Built To Spill: Jim Roth Pedalboard

jim roth playing guitar

Jim Roth – photo courtesy of idahopress.com

Yesterday I wrote about Built to Spill and the show they played this week here in Missoula. I also did a rundown of Brett Netson’s pedalboard, who was one of the three guitarists on stage that night, churning up the tonal waters that the audience was happily drowning in. On the far side of the stage from Brett was his counterpart Jim Roth, trading licks and effortlessly recreating the songs we have come to love from our Boise brethren. Jim’s pedalboard contains a vast collection of effects, most of which we outline below.

What was fun to learn about in identifying and researching the pedals on his board was that Jim isn’t just an effects aficionado, but also an accomplished effects builder with some serious cred in the DIY community. The Brass Master and RAT/L.A. Metal clones on Netson’s board where built by Jim and of course, Jim has a few of his own creations adorning his chain as well. But, even more than this, Jim has created and sold pedals under the moniker of ‘Jerms.’ Many pedals from the sound of it, but in particular people seem most excited about his MK1 clones.

From what I can find out on forums and sites around the web, Jim doesn’t produce pedals in ‘mass’. In fact, it appears he’s more artist than builder, preferring to recreate vintage effects utilizing the same components and build style as the originals. You won’t crack open a pedal of his and find a PCB filling in for component pathways (unless it was there originally), instead you’ll find something like this:

jim roth jerms mk1 guts

Jerms MK1 Guts

Tim Brennan of Tym’s Guitars experienced this firsthand when he was sent a Sam Ash Fuzzstainer clone of Jim’s making. Tim said this, “The drawback of this type of build, as these guys will tell you, is the very reason that these vintage pedals (and amps) are so hit and miss tone wise. It’s VERY time consuming to both make AND to fine tune them to be consistent. In “the old days” they didn’t spend this time. Talking with these guys you realize that they’re not just making effects pedals, they’re making works of art that sound amazing. This sort of thing isn’t re-inventing the wheel. It’s just making the wheel like it used to be made, with love, pride and a little bit of ……….. for want of a better word ……. mojo.” It appears that by all accounts, Jim has mastered the art of building and tuning these pedals as well blending them into his overall BTS tone.

So where would you get a Jerms pedal of any variety? I honestly don’t know. It seems like the pedals bought or sold in the past have been done through gear forums. I saw a few Jerms pedals on Ebay – as can be expected – but besides that it’s a bit of a mystery. Hopefully, one our readers can help us solve. My guess is that as a touring musician, his time is limited and so are his creations. Luckily for us though, his time on stage with BTS is not and if you get a chance to catch them on tour – do it.

Here’s Jim’s board.

Jim Roth’s Pedal Board(s)
photo

Wandering from bottom to top:

Line 6 Expression Pedal

Empress Effects Tremolo

Line 6 DL4

Ibanez Analog Delay

Voodoo Labs Pedal Power Plus

ABY Switcher (hidden by hand)

PRO CO RAT (partially hidden by hand)

Boss OC-2 Octaver

DIY Bufferless TS9

Boss Flanger

Unknown Pedal

Klon

Unknown Pedal

Unknown Pedal

Ibanez Compressor

Boss Chromatic Tuner

Ernie Ball VP JR

I believe the large silver pedal with all the knobs above his main board layout is a Schumann PLL (phase locked loop). Here’s a video from Jerms’ YouTube channel that shows it in use – it’s crazy! And here’s a bit from the Schumann site explaining what a PLL does.

If you have anymore information about what you see on his board, let us know in the comments below.

Author: pedaladmin

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2 Comments

  1. Great article — Great board & pedals —

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  2. One bad ass PLL
    Super man PLL
    Fairly hefty unit JERMS
    WHO MAKES IT????

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