JHS Pedals has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the guitar effects world. From humble origins with mods and Klones, to its current behemoth status with game changers like the Unicorn tap-tempo Uni-Vibe and the Colour Box preamp, the company produces a wide range of high quality stompboxes beloved by guitarists of all stripes. One such pedal, The Kilt, represents a joint effort between JHS and StuG, guitarist for the UK band Delirious? Designed to cover a lot of ground in a simple, streamlined package, The Kilt uses the original Bixonic Expandora as its starting point and evolves into a mythical creature of Highlander proportions.
Do-It-All Dirt Device
The Kilt features four mini toggle switches, four knobs, and two footswitches. At first glance that may be a bit intimidating for minimalists (such as myself) but I can assure you, using it is a breeze. The first switch is a Low Cut option. This is helpful for matching pickups or adding extra girth when needed. The G1 and G2 switches select a wide range of gain via specific resistance values. The Order switch enables you to choose the order of the two effects—boost before dirt or vice versa. The JFET boost sounds great in conjunction with the dirt, and it also makes a great standalone clean boost; if Batman had a dirt box in his utility belt, it would probably be the Kilt.
All those features help dish out some delicious dirt; this thing sounds killer. With a Stratocaster bridge pickup, the Low Cut on, G1 and G2 toggles in the off position, and no boost, with all knobs at noon, the Kilt delivered pleasant chimey drive akin to an amplifier on the verge of breakup. Kicking in the low end and both gain stages, my meek Strat went into beast mode and churned out some gnarly, chunky riffs. Turning the gain up around 3 o’clock got me into fuzz territory, and adding some pre-drive boost took it over the top into satisfying saturation - controlled chaos, if you will. Switching to an SG with humbuckers yielded monster fuzz tones with all controls maxed; it was wild, but not unusable.
The G1, G2 and Gain controls should be experimented with, as there are myriad tones available. Everything from the slightest drive to oscillating fuzztones of doom await you when you throw down with the Kilt. It’s impossible for me to cover every sound in one review, but all of the sounds are stellar. A word of caution: when using high gain settings with the boost engaged pre-dirt, you may get a high pitched glitchy noise. That’s not a bad thing, per se. It could be used to dramatic effect for one count of a song when everyone drops out. However, it may not be as welcome at the weekly blues jam, so just be sure to keep an eye on your controls.
Awesome dirt sounds aside, my favorite thing about the Kilt is its ability to use the boost independently. This is perfect for driving your amp, other dirt boxes, or just raising your level in the mix when you want to be heard. The Kilt is an incredible pedal on its own, but it makes a great playmate for your other stompboxes.
The Kilt is a killer dirtbox that gives you loads of useable options. From clean boost to chaotic fuzz, it’s all in there, and it all sounds really good. A chameleon in the best possible way, it matches up well with other dirt pedals and because of its versatility, it is a contender to be a mainstay on pedalboards everywhere. It is an example of perfectly executed beauty and power, but be warned: This one will blow some wind up your skirt.
What We Like: Awesome variety of overdriven to fuzzed-out tones. Boost can be used independently. Runs off a simple nine-volt power supply. Looks cool. Built to last.
Concerns: Potential to squeal when your knobs are maxed out. Your other dirt pedals will be sad from neglect.