JHS Overdrive Preamp Review

Revived in a new form, a legendary stompbox gets another day in the sun

Effect pedal history runs deep. Revivals and recreations are always fun and popular ways to explore older effects and bring their tones into the modern day. It’s never any wonder why our classics are considered classics.

Today’s revival comes in the form of a small black box with a heart of gold – the JHS Overdrive Preamp.

Unsung Overdrive

The classic on the platter today comes from a somewhat unsung champion of all things subtle, warm, distorted, and fuzzy – the DOD Overdrive Preamp 250. This late ‘70s creation was certainly ahead of its time with its wide spectrum of driven tones. Capable of landing with “always on” preamp warmth to cranked and distorted crunch, the 250 delivered.

With a recent surge of popularity of reliable preamps and overdrives that give signals some extra love, the DOD 250 turned almost mythical. JHS brings that myth to life through this inspired creation.

Preamp Prestige

The JHS Overdrive Preamp takes close cues from the original DOD 250. Its dual-knob, single footswitch setup cuts right to the chase to key into tones guitarists across the decades have yearned for.

Outright, this JHS creation is just that – an overdrive with preamp sensibilities. The Overdrive Preamp works quickly to acquaint itself with its players. One click of the footswitch and you’re off to the races – whether that race be for smooth, laidback preamp warmth or some honest overdrive. Dedicated Level and Gain knobs work as you may expect, though the accuracy you can take to dial in on specific driven voices is striking. Level and Gain complement each other and work in tandem to be compatible with a range of guitars, pickups, setups, and rigs. It does not take long to bring that classic overdrive tone to life, though JHS welcomes the experimentation to find some sweet spots.

250, Too Furious

The experience of the Overdrive Preamp is expanded upon by a two-way toggle switch. Clicked downward, the Overdrive Preamp sticks closer to the DOD 250’s original sound. Its more subdued and grungier tones make for more vintage sounds that are slightly rough around the edges. Clicked upward and the Overdrive Preamp receives more clarity and is brought closer to the forefront of the signal. These two modes make the Overdrive Preamp flexible enough to cover both tonal bases – vintage and modern.

A noteworthy feature of the Overdrive Preamp is its ability to bring out rich breakup at any volume. Whether engaged with its toggle switch up or down, the Level and Gain controls of the Overdrive Preamp interact to keep its overdriven tonality easily under control. Turning up the Gain on the Overdrive Preamp introduces organic breakup that can be pushed or reeled in. This quality makes the pedal perfect for incorporating into a signal chain with plenty of room to negotiate with your other effects. Even if you’re looking to use Overdrive Preamp alone, it can either take the stage with its variety of driven tones or support your rig from the background. The pedal excels in both strength and subtlety.

JHS Overdrive Preamp Final Thoughts

Delivering on its namesake, the JHS Overdrive Preamp touches down with signal-coloring capabilities that perform brilliantly on both fronts. The straightforward setup and easily mixable tones the Overdrive Preamp provides make it an easy addition to any board. Cranked up or calmed down, the Overdrive Preamp delivers distinct tonality while also letting your particular sound shine. It can play a leading role in your straight-to-amp setup or share space on a pedalboard for complementing your other effects. In essence, this ‘70s creation took a leap and landed in a perfect point in time where it seems everyone is looking for a simple and expressive way to spruce up their rig.

Overdrive...preamp. At this point those words sound like poetry.