JCA20H Head Review

manufacturer: Jet City Amplification date: 08/31/2012 category: Guitar Amplifiers
Jet City Amplification: JCA20H Head
If you really know how to use a tube amp you can coax a hundred different tones out of it. For the money it can't be beat.
 Sound: 10
 Overall Impression: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 9.3
 Features: 8.3
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reviews (3) pictures (2) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.5
JCA20H Head Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 29, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 249

Purchased from: Musicians Friend

Features: Jet City JCA20H 20 WATT HEAD. I got this amp because I was tired of lugging around my other amps to gigs. It's a pretty simple amp, single channel, gain, bass middle, treble, master volume and presence knob's. No effects loop or any extra's. It has a fixed bias. It has two 8ohm and one 16ohm input's. The 8ohm input's are wired in series. // 9

Sound: I play blues, jazz and hard rock/metal. I use an 87 Ibanez 540 power and Ibanez Les Paul copy and American Fender Strat. This 20 watt head can handle these styles. All it takes is tweaking of the knobs. You can cut the mids, lower the bass and raise the presence and you've got Metallica. Crank the master volume and set the pre amp gain on 1 or 2 and you get great cleans. The tones controls are very reactive to tweaking. At low volume it gets extremely saturated. This amp is very loud. Great for small club gigs. Outdoor gigs you have to turn the volume to 3/4. Inside it's plenty loud at halfway. I matched it with one of my 4x12 cabs which I wired from 4ohm to 16ohm to match the heads speaker input. This head can handle BB King to GnR just experiment with the tone controls. Those of you who think this amp is not loud must speak with sign language. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I had a preamp tube burn out within a short time but sometimes it happens. I replaced the stock tubes with new 12AX7's and a matched pair of JJ EL84's and the amp screams. I have used for gig's indoors and out and never had a problem. I've used it without a backup. When I changed the tubes I took the chassis out and inspected it. It's very well built with very clean soldering and the wiring is very neat and wrapped very clean. High quality job. // 9

Overall Impression: I compared the head to my Plexi and my Vintage Modern and it comes very close to cloning their sound. If you need death metal distortion it's not the amp for you unless you slap a pedal in front then it is. It takes wah and delay pedals great. If you really know how to use a tube amp you can coax a hundred different tones out of it. I do recommend changing the tubes to the ones you like. For the money it can't be beat. // 10

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overall: 9.5
JCA20H Head Reviewed by: MetalSlvg, on august 31, 2012
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 500

Purchased from: The Rock Shop

Features: I won't go into too much detail of the features on this amp as you can see the makers website for that. I can say that the amp is very good for bringing out the tone of your guitar. I'm using a Marshall 1922 cab with Eminence Governors. The guitar I'm using is a homebuilt strat with an alder body, maple neck and fretboard with high output humbuckers. The amp can sound quite bright with some set ups, and I found I need to dial the tone down heavily on the guitars control. However, I am using this at home and I can say that when played in a band, the brightness of this amp will be fantastic to bring the guitar to the foreground of the mix and play above a drummer and bassist. I am also using 1 meg pots which can bring out the highs in any amp/setup. The JCA20H has a presence control that helps reduce the icepick tone some players complain about, I usually dial this very low. The tone controls in general (Bass, Mid, Treble and Presence) are very smooth and while they don't have a massive range of effect, they are enough to coax a variety of rock sounds and compliment your rig. As a one channel tube amp, this is brilliant value for money and with the right twiddling of knobs and a selection of pedals you can get a good range of textures from the amp. Tube amps are a great platform for pedals. As an honest rating I have given this a 9 because while most people would want two channels and an effects loop the amp was built for medium gain rock tones and it does it very well. As if you crossed a JCM800 preamp and tone stack with a Fender power section. // 9

Sound: My signal chain at present is Guitar > TU-3 Tuner > Tubescreamer Clone > MXR 6-Band EQ > MXR Smart Gate > JCA20H + CAB. If you're plugging directly to the amp, you won't need a noise gate. I only use one because I am daisy chaining my pedals from the TU-3. With my set up, I have the master around 2 O'clock and the gain around 10 O'clock. This brings a good level of power amp saturation and enough preamp gain for a mild overdriven sound that responds very well to my tubescreamer and guitar controls. Without any overdrive or distortion pedals I can get from an easy mellow tone useful a for Led Zeppelin type sound to a Black Sabbath sounding grunt with only the volume and tone. I have a tubescreamer clone that has a bit higher gain than the classic TS. The tubescreamer really brings this amp to life and I use it as an extra channel. From the lower tones I get without the pedal I can get access to much heavier tones similar to Type O Negative. I use an MXR EQ to get the tone sounding nice and fat and would recommend an EQ pedal with most set ups. It also helps adjust volume levels to a good level when you find a nice sweet spot with the amp. I have given this a 10 for sound because it's a really nice amp on it's own or with pedals. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I've never gigged with it, but would imagine no one would ever gig without spare tubes. I have put a JJ 12AX7 in the V1 preamp and it gave me a bit more clarity. I don't think a retube is needed for this head, the stock tubes work fine for me. When changing the preamp tubes a re-bias isn't needed, only for the power section. I did have an issue with this head loosing total sound when I found a faulty speaker cable. I thought I had blown the output transformer as I replaced the cable and tested all other parts of my rig with a different amp and had the amp tested with a different cab, cables and guitar and still had zero volume. A few days later I tried the head again and it was working perfectly. No, this didn't happen around Easter, it's just magical. I have given this a 9 in this section as I did have a minor issue that (apparently) sorted itself. With any tube amp you have to take the bad with the good and realise that awesome tone comes with disposable components. Tubes are cheap though and fun to play around with. // 9

Overall Impression: This is my first tube amp and I love my tone. I bought this before trying it for myself or hearing it live as I didn't have the chance to where I live. I had heard sound clips online and I can say there was a good deal of different tones floating around cyberspace all depending on speakers and guitars etc. I found that the amp was exactly what I wanted and at the right price. If I had to do it again, I might contemplate an Egnater Tweaker 15watt or the JCA22H, but would be very happy getting another JCA20H. The Eminence Governors in my cab sounded quite heavy on bass, I have since put a layer of 3mm fluff in the back of the cab and it made a huge difference. If you are looking at buying this amp, but are not sure if it will live up to your expectations, try to play it at your local music shop and make sure you play through either your own guitar or one like it and try different speakers. If you're a real tone junky, like me, you will prefer the head over the combo because it allows more freedom of tone. I have given this a 10 because I only made modifications to the rest of my gear based on my own personal preferences and this review is for the amp only. You won't be disappointed with this amp. // 10

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overall: 9.3
JCA20H Head Reviewed by: unregistered, on july 18, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 165

Purchased from: Eclipse Music

Features: This is a JCA20H, the 20-watt all-tube head from Jet City. It is the newer model with the plastic Rocker switches as opposed to the metal toggles. As far as features go, there's not a lot to write home about: single channel input, gain, bass, middle & trebel knobs, master volume, presence, standby & power Rocker switches. A bit bare-bones, but using these knobs you can create a nice variety of tones. The presence knob is a nice touch, as it provides a bit of brightness or sparkle to your tone. Still, do I wish it had a few more features, like on-board reverb or an effects loop? Yeah, I really do. // 7

Sound: This amp provides great tone to any guitar I have plugged it into so far. I have a Strat upgraded with GFS Alnico II single coils, an SG with standard Alnico V humbuckers, and an SX Strat-style with P90's. All of these sound great with virtually no tweaking to the amp knobs. I mostly play classic rock or blues rock riffs (Hendrix, The Who, ZZ Top), but do also branch into punk and pop-punk sounds (Green Day, Blink-182), and it sounds absolutely great for all of them. One thing that can make it even better is the addition of a nice overdrive pedal (I use the DigiTech Bad Monkey) to really make this amp stand out. Some people complain of a "flabby" low end, but I'm not getting any of that. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I've had this amp (and matching 2x12 cab) for about 6 months, and so far have had literally no problems. I know it will be due for a tube change soon, and I may try some JJ's or TungSol tubes next time, but for now, even with the stock Chinese tubes, it sounds amazing. Aside from the tubes, the chassis feels very sturdy & gives me no indication that it will ever break. Even the tolex took a hard scuff during transport & still looks brand new. // 10

Overall Impression: My overall impression is that the JCA20H is amazing. I got it for a fantastic price, and have not regretted it for a single minute. Some people have an issue with the large "goofy" logo on the front, but I have no problem with it. And I understand JCA now offers different logo panels for the front. And I do like the blue color - it really sets it apart from other amps in the same pack. I would recommend this amp to just about anyone, although there are some tones it just won't do. It's hard to get a nice loud sparkling clean tone unaided, and if you're looking for the heaviest tone in the world, it's probably in your best interest to keep looking. But aside from this, you can probably dial in a tone that works for you, and with out too much effort. // 10

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