Hands-On Review:Welcome to Jet City

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100% tube tone—0% BS

By Douglas White
Jet City Marketing and Product Development


Jet City Amplification

Jet City Amplification was formed in September 2009 with the goal of  delivering guitar products to players seeking high-quality amplification  products without the big price tags typically attached to boutique  offerings. These days, a lot of corporations toss around the word  "boutique" pretty liberally in their marketing, but Jet City  Amplification works with bona fide craftsmen to bring you REAL boutique  designs at prices within reach.


Fellow Seattleites Mike Soldano and Andy Marshall founded their two  companies on the same day—April 1, 1987—and set up shop within a mile of  each other. Over the ensuing 20 years, these two pioneers of the  boutique amp revolution have built products for professionals at the  highest levels the world over. And as different as their paths have at  times been, they have always agreed on a few important tenets of  construction: heavy-gauge steel, welded for strength; rigid PCBs with  thick and wide copper traces; and multi-ply hardwood cabinetry.


So when Jet City started building amps at the end of 2009, they did  so with decades of heritage and called upon those standards and  experience to create some great products for 2010. Here's a look at  three of them:

PicoValve: THD tone in a Pico-sized amp

Andy Marshall dreamt up the PicoValve almost 10 years ago, and when his allies in Jet City approached him  about working on a project together, he knew instantly this was the  right time for PicoValve. THD amplifiers, such as the UniValve and  BiValve, are respected by tone-seekers around the world for their smooth  and warm single-ended Class A designs and elegant-industrial good  looks. And just like its big brothers at THD, PicoValve features unique  topology that allows  changing the power tube at will—you can use nearly  any octal-based tube without re-biasing the amp. The included 6L6 power  tube delivers a nice all-around warmth and clarity. And if you're  looking for a tighter and more articulate bottom end, use a 6550. Or for  a tone somewhere between the two, a KT66 will produce that sound. If  you'd prefer your tone a bit more "British" with a grittier, more  midrange breakup, pop in an EL34—it's easy to do. Keep a little arsenal  of your favorite power tubes on hand and tailor your output with  whichever one suits your needs for every track.


At only 5 watts, with a half-power switch, PicoValve can bring that wonderful power tube distortion at reasonable volume  levels for recording. Also included are a full tone stack with treble,  middle, and bass controls for true tonal range, and Preamp and Master  Volume controls for dialing up just the right amount of overdrive and  output level. All this tonal goodness is wrapped in THD's signature  steel cage design.

JCA20H: Keep it simple, Soldano.

Tube amp legend Mike Soldano is Jet City Amplification's lead  designer and he's also one of the company's founders. Since the late  1980s, Soldano's name has become synonymous with searing, overdriven  guitar tones through no-nonsense, bulletproof designs.


Soldano's straightforward attitude translates well to guitar  tone-seekers: the shortest signal path from your guitar to the speakers  means purity of tone. This is why you don't find fancy DSP or extra  "marketing knobs" in Soldano's designs. Just sweet, undiluted  tube-goodness. And fewer "ancillary features" results in greater  reliability: fewer parts and streamlined assembly distill down to  products built for lasting high performance.


With three 12AX7 and two EL-84 tubes, JCA20H delivers pure, refined, all-Soldano tone. Controls include Preamp and  Master Volumes, and full EQ with Presence, so you can dial up the right  tones, right now—from sparkly cleans to full-on, muscular crunch.

JetStream ISO: Tube-tone angst with good manners

Everyone knows tube amplifiers do their best dirty deeds when the  power section opens up a bit. And sometimes that great tone is going to  occur at volume levels that might be a little bit … inappropriate.  Laying down your guitar tracks at home at night and want to remain on  good terms with the neighbors?


Gigging in a small club and need to  control your stage volume and also feed the monitors and the mains? The JetStream isolation cabinet presents a solution for these situations. And once  again, Jet City turned to the experts for help—this time, the acoustical  engineering brainiacs at Eminence Speaker. Since all Jet City speaker  cabinets are loaded with custom Eminence Jet City drivers, it was a  no-brainer to collaborate on this clever cabinet. Completely enclosing  the 12" driver in a specially designed cabinet with special baffling and  sound-absorbing materials allows the driver to perform at full volume  with minimal leakage.


Connect it to your Jet City amp as you would any other speaker  cabinet and set up your amp tones—go ahead and turn it up! Clip in your  favorite mic and position it the way you prefer thanks to the fully  adjustable gooseneck. Then close up the JetStream's  front door and breathe a sigh of relief. Now you have two output  options—the standard XLR output directly from the mic to your mixer or  recording interface, or use JetStream as a recording interface  itself—from the USB 2.0 output directly to your Mac or PC.


We've just covered three of the great products from Jet City; plug in  and find out what real tube amp design and quality tone are all about.

Features & Specs

PicoValve Features:

  •   • 5W with half-power mode
  •   • 2x12ax7 preamp and 1x6L6 power tubes included
  •   • Preamp and Master Volume controls
  •   • Full tone stack including Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence controls
  •   • Speaker outputs at 4-, 8-, and 16-ohm loads
  •   • 12.4"W x 8.5"H x 6.9"D

JCA20H Features:

  •   • 20 watts
  •   • 3x12ax7 preamp and 2xEL84 power tubes
  •   • Preamp and Master Volume controls
  •   • Full tone stack including Bass, Middle, Treble and Presence controls
  •   • Speaker outputs at 4-, 8-, and 16-ohm loads
  •   • 19.5"W x 9"H x 9"D. 21.3 lb.

JetStream ISO Features:

  •   • 12" Eminence Custom Jet City Driver
  •   • 16-ohm speaker input
  •   • XLR and optional USB 2.0 outputs
  •   • 18"W x 28"Hx 18"D

Order your Jet City gear with the added protection of the  Musician's Friend 45-Day Total Satisfaction and Lowest Price Guarantees.