Gear Review: JHS Moonshine Overdrive

BRAND: JHS Pedals

MODEL: Moonshine Overdrive. At it’s heart the Moonshine is JHS’s take on the classic TS-808 Overdrive; possibly the most popular circuit ever created. But the Moonshine has a lot more on tap (or in the still) than the 808 as we’ll see.

COST: $199

DO I OWN IT?: Yes

PROS: With it’s foundation as one of the most iconic sounds in modern music, the Moonshine will work in almost any setting from Blues to Country to Rock. The Edge, SRV, Brad Paisley even Metallica have used this type of pedal both live and in recordings. So when people hear those tones and frequencies it will be a familiar sound.

But the Moonshine is way more than a 808 clone! This pedal has a lot more under the hood than your father’s tube screamer. It has an internal charge pump that will take your standard Boss style 9v power supply and internally bring it up to 18v for more clarity and headroom. The “Proof” toggle also gives you a lot of options. In the Up position you have the standard TS style set up (albeit better because of the 18v charge pump) with more volume than the Down position. In the Down position, the Proof toggle gives you more sustain, grit, and compression with much more mid range. JHS even claims some Dumble tones are possible in this setting (The PGS demo covers that HERE). The other controls are the standard TS style Volume, Tone and Drive in the classic position. There is a lot of different sounds available with this pedal from low to high gain, and from crisp to full and thick.

CONS: There is nothing inherently bad with the design of this pedal. It’s cons only exist if you want or need it to be something other than it was designed to be, and then it wouldn’t be the right pedal for you.

If you’re hoping that this could be a sort of 2 in 1 pedal with quick flip of the Proof toggle, think again. The two tone stacks don’t have a unity volume between them. The Up position is louder then the down so you’d have switch the V/T/D settings to match the change, making it more trouble than it’s worth for most players.

If you’re looking for a very transparent Overdrive, this NOT the pedal for you. JHS makes no bones about it, the Moonshine is a non-transparent overdrive. If you want transparent then try the JHS Morning Glory, Emerson Em-Drive, Lotus Snowjob, Analogman King of Tone, or many other great pedals. The Moonshine is a wonderfully tone-saturating experience that doesn’t keep your guitar’s natural tone… it takes it to another level.

One “Con” that might be really fair is the cost. At $199 retail this isn’t a cheap pedal. It’s not outrageous either. A stock Ibanez TS-808 will cost you $20 less, and a modded one will cost you $20-50 more. But there’s no question that it’s price is going to hold some folks back from pulling the trigger on this pedal.

HOW WOULD YOU USE IT FOR WORSHIP?: I used the Moonshine while leading the band for the 1st time this last Sunday. With the minimalist rig I’ve been running lately, I needed a compromise OD that would cover a lot of ground. It worked really well for this task and interacted with the different pedals very well. I also found the pedal to be very dynamic, which is  something that’s very important for Worship Leaders as we need to switch from powerful to soft and thoughtful at a moments notice. 

For the set last Sunday I used it as an upbeat, driving gain pedal on songs like “Everlasting God” and “Mighty To Save”. On songs like “Be Thou My Vision” and “Revelation Song” I used it as more of a saturated overdrive in conjunction with a Plate Reverb for some atmosphere.

Basically anytime you would have already used a TS style overdrive, you can use the Moonshine. But I also found that I could use it for things that needed a little more “ummph” due to it’s increased headroom from running at 18v, things that before were only in the territory of mild distortion pedals like the Fulltone Plimsoul.

FINAL VERDICT: There’s no question that a Tube Screamer Overdrive is a core piece of many a Worship Guitarist’s tone. The question is: is it right for your tone? The Moonshine could easily function as your only gain pedal, and for those of us who want multiple gain options, the MS sits in the mid-gain spot on your pedal board.

If you already have a great TS Style pedal like a Fulltone Fulldrive 2, Voodoo Labs Sparkle drive, or one of these other great pedals, you may not have any need for this pedal. But the MS might give you more places to go than your standard 808 clone. Now, if you don’t have a Tube Screamer but would like to add one to the arsenal, the Moonshine would certainly be counted among the cream of the crop. I own one, and I highly recommend it.

I recently lead a worship set featuring the Moonshine heavily. See it HERE.

Check out the PGS demo here:

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2 thoughts on “Gear Review: JHS Moonshine Overdrive

  1. Pingback: The People Vs. JHS Pedals | Real World Worship Leading

  2. Pingback: The Electric: Signal Chain | Real World Worship Leading

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