Joe Satri­ani needs his amps to cover a lot of ground dur­ing the course of a sin­gle gig, from vin­tage bluesy sweet­ness to chunky rock to scream­ing har­mon­i­cally over­stim­u­lated lead. For years he’s (gen­er­ally) used clean amps and dis­tor­tion ped­als for his tone, but when it came time to lay down some riffage with his super­group Chick­en­foot, Joe realised only Mar­shall would do. So they worked together on an amp based on the JVM410. Let’s let Joe explain: “It’s got four chan­nels and three modes per chan­nel, and we just set the thing up in the con­trol room when we were doing over­dubs (for Chick­en­foot III) and we went from chan­nel to chan­nel, and I think the only time we used a dif­fer­ent amp was when we plugged in a ’59 Fender Twin amp to add a lit­tle some­thing to a bal­lad. Every­thing else was done through that amp. I never felt like I wasn’t punch­ing enough or I never had enough gain or I wasn’t clean enough. It’s really an out­stand­ing amp.”

On the sur­face, the 100 watt JVM410HJS looks like tricked-out four chan­nel amp, but it’s actu­ally a tricked-out 12-channel beast. Each chan­nel (Clean, Crunch, OD1 and OD2) fea­tures a full lay­out of Gain, Tre­ble, Mid­dle, Bass and Vol­ume con­trols, although in con­trast to the orig­i­nal JVM410, the Satri­ani ver­sion replaces the four reverb con­trols with four inde­pen­dent noise gates. Joe tends to get his ambi­ence from ped­als any­way, and any seri­ous gui­tarist with a sim­i­lar tone obses­sion is prob­a­bly likely to do the same. Joe’s ver­sion also includes a new mid shift but­ton on OD1 and OD2 which moves the midrange fre­quency from 650kHz to around 500kHz, and the over­all gain level of the OD chan­nels has been reduced a lit­tle bit.
Around the back you’ll find five speaker out­put jacks, a pro­gram­ma­ble series effects loop with a return level con­trol (sim­pli­fied a bit from the more flex­i­ble but fid­dly orig­i­nal amp), and a pair of non-programmable insert jacks with a bypass switch. There’s also a speaker-emulated bal­anced line out which uses a reg­u­lar 1/4″ jack, instead of the more com­mon XLR (and there­fore will prob­a­bly be used by more home recordists), and a 1/4″ jack for the pro­gram­ma­ble foot con­troller. There’s also MIDI In and Thru sock­ets. The tubes are five ECC83/12AX7s in the pre­amp and four EL34s in the power amp. The rec­ti­fier is solid state, and the out­put is a beefy 100 watts.

If you wanted you could even use the green Clean chan­nel and the three dif­fer­ent Crunch modes and have a very usable amp right there, with clean, crunch, chunk and lead sounds, but the JVM410HJS offers a lot more. Because it has, in effect, 12 chan­nels, you can use it as a com­pletely dif­fer­ent amp in com­pletely dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. For instance, with sin­gle coils I set up a sparkling Clean orange chan­nel sound, a warm orange Crunch rhythm tone with reduced tre­ble, a chunky green OD1 rock rhythm tone and a scream­ing orange OD2 lead tone, tak­ing advan­tage of the mid shift but­tons to alter the char­ac­ter of the struc­turally iden­ti­cal OD1 and OD2 chan­nels in rela­tion to each other. Each tone sounded like it was ‘mean to be,’ rather than just a byprod­uct of mov­ing the knobs, if you know what I mean.
Plug­ging in my Ibanez RG550 with DiMarzio Grav­ity Storm hum­buck­ers (the new Steve Vai set, which is sur­pris­ingly Satch-like com­pared to Vai’s other DiMarzios), I called up OD2, cranked up the mids, set the mid shift for 500kHz mode, dialled back the tre­ble and maxed out the gain for a smooth, com­pressed, almost flute-like solo tone which cleaned up nicely thanks to the guitar’s high-pass fil­ter on the vol­ume knob. Then on OD1 I set up a crunchy ‘The Extrem­ist’ style rhythm tone with the mids shifted to 650kHz, which empha­sised the attack and growl a lit­tle more, and reigned in the gain. Per­fect heavy rock tone. Then the Crunch chan­nel served as a great AC/DC power chord spring­board, with the Clean chan­nel reserved for those ‘Rubina’ like sparkly tones.

This is an intu­itive amp which responds organ­i­cally despite its huge range of con­trol and power. It’s not just for Satri­ani fans either: it cov­ers almost any style con­vinc­ingly, from the clean­est of cleans to some pretty extreme metal dis­tor­tions. And it’s con­fig­ured to be road-ready and stage friendly too. So even if you’re not a Satri­ani fan, check it out. It’s not quite as aggres­sive and top-endy as the stan­dard JVM410, so if you were one of the play­ers who felt that the orig­i­nal amp was close but not quite there, you may just find exactly what you were look­ing for in Satriani’s version.


RRP: $2999
Dis­trib­u­tor: Elec­tric Fac­tory
Phone: (03) 9474 1000

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