As a gear junkie, I always buy amps to try out, then resell most items. The Ecstasy stayed, the SLO stayed, the Carvin Legacy stayed, and even a 69 Superbass stayed, which I probably should not have bought ($$$$). An amp I’ve always been curious about was the Peavey JSX and saw a mint head on Reverb for $550 that I couldn’t pass up. This is a big, well-built, heavy, stout amp, and for $600ish used, typically the best-kept secret. This is a great amp with EL34s that does everything very well.
First, the clean is very clean and tight, really similar to an SLO. The clean on my Legacy is warmer and more bell-like, but not as pristine or tight. As a pedal platform, the clean channel is great for that, a really nice sounding, tight, “down the middle” pristine clean. Being clean and tight means it’s not going to be as warm as a Legacy clean, but it’s really tight, which is great for pedals. It’s very similar to an SLO clean (which kind of gets the same “not real warm” comments). Very happy with the clean overall.
The second channel crunch is great and “right down the middle.” It will do subtle breakup fine, up to pretty heavy saturation, while still retaining clarity. Play Metallica just fine on this crunch channel. This crunch channel feels a bit more open than the ultra lead channel to me and has less compression. It just feels really open and blooms nicely as you play. Both channels have resonance and fat switches to dial in as much fatness and chunk as you could ever want as well.
The Ultra lead channel is nicely saturated with a hint of the gravelyness of a 5150/6505 in my opinion. Having a 5150 as well, in my opinion, it’s generally in the ballpark of a 5150. Similarly, both amps have a big bottom end, real chunky and percussive if you like that aspect. The JSX is no less gain than a 5150 (a ton), but somehow feels more civilized with these EL34s, not as gravely and course as a 5150/6505. I was worried this channel would be heavily compressed like many Peaveys, and while it is a little compressed, it’s fine, and still tasteful. It’s a very high-gain amp with great dynamics, great tone, nice clarity, and articulation, yet also has civility and uniqueness to it I really like. I can say nothing sounds like a JSX, but it’s generally in the 5150 camp to me. You love a 5150 for the savagery of it, you love the JSX for a mix of savagery and civility. I had a Soldano Decatone once and while the Deca crunch is amazing, the lead channel was way too compressed. Fortunately, the JSX managed to largely avoid this.
In short, it’s a big, beautiful, heavy, well built amp that packs boutique tones for sure. It’s a monster of amp that packs surprising versatility, and for the $600ish they go for used, it’s a laughably good deal. I put it through my Legacy 4×12 with Greenbacks and it sounds great. You will feel like you stole a JSX, it’s so much amp for the money. If this amp said Bogner Uberschall on the front, with the same tones, it would go for $2500. I think Joe was very smart basically playing these tones “right down the middle”, which means it will appeal to most players. Super cool amp for very little money!!