MODEL: Twin Twelve Overdrive
WHAT IT IS: The JHS Twin Twelve is an “amp-in-a-box” style overdrive that emulated the sounds of the vintage Silvertone Twin Twelve 1484 tube amp produced for a few years in the 1960’s by Danelectro for the Sears catalog. It was a low-end budget amp that was over looked in favor of amps by Fender, Vox, and Marshall. Up until a few years ago, you could find them for dirt cheap on eBay. Then artists like Beck, Jack White, Death Cab for Cutie, and even Coldplay started recording with them. The lead riffs on Death Cab’s “Your a Tourist” and Coldplay’s “Always In My Head” are both from a 1484 amp. In part because of this, a Twin Twelve amp now goes for 4 to 5 times what you would have paid a few years back.
I tried the JHS Twin Twelve with just about every pedal I own, as well as straight in to my Fender Princeton Reverb from my Danocaster Jazzmaster and my Fender Telecaster.
The Twin Twelve includes an active EQ for treble and bass like you’d find on a real amp, and a drive knob that controls the amount of gain. While the original 1484 amp didn’t have a master volume, Josh and his crew have added a Volume knob that accomplishes that feature, which is where all the pedals flexibility comes in.
PROS: The TT works on multiple levels, as a pre-amp, eq/boost, overdrive and “cranked amp” distortion, and does a great job on all those levels. It’s a pedal that will work well in just about any church setting.
The TT played well with all the other pedals I paired it with including a TC Hall of Fame reverb, a Kilobyte delay, and a Warped Vinyl Chorus. I ran a compressor pedal in the front of the chain but turned it off with each pairing to see what it was like with and without compression. Lastly I A/B’d it against other gain pedals and then stacked them together to see the result. I enjoyed the way the TT played with all these pedals at all levels from it’s pre-amp settings to it’s cranked speaker tones. My favorite setting was stacking it with my Colour Box (both at low gain) and adding the Kilobyte delay with a little bit of spring reverb from my amp. But this pedal doesn’t need other stomp boxes to make it sound good, on it’s own it could easily be the only pedal you’d need.
CONS: The only real con to this pedal is the price point. While not overpriced, JHS (like Wampler, Keeley, and Bearfoot) tend to run on the high side of the price point in their “quality range” but not over it.
Some people just won’t want to spend $200 on an overdrive when they’re just fine with their $60 tube screamer. I get that. But other than price, I found nothing to complain about with the Twin Twelve. Although I would have liked to see what a low/high gain toggle switch would sound like (ala the Superbolt and Moonshine). But you can’t have everything.
HOW WOULD YOU USE IT FOR WORSHIP?: It would probably be somewhat dependent on set list and what other pedals are on my board but I would think I’d primarily use it to make my clean amp sound like one that’s been cranked a little bit and then play off the other gain pedals.
You could easily use it as a regular low-mid gain overdrive. It does do ‘cranked amp/blown speaker stuff’ but like the amp it’s based on, that’s just not it’s main thing. While I enjoyed the sounds I got when I cranked the drive knob, I found that I preferred the Superbolt for those purposes and keep going back to those ‘amp on the edge of break up’ tones.
FINAL VERDICT: The JHS Twin Twelve is one of the best amp-in-a-box pedals I’ve come across. I really felt like it made my amp sound like a different amp. A lot of us like the clean tone of the Fenders, but wish we could get that break up sound at volumes that’ll work for church. Even at the most rock’n church out there, you’d be hard pressed to have a Twin Reverb on stage with it’s volume past 2.
For worship players, I think getting a different amp tone without the volume increase is a huge bonus. Also, if you’re looking for a non-transparent overdrive that sounds familiar yet different all at once, this pedal might help you set your tone apart. But it’s not just for church settings, if you’re playing out on a Friday or Saturday night then you’ll find lots of very useable tone on tap.
BUY IT: If you’re looking for a great overdrive to give you something just a little different and that works well in all settings.
PASS IF: You can’t see the value in spending that much money on a pedal.
Have you tried the JHS Twin Twelve or any other pedal I review on here? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.
Note: All my reviews are of pedals or gear that I’ve personally played. You can see my review policy HERE. JHS did send me a demo pedal but did not pay me anything, and I had to send the pedal back. Just so I’m above board.