The night before the show I was getting my rig together and deciding the best setup to bring to complement the backline the venue was providing, which was supposed to be a reissue Twin Reverb. The group was Kevin Sekhani's band, which is a mix of Americana, Gospel, and Mellancamp/Petty style tunes, and I was thrilled to find instead of a Twin, my choice of Ampeg Reverberocket or Jet J-20. I never heard the Jet, but liked the small size, and the sound guy told me it was John Cleary's favorite amp to use when he plays there.
That was good enough for me.
Imagine my surprise when I found ample, full clean headroom with the sparkle of a Fender, and a sweeter, chewier and less strident tone than my Deluxe Reverb. I had no idea what this amp was all about, but the tone was off the charts, and I played a killer set full of fat, twangy solos, and even reached back to use the on board bias vary tremolo, which has a huge range of speed available. Awesome and inspiring.
When I got back and got a bit of downtime, I was able to research this amp, and find out what makes it tick. Turns out, my ears were not playing tricks on me, and it wasn't just a fluky good sounding room/venue/the rain/alignment of planets. This amp is HAND WIRED. I was not expecting that out of a newer model Ampeg.
The single volume and tone controls are a big plus, because many of the larger Ampegs use an active tone control setup called a Baxandall stack, that can boost and cut frequencies, unlike the standard Marshall, Fender, or Vox tone controls that can only cut them. Because of this, they can be finicky, and sometimes offer too dramatic of a change, or be a little too finicky for my taste. Not so on the Jet. It has a single high cut style tone control that was a snap to dial in.
Ok, so for all this tubey goodness, there's gotta be a high price, right? A quick search of Ebay and google revealed the average used price of these is $500. This is an insanely low price for the quality of amp here. This is a true sleeper, and how they didn't catch on is beyond me! Wow. As a comparison, actual brownface Deluxes (like the one I used to own and traded to Jason Joubert out in Austin, Tx), are currently going for $2500.
As an added bonus, the bright and normal inputs are their own separate gain stages, so you could easily use a Y cable (or a very simple mod) to use both channels blended together, which ought to be a very cool sound, and something I'll try next time I get my hands on one!
In short, if you like chewy, beautiful vintage tube tone with boutique build quality, and a shockingly low price, you need to find one of these!!