History of JHS Pedals
Jim Coleman, the owner, creator, and builder of Sky Pedals made a name for himself with the Cloud 9 reverb. A simple yet versatile reverb pedal with capabilities to hit many classic reverb sounds, without the complication of presets and menus. It was able to morph between all sorts of classic reverb sounds and beyond, thanks to it's useful control set.
This unit became beloved by many guitarists and musicians the world over. In late September of 2014, Jim Coleman made an announcement that he would be handing the reigns of the company and the Cloud 9 to a yet unnamed builder. About two months later, Mr. Coleman was ready to announce who had taken the reigns. That would be none other than JHS effects. Not only that, but JHS and Jim had worked together to create a new exciting variation on the beloved Cloud 9, called the Alpine Reverb.
Controls and Features of the Alpine Reverb
The world is literally flooded with reverb pedals, but what made the Cloud 9 stand out was it's massive versatility, combined with ease of use. The Cloud 9 featured four controls, Verb, Trails, Highs, and Shift. The JHS Alpine Reverb features a similar (yet more extensive) control set, Reverb, Highs, Depth, Length, and Shift. Reverb and Verb for both pedals controls the level of the Reverb signal, Highs lets you roll off or add additional treble to the reverb signal. Length would be similar to the Trails control, this affects the sustain of the reverb signal. The additional control over the Cloud 9 is the Depth control. This controls aural “width” of the reverb signal. The Shift control lets you set a separate Reverb setting from the standard Reverb/Verb knob. Using the Shift footswitch, this lets you essentially switch between two preset Reverb settings. As well, on the left side there's an effects loop TRS jack, to run any effect of your choosing on the reverb signal. To top it off, you have the ability to choose buffered or true bypass, buffered brings on trails when you bypass the unit. A very impressive set of features, if you ask me. The pedal is white with blue knobs. And as per JHS standard, it has a simple pedal-themed logo in the center.
Applications of the Alpine Reverb
First I'll use the pedal in front of the amp, then through the effects loop, with and without dirt, and I'll throw something into the Alpine's own loop. Before I plug the Alpine into my tube amp, I dial in the “springy” setting from the instructions sheet. Figured it'd be a great reference point, since I'm such a huge fan of real spring reverb. Before I play, I make sure the spring reverb is all the way off on my amp, as to let the Alpine serve as my base reverb. I set the Reverb control to 12:00, the Highs to 3:00, Depth to 9:00, and Length to around 1:30. I set the shift knob up high, as to have the ability to switch between short spring and long reverb with just the flip of a switch. Upon plugging in and striking a few chords, I was pleasantly surprised. A decent spring emulation, relatively faithful to the real deal. The ability to switch between short and long reverb on the fly is excellent, can easily switch from a tighter verb to a massive cavern at any moment.
Next I decided to try the “Hall of Glory” setting from the instructions. Reverb and Highs set to 12:00 respectively, Depth to 3:00, and Length to 9:00. I'm faced with a very nice Hall type sound, very cool. I'm finding myself enjoying this more than the “Springy” setting, as it's hard to fully capture the sound of a real spring reverb in pedal form. I quickly decided I'd like to tweak the heck out of this thing to try and dial up some less conventional 'verb sounds. Using the Length control in conjunction with some wide Depth settings, I was easily able to dial in cavernous, slow decaying sweet ambiance. Lowering the Reverb control I was able to use these ambient settings as a sort of background pad of sweetness. The Highs control being rolled off really helped for this, as well as increasing the highs for a very natural sounding “shimmer” type 'verb. Yes. This thing can do shimmer! The Alpine worked excellently with every drive I put before or after it. It's an excellent effects loop reverb, but I think it really shines in front of my amp. Using a TRS splitter, I was able to add the Chase Bliss Wombtone to the effects loop with dreamy results dripping with psychedelic goodness. It really seems like this is a “do it all” unit, but with extremely easy-to-dial-in controls and no menus to trudge through.
Almost perfect! If you're using this pedal solely for emulation, you're really missing out on a lot excellent sounds. Unlike many Reverb pedals, the Alpine does not interact badly with drive pedals--buffered or unbuffered. Not a fan of the footswitches, they're different than most I've experienced on a JHS pedal. They sort of soft touch, sort of not. I'd rather have one or the other, not a mixture of both. But all in all, that's a small downside! This pedal is totally worth making space for on your board.