JHS has produced the fourth version of their Pulp 'N' Peel and that's the version I was sent to test. JHS managed to cram a lot into this pedal including a buffer with switch, a drive circuit with control, and XLR out. After using it for a few days now, I can see this being a compelling option for a simple FOH with tuner and Pulp 'N' Peel. The best part? It sounds great!
I believe JHS based the Pulp 'N' Peel off the Dan Armstrong Orange Squeeze from the 70's. That being said, it has a transparent and open feel to it. The Blend control certainly contributes to the organic feel with the parallel compression. The blend control really makes a difference in a noticeable way.
Volume knob controls the output volume of course.
Comp knob controls the amount of compression and it has a nice wide range. I found useful settings across most of the dial but mostly left it straight up a noon. You can dial in subtle compression to some pretty squished tones.
Blend knob brings in as much of your dry signal as you want. All the way clockwise is full compressor tone. Rolling counterclockwise brings in more of your dry signal. I found I really liked the Blend knob around 2:00 - 3:00 which dials in a big, punchy sound. If fat tone isn't your thing, rotating the blend knob more counterclockwise reduces the effect of bigness.
EQ is very useful and dare I say, I like it as much as the tilt EQ on the Diamond. Just like the Diamond, turning clockwise brings in more brightness, counterclockwise darkens the tone. Sometimes these types of EQ controls just seem to add more noise or thud/mud but not the EQ on the Pulp 'N' Peel. It is very useful.
The Dirt toggle is where some of the fun begins. Flipping the switch up (away from the word Dirt) activates the overdrive circuit and the dial on the right side allows you to vary the amount of gain or dirt. The instruction sheet says the dirt control interacts with the blend control. That's an understatement. The blend control has major impact on the flavor and intensity of the feel/aggression of the overdrive. Out of the box, the dirt gain is set pretty high. Much more than I personally like but I imagine it would make many dirt lovers happy. I turned it down a fair amount and found a sweet spot of light breakup that really fattened things up. Gave me that tubey breakup feel. At the setting I locked in it reminded me of the the Durham Sex Drive compressor I once had years ago. Really pretty cool. Drive sounds great on the lows and doesn't get brittle or kazoo sounding in the highs. You'll need to use the volume knob to compensate for loss of volume depending on how you set the drive.
There is also a Buffer on/off switch so if you want an always on internal buffer, you've got it. Out of the box it comes activated and I preferred it on.
On the left side of the pedal you have an XLR output jack for DI purposes as well as a lift switch. I can see this being very useful for pass players who don't want the full blown pedal board. You could easily get away with just this pedal direct to the board.
The LED lights green when the pedal is activated. There is no threshold indicator so you've got to use your ear.
I'd like to point out that the Lift switch and the Buffer on/off switch and the Dirt dial can't really be adjusted easily. You need a small screwdriver to turn the Dirt dial. The Buffer and Lift switches are recessed into the enclosure so you're not going to easily adjust them on the fly. In some ways, the design is smart so those settings don't get accidentally tweaked, but be aware of this fact.
So how does it sound? In one word: "great"! It has a real big, punchy sound to it. In some ways it reminds me of the Diamond in terms of a little special something added to the tone. It also reminds me of the Doc Lloyd Photon Death Ray how it handles the lows. To my ear there is no lost of highs or lows. It is more transparent than the Diamond but adds more presence in a good way. If you feel the Diamond has too much going on in the mids, you might really like the Pulp 'N' Peel. If you love the Empress for its transparent nature but feel you don't get enough booty, you might really like the Pulp 'N' Peel. The EQ really adds to the versatility. Even straight up at noon all of my basses sounded quite nice. My somewhat darker sounding P/J benefitted from a tweak clockwise on the EQ. My G&L L2500 benefitted from a little bump counterclockwise. I liked the feel and felt like I could balance compression with allowing for a good level of dynamics.
There is plenty of output on hand and I never really felt any headroom issues though compared to the Cali76 CB the Pulp 'N' Peel attack seems faster so if you like aggressive initial transients the Pulp 'N' Peel doesn't handle quite as well. That being said, that's getting a little picky. Since there is no control for the attack you have to use the blend control to tweak your attack. In that regard, plus for the Empress and Smoothie and Cali. I noticed more of an "pop" with the Cali where the PnP has a more subdued transient, but not by much.
There is no ratio control either. My guess is JHS is going for big tone and ease of use and overall it works well. If you are looking for an always on compressor, the Pulp 'N' Peel should be on your list. The buffer option is a nice perk and so is the drive circuit (if that is your thing).
I used it this morning in an auditorium that seats about 2,500. It was first in my chain after a tuner into a Shift-Line Olympic Tube preamp to FOH and I was very pleased with the sound in my IEM's. Really big, punchy tone. Turn off the compressor and you immediately felt like something was missing. This compressor doesn't really color your tone unless you are initiating more extreme variations with the EQ.
Compared to the Cali76 CB (to my ear anyway), the Pulp 'N' Peel is the more transparent of the two. I don't consider the Cali to be highly colored but when you A/B these side-by-side the Cali adds a little something and might be overall more "open" sounding. Both are capable of providing big bottom though you have to have the Cali HPF turned all the way clockwise to compare. Compared to the Empress, the PnP is transparent but a fatter sounding transparent. The Empress is probably the more "open" sounding of the two. In that sense, I supposed the PnP isn't really transparent, but again, the fattening is more transparent than the Diamond for sure. Compared to the Smoothie, the PnP is more punchy. I know it is hard to define exactly what punchy means, but the PnP just has this bigness to it that is hard to describe. A lot like what I said about the Doc Lloyd Photon. This PnP reminds me of the Fermata too. It is least like the Darkglass Supersymmetry which is darker and less punchy. I also want to make sure that people understand that when I say the PnP is punchy, I don't mean clanky or brittle.
The PnP is quiet though not quite a quiet as the Cali or Smoothie or FEA.
Side input/output jacks and top power jack. Quality seems great. Foot switch is the standard variety (not a silent no-click). Runs on 9-volt. There is no battery option.
Many compressor pedals seem to be designed for guitar first, and "work" on bass. The JHS Pulp 'N' Peel is one that really does play well with bass guitars. I tested with a variety of basses and was pleased with how the pedal responded with each.
Retail price: $229