The Ruby Red is a collaboration between legendary guitarist Butch Walker and JHS Pedals, bringing the two together to create his very own signature overdrive. Based on the popular JHS Superbolt pedal, the Ruby Red takes it a step further, adding additional flexibility with a separate boost channel and some additional gain control. A quick note on the Superbolt: the original pedal was based on the tones emulating a vintage Supro amp being driven hard. Think a small, low-watt class-A amp design, cranked up to give you that really raw, gritty old-school vibe—that’s the Ruby Red.
The controls are pretty basic: Volume, Tone and Drive, while the boost side has a dedicated Volume control and footswitch. The boost channel is a new design for JHS—a clean two-stage booster. It’s designed to really push your amp, or the Superbolt side of this pedal, whichever you prefer. Thankfully, the Boost can be used independently of the gain channel. Another great feature is you can choose the order—have it go first, so it drives the Superbolt, with the effect of adding more gain, or have it come after the drive stage, where it works more as a volume boost. There’s no right or wrong way; try both and see which you prefer. In a way, you’re really getting two pedals in one with the Ruby Red.
And if having the additional Boost feature is not enough, there is another small toggle giving you even more gain. In the normal setting, the Superbolt goes from almost-clean, to a medium overdrive, but with the additional gain mode, you move from medium gain to a heavier “the-amp-is-about-ready-to-explode” type of gain. Yet, the Ruby Red doesn’t have a compressed, modern feel to it either. This pedal exudes old school flavor all the way.
WHAT WE LIKE
If you’re looking for a wide variety of vintage tones, the Ruby Red is sure to satisfy. There is a huge range of gain, which accentuates the upper midrange, while the low end is deemphasized. The Tone control is there more to add sparkle and clarity, and does not really impact the low end too much. Personally, I feel this is a great tool in a band context, and with the Gain at moderate amounts, it gives you a raw and raspy, non-compressed overdrive that cuts easily through any mix. The added gain toggle on the other hand, really gets the Ruby Red to push the limits.
The Boost channel on its own actually features a little more low-end than the Superbolt side, which I prefer. It’s a full-sounding boost that sounds great on its own, and it does a lot to push the Superbolt into supersonic territory. Between adding the boost, and the added gain feature, you can really make this pedal push any clean sounding amp into higher gain territory, yet it retains that vintage vibe.
While I liked the Boost and thought it sounded incredible, it was pretty noisy with the volume control turned up only past 10 o’clock. And if you add the Boost to the Superbolt with the gain up high, the noise is readily apparent. In a band context it might not be an issue, but for home or recording I found it fairly distracting.
In the end if you like the natural sound of your amps fairly clean or at the edge of breakup, but would really like to push the amp harder, this might be the pedal for you. A wide range of tones are possible, and the Ruby Red gives you that classic Supro sound on steroids. If you’re after that, you’ll love this pedal.