JHS Honey Comb Deluxe Review
Written by Ian Garrett
The Review: JHS Pedals Honey Comb Deluxe Tremolo
The Point: A two speed all analog tremolo reminiscent of an early Fender Blackface
The Damage: $239
The JHS Pedals Honey Comb Deluxe tremolo is a simple all analog optical tremolo, with two foot-switchable independent speeds, designed to replicate the sound of an early Fender Blackface amplifier’s tremolo. It features only four knobs: volume, depth, and two separate speeds (red or green). There are two foot-switchable toggles fairly close together–one that turns the pedal on/off, and the other to toggle between the two speeds. There are three LED’s on this pedal: one to indicate on/off, a red LED for the red channel (or a green LED when the channel is engaged), and another LED that blinks to the speed of the chosen channel.
See More about the JHS Honey Comb.
One important note: Inside the pedal is a switch that changes the speed setting from slow (preset setting) to a faster rate. There was no indication in the accompanying material that this was an option, so I contacted JHS pedals by email and got a response within an hour (on a Sunday night!) informing me about this switch. It made all the difference. Normally I would want this control to be on the outside of the pedal, but I doubt I would ever want to switch it back now, as either channel can be set to very slow, as well.
Gigging Musician or Bedroom Rock Star?
Some pedals just seem to make sense for the gigging musician, while other pedals, because of their complexity or, perhaps, cost, are better suited for the studio. The Honey Comb is a great addition for any pedal board, both for the gigging musician who gets paid to play, or the home studio. Here’s a closer look at why this is.
For the gigging musician whose pedal board space is a premium, the Honey Comb Deluxe is a space saver. Most of the more “advanced” tremolos that offer tap tempo, or dual-foot switchable speeds, are larger pedals. They can take up valuable board space, especially for an effect that isn’t a must-have for every song. But the Honey Comb Deluxe is the same size as most small pedals, plus the input/output jacks are on the back. And with the depth turned down and the volume turned up fairly high, it works great as a boost pedal, and a really good one at that. So it can take the place of two pedals if you need it to. It’s also easy to use. With just a volume and depth control, set your speeds, and you’re off and running. In some cases, probably country or alternative rock gigs, where the clean tone rules, the Honey Comb Deluxe should cut through the mix with ease. The added volume you can achieve really makes the effect come alive.
But is it too simple for the home user, who might be after a more complex oriented tremolo, with tons of different wave forms, tap tempo, expression pedal inputs, etc.? The short answer is no. Sure it’s simple, and at first I was skeptical. So what makes the Honey Comb Deluxe so special? In short, it just sounds great. It is extremely amp-like; an over-used cliché, perhaps, but not in this case. It has a very natural, warm, lush, and tube-like sound. It has that old-school vibe that just sucks you in, and you can end up playing for hours without realizing it. I like to add a little reverb effect too, which gives it an added spaciousness. It’s hard to capture this pedal’s nuances in a demo, you really have to hear it yourself.
How does it compare to real amp tremolo?
I didn’t have an actual Blackface amp to do a direct comparison, but I did compare the Honey Comb Deluxe next to my amp’s tremolo, on a Vox AC 15. Before I turned the toggle to the faster setting, I was surprised how much faster my amp’s tremolo was compared to this pedal. But the depth of the Honey Deluxe was better, a bit deeper and warmer. More amp-like than the actual amp! With the faster speed engaged, I can get the Honey Comb Deluxe moving at a pretty good clip. I’ve had other tremolos that go faster, but it is fast enough for my needs. If you need that super-fast, humming bird like speed tremolo, this isn’t it. For most users, if you’re looking for a tremolo that sounds like that old Blackface sound, this is it.
Once I adjusted the speed for the faster setting and just listened to the intoxicating tones this little box put out, I was hooked. It was inspiring to play, and if a pedal inspires you to play more, then it is indeed a winner.
5 – Tremendous product; among the very best
4 – Great value overall; exceeds expectations
3 – Definite contender, but look closely at the competition too
2 – Average at best; probably better choices exist
1 – Not ready for prime time