Versatility is a favorable attribute for most guitar gear. Don’t get me wrong. I love one-trick ponies. They’re easy to use and you get what you expect. But these days, the union of function and flexibility is the ideal for most working musicians.
Devilcat Amplifier’s 2-channel, 6L6 powered, 50-watt Jimmy deftly walks the line between those two worlds. Boasting master volume, spring reverb, and an onboard boost, the Jimmy is a truly versatile amp that feels familiar, yet can run from polite to nasty and get you through diverse musical situations.
Our review Jimmy arrived dressed in black Taurus vinyl. (You can also order green, white python, and Western-themed vinyl.) For a 1x12" combo, this thing is heavy, and I had to labor to remove the amp from its shipping shell. Reading the product description, I understood why: The Jimmy is built like a fortress with an all-maple plywood cabinet and a galvanized steel chassis. As an added measure against wear and tear, the front panel is powder coated. The Jimmy is definitely built for real-world use.
Fitted with five 12AX7s, a 12AT7 phase inverter, and two 6L6s, the Jimmy is distinctly American in character and construction, and Devilcat put a lot of effort into using as many US-made components as possible. The single Italian Jensen Falcon speaker (future versions will ship with a Celestion Vintage 30) and Slovakian JJ tubes are the only major components made abroad.
The clean channel has a 3-band EQ and a volume knob. A master volume, located on the far right of the front panel, controls both channels and can be pulled out to engage a bright switch. Switching to the overdrive channel (using either the provided footswitch or a faceplate-mounted toggle) enables the gain knob. And even at zero, there’s a lot of saturation on tap.
Other features include an effects loop on the rear panel, external speaker jacks (8 or 16 ?), a long-tank spring reverb, and a dirt switch. You can engage the latter via toggle, or with the second button on the footswitch. It uses the preamp of the active channel and is the only part of the circuit that employs a diode. Dirt generates a mid boost and has separate gain and volume knobs.
At first, the relative multitude of chickenhead knobs may cause recoil among minimalists. But if you break things down, it’s a pretty simple, even classic control set—just a couple of channels and a dirt control that’s almost like having a simple onboard stompbox. Because the Jimmy is a combo and the controls are mounted on the front, it can be hard to make fast adjustments if the amp sits on the floor. So popping it up on a chair or amp stand not only gets you better stage projection, but improved control access.
Reporting for Duty
With a Gibson Les Paul, the Jimmy’s clean channel sounds crisp and defined. Pairing the 6L6 circuit with an open-back cab creates a snappy Fender-like presence, and humbuckers will easily find traction for syncopated rhythm parts—John Fogerty’s bopping-and-dancing right hand work on “Bad Moon Rising,” for example. In clean mode, the Jimmy is vocal, full of range, and punchy and tight in the low end. Pulling out the master volume for the bright function delivers a very complementary, cutting high-mid presence. This pull-bright control is useful if you’re forced to turn down on stage, and it also makes the Jimmy very adaptable to chimey riffage.
The overdrive channel delivers vintage-style voicings at lower gain settings, but takes on a modern character once the gain knob creeps towards noon. With spoonfuls of gain on tap, the Jimmy strays from the realm of traditional Fender overdrive and becomes much more crunchy and British. At these higher-gain settings, the open-backed combo can’t quite deliver the heavy chunk you need for metal. But you’d be surprised at how close you can get by matching the amp with a closed-back cab via the external jack. Players more interested in these sounds should consider the head-only version of the Jimmy.
If you elect to make use of the dirt effect—and you should if you dig heavy sounds—you’ll likely be able to remove a boost or OD pedal from your stage rig. And if you’ve set up the overdrive channel for a low-to-mild drive, you can almost use dirt as a third channel. It feels almost like a separate gain stage and there’s a detectable increase in compression that significantly changes the amp’s character and interactivity. Engaging dirt also adds a midrange spike that’s useful for leads.
Considering how sonically hot the Jimmy can get, it’s worth noting the amp’s quiet disposition. Comparatively speaking, higher gain settings don’t suffer from white noise pollution. You’ll hear some buzz, but nothing that will dissuade you from running your guitar wide open.
Ultimately, the Jimmy is a solid workhorse for the touring or gigging musician. And if you’re a player who works across multiple genres, this combo can deliver. It’s exceptionally pedal friendly and the effects loop is great for post-gain pedals. The clean channel is the stronger of the two, and probably the Jimmy’s strength. But the Jimmy has brawn to spare and character to go with the muscle, which adds up to true versatility.