As the delay pedal arms race brings us bigger boxes with more elaborate modelling, additional knobs and toggles, and larger footprints, one might wonder about those players who just need a couple of bells and whistles, who maybe want to reserve some pedalboard space for, y'know, more fuzz. JHS, no stranger to big delay pedals, have not forgotten those players, as evidenced by the new iteration of its very first delay, the Pink Panther.
The Pink Panther was initially launched 10 years ago, then supplanted by JHS's Panther and Panther Cub pedals. The latter two are analog pedals with larger footprints. The new Pink Panther is digital, and manages to (effectively) squeeze tap tempo—and other features—into a standard stompbox . . . with top-mounted jacks! You know what that means: room for that sixth fuzz pedal!
But before you buy that sixth fuzz pedal, you need to know how the Pink Panther sounds and which particular bells and whistles it offers, right? I'll tell you. On the side of the box is a recessed switch that selects between two voicings: "Tape" and "Digital." On the top of the box are controls for the delay tempo ("Time"), the amount of delay in the signal ("Mix"), the rhythm of the delay ("Ratio"), the number of repeats ("Repeats") and a tone control ("Tone"). Time could be considered "backwards": the rate slows down as you turn clockwise. Tone rolls off high end as you turn it counterclockwise.
There's also a toggle for modulation; the characteristics are slightly different for each voicing but up ("Mod 2") is more dramatic, down ("Mod 1") is more subtle, and the center position defeats the modulation entirely. There's also a jack for external tap control but, as noted, JHS managed to squeeze onboard tap into the pedal's relatively tiny structure.
When plugged in, Pink Panther sits nicely in the mix no matter which voicing you use, and isn't overwhelmed by overdrive or distortion. The Tape setting is full, rich, and a little darker than the original signal; really, its implementation offers the rare opportunity to use "warmer" as an appropriate euphemism for "less top end." In this mode, Mod 1 adds just enough wow and flutter to emphasize the "wow" by not distracting with too much flutter. Mod 2 changes the balance, offering a more noticeable (but not overwhelming) warble.
The Digital voicing sounds gorgeous—clear without being bland—and, if it weren't for the crisp (not harsh), distinct repeats, it could pass for a tape echo with a new reel. Factor in the Tone control (which essentially is a low-pass filter) and the effect can be very warm without introducing any murk. In this setting, Mod 1 just smears the repeats a bit more. Interestingly, Mod 2 really doubles down on the modulation with a seasick, almost-vibrato character, but the well-defined signal of the Digital voicing keeps the effect in line. This setting doesn't exactly scream "Digital!" but it is fun.
The Pink Panther sounds great at virtually any setting, is easy to use, and the tap implementation in the pedal's small footprint did not flummox my size 13 feet. If you need a good delay that doesn't take up a lot of your time or creativity, the Pink Panther just might steal your heart.
What We Like: Great tones in a small, easy to use format.
Concerns: None, but at this price point, you're literally paying more in order to get less pedal. For many, pedalboard real estate will be worth the premium; for others, it may be harder to rationalize.