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This article was originally published in issue #58
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Jet City is the kind of company that I wish had been around when I was starting out.
World class tones at a mind-blowing price
Simple yet versatile controls
Tons of cosmetic options.
Overdrive not foot-switchable - but if you ask Jet City nicely they might mod it for you…
The Amelia from Jet City is a two-channel, 50-watt guitar amplifier head, with each channel possessing a unique EQ and master volume options individually controlled via front panel or the included footswitch. Its output section can also run EL34 or 6L6's without changing the bias, plus the Amelia also has a pedal-friendly effects loop and multiple ohm load speaker outputs. All this and under the £500 mark. Surely this is all too good to be true? Nick Jennison gives his verdict.
Jet City is the kind of company that I wish had been around when I was starting out. They take world-class valve amps by some of the most prestigious builders of all time and make them available at unbelievably affordable prices. They’re not entirely alone in this endeavour, but there’s one fundamental difference that sets Jet City apart from many other “clone” builders - Jet City work directly with the original designers.
This, as I’m sure you can imagine, has a number of implications. First of all, it’s ethical. The designers are being fairly compensated for the use of their intellectual property. Secondly, it means the original designer has given each Jet City amp their seal of approval. The 100H, for example, was built in conjunction with Mike Soldano, using his original designs and produced with his blessing - it even bears his name.
If you’re wondering where you can find the name of the Amelia’s designer, you won’t, because it’s a bit of an open secret. It was produced under the watchful eye of one of the UK’s most respected boutique amp builders, and it’s a pretty faithful recreation of one of his earlier designs (the MKII version) - a design we’re very familiar with here at GI. This hallowed amp is sadly out of production, but was resurrected as a custom shop project for the 2012 NAMM show, named the Earhart. The Amelia is, to all intents and purposes, the production version of this amp.
Sporting two foot-switchable channels (one clean and one dirty) with foot-switchable master volumes and an additional overdrive control on the dirty channel, the Amelia is ideal for the gigging musician who needs to cover a lot of ground without getting lost in option anxiety. The clean channel is very clean indeed, and won’t start breaking up until you crank the channel volume past 2-o’clock. Tonally, it strikes a very delicate balance - it’s warm enough to flatter fuzzes and amp-in-a-box pedals, but there’s enough chime and sparkle to be clear and present. As someone who loves a seriously sparkly clean, but also loves big walls of fuzz, take it from me: it’s rare to find an amp that’ll do both of these jobs as well as the Amelia does.
The dirty channel is the star of the show, however. It’s a fat, chewy and saturated sound with no shortage of gain on tap, even without the overdrive engaged. In fact, the gain control seemingly has minimal effect on the amount of distortion, but instead allows for fine tuning of the amp’s response. Set low (around 9-o’clock) the amp is chimey and snappy with a fast transient response that’s ideal for complex riffs and shred passages. Turn up the gain and things get fat fat fat. The front of the note is entirely compressed, yielding a warm vocal character and smooth sustain. Engaging the overdrive makes for an incredibly flattering playing experience, and by balancing the gain and overdrive controls you can really fine tune the amp’s character to your own tastes.
A common criticism of some older Jet City models is the line level effects loop. The issue with this kind of loop is that it’s way too hot for many analogue pedals. Jet City has gone a long way towards fixing this with the Amelia - perhaps a little too far in the opposite direction, as we experienced a slight volume hike when engaging certain analogue pedals. Digital pedals with analogue dry through work perfectly though.
The team here at GI towers were genuinely sad to give the Amelia back. It’s a superb sounding amp that ticks all the boxes both tonally and functionally, and I’d happily put it up against pretty much any boutique amp I’ve ever played. To think that you can buy an amp like this for the frankly hilarious price Jet City are asking is nuts.
Weight: 19 kg
2 x EL34 Power, 4 x 12AX7 Preamp
Tube Drive Effects Loop