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…
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.
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.
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!