JCA20H Half-Stack review by Jet City Amplification

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Features: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.2 (11 votes)
Jet City Amplification: JCA20H Half-Stack
8

Price paid: $ 350

Purchased from: ZZounds

Sound — 9
See, this is where the amp gets to shine. After the mean grade I gave it for features, I can make it up here.

- I'm currently using a Schecter C-1+. Dual stock coilsplitting humbuggies.

(The coil split is really nice to have, by the way. Since it's only one channel, prospective buyers should make sure they're up to the task of learning the ART of going from a smooth, bluesy tone to full rip-roaring Br00tlz, using only the controls on their guitar. It's worth it.)

- I play light blues to heavy metal, and everything in between.

This amp really shines for classic rock tones. It's voiced pretty uniquely, but it's a good unique. Think modern British.

- Using the preamp gain, you can make it sound good at bedroom practice levels. Obviously not as good as it would be if you had full power tube distortion going on, but it's acceptable. Still beats the hell out any modeling amp.

- At standard volumes, it sounds just as good as a halfstack 5x it's cost. Seriously.

- I already mentioned a lack of clean headroom. Repeating for the sake of clarity. Don't come hunting me down when you can't pump out the intro to "One" at 100db without some dirt.

- The distortion is brutal. Not Br00talzz. If you plan on using it for death metal, you'll need a a pedal of some sort.

- The cab is loaded with an Eminence 12 incher (giggity). Supposedly custom voiced for the cab. Handles 70w, 16ohms. It's no Mesa Recto 4x12, but it's better than any other I've heard at this price.

I can't really overstate the quality of the sound of this tiny thing. Look of videos on the YouTube. Go try one.

Overall Impression — 8
So, we've reached the part where I ramble about how much I like it. Let's see if we can structure it a bit better than a ramble.

- It suits my style perfectly. Great match. If I want to go Uber Br00tz, I have to line up my Bad Monkey.
- I've been playing for 7 years or so. I'd say I'm qualified to produce a review like this.
- I own a 30w Vypyr. I use it as a footstool now.

- I wish I had learned more about the different front baffle options before I ordered it.

There's a whole host of different colors available from the Jet City website. My favorite is a perforated black metal grill. So you can see the glowing t00bz inside. Mmmm, t00bz...

Oh, if it was stolen, I'd hunt the guy down and string him up by my 20ft lead. Then I'd take my cable back. I like it. Definitely buy again. Or possibly the 50w head, because I hear it's a whole different animal, tone wise.

I love the tone. I hate the lack of a loop. My favorite feature is the "On" switch. Because that's how I make sweet tonez come out.

I compared it the Bugeras in the same price range. No comparison really. Sound and build quality wise.

So there ya have it. One long, rambling, but hopefully informative review of my current amplifier. But hey, you don't have to trust me. I'm just some dude on the internet you've never heard of.

(That was for drama. Trust me. Try this thing out.)

Reliability & Durability — 9
Built like a rock. Not much else to say. The tolex is high quality, all the panels fit tight together, the knobs feel solid, the input jack is sturdy metal (*cough Bugera*)

Never broken down on me. The tubes are still stock. When those need to be replaced, you can just drop in a new pair of EL34s, as it (Allegedly) has a fixed bias.

I'll end up taking it to a tech for the first time, just to be sure of this. Hard to trust the internet with my amp.

(Yeah, that's right. I just told you not to trust me. Don't listen to me. At least for that part.)

Would and have gigged with no backup. Built like a tank.

Features — 6
Hello, people considering buying a JCA20h, and people who've recently purchased one and are seeking confirmation!

Don't fret (Well, do. Open strings are boring). This is a good amp, a great amp if you consider the price point. Of course, there will be a nice white space for me to ramble about how much I love this thing at the bottom. Let's break it down! (Not like that. Disco is dead.)

- 20 Watt all-tube head. I bought mine with a spiffy matching 1x12.
- The amp is the JCA12h. The cab is the JCA12s.
- Probably an earlier 2010 model, as all of the newer ones have plastic rocker switches for Standby and Power, and mine has the older metal toggles.
- 1 channel.
- No, there's no channel switching. Put your hand down, jackass.
- No foot pedal either. You want to wait in the hall?

The single channel I can accept. To be fair, it is versatile enough for anything from blues to hard rock. If you know how to use the volume knob on your guitar, you have all the channels you need.

- No effect loop. (Ouch)

I wish it had an effects loop, I admit. You can have it modded to add one. (But this review isn't about the potential of an amp, is it?)

- No headphone jack.

Eh. Doesn't bother me.

They keeps cost down by nix-ing extra features. If you absolutely need them, look elsewhere. (And pay extra)

- It has some knobs on the front. They turn (gasp!). From left to right, you have your input jack, your Preamp Gain, Bass, Mids, Treble, Master Volume, Presence (It's a top boost), Standby switch, Main Power switch, and a really, really bright blue LED. Nothing groundbreaking. All the knobs go to "9". This may be a subtle joke, as all the rest of Mike Soldano's amps crank to "11".

Nobody really knows what the prominent "333" logo means. Popular rumor says that the company was founded by 3 guys, at 3 in the morning, over 3 beers. But the world may never know.

I use this amp at home, at band practice, and small gigs. It has more than enough power for all of this. It's only 20w, but it's a loud, all tube-y 20w. It doesn't have a ton of clean headroom. The tubes break up fairly early. If you need sparkling cleans at deafening volume, this isn't for you.

All in all, I give it a 6 for features. Don't whine, it's only fair. Should have been expecting this.

I'm sure the cab plays a part, but you're going to have to wait. I can't talk about Sound here. That's down there.

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    pato15
    Stevegio wrote: I tried the night train and didn't like it at all...way to tinny and cheap sounding. The Tiny Terror is nice but only if your into High Gain..just like the Night Train... this seems to be a death metal, Shecter, ESP, Ibanez with a Floyd Rose..play so loud no one can here anything but noise.. The average age here must be 16...I'm in the wrong place. 52..playing for 40 years and people love the classic Rock from the late 60's and 70's my band plays.. we gig 4 times a week and get paid quite well.. None of us dig metal or that Death metal (for those who can't really play guitar)... There's more to life than High Gain kids. And American Strats and Teles kick the crap out of those Korean and Chinese guitars you all Love so much but I guess If you waill enough on a Floyd Rose no one will notice you can't play worth a crap
    Look, i agree with you on the night train, but disagree with your rant against Schecter, ESP and Ibanez (ESPECIALLY Ibanez!!!) because they are fantastic guitars for different styles. I realize that you are probably just an arrogant old man who refuses to acknowledge other styles of music or guitars other than fender (pfft) on the basis that you have no versatility in your playing style, and therefore can't handle anything else. so head back to your world of "experienced musicianship" and stay there. i don't like death metal personally, but some do. oh and the floyd rose thing really made me laugh - both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani would kick your ass at playing blues and they both use locking tremolos a lot! Good Day sir.
    theknuckster
    did nobody else find that first review refreshingly written? it really was one of the better ones I've read on UG
    bvarsel
    Just bought the combo version of this amp. IMO you can't touch this amps sound & tone for the $$$.
    Stormymonday
    There was not a post for the Jet City JCA5212RC, its the newer 50 watt/twin twelve model,plus have the Jet City JCA24S Cabinet to match it up! It has different tone qualitys then the 20watt,and it keeps up with the much higher priced models out there..maybe a little bit more! Seeing is believing..check it out for yourself. The amp combo costs $599,and the cabinet was $220(I know the stores owner-Murry Music) All I can say is..Big Bang for the Bucks!
    Stevegio
    I've got a newer one and all the swithches are metal.Not plastic..I haven't seen any made with plastic switches. The 20 watts are just fine for a house or even a gig. 50 watts will blow your soors off and you won't be able to put the volume past 2 without some calling 911 but like the Blues Devilee. If youer in a band playing before hundreds of people it's perfect. just impossible to practice with and get any quality sound from my experience
    Stevegio
    Everyone of the differnt color amps has a different purpose. This isn't "a pick you color" amp. each comes with different features AND different websites. READ the website and see the different colors have different designs AND higher prices for the extras
    Stevegio
    I think this amp has a great clean sound. Very usefull and very clean..That's what sold me on it the beautiful clean. I t can get down and dirty but it also cleans up geautifully with plenty of headroom. Mine does a GREAT job of this and it's my favorite feature of the amp. Beat buy on the market bar none. get em while you can..the 20watt combo has already gone up by $100.
    p.sutherland85
    i run the head through an orange 1x12 cab with a celestion vintage 30. it rules. best tone. no fuss. i have a tiny terror and a vox night train and it's far ahead of those for around the same price. Nothing comes close to this head in the low watt market.
    Stevegio
    $499...Man did you get screwed they only sell for 349 every where on the internet... Better have some coffee before you go to Guitar Center again..the must be happy to see YOU walk in!
    eclipseman
    Am I in the wrong place? 53 and playing 40 years...Last year I bought two JCA20 heads and I'm still lucky with them. Not so loud as my two Marshall heads (thank God!) but lout enough for all my purposes. I'm going to sell my Marshalls. The only thing that could be a little better: There is some noise with the JCAs when turning up gain. But hey - "If it doesn't hum, it's broken..." Iss the "Astroverb" better than the JCA? Well, the Astroverb features a reverb unit, but otherwise, it's nearly identical to the JCA. I played the Astroverb and think the sound difference (if you can hear it...) is not worth the aditional 900,-.
    mark3777
    I'm planning on selling my line 6 75w combo for either this or a fender super champ xd.
    Stevegio
    I tried the night train and didn't like it at all...way to tinny and cheap sounding. The Tiny Terror is nice but only if your into High Gain..just like the Night Train... this seems to be a death metal, Shecter, ESP, Ibanez with a Floyd Rose..play so loud no one can here anything but noise.. The average age here must be 16...I'm in the wrong place. 52..playing for 40 years and people love the classic Rock from the late 60's and 70's my band plays.. we gig 4 times a week and get paid quite well.. None of us dig metal or that Death metal (for those who can't really play guitar)... There's more to life than High Gain kids. And American Strats and Teles kick the crap out of those Korean and Chinese guitars you all Love so much but I guess If you waill enough on a Floyd Rose no one will notice you can't play worth a crap