When it comes to overdrives, there are literally tons to choose from. Many will alter the tone in some fashion, which might be what some players are after. A traditional Tube Screamer-type overdrive for example, adds mids while reducing the bottom end. Not my thing really, but for some this is desirable. Other overdrives seek to copy a signature tone of a favorite amp, and that has its pros and cons too. But, what if a player just wants to take his or her amp as it is and add some rich, creamy overdrive without trying to make it sound like something else?
Since 2009, JHS Pedals came up with just such a pedal, the Morning Glory. It is the company’s best-selling pedal, and the one that put JHS on the pedal building map. It is a low- to medium-gain overdrive that has a simple premise—it makes one’s amp sound like the same amp, but with the benefit of adding very natural sounding overdrive. It is what is known as a transparent overdrive, indeed an often overused term when describing overdrives. Yet that’s exactly what I got the moment I plugged in. It doesn’t really have its own tone, rather it sounds like your amp, just more of what you like about it.
This latest version, v4, adds some cool new features. Firstly, v4 has more headroom, which can be beneficial depending on the amp and the pickups in the guitar. The Treble Cut switch is now on the side of the pedal, as it’s pretty much a set-and-forget control anyway. A bigger change is the toggle switch on top, now shifting between a low-gain setting (with a blue LED) and a boosted, higher gain setting with a corresponding red LED. The “red” channel has double the headroom, more gain, and a bit more bottom end too. The two channels aren’t wildly different from one another, but enough to make a difference.
Another cool feature is a remote jack on the side of the pedal that allows you to add the Red Remote ($35), a small footswitch that you can put anywhere on your board. I liked the idea of having a footswitch controlling two channels, while taking up virtually no space.
So how does it sound? Well, my amp—a Marshall DSL—still sounded like a Marshall, just more! This is a good thing, as I really like this amp’s clean tone, but at times I want to dirty it up, and I still want it to sound like my amp, not something else. Oddly enough, I find the Morning Glory to sound more natural than my amp’s own overdrive channel, which seems to muck with my amp’s clean tone too much.
The Morning Glory v4 is one of those pedals that most guitarists will find indispensable. Even if you like your amp’s gain, adding the Morning Glory will just push it a little harder, without taking over. If you run your amp clean, use the Morning Glory’s red channel, and let the pedal do all the work. It won’t make you a better guitarist, but maybe a better sounding one!
WHAT WE LIKE
Really great sounding low- to medium-gain overdrive that just works right. It likes both single coil and humbucker guitars alike. Having the remote jack for adding a small footswitch that can go anywhere on your board, adds to the pedal’s overall flexibility, while being very easy to use.
Not much. I had two digital pedals in my chain before the Morning Glory, one which caused it to hum a little bit, (the other didn’t) even with the digital pedal off, and both pedals were powered with an isolated power supply. I’m not sure why this happened, but it’s something to consider when using the MG in one’s own effects chain.