When famous guitar amp developer Mike Soldano is leading a fully new brand of affordable tube amps it is hard not to pay attention. We tested the characterful and very affordable 20-watt amplifier head from Jet City.
Let’s start by unpacking the beast!
Soldano on Sale
Under the hood you’ll find a preamp stage with three 12AX7 tubes and a power amp with a pair of EL84. Nothing but standard, tried and tested features: why change a winning team? The rectifier uses integrated circuitry, and the 20-watt power stage can match a 16 or 8 ohm speaker cabinet.
Now, let’s take a look at the front panel controls.
Less Controls for a Stronger Sound
But let’s go back to the JCA20H and pick up a guitar!
Bennie and the Jet City
We started with the Les Paul and quickly noticed that the small Jet City provides a pleasant crunch sound: the powerful bridge pickup of the guitar overdrives the amp as soon as the gain setting is at 2 and you hit the strings with force. The sound is very good, articulated and it reproduces every single nuance. Big, fat riffs are a breeze with the gain setting at 6 and higher settings will surely allow you to play lead parts without breaking a sweat. In spite of its nice character, the sound is definitely more rock than jazz. If you want a clean sound with a Les Paul you’ll have to use low gain settings and increase the volume setting – it is doable and very convincing. The amp has only one single channel but is still quite versatile. The EQ works effectively and the presence control allows you to add high frequencies to get a more precise response. In short, this amp is amazing with a humbucker!
The Gretsch is a very special guitar because its humbucker pickups sound and twang like single-coils with the added factors of the body and resonance of the guitar. The clean sound is very good with the neck pickup and the crunch sound pretty sharp with the bridge pickup.
Below you can find the sound samples, including some made with the Squier Telecaster Classic Vibe which we also tested with the amp:
- Les Paul – Micro manche – Gain = 1,500:22
- Les Paul – Micro chevalet – Gain = 2,500:17
- Les Paul – Micro chevalet – Gain = 6 – Med = 6,500:15
- Les Paul – Micro chevalet – Gain = 8 – Mid = 3,500:16
- Gretsch – Micro manche – Gain = 2,500:23
- Gretsch – Micro manche – Gain = 500:18
- Gretsch – Micro chevalet – Gain = 500:20
- Gretsch – Micro chevalet – Gain = 800:17
- Telecaster – Micro manche – Gain = 200:22
- Telecaster – Micro chevalet – Gain = 600:17