JHS Pedals Bun Runner Review – Best Tone Bender Fuzz Pedal?

Review of: JHS Pedals Bun Runner

Reviewed by: Rating:4.5On November 9, 2013Last modified:October 6, 2016



You want a whole lotta fuzz? The JHS Pedals Bun Runner is possibly the ultimate 2-in-1 fuzz pedal offering the wild Silicon fuzz of the Astro Mess pedal on the left side and a heavily modified Germanium Tone Bender on the right. Either option in a single pedal would provide plenty of great fuzz tone, but to have both in a single unit makes for one hell of a fuzz machine. Add to that an order toggle switch to flip the order of the 2 fuzzes, and you’ve got an insanely wide range of fuzz tones. This just might be the best Tone Bender fuzz pedal available.

The Bun Runner is the result of a collaboration between Switchfoot’s Drew Shirley and Josh Scott of JHS pedals. Their previous fuzz collaboration was the Astro Mess, a pedal that, according to JHS, nods to such classic fuzz circuits as the Ampeg Scrambler, Kay Fuzztone, and Octavia. The Bun Runner takes the Astro Mess to entirely new territory by pairing it with Josh’s version of a Tone Bender style fuzz. The result is one of the most versatile fuzz guitar pedals available anywhere. Let’s run down the features and dive into our JHS Pedals Bun Runner review.


2 fuzz pedals in 1: Astro Mess Fuzz (left) and Vintage Tone Bender (right)

Astro Mess Fuzz:

JHS-Pedals-Bun-Runner-Review-Best-Tone-Bender-Fuzz-Pedal-02Fuzz control knob for setting gain.

Volume control knob adjusts output level.

Gate switch makes notes seem to crush under your picking technique.

Vintage Tone Bender:

Fuzz control knob adjusts gain level.

Volume control knob sets output level.

Tone control knob shapes the tone of the fuzz sound.

Bias control knob creates sounds ranging from thick overdrive to massive wall-of-fuzz tones.

Order toggle switch reverses the order of the 2 fuzzes for a wide range of tonal possibilities.

True bypass footswitches for allowing your signal to pass unaffected when disengaged.

Powered by 9VDC power adapter.

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Sound & Performance:

I set the Bun Runner between my Strat and a clean amp sound. I went for the Astro Mess side first. This first section can be considered my Astro Mess review. I started with the knobs at noon and the Gate function turned off.

The Astro Mess side of the Bun Runner instantly fires up your tone with some massive overdriven saturation. The sound is very thick and remarkably balanced. This is one of the most full-sounding fuzzes I’ve ever heard that doesn’t use any form of “tone” control. It’s a perfectly voiced fuzz as is. If you really want to color the sound you can use your guitar’s Tone knob or the other side of the pedal. That’s what it’s there for after all. But the Astro Mess just sounds great. It’s a full-on fuzz that has a round sound that isn’t too bass-heavy or brash on the top-end.

Even with the Fuzz maxed out, the Astro Mess remains quite focused. It’s a pretty high-gain fuzz, yet it doesn’t drown your signal with noise and uncontrollable feedback as long as you keep the Volume under 2 o’clock, which shouldn’t be a problem as the Bun Runner provides plenty of headroom. Although the Astro Mess isn’t a fuzz that cleans up with volume attenuation, it’s incredibly smooth and musical and can handle single-note lines and chords exceptionally well without any muddiness.

Flipping the Gate switch brings in some splatty-sounding response characteristics. The Gate gives chords a slightly unstable sound that is fine-tuned in a way that makes this kind of effect much more useable and pleasing to listen to than what most fuzzes offer. Also, be sure to switch to your neck pickup and play up past the 9th fret or so for some great octave up sounds. The Bun Runner is capable of quite a lot, and we’ve only just scratched the surface.

Setting the knobs on the right of the Bun Runner to noon, I switched over to the Vintage Tone Bender side of the pedal. This is quite a contrast to the Astro Mess, offering a warmer Germanium flavor with significantly less gain at this noon position. The Vintage Tone Bender side delivers a decidedly classic sound and makes the Bun Runner definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some authentic vintage-style fuzz with a previously unheard of level of tone-shaping control.

Adjusting the Bias will help you dial in your preferred level of response for the Tone Bender. Turning it clockwise will give you a more brittle sounding tone with a lowered output volume. Boosting the Volume control compensates nicely. On the other hand, turning the Bias counter-clockwise will open up the pedal a bit and bring in massive amounts of headroom and volume output. The Bun Runner packs some great sounding Germanium overdrive, offering plenty of vintage flavor with the ability to clean it up with a subtle turn of your guitar’s volume knob.

The Bun Runner’s Tone control is a great little addition to the Vintage Tone Bender side of the pedal. It’s more than just a little high or low cut, allowing you to drastically shape the tone of your fuzz. This is great when using the Tone Bender alone or when you’re combining both sides of the pedal. And that brings us to the real fun that the Bun Runner offers.

Combining the Astro Mess Fuzz and Vintage Tone Bender sides of the pedal offers a wealth of great fuzz tones that few other pedals could even hope to contend with. The order of the effects may be reversed with the center flip-switch, resulting in near-endless possibilities. It’s really worth experimenting with how these two sides interact with each other. You can use the Gate function of the Astro Mess after the Tone Bender. Or perhaps you might try using the Tone control of the Tone Bender after the Astro Mess to shape your overall sound. There are so many subtle variations to be found that will help you shape your ultimate fuzz tone. Possibilities like setting the Tone Bender for some warmth, fading in from clean to overdriven by rolling up your guitar’s volume knob, and then blasting the mix with an additional layer of Astro Mess fuzz are easily found along with countless variations thereof.

The Bun Runner is a force to be reckoned with and sits well JHS’s other great fuzz pedals like the Pollinator, 4-Wheeler, and Mini Foot Fuzz. Let’s see the final result.



Controversy aside, the JHS Pedals Bun Runner is one of the ultimate all-in-one fuzz pedals. It packs Silicon and Germanium flavors into two separate foot-switchable fuzzes that may be combined in countless ways. It covers the breadth of warm Vintage Tone Bender tones with smooth Germanium overdrive and beyond, to octave fuzz sounds and ultra-modern Silicon fuzz mayhem thanks to the Astro Mess Fuzz. The Bun Runner is likely to be one of the most inspiring fuzz pedals you’ll ever play. Don’t miss it.

That concludes our JHS Pedals Bun Runner review. Thanks for reading.


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Gabriel Tanaka


  1. devi ever

    November 9, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    The Astro Mess is a component for component clone of my Hyperion pedal.

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