REVIEWS

The 2007 JTK Harmonics Tourbox has ended, and the reviews are in! You can view the entire review thread at The Gear Page:

http://thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=315789

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Here are some excerpts:

JTK Harmonics Tourbox (4 drive pedals) - initial thoughts…
Dennis Flanders, 11-27-2007


Hello everyone,

I recently volunteered to participate in a tourbox for JTK Harmonics. JTK Harmonics has four new overdrive pedals, all four are in the tourbox. I received the package Thursday of last week (11/15/07) and I’ve had a good bit of time to spend playing each of these pedals now. Here are my observations:

The Aurora: This is described as a low gain overdrive and treble booster in a single pedal and I’d say this description is on target. It’s overdrive is a little gritty, similar in this regard to the Lovepedal COT-50. The EQ of the pedal is quite different from a COT, though, as are the controls. It has Level and Gain controls and they do what they say. At the lowest gain setting this pedal is pretty clean, at full gain it has about as much dirt as a COT-50 (seems the best point of reference to me somehow). There is plenty of output on tap so you can smack the front end of an amp or pedal plenty hard. The EQ of this pedal is pretty brite though not in a particulary harsh way, just a little rude. Just right for a boost pedal. I would say that the treble is (again, sorry for the Lovepedal reference) similar to the Glass control on the Eternity (i.e. it’s not a traditional treble booster where the upper mids and highs get boosted and the lows are sacrificed). Instead the highs are boosted while leaving the rest of the signals frequencies intact. There is a roundness (if that’s a word) to the top end even though it’s boosted. Ahhh… I’ll stop trying to describe it for now. I’ll just say that this is a fun boost pedal with a nice dynamic responsiveness. It worked very well as a boost in front of the other three pedals as well as in front of my amp (Fuchs ODS-50).
Additional observations: I was wrong in my initial assessment of this pedal - it does sound quite a bit like a traditional treble booster when the gain is all the way up, somewhat similar to a ‘Rangemaster’ with a little more dirt. What’s cool is that the gain acts like a blend between this and a relatively uncolored clean boost at the lowest gain setting. Cool! I set the gain at about 3 o’clock and used the Aurora to push an MI Audio Crunch Box set for medium gain (9-10 o’clock) - instant early Judas Priest tone (my favorite use for a RM)! I used it as a boost in front of other pedals and the amp as well, all with great results. Anyone who digs treble boosters will almost certainly dig this pedal.

The Murano: This is an overdrive that ranges from virtually clean to medium gain and the voicing, to my ears, is 60’s Fender’ish. In fact I found it to be very Fender-like in both EQ and drive. Not necessarily scooped though - it seems relatively flat in the midrange. It just reminds me, in some respects, of a pushed Pro or Super Reverb. It has a two band EQ (Bass and Treble) and the entire range of both is useable (the Treble can be very bright but not ice-pick-in-the-ear shrill). The drive is pretty smooth and it decays nicely. Dynamic responsiveness is very nice (varying picking dynamics allowed for very expressive tones). At any reasonable volume notes bloom nicely, even at low gain settings. So far I’m very impressed with this one (my favorite of the bunch so far).
Additional observations: It still reminds me of a 60’s Fender Pro or Super being pushed. The Bass control does really nice things set higher than 12 o’clock, changes the feel, adds a little bounce, doesn’t seem to get muddy. While the entire sweep of the Gain control sounds good I found I like it set pretty low. The EQ of this pedal is relatively neutral compared to the Alchemy and Delirium. This pedal works really well for low gain blues tones. This pedal shares some common ground with the Timmy. I don’t mean to imply that the circuits are similar - I wouldn’t know. I simply mean that the two are similar in practical use. The Timmy has a grainier texture to its overdrive while the Murano’s is a bit smoother in texture. The EQ (both pedals have a 2-band EQ, Bass & Treble) doesn’t function the same way but the results are similar in that the entire range is usable on both pedals. Both function well as a clean boost w/EQ and as a dedicated overdrive with many shades between.

The Alchemy: This pedal is the closest of the four to being a TS type overdrive. Don’t mistake the above statement as meaning that this pedal sounds like a Tube Screamer - it doesn’t. It does emphasize the midrange at the cost of some lows (like many TS type OD’s) but this pedal has its own personality. Between the Hue and Tone controls there are a wide range of tones available - from creamy, thick, and smokey to bright, full, and ‘chirpy’ (I think I’m just making up words). This is a nice low to medium gain pedal for solo’ing and comping and it’ll provide a solid rhythm tone as well. This pedals dynamic response is closer to a typical TS style overdrive than the others here but it’s still very dynamic (think Zendrive dynamics - this is what came to mind for me). This pedal sings! It has very smooth overdrive and also decays nicely. Again, note bloom is achieved easily at reasonable volume. * I’ve mentioned a TS type overdrive more than a couple of times in this paragraph. I mean it only as a point of reference in context of the other pedals here. This one is closer to that general category than the rest but it’s not a TS in tone or dynamics, much the same way as a CJOD or Zendrive are not Tube Screamers.
Additional observations: After spending more time with these four pedals I think I like this one the most. The description I posted in my original post fits well except that, in comparison to a TS type overdrive, this pedal does not sacrifice much low end. There’s this slight ’spongy’ feel and sound to the attack. The JTK site mentions a ‘horn-like attack’ - this fits. The Alchemy is the most flexible pedal of the bunch offering up great blues, rock, and fusion tones. This pedal remided me very much of the Clay Jones Overdrive in both overall tone and responsiveness - attack and gain characteristics are very similar. If I were looking to replace the CJOD I would be more than satisfied with the Alchemy.

The Delirium: One word - Rock! This pedal is described as an overdrive and it’ll do that. It leans towards the ‘British’ end of the overdrive spectrum. The overdrive is more aggressive than the other pedals here and, even at low gain settings, it speaks with a little more authority than the others. The gain is smooth with no fizz (even with the gain maxed) and , as with the Murano and Alchemy, the decay sounds natural. There are three controls on this pedal: Volume, Gain, and Tone. The gain ranges from low’ish to medium-high gain. The Tone control is, again, usable across the entire sweep. This pedal has sort of a ‘whomp’ at lower Tone control settings that is just plain fun to play! It’s more flexible than my description would seem to indicate but I think of this pedal as best suited to rock. It’s as easily suited to rhythm as it is solo’ing (this is true of the Murano and the Alchemy) and, again, note bloom comes on easy.
Additional observations: This pedal reminds me, in some ways, of the Lovepedal Eternity. At comparable gain settings the attack and gain characteristics are similar. The Eternity is smoother and has a ’singing’ quality. The Delirium is smooth as well but sounds punchier than the Eternity. It sounds thicker in the lows and low-mids and a little more aggressive on top (has more ‘teeth’ without sounding harsh). There’s quite a bit more gain on tap in the Delirium than in my ‘burst Eternity. This comparison is made for reference only. The Delirium and Eternity would not be redundant on the same pedal board.

I have to say that this group of products is very well thought out. Any self respecting dirt pedal junkie could build a pedal board around these four pedals and the only thing missing would be fuzz. Well, that and a ‘metal’ pedal (if desired).

I should add that I am in no way affiliated with JTK Harmonics. In fact I only became aware of their existence through the Tourbox thread posted here a couple of weeks ago. I’m just another dirt pedal fanatic who has been given an opportunity to play with new toys.