Every time I visit Mr. Ken Huddleston there are surprises, and a good time is had by all. Ken, of Manchester, Tennessee, owns two music stores and always has some new gear for me to try.  To complete the experience, he graciously sets up a venue for me to wring the new stuff out. Lucky for me, this is exactly what occurred for my first experience with the new Peavey JSX Joe Satriani amplifier.

On Friday, October 14, 2005, the GuitarAttack Crew rolled into Manchester not knowing exactly what was going to happen. We knew that an old school metal jam was going on somewhere, but the venue was still kind of a secret. To prepare for the jam, I brought along two guitars: a goldtop GuitarAttack FM and a Striped S-Style. Once we arrived, Ken opened up the back doors on his van and showed us the JSX amp. This is the first one we had seen in person, and the chrome on the front looked great. The amp had a lot of knobs, and we had hoped that it would be pretty intuitive because we don’t like to “head scratch” with a new amp. After a short visit, Ken chauffeured us to the club known as the “Sugar Shack” located near I-24 in Manchester. The club really brought back memories of our college band days.



Ken had set up a jam with the popular local band “Van Gogh’s Ear”. I had known the drummer and lead guitarist for years, and it was really great to see them again. While they were setting up, we pulled the JSX and a Peavey XXL 4-12 cabinet into the club and set it up on the left side of the stage (facing it) and ran power. The JSX comes with a three button footswitch, and I ran it to the side of the stage. We turned on the power to allow the tubes to warm-up and I grabbed my FM.

According to an interview with Mr. Satriani, the amp was designed with three distinct sounds. The amp is set up with sounds ranging from the Peavey Classic 50 to vintage British (very 50-watt Marshall sounding) to the modern Triple XXX. The control section has a master volume pot and independent volume knobs for each of the 3 channels (Ultra, Crunch and Clean). The tone pots are pretty cool. On the Clean channel, the tone is shaped using passive controls for Bass, Mid and Treble, while the Ultra and Crunch channels use active Bass, Mid and Treble controls.

We looked through the documentation and found that the amp has 120 watts into 16, 8, or 4 ohms (switchable) and it is loaded with four EL34s and four 12AX7s! Tubes, baby! Power amp switchable to use EL34s or 6L6GSs EQ and FAT switch. Also, if you really want to crank this rig, it comes with a built in noise gate on both of the distortion channels.

After poking around with the amp at low volume, I cranked the Master Volume up to about “2”, and started playing with the individual channels. I found the Clean channel to be very clean, and it had a great Fender tube sound. The FM guitar sounded really great through this channel, and I would have to characterize its sound as “sparkly”.

Clean is OK, but we like the loud distortion. The Ultra and Crunch channels have gain controls and fat switches to work the tone and distortion. Global resonance and presence knobs increase control of high-end tones and open up the tone. I knew that I would be playing “Sin City” with Van Gogh’s Ear, so I set the Crunch channel up to sound like an old Marshall. Getting a good tone was extremely easy, and it really sounded full. The EL-34s made the difference, I believe, and it sounded very similar to my old 50-watt Marshall. I pulled out the Frankenstrat, and I was able to dial in a very convincing “Brown Sound” by manipulating the resonance and the great tone controls.

Next it was on to the Ultra Channel – shred! Boy, this thing has some gain, and it was clearly set up for lead work. The Frankenstrat sounded cool, but the FM really came into its own on the Ultra channel. Being a high quality tube amp, the JSX responded very well to volume changes on the guitar and sounded louder the harder I played. The Ultra channel was very responsive, and was not muddy or overblown. I noodled around on the new toy for about 15 minutes, and I knew I really excited about putting this amp through its paces with a band. I’ve played amps in a store that didn’t do too well in a band setting, but I knew the JSX was up to the task.

We took a break from the club for a couple of hours, and returned just as the band was starting to play. We watched their first set, and they called me up at the start of their second set. I plugged into the JSX and set it on the Crunch channel. The band’s other guitarist on my side of the stage was using a Marshall JCM-2000 and a Peavey Wolfgang guitar, and, as we started playing, I was pleasantly surprised at how the JSX cut through the wall of sound coming out the Marshall. I played about six songs with the band, and I only had to adjust the volume once, and I actually turned it down! I ran the JSX at about 3 ½ - 4 on the master volume, and it was absolutely kicking. I didn’t use the built-in effects loop because I decided I wanted to hear the amp, not effects. I believe the noise gate would work particularly well with guitars loaded with single coil pickups. That will be the next test!

Luckily, the controls and footswitch were very intuitive, and I really enjoyed my chance to play this great amp. I found it to be very versatile and responsive, and actually competitively priced for a tube amp with these features. If I were still gigging regularly, I would buy one from Ken and proudly rawk! Highly recommended.

Check one out today.


Click on the photos below to see full-sized versions

The JSX can be seen at John's right rear...butt-level for maximum impact! John (far left) on stage with "Van Gogh's Ear" (L-R: Jamie, Mike, Rusty, and Rob)...ROCK! Yes is very loud, thank you.

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