, with one large, flat pedal instead of a single footswitch. I feel it makes the pedal more durable, something Boss has shown to great effect, and I feel I have more control over it, aka, there is no threat of me missing the footswitch in a dark club or basement (or while drunk). If that many of the music capital’s guitarists trust this pedal, than I am sold as I’ve seen nothing that would contradict that on my end. I have put a bit of a beating on it so far, and it just keeps coming back for more. I trust it.

Value: 8.5

For $99, you really can’t get much better unless you want to just use a run of a mill distortion pedal. Many of my comments on the ODR-mini are just not true for this pedal, it feels sturdy, it sounds almost boutique, and it actually is a great value here. It has way more bite than a Boss Blues Driver or Tube Screamer, but it isn’t quite a distortion pedal either. I like it a lot, and hope one of these finds it way back into my hands soon.

Nobels ODR-mini Pedal Review

The ODR-mini takes up little space while providing lots of sound

Cost: $79.00, new. Want your own? Check HERE for the best prices!

Huge thanks to Ed from Osiamo for sending this for review!

How it Works and Final Score: 7.7

The ODR-mini is the smaller, more pedal board friendly version of its big brother, the Nobels ODR-1. Capable of going from overdriven tube amp to crushing distortion, the ODR-mini is a versatile, if unspectacular overdrive option for your pedalboard. Three control knobs allow for tone shaping with fairly simple parameters. Drive controls the level of the gain, while level controls the output volume of the mini pedal. The true bypass pedal also features tone control that is labeled as “spectrum” but is essentially normal bright/dark contour.

Sound: 7.5

The ODR-mini’s best feature is that it is a strong sounding overdrive in a compact package. Before I get into everything I love about this pedal, I have to say that for the price, it is basically just an average overdrive that isn’t any cheaper than more trusted pedals such as the Tube Screamer. However, it sounds straight up good through a clean tube amp, especially with the spectrum knob at the 12 o’clock position. The drive is able to provide a great range from subtle dirty tones for country and pop to searing leads for rock and blues. I found the spectrum control to be a bit too bright for single pickup guitars when cranked, but otherwise all other control parameters were great and easy to adjust. The output was especially useful for breaking up my Vox AC15 when the gain was turned down for a real touch sensitive, and natural tube sound.

Durability: 8

I’m always a bit more skeptical of mini pedals when it comes to lifetime, but this one seems to be an exception to the rule as it feels really solid and well put together. Furthermore, because it takes up so little space on the pedalboard and is affordable, I wouldn’t have any concerns about using it live or taking it on the road. Lastly, the pedal was quiet through my pedal chain, no buzz or hiss, except for at really high volumes, which is understandable. I have very few concerns about slapping this on my pedal board long term, and would trust it for live shows. While it doesn’t have the track record of my tube screamer, I’ll be watching these pedals closely going forward.

Value: 7.5

The pedal is fairly affordable as a sub-$100 option on a crowded market, which limits its ceiling a bit here. With so many great options out there, it is hard to stick out, even if it is a great pedal. Overall, I think the pedal would be incredibly popular if it was more well known, as many pedal buyers tend to trust tried and tested brands or truly boutique (and overpriced) pedals. But if you’re looking for something small, compact, and reliable, the ODR-mini is a phenomenal option, worth every cent.

Ammoon Nano Chorus Pedal Review

One of the most underrated, affordable chorus pedals on the market.

Cost: $29.99 new but prices may vary on Reverb

Gifted to me by my brother and been on my board ever since.

How it Works & Final Score: 7.8

If you’re looking for a big sounding chorus pedal that won’t take up a lot of budget or pedalboard space, look no further! The Ammoon Chorus is a true bypass nano pedal with two modes: “Deep” and “Normal”. These two modes, controlled by a small switch, basically control the intensity of the modulation type.

Both these modes are further modified via the “level”, “depth”, and “rate” controls. “Level” is fairly straight forward, and controls the level of the modulated signal mixed over your original signal. “Depth” on this pedal essentially controls the number of signals that the pedal recreates and layers over your original, also controlling how thick or heavy the chorus effect is. Lastly, “rate”, controls the time of the delays that help thicken up that chorus sound.

Sound: 6.5

Don’t get me wrong, this chorus pedal sounds great and can get you all the famous chorus tones from EVH to Andy Summers, but it is just missing a few things. The “deep” mode is almost too modulated and can really only be used for intense atmospherics or shoe-gaze performances. While this isn’t a big deal, I felt it kind of neuters that whole feature for most players.

However, the “normal” mode is reliable and produces great sounds. One of the major criticisms that lost it some points was that the depth knob is just not capable of producing quite as rich tones as say the Boss CH-3 pedal, especially when it comes to the lower end of the control knob. Once you crank it, it really shines through however, and makes for some inspiring lead sounds. One interesting note: The “normal” mode sounds phenomenal with both the depth and rate cranked to create the sound I hoped the “deep” mode would with dense layers or rich modulation, fast delay, and a really thick sound.

Durability: 8

While it’s no Boss or MXR pedal with a rugged metal casing that could survive a nuclear blast, it has lasted several years on my board without any issues that couldn’t be fixed. After some heavy use, the washers on the in- and outputs came a bit loose but were easily tightened. While this isn’t a big deal, it still keeps it from a perfect score despite the aluminum alloy seeming pretty reliable. Plus, as a nano pedal, it’ll take up barely any space on your board and can be cheaply replaced.

Value: 9

Another piece of guitar gear that really shines in the value department, this is one of the best cheap pedals you can get. It will do 80% or more of what most chorus pedals do for a fraction of the price. I mean, it’s like $30 on Amazon, maybe cheaper elsewhere? If you have a budget to stick to, this has to outcompete $100 or even $50 chorus pedals, even if the sound isn’t totally there.