JHS Artificial Blonde Vibrato Review
Verdict and Review Summary
An analog circuit sets a high sound quality baseline for the Blonde while the dual depth and speed controls effectively give you two presets to work with. Anybody looking for slightly pitch-shifted modulation will love it.
Several of my friends are big fans of JHS pedals, but I've never really had a chance to mess with them until I got the Artificial Blonde Vibrato on the premises. JHS seems to excel at keeping things simple, while also - somehow - giving you a unique and versatile tone experience.
We've seen a lot of movement in the digital pedal market lately, so it's nice to get back to some analog tones for a change.
Note that the Blonde is a vibrato pedal, similar to tremolo, and part of the modulation effects category.
It also has a bit of a pitch shifting quality, especially at higher speed and depth. As you crank those controls up, the vibrato gets more and more off pitch. As you back off, the layer smooths out and gives you a clean tone gloss.
That's the summary.
Read on for all the details in my JHS Artificial Blonde review below.
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Compare to Other Vibrato Pedals
This table lets you compare the Blonde to a few other vibrato/tremolo pedals, including the JHS Unicorn V2. Use the compare buttons to see live pricing and basic specs.
JHS Artificial Blonde
Walrus Audio Julia
JHS Unicorn V2
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JHS Artificial Blonde Price Guide
This is a live price guide for the Blonde. You can also sign up for price alerts and track price history below. Note that neither the alert nor history tracks the pricing of Amazon.
Pricing from Sweetwater
Price Alert Tool
Price History for JHS Artificial Blonde - Madison Cunningham Artist Signature Vibrato Pedal
|Current Price||$249.00||September 29, 2023|
|Highest Price||$249.00||January 30, 2023|
|Lowest Price||$199.20||September 1, 2023|
Last price changes
|$249.00||September 8, 2023|
|$199.20||September 1, 2023|
|$249.00||January 30, 2023|
IDEAL FOR: Tube amps, layering clean tones, performing (dual settings and switch are good for this), and fans of pitch-heavy vibrato sounds.
Guitar Chalk's and RJ Ronquillo's video demos
I did a demo for this one and it's pretty basic. Nothing fancy. But I covered the settings and got you into the higher speed/depth sounds.
R.J. Ronquillo does a great job demoing the Artificial Blonde's tone here. You can hear that he gets some nice sparkle and just a little bit of pitch shift out of vibrato on the higher settings.
Not too much, not too little.
Tone Quality and Overall Sound
The Artificial Blonde definitely has a tube amp flavor, like the vibrato/tremolo sounds that are sometimes included on Fender tube amps. But it provides a lot more variety and chaos, even with the limited control of the speed and depth knobs on each preset. With the global EQ, you can mix out lower or higher frequencies.
If I had my guitar switched to the bridge pickup position, I usually rolled the EQ on the Blonde backwards to add more bass and create a more balanced tone.
And it didn't take much.
Things can get bass-heavy really quick on the Artificial Blonde, though that's partly due to my guitar.
Everyone's rig is different, so how the EQ reacts will vary, but in my case it was definitely bass heavy. It's not a bad thing in my opinion, but definitely something worth noting.
You still get a slight pitch shift when you drop depth and speed.
With speed way down, it gets too slow to really notice, but you still have that watery sort of layer over your clean signal. I think this is one of the more subtle forms of modulation I've heard, at least on those lower settings.
Clean chords really shape up, especially if you bump the bass in the EQ up a little. Subtlety has always sort of won my heart when it comes to modulation.
So I like the Blonde for that reason alone.
The Blonde is a going to have less application on the cranked settings, unless you're looking for a really warped and "out-there" sound.
When you combine the following elements, you get a lot of intensity:
- High depth
- High speed
- Pitch shifting (even a small amount)
While the Blonde is really subtle on one end, it's every bit as intense and aggressive on the opposite end
But that's not to say that transformative modulation doesn't have its place.
And the nice thing about this pedal is that you can camp pretty easily on either side. Just set one depth and speed knob to your subtle tone and the other preset with your intense tone.
Than you can easily switch back and forth between the two.
Control and Flexibility
Speed and depth are very typical controls for modulation effects, especially vibrato and tremolo pedals.
But the simple tweak of doubling those and letting you switch between the two provides a lot more flexibility and ends up being a bigger deal than it sounds. Getting presets into analog pedals is tricky, but I like the way JHS did it here.
The Volume and EQ are both global controls, so once you add all that together, you have six ways to tweak your sound.
Channel VS Global
The EQ provides a lot more variety, so it would have been nice to have one on both presets, like the speed and depth. I also miss having a wet/dry mix, though I get why that's not as needful for a vibrato pedal.
But with a wet/dry control, I could have mixed the effect out a little bit on those more pitch-heavy settings, that way the original note of your dry signal holds a little better.
Small complaints, but just a couple things I noticed.
Value assessment (price VS quality)
JHS tends to offer less functionality, but with solid tone and analog circuits. The limited control puts some money back in your pocket, which will be really helpful if you're looking for a vibrato pedal that's on the simpler side.
If you're wanting more of an expansive modulation pedal, the Artificial Blonde just doesn't do enough to fit that job description.
You'll get your money's worth if you're buying for the following:
- Tone quality/analog circuits
- Subtle effects layering
- Simplicity and set/forget
Check the price guide above for updated numbers. When we published this review, the price was set at $250 which I'd argue is reasonable for a dual preset analog guitar pedal.
Best fit and ideal buyer
This pedal can fit in well for anyone that uses a lot of clean tones. That's typically the case with modulation.
I like it for blues, jazz, Christian worship music, and even rock in some situations.
This is also something to consider if your amp does not have tremolo or vibrato built-in, which most don't these days. But overall, there's a lot of application for this pedal across styles and skill levels.
The vibrato effect never really has a hard time fitting in.
I think what I liked most about this pedal was the simplicity that also managed to reel in a wide range of intensity. There are a few tweaks I'd like to see, even if that meant JHS bumped the price up to $299.
But it's a great pedal as-is, and one of the best dedicated vibrato pedals we've tested. With plenty of application and a very fair asking price, there are a lot of situations where we'd recommend it.
If you buy, buy confidently.
For comments or questions about our JHS Artificial Blonde review, find us in the comments section below and we'll help out as much as possible.