JHS Pedal Mods – Sloppy (complaint)

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JHS Pedals are one of my favorite guitar effects companies. They make some of the most sought-after pedals and offer some of the most unique and innovative pedal modifications. I don’t have any experience with their original products, but I have had a few of my own pedals modified by them – Boss TR-2, DD-5 and MXR Dyna Comp.

Now, with that said, I do have one complaint…and it’s about the quality of their workmanship.

It. Is. Sloppy…

Again, I’ve only had experience with their modifications so I can’t speak to the quality of their original products. I trust that they’re good, but I really wouldn’t know.

My modified Boss pedals both incorporate an additional top-mounted switch for added functionality. To accommodate this switch, the modification requires that a hole be cut out underneath the switch plate (where the 9V battery would typically be). This hole was one of the first signs of this sloppy workmanship that I’m talking about. I really don’t know their means of creating this hole, but from the looks of it, it seems as if it was done by hammer and chisel. Or if they did have the appropriate tools, the individual working on my pedal just possessed horrible motor skills. Basically, the the edges were pretty jagged. But I mean, who cares, right? It’s only cosmetic, and for the most part, unseen.

Well, ok. But the problem I noticed was that they didn’t cut enough of the hole to accommodate the switch.

To back up a bit…when you stomp on a Boss pedal, the top plate and the main chassis of the pedal should meet, and there should be a bit of a “clank” sound. In some cases, the rubber grommet that lines the hole where the end-screw goes will dampen that sound. But for the most part the plate should go down all the way.  What I noticed was that near the end of the depression, the main switch felt kinda “squishy.” So I opened it up.

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The photo above is what’s immediately under the main switch plate. The thing with all the wires sticking out of it is the top-mounted additional switch that I’ve detached from the switch plate (in the background). Going down near the cut-out, do you see the two rub marks right above the hole? Those marks were made as a result of the bottom portion of the additional switch making contact with the chassis. This was the “squishy” feeling. This is bad. It’s unnecessary binding of components; It’s wear-and-tear where there shouldn’t be any. Also, that black wire coming out of its own hole right next to the plastic switch? What is that? Why wasn’t it routed with the rest of the other wires? No idea.

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This picture above was taken after I had addressed a handful of issues including the issue about the unnecessary binding of the additional switch. You can see where I carved out an additional cut-out (dremel w/ cutting bit) so that the additional switch has room to back up when the main switch plate is pressed down. I also redid the connections of the LED (and while I was at it, I thought I’d change it from red to pink and added a metal LED holder, just for looks). Previously the positive (I think) lead was directly soldered on the the bottom of the switch. But I didn’t like this so I snipped it and made the connection with that red wire you see there. The other lead for the LED is currently connected in the same fashion as before, although I think it’s much more secure now. I also rerouted that lone black wire through the main cut-out so it could be with the rest of its wire buddies.

Not surprisingly, I noticed I had to do the same amount of clean-up for my modded TR-2 as well. I faced the same issue with the switch not having enough room to move. This  time, the cut-out job was even more shoddy than the one in the DD-5! Also, I noticed that the battery connector was left inside the compartment. Why? There is no longer any room for the battery. Probably just an oversight. Who knows. And I noticed that during the clean-up, a wire connection was severed. Oops! My bad. Upon closer inspection, the wire that was severed just wasn’t properly stripped; basically, only a few strands of the wire remained and these remaining strands were subsequently soldered onto the leads of the additional switch. In addition to this bad soldering job, I felt that the switch could have had more slack in general; the top plate barely opens up when I unscrew the end-screw of the top plate. It should be able to do this. I also noticed a little stub of a wire (with insulation in tact). I know it achieves the same result, but why wasn’t this wire just de-soldered instead of left dangling?

Alright. Well, I had no idea that this post was going to contain this many words. But I guess I was just sorta surprised at the sloppiness I encountered when I had to open up my pedals. The components pushing up against each other is sort of a big deal to me. The sloppy wiring/soldering job is of some concern, but not as big of a deal. Am I ever going to get a pedal modified by JHS? Sure. But now I’ll kinda know what to expect.  The silver lining in all of this is that I get a certain degree of satisfaction knowing that I have made these improvements. But, you know, I shouldn’t have had to. Oh well.

The End.

Brady Cases Custom Pedaltrain-1 Case

Back in March, I ordered a case from Brady Cases for my Pedaltrain 1 to replace the stock hard case that it came with. The original case really wasn’t meant to last and it was only a matter of time before I needed to replace it.

As you can see, it’s a lift-off style case and my board – Pedaltrain 1 – pretty much stays in the bottom portion of the case all the time (more about my board later). The pull-out handle and the wheels were options I decided to add on to make it easier to transport.

Below are some photos.

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RC-2 Stop/Tempo Switch Mod

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Here’s my RC-2 that I modified. I found the instructions here and got this switch to install. The reason why I used this switch is because it was the strongest option for a momentary switch that was normally closed (NC). IMPORTANT: it MUST be NC in order for the switch to operate correctly with the RC-2. The wiring portion of the mod was fairly simple. I would say that the toughest part of the mod was cutting the square hole underneath the lid (not visible in photos).

I’ve always wanted the simple functionality of killing the looped phrase with one tap as opposed to a double tap, but the only way this was possible was with an external foot switch. I always thought this defeated the purpose of having a small looper pedal. But with this simple modification, I now have the foot switch mounted on the top.

Lots of win here.

Rich Mullins – Homeless Man

Rich Mullins. Right up there with Mr. Rogers as one of the few people in history I’d wanna meet if it were possible.

I’m not a fan of every single one of his songs (mostly due to stylistic preference). But of the few that I do like, they are some of my favorite songs of all time.

I still remember hearing the news about his passing. It was me, my brother and my mom. We were in central Florida at the time for a violin music competition. We took quite a handful of road trips like  this, and wherever we were, we’d tune in to the local Christian radio station. And that’s how we heard about Rich’s tragic car accident.

This little segment interviews a lot of the people whose lives Rich touched, and it’s pretty evident that he only cared about one thing – following Jesus.

Walrus Audio Voyager

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This is the Voyager from Walrus Audio, and it is quite the awesome overdrive pedal. If you love the sound of your amp and are trying to find an overdrive pedal that’ll preserve that tone, this transparent overdrive is what you’re looking for.

I think my personal rule of thumb for choosing a good overdrive pedal is that it is transparent. It was actually pretty tough for me to compare the Voyager with other drive boxes that I currently own because I think all of them are actually quite good at doing this (Lovepedal Amp11, Boss OD-3, Maxon ROD 881). I spent a good deal of time A/B-ing them…and honestly, I’d have to say that they’re all pretty good. In the same way you come to appreciate good headphones, I’d have to spend more time with this thing to see what it has that the others don’t. Maybe its got something up its sleeve, maybe it doesn’t. But man, look at it! I know this matters very little, but it definitely gets points for looks.

My Mini Board

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I know I mentioned that I’d be featuring my new pedalboard in upcoming entires…this is not it.

At some point I realized that my days of acquiring effects resulted in a small stash of pedals that I didn’t use. So I wondered if I’d be able to make a complete and usable mini effects rig out of them. This is what came about from that curiosity. It’s mounted on a Pedaltrain Mini, and is pretty much really all I need to facilitate my style of playing. What it lacks, you’ll see when I feature my full board. Video demo coming soon, hopefully.

What I like about a stripped down set-up is that it sorta forces you to make do with less. This mini board is made up of exactly half the number of pedals of my full rig. Granted, the effects on this mini board are pretty much the ones I have on most of the time when I’m using my full board, I think the novelty of this smaller set-up still being able to pack quite a punch makes this configuration appealing.

Here’s the signal chain:
Morley Maverick
Boss TU-2
MXR Analog Chorus
Lovepedal Amp11
Boss OD-3
Boss DD-5 (w/ Monte Allums mod)

UPDATE: demo below

Easy Mod

bought a pack of LEDs of varying colors off of amazon (3mm & 5mm) and decided to swap the LEDs on a couple pedals. for the Maxon chorus I had to do this because under the stage lights — with the stock diffused red LED — it would sometimes appear that the pedal was on when it was not.

for the DD-5, I just did it for fun.

coming soon: most recent pedalboard arrangement and new Pedaltrain case from Brady Cases.

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Lava Cable’s Solder-free Patch Cables

My current set-up.

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But what I wanna highlight are the new patch cables. Previously, I had George L cables installed. I had been using them for about 8 years, I think. They were great, but there were a few occasions when the connections became insecure, causing me to spend anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes to figure out where the kink was. A couple of times the issue occurred right before a live set. THE WORST.

Anyway, I was drawn to the Lava cables because of a couple things: 1) They had the smallest plug of any patch cable I had ever seen 2) assembled cable looked very secure.

here’s a closer look.

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For anyone considering these, I have to first warn you that these are NOT the easiest to assemble. I’m not gonna waste time typing out the instructions ’cause you can easily google that. But I will link this video, because I believe that if you assemble them the way this guy says to, you’ll be good. If you don’t have one of those meters he’s using, I think a cable tester like this one should do (this is what I used). I will add one thing though. I know this guys says that the cables only need to be “finger-tight.” but USE PLIERS when tightening them. unless you’re ridiculously strong, pliers are the only way to guarantee that they are securely assembled.

I’m pretty happy with these. They look incredibly tidy and I do think the audio quality is better. There were some noises (very slight) that I remember having with my old patch cables that I just sort of accepted. But with these, the bypassed signal is dead quiet!

good times, noodle salad…