Peavey endorser and guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani will demo his new co-designed Peavey JSX guitar amplifiers on an upcoming U.S. Clinic Tour, which runs from May 11 in Overland Park, Kan., through May 18 in Portland, Ore.
The new three-channel JSX guitar amplifier combines the tonal flexibility and responsive, versatile gain structures he's always sought into a single guitar amplifier. As a starting point in creating this amp, Peavey amplifier design engineers began with two amps Satriani has used extensively throughout his career: the Peavey Classic 50 and, more recently, Peavey Triple XXX Series amps. "I started to rely on those amps quite a bit, but I wound up in a situation where my live rig was completely different from what I used in the studio," he said. One of the main goals of the JSX amp project was to bring these different tones and EQ options together in one amp.
Satriani road-tested several JSX prototypes during the 2003 G3 Tour. "It was really great to hear the JSX in an actual working situation," he said. "It was interesting to hear how the shape of my guitar solos changed (simply) because I was so excited about what was coming out of those Peavey speakers." Peavey engineers tweaked the amp according to his suggestions and sent the new versions of the JSX to him on the road so he could test them immediately.
Work on the JSX amp began with the Clean channel, which Satriani wanted to be lively with a flexible EQ but, most importantly, free of any distortion. The result is a purely clean channel that resists breaking up. As Satriani noted, this is especially imperative for players who use pedals for their distorted tones. "You have to start with a completely clean channel to get pedals to sound true. That way, you get the best articulation, the least amount of noise and a really nice, singing tone."
Once they nailed the amp's clean tone, they moved on to the Crunch channel, nicknamed the "amber" channel for its warm gain structure, response, articulation and punch. "It's a really good soloing and melody-playing channel, as well as a really punchy rhythm channel that gives you a wide range of EQ and gain," he said. "I wound up using the Crunch channel quite a bit on the G3 Tour for those exact reasons."
Next came the Ultra channel, which the engineers set up for a chunky, explosive tone and serves as the lead channel. "We wanted to bridge the gap between the Classic 50, which has a lot of gain to it; the Triple XXX, which has all the gain in the world; and a more vintage British tone, which also has as much gain as you'd ever want, but in a different form." Satriani wanted to maintain as much chunk as possible to keep the low E, A and D strings from sounding soft when he dials in massive levels of gain. "I wanted a lot of 'oomph' in that channel, even though it's set up for soloing."
Peavey engineers also added a fully adjustable noise gate for the Crunch and Ultra channels, something Satriani concedes he always wanted on an amp. "The noise gate control is a fantastic innovation for a high gain, completely versatile, 100 Watt head," he said. "Let's say you're playing a high gain rhythm with a lot of moments when you don't play. You don't want all those tubes screaming during the quiet moments. You can set this noise gate so it clamps down very tightly, or not at all. It's not a notch control, with 1-2-3 settings and so on*it's a fully adjustable knob, so you can set it just the way you like it. It's even fantastic for recording." All controls are located on the front panel for easy access.