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One of JHS’ first pedal designs, the handbuilt Pulp ’N’ Peel compressor (shown in production here) is not based on a traditional Ross/MXR design. JHS installed a little black buffer into the compressor, along with an on/off switch.
“In the summer of 2009, things got really crazy,” Scott remembers. “I’d quit my job and was doing pedals 15 to 18 hours a day in a small 10x15 shop in the backyard during the 100 degree Mississippi summer.. That was when I realized I was legitimately doing this full time. I was also six months behind and was at the danger point of having to refund things, so I had a discussion with my wife. She asked me, ‘Can you really make a living doing this?’ In my mind when she asked that, there was this split-second where I thought, ‘I don’t know.’ But I said ‘Yes, I can,’ and we went from there.”
Once the decision had been made to go full throttle into pedal manufacturing, Scott and his family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, where he formally opened JHS. “I hired my first employee and we started working together out of my basement. We kept growing and growing and eventually got a building, which we’ve had to remodel significantly to accommodate us. Right now we have 10 employees and we’re getting it done.”
With more employees in the shop, much of the day-to-day construction of handbuilt pedals as well as various administrative responsibilities have been delegated out of Scott’s hands, allowing him more time to design new products and expand the JHS lineup.
“I don’t build a lot of the pedals anymore,” he says. “I have three builders working, so now I’m always doing R&D and tinkering around. We have pedals like the SuperBolt [a pedal that emulates the tones of classic ’60s Supro amplifiers], where I’ll go away to my bench and work for weeks or months on a new design. The SuperBolt had been in my mind for well over a year, but I was so busy I just couldn’t build it. It took me letting the other guys build and getting some time to think to get it done.”
One of Josh Scott’s latest inventions is the SuperBolt, a stompbox designed to produce tonal qualities similar to a ’60s Supro amp. “SuperBolt had been in my mind for well over a year,” Scott admits, “but I was so busy I just couldn’t build it.”
The SuperBolt is just one among many JHS pedals that derive their tonal characteristics from amplifiers. “I don’t know if I ever thought about them in that way, but then again maybe I did because I couldn’t afford amps at the time. You have the Charlie Brown Channel Drive, which is the [Marshall] JTM45. The Angry Charlie is the JCM800, and, of course, now the SuperBolt, which is the Supros. I’ve said it before, especially in this economy: Are you going to buy a JTM45 or a $200 pedal? Yeah, I’d buy the pedal.”
As a guitar player himself, many (but not all) JHS creations are pedals that Scott has, at some point, dreamed of owning and playing. “I would say that 85 percent of the stuff on our site is stuff I’ve always wanted in a pedal but could never find.” That said, he’s open to new ideas and collaboration. “I have a good friend here in Kansas City who is the reason the Double Barrel overdrive exists. He wanted a Tube Screamer combined with my Morning Glory. So I did one for him, then his friend wanted one, then his friend wanted one, and now I look and we’ve sold tons of them.”