JHS Unicorn, Charlie Brown V4, Pulp N Peel V4 review
Guitar - Fender Stratocaster, with D Allen Voodoo 69 neck and middle pickups and Seymour Duncan SSL5 bridge pickup.
Amp - Laney L20H, Laney LT212 cabinet with Celestion V30 speakers
Mic - Sennheiser e906 mic
I’ve always been a great fan of JHS pedals and with their growing collection of pedals I get more and more questions about how these pedals would apply to David Gilmour’s tones. In this review I’ll present some of my favourites. The Unicorn, Charlie Brown and the Pulp N Peel.
The essence of David Gilmour’s tone, apart from his mind and fingers obviously, is the combination of loud Hiwatts and fairly mids scooped uncompressed pedals. Right from the early days, with the Powerbooster and Fuzz Face up until more recent years, with Big Muffs and Tube Drivers. Despite minor changes in the selection of pedals, the essence has always been the same.
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, this can be hard to achieve unless you have that loud Hiwatt or similar sounding amps. Mid range and compression is the key to getting smooth tones and tones that cut through the dense band mix.
Personally I’ve gone from trying to replicate David’s tones to experimenting with more mid rangy and compressed overdrives and distortions. Part because I now tend to use other types of amps that demands different pedals but also because I find that scooped uncompressed pedals often have their limits.
Charlie Brown V4
The Charlie Brown is described as a Marshall JTM45 in a box, which to my ears at least, it really is. It’s got that classic early Marshall tone fairly similar to the early Fender tweeds, with a fat low end, sparkling top and smooth mid range.
Unlike most JTM style pedals, the Charlie Brown has a considerable output and an overall much smoother character. You can certainly crank the treble for that bright late 60s tone but the powerful 3-band EQ makes this an incredibly versatile pedal capable of anything from a glassy Powerboost to the warmer sounding Tube Driver and beyond.
Now you might think that Marshall and Gilmour doesn’t quite fit but those early Marshall amps had a lot in common with Fender tweeds, which has been David’s choice for studio recording since the early 90s. The Tube Driver is also no doubt based on the JTM/Bassman circuit.
I use the Charlie Brown both as a stand alone overdrive but also as an EQ stacked with other overdrives, like the Buffalo TD-X. Its transparent volume boost and onboard EQ makes it a great tool for shaping your tones.