Being a fan of old Supro amps, especially the highly sought after Thunderbolt I was excited to sit down with the new JHS Superbolt and run it through it’s paces to get a vibe for it. The Superbolt, modeled after 60s era low wattage Supro amps is quite an interesting little beast and make no mistake it doesn’t just “do the Supro thing”. This pedal has a wide range of tones and I believe can be used as a multi purpose overdrive pedal capable of achieving everything from that magical Supro low end sag to slight break-up with a nice mid-range driven sparkle.
For my first round with the Superbolt I ran a 1959 Fender Jazzmaster into a Victoria 5112-T. My first reaction with all the knobs on the Superbolt at 12 o’clock and the high / low switch up was how touch sensitive it was and much it brought the Jazzmaster pickups to life. The breakup sounds fantastic and isn’t too over the top. Depending on how hard you are playing the pedal reacts very well and can stay on the cleaner side or break up a bit more. A roll off the volume on the guitar the tone cleans up very well, still leaving some grit but really provides a nice luscious clean sound. When the gain is dimed and the volume is at 3 o’clock, with the high / low switch up this pedal really does what it was designed for, and nails that fire-breathing Supro tone all the way. The overdrive is beautiful, clear, and nasty all at the same time, while still not completely bottoming out on the neck pickup of the Jazzy.
For round 2 I ran a 1980 Les Paul Custom with original Tim Shaw PAFs through the same Victoria amp. My initial reaction is an added fat / woody bottom end allowing the low end sag of this Superbolt to shine through a bit more. Still very clear, even with the gain dimed the Paul offers nice overtones and midrange crunch. My personal favorite setting using this combination was the gain at 10 o’clock, volume at 3 o’clock, the tone at 2 o’clock and the high / low switch down. This really allows the Les Paul to get quite the Zepplin vibe and has a hint of JCM 800 in it. This setting is crunchy, yet very, very clear.
I would personally recommend this pedal to anyone looking for a good thick overdrive or that is a fan of old Supros and Fender tweeds. At a price point that doesn’t break the bank this pedal is accessible to everyone from the starving touring guitarist playing the dive-bars of America to your favorite rock star playing the stadium downtown. It’s no secret this was modeled after 60s era Supro amps and while doing the Supro thing very, very well the versatility of this pedal still allows the Superbolt to have a voice all it’s own.
The JHS SuperBolt is currently available for $199 Thunder Road Guitars located in Seattle, WA.
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