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Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head  

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  • Jet City Amplification

    Low-wattage tube guitar amp designed by THD Electronics for sizzling tube tone in a compact, but powerful head.

    Designed by Andy Marshall and licensed by THD Electronics, Jet City's PicoValve amp head is a compact, low-wattage tone machine. The amp head features THD's unique topology, which allows the user to swap the power tube at will—use nearly any octal-based tube without the need to re-bias the amp. With 5 watts, and a 1/2-power mode, you can get full power-amp distortion at volume levels which won't upset the neighbors. The tube guitar amp features a full-tone stack with treble, middle, and bass controls. Preamp and Master Volume controls dial up just the right amount of overdrive and output level. Housed in THD's signature steel cage design, this Jet City amp head is sturdy enough to stand up to the elements, and packs all the tube distortion you're looking for.

    Features

    • THD's topology: swap the power tube without the need to re-bias
    • 5 watts
    • 1/2-power mode
    • Full tone stack: treble, middle, and bass controls
    • Preamp and master volume controls
     
    Customer Reviews
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    Review Snapshot®

    by PowerReviews
    Jet City AmplificationPicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head
     
    3.8

    (based on 31 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (13)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (8)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (4)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (4)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (2)

    88%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

    • Easy to use (14)
    • Portable (12)
    • Excellent sound (9)
    • Warm / comfy (7)
    • Good power output (3)

    Cons

    • Poor sound quality (3)

    Best Uses

    • Home studio (13)
    • Amateur recording (11)
    • Performances (4)
    • Professional recording (4)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Experienced (13), Professional musician (4)

    Most Liked Positive Review

     

    READ & CONSIDER

    I bought the head version of the PicoValve after coming across it and seeing its specs. I have owned/used countless amps over the years. My main rig in the past has included a...Read complete review

    I bought the head version of the PicoValve after coming across it and seeing its specs. I have owned/used countless amps over the years. My main rig in the past has included a Mesa Dual Rectifier; Marshall JMP 50w [1974 non-master volume/4 input]; Marshall Super Bass 100w [1977 - also non-MV]; JCM 800 and 900. The PV is able to generate tone worthy of a much higher MSRP. I have read a lot of reviews from owners who are dissatisfied with the amp's characteristics; mainly the 'dark' sound and compression/flatness of the 2w setting; but I have to [with respect] disagree. The main thing any owner of the PV must do is experiment with different tubes! I can understand a valid basis for the tone issue, but swapping out tubes made an enormous impact on the amp as a whole. After some experimentation, I have settled happily with a J/J 6V6 for power, and it really brings the amp to life. with the M/V high and PRE low, the overdrive/saturation of the 6V6 is incredible. The stock Chinese 12AX7-Bs were too harsh/buzzy for my preference, so after trying a handful of preamp tube configurations, I am now using an RCA 12AU7 in V1 and a Marshall -12AX7 for V2. With the lower-gain 'AU7 in V1, the amp is MUCH more responsive to pick attack/dynamics. It provides a bit more headroom; not really OD-ing until the gain hits 12:00-1:00. From there, I found that a boost/OD pedal can work VERY well with the Pico. I put a DOD Fx50 Overdrive Preamp box on it -- with the pedal's Distortion at MAYBE 9:00 and its Volume set high [70-100%], the signal boost is enough to push the power section into a smooth and harmonically rich saturation that is unparalleled by ANY current comparable amp available. It reminds me of my JMPs and 800s running wide-open; but the Pico can do it without deafening everyone within a 3 mile radius. By swapping tubes out, this amp can be used in the studio in place of a handful of other more expensive tube amps. To anyone who is not happy with the amp's factory sound; I urge to PLEASE do some research and try as many different tubes as possible [output AND preamp]. With the sheer number of tube configurations, you WILL find a sound that makes you happy to own this cool and very usable little amp.

    VS

    Most Liked Negative Review

     

    It's a great little amp - as long as you replace the stock tubes

    So first off, before you do anything else, you MUST change out the stock Chinese tubes this amp comes with, otherwise you will never hear what it can do (consider them useful for...Read complete review

    So first off, before you do anything else, you MUST change out the stock Chinese tubes this amp comes with, otherwise you will never hear what it can do (consider them useful for just testing that it arrived in working condition and little else). With the stock tubes this amp has almost no headroom and sounds muddy and gritty when you turn the drive up. I swapped out the stock 12AX7s for NOS RCA 5751s. These have somewhat less gain than a 12AX7 and gave more headroom plus much greater clarity, dynamics and gobs of creamy distortion.

    The 2W mode is great for late night wailing without waking the kids (or neighbors), but it is much darker and more compressed than the 5W setting. The 'Hi' switch brightens things up considerably at 2W and gets you some Brit-Rock Townsend sounds at 5W. After changing out the preamp tubes, I found this to be a very versatile little amp for distortion sounds, It can go from Clapton Bluesbreaker crunch, through Angus Young and Jimmy Page JCM territory all the way to full-bore Metal saturation (my distortion pedals have been gathering dust since I got this amp). If you crank the gain and master it gets pretty darn hairy and loud enough to frighten pets and small children.

    While I can get some very useable Fender-ish clean tones with the gain below 3 O'clock (with the 5751s), it breaks up soon after that, For more headroom, some 12 AU7s should do the trick, so I will try that next along with maybe a NOS EL34 or two. I've learnt to be very careful with NOS tubes and only buy ones that have been tested on a dynamic tester (not passive) for shorts. I've had some NOS tubes work fine in one amp only to short-out in another. Usually, it's the tube and not the amp that is to blame. Vintage NOS tubes can sound great, but their reliability in this day and age can be spotty to say the least.
    I like being able to switch between 2W and 5W mode while the amp is switched on. The 'Hi' switch makes the amp more versatile at low volumes, The Bass, Mid and Treble controls all have a very useable range and allow you to dial-in the tone you want. The amp also has a Standby switch which should increase the life of your tubes, but I don't like the loud thump when you come out of standby, or the even louder one when you change the mode between 2W and 5W (do not operate these switches while recording). It has a good, but basic set of features, but at the price, I can't complain. Being able to experiment with different Octal tubes is a big plus.
    The Jet City PicoValve appears to be very solidly and well built. I haven't taken it apart yet, so can't comment on the internal circuitry, but the cabinet is solid metal and the cage is heavy-duty, It should last a long time. I am not sure if I would gig with it, but you could if you wanted to for Cafes and small rooms without a loud drummer (just don't park your beer on the open-mesh cage!).
    I'm giving the PicoValve 5 stars for value because at this price, I wasn't expecting all that much, but wanted a low wattage amp with good, useable distortion sounds for practising at home and recording, With a tube-swap, it delivers that in spades for the price of a couple of decent pedals (or one spendy boutique pedal). If you can't crank a big rig in your home studio without disturbing the peace, this amp may well be the answer,

    Reviewed by 31 customers

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    Displaying reviews 1-10

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    1.0

    Not a clean sound - Not very powerful

    By Walrus

    from Wenatchee, WA

    About Me Experienced

    Pros

    • Built like a tank

    Cons

    • Not Powerful
    • Poor Sound Quality
    • Poor Tone
    • Sounds Muddy
    • Very Distorted Above 14m
    • Weak

    Best Uses

    • BOAT ANCHOR

    Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

    I was exceptionally disappointed with this amp. Lack of tone, complete distortion at most volumes. I even did the River City Mod. It helped, but the amp is still substandard. I plan on using the chassis and transformers for a basis for a new amp. I would never have bought this amp if I had known.

    Comment on this review

    (4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

     
    5.0

    READ & CONSIDER

    By SG

    from Louisville, KY

    About Me Professional Musician

    Pros

    • Easy To Use
    • Excellent Sound
    • Good Warmth
    • Portable
    • Tone
    • Tube Versatility

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Amateur Recording
      • Home Studio
      • Performances
      • Professional Recording

      Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

      I bought the head version of the PicoValve after coming across it and seeing its specs. I have owned/used countless amps over the years. My main rig in the past has included a Mesa Dual Rectifier; Marshall JMP 50w [1974 non-master volume/4 input]; Marshall Super Bass 100w [1977 - also non-MV]; JCM 800 and 900. The PV is able to generate tone worthy of a much higher MSRP. I have read a lot of reviews from owners who are dissatisfied with the amp's characteristics; mainly the 'dark' sound and compression/flatness of the 2w setting; but I have to [with respect] disagree. The main thing any owner of the PV must do is experiment with different tubes! I can understand a valid basis for the tone issue, but swapping out tubes made an enormous impact on the amp as a whole. After some experimentation, I have settled happily with a J/J 6V6 for power, and it really brings the amp to life. with the M/V high and PRE low, the overdrive/saturation of the 6V6 is incredible. The stock Chinese 12AX7-Bs were too harsh/buzzy for my preference, so after trying a handful of preamp tube configurations, I am now using an RCA 12AU7 in V1 and a Marshall -12AX7 for V2. With the lower-gain 'AU7 in V1, the amp is MUCH more responsive to pick attack/dynamics. It provides a bit more headroom; not really OD-ing until the gain hits 12:00-1:00. From there, I found that a boost/OD pedal can work VERY well with the Pico. I put a DOD Fx50 Overdrive Preamp box on it -- with the pedal's Distortion at MAYBE 9:00 and its Volume set high [70-100%], the signal boost is enough to push the power section into a smooth and harmonically rich saturation that is unparalleled by ANY current comparable amp available. It reminds me of my JMPs and 800s running wide-open; but the Pico can do it without deafening everyone within a 3 mile radius. By swapping tubes out, this amp can be used in the studio in place of a handful of other more expensive tube amps. To anyone who is not happy with the amp's factory sound; I urge to PLEASE do some research and try as many different tubes as possible [output AND preamp]. With the sheer number of tube configurations, you WILL find a sound that makes you happy to own this cool and very usable little amp.

      Comment on this review

      (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

       
      4.0

      Worth owning

      By Rick330man

      from Florida Keys

      About Me Experienced

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Easy To Use
      • Excellent Sound
      • Good Warmth
      • Portable

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Home Playing
        • Home Studio

        Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

        I've been playing over 30 years, and have a whole collection of guitars and amps to show for it. This little amp head is very nice. The gain is over the top and gives you a very limited clean sweep when you use 12AX7s. Reviewers almost uniformly recommend a 12AU7 in V1 and and a 12AT7 in V2. I experimented with just about every preamp tube in the 12 series and finally stuck an old 1959 Sylvania 12AU7 in V1. For V2, I broke from the mold and went with a GE 5751. I may go back to a 12AY7 in V1, but I'm still experimenting.

        At 5 watts you can crank it and get a warm tone and still keep the volume within reason.

        I tried lots of different 6L6 variants - including SED, Philips 6L6WGB, JJ, Sovtek and others - and wound up sticking with the stock Shuguang. I've had quite a few of these tubes and they have all delivered.

        Speaker cabinet is pine convertible back 2 X 12" with one 10" Eminence Red Fang and one 12" Celestion Blue Alnico. The little 5W Pico valve gives me plenty of bass, mid and treble to dial in whatever tones I want through this set up.

        Comment on this review

        (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        PicoValve the best deal ever?

        By Airball

        from Sacramento, California

        About Me Experienced

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Built like a tank
        • Easy To Use
        • Excellent Sound
        • Good Warmth
        • Portable
        • Unique sound

        Cons

        • Standby Switch Huge Pop
        • Stock Tubes Sound Like Sh

        Best Uses

        • Jamming
        • Practice Sorry Allen
        • Practice -- Sorry Allen
        • Practice Sorry Allen I

        Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

        Couldn't pass up this deal, and after reading reviews, planned ahead and had full set of replacement tubes on hand. Good thing, as amp sounded awful out of the box, and had I not known the probable cause (thanks mostly to available reviews here and on other sites), I would have shipped it right back. After a couple hours of harsh, useless tones, switched out the tubes for a Tung Sol 6v6 and two JJ ECC83s. The diff was night and day, benching Tebow for Peyton. With quality tubes, a set of useful, musical tones emerged, from greasy blues to just short of metal, from bedroom to small group volume. Single coils allow for more controlled tones from the PicoValve than HBs. Couldn't get a Marshall or Fender tone, but could hear a little of both, plus a boatload of its own unique sound. Couldn't get a strict clean tone either, but you probably already knew that. Overall, great for what it is, an easy to use narrow range of unique tones that you will find useful if you play a variety of music. For me, the two-watt setting just saturated the gain and further compressed the sound, but allowed for a very Eddie brown sound at "everyone else went to bed" level. If not the best deal ever offered by MF, maybe the best value.

        Comment on this review

         
        4.0

        I own it

        By Wolf

        from Chicago

        About Me Experienced

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easy To Use
        • Excellent Sound
        • Good Warmth
        • Portable

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Amateur Recording
          • Home Studio

          Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

          Got this on a special and so for so good. OEM tubes are chinese and the sound was a little muddy. I replaced the 6L6V that came with it with a JJ EL34. I replaced the 12AX7s also. Sounds fine now. We'll see how it holds up. It's teamed with a 112 cab and is my main practice rig.

          Comment on this review

          (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Fun low wattage amp!

          By moviemusicman

          from Surfside Beach, SC

          About Me Professional Musician

          Ask me a question

          Pros

          • Easy To Change Tone
          • Easy To Use
          • Good Warmth
          • Portable

          Cons

          • Stock Tubes

          Best Uses

          • Amateur Recording
          • Home Studio
          • Professional Recording

          Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

          Fun amp and fairly easy to modify. I bought the Pico Valve for a fantastic price and I'm glad I did! The stock chinese tubes are ok but I highly recommend trying higher quality tubes.
          The Pico Valve is louder than expected but is not loud enough to use with a drummer.
          I love being able to try different power tube types!
          KT88, KT77, 6L6, EL34 etc.

          Comment on this review

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          3.0

          cool little tube amp

          By primerib

          from Westland, MI

          About Me Professional Musician

          Ask me a question

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Easy To Use
          • Portable

          Cons

          • Limited Functions

          Best Uses

          • Amateur Recording
          • Home Studio

          Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

          very cool little amp based on THD's design. it does except pedals fairly well into the front ... since there is no loop. and if you use an overdrive pedal you can get several tones out of this little guy. and even cooler is you can swap out different tubes and the amp will behave differently

          Comment on this review

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Better Than Your Average Lunchbox!!

          By Guitarman

          from Asheville, NC

          About Me Experienced

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Easy To Use
          • Excellent Sound
          • Good Warmth
          • Portable
          • Powerful

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Home Studio
            • Performances

            Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

            Great little amp at the regular price, but at the current price, what a deal!! Great tone from clean to grinding metal, I love it. Would recommend to anyone.

            Comment on this review

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            4.0

            Great amp once you make some changes

            By Phil

            from Kirkland, WA

            About Me Experienced

            Ask me a question

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Easy To Use
            • Flexible

            Cons

            • Poor Stock Configuration

            Best Uses

            • Amateur Recording
            • Home Studio

            Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

            This is a great amplifier but NOT in it's stock configuration. The tubes installed at the factory are rubbish and your amp will sound like rats with bad gas! There is NO clean head room with the stock tubes, either. The selling point of this amp for me was the ability to use any octal-based power tube. I slapped a 1950's NOS 6K6 in it and swapped out the Chinese 12AX7's for NOS USA-made 12AT7's and the amp really came to life! Trust me; you will be extremely disappointed with this amp until you CHANGE THE TUBES!!

            Comment on this review

            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

             
            3.0

            Decent amp at a decent price

            By 'Louisiana' Steve

            from Florida

            About Me Professional Musician

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Cheap
            • Easy To Use
            • Portable

            Cons

            • High Gain Sounds 'fizzy'
            • No Headroom

            Best Uses

            • Home Studio
            • Performances

            Comments about Jet City Amplification PicoValve 5W Tube Guitar Amp Head:

            The PicoValve was on sale so I grabbed one.
            First off in 5 watt mode I didn't find it as dark as some have said. In fact, it has a lack of bass even when the bass is turned all the way up. The bass and mid controls don't do a whole lot and with the bright switch on, the treble knob actually seemed to reduce the bass as you turned it up. Kinda weird.
            It's only a 5 watt amp so it won't have much headroom but this amp doesn't have much at all. If you like crunch though ..... this is an amp you'll like.

            In the 2 watt mode it does get very dark and unlike many amps with a low power setting, it gets very quiet in the 2 watt mode ...... definitely usable for home recording when you need to not wake anyone up.

            It's built like a tank and when I opened it up I was very pleased with the quality of build inside.
            A perfect amp for modding.

            I gave it 3 stars because the sound quality is mediocre ... it's usable but not very inspiring.

            Comment on this review

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