Forty decades after innovating the guitar game by coming out with the first compact stompbox, Boss just had another first: a collaboration effect pedal. On the heels of returning from the Boss 40 years celebration in Germany, Dan & Mick got their hands on the recently released Boss/JHS Angry Driver JB-2. As followers of TPS will know, the Boss Blues Driver BD-2 makes more appearances than the name honk horn, and the JHS Angry Charlie has been a repeat guest on numerous occasions. Put them together and you’ve got one seriously angry pedal. As Dan noted, this is “the first time Boss has ever done a collaboration.” Here’s a quick rundown of the onboard assets of the new hybrid.
Brilliantly Designed for an Effective Effects Tag-Team
The trick with any two-in-one is not compromising the strengths of either side and find a way to make the tandem effect somehow more than the sum of its parts. Function and design play a huge role in this.
As Dan described, the four knobs atop the JB-2 are “dual concentric pots, which means the knobs underneath are for the Boss BD-2 and the knobs on the top are for the Angry Charlie.” Functionally, this retains independent controls for each side of the tag-team, which really protects the integrity of each circuit under the hood. Formally, the design of the pedal even looks like the best sort of hybrid, with the JHS-style inspired red knobs front loaded on a classic white Boss-style enclosure.
The JB-2 also comes with some added functionality that betrays some of its JHS D.N.A. As Dan noted, “One of the very cool things about this pedal is you’ll see the remote switch input [on the side].” This simple port can be connected to the JHS Red Remote allowing you to have independent, on-the-fly, and footswitchable functionality between the Boss BD-2 and Angry Charlie within. As Mick summed up, since the pedal has entirely independent circuitry between the two effects, this give the option of basically having two overdrive pedals on your board in one compact package. “They both have entirely independent everything!”
Stacking Options: Putting JHS or Boss Behind the Wheel of the Angry Driver
The real genius and beauty of the Angry Driver, however, is found in the gain stacking capabilities in either direction. Not only can you dial in each side of the stack, you can select the position of each pedal in the chain. As Dan noted, “It’s like a two-sided overdrive that’s able to go in one way or the other.”
This can have its advantage for developing a new range of gain structures, from adding a little edge to full on fizz. As the unofficial ambassador of the Boss BD-2, Dan was also quick to point out that with that side of the pedal’s gain dialed down low, “you can use it more as a tone-shaping device instead of adding more gain.” When the gain stack was maxed out from both the Boss and JHS side of things, Mick noted that even with the welcome struggle that comes with that level of overdrive, “there’s still definition there.”
As the segment on stacking options with the Angry Driver drew to a close, both TPS anchormen remarked at how the pedal drew out the best in their playing in a natural, seamless, and inviting way. As Dan commented, “The tone that inspires you is everything. That’s definitely a fun and inspiring tone to play.”
Parallel-O-Mania: Running the Boss and JHS Alongside Each Other
In addition to the options for stacking, the Angry Driver also for playing the circuits in parallel. A true partnership. As Dan summed up, “The signal goes in, it gets split and processed by each side individually, then joined again at the end.” In this setting the gain character and reactivity is altogether different; the sounds the Angry Driver roared out are a true testimony to the fact that the Boss and JHS pairing was destined to be. Mick’s Strat played it, Dan’s Les Paul slayed it.
For both Dan & Mick, the ability to play both the Boss and JHS sides of the pedal in tandem was a game changer. You get the best of both worlds: the mid-range of the Angry Charlie and the flatter response of the Blues Driver. For rhythm or lead, the parallel mode proved itself to be highly playable. As Mick reflected, “It’s parallel mode all day for me, that’s the one.”
In the end, even after some A/B testing with the original JHS Angry Charlie and Boss BD-2, Mick concluded, “Personally I’d have the [JB-2] in place of the other two,” simply because of the exponential overdrive opportunities that come with the combo. Not to mention the fact that you’ll free up a bit of real estate on your board by having the JHS-Boss hybrid.
Whether you’re convinced of the new partnership of the Angry Driver JB-2 or still prefer the two solo pedals, head over to Riff City for all your Boss and JHS pedal needs.
TPS Rig Rundown
Guitars: 1958 Gibson Custom Les Paul Standard (ca. 2002), 1962 American Vintage Fender Stratocaster (ca. 2000).D’Addario Pedal Tuner, Boss/JHS JB-2 Angry Driver, JHS Angry Charlie, Boss BD-2 (Keeley Mod), Marshall Guv’nor (original), Marghal Guv’nor GV-2 Plus, Walrus Audio Monument, Empress Echo System, TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2.