NAD: Evans JE200 (long review)

Fusionshred

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,152
Just got an Evans JE200 about a week ago. Evans Custom Amps makes amps well-known in the jazz and steel guitar industry as reliable, portable, great sounding amps. I play a lot of jazz, but I also am playing rock and progressive fusion in a band context. I was looking for something light, loud and clean. Following is an excerpt from a review I just submitted over at Harmony Central:

There are more than enough features to shape significantly the overall tone of the amp to suit a variety of applications. Although this is a single channel amp, it is far from the limitations of the proverbial "one-trick pony." Some of the more notable features helpful in real-world use are the recessed knobs, the well-marked indicators, the on/off switch incorporated into the volume pot, the simple tilt back bottom handle, and the cord wrap. In addition to those well engineered and designed, features, the control layout beckons playing with the dials, the result of which will be covered in the next sections.

The controls are straight-forward. Once you read the manual (not a prerequisite, though) and understand what each knob is for, you are well on your way to messing around with all the wonderful differences that can be achieved with simple tweaking. Basically, the controls go from low bass to low mid to mid to upper mids to treble, with the Buff control adding some upper harmonics much like a tube amp does, and with the Body control behaving sort of like an active mid control, changing the shape of the mids from a thinner almost nasally AM radio quality to a fat warm mid to a dark smooth jazz tone.

It is cliché to say "there isn't a bad tone to be found," but sometimes the cliché is the easiest and most descriptive thing to say! My need was to find something as loud, powerful and clean as a Twin reverb (read below to find out why...) with the same level of tonal satisfaction. Not willing to compromise tone for reliability or weight, I was in for quite a search. Having the opportunity to A/B directly compare the JE200 with a TRRI, I found the Evans to be the better sounding amp. Now, of course, the appreciation of tone is subjective ("TONE" itself is NOT subjective - it can be measured in frequencies) but to me the Evans had a rounder, less scooped, thicker and smoother tone than the TRRI. And the Evans is way more "tweakable." The interaction among the pots allows the user to dial in a sharp, biting, percussive tone (great for a Tele), a fat mid-laden tone (think Polytone) or a warm sound with a lot of acoustic overtones coming through.

One of the most important and unique things about the Evans is that, unlike probably every other "jazz guitar amp," this is a great amp for country, rock, pop, and everything else imaginable. In my progressive fusion trio, Delacey's Fire, all I have is bass and drums. I have to cover a lot of ground. I need a clean tone that cuts through for chord work, and something that will not sound like a transistor radio when I play distortion through it.; My gain comes from a Barber Dirty Bomb set pretty high, and through the JE200, amazingly, it sounds fantastic. Usually a solid state distortion pedal through a solid state amp sounds like crap. It's just too fizzy and buzzy. But I can say that the JE200 takes overdrive and distortion quite well and the EQ at the amp is variable enough that you can dial in your overall final sound with ease.

Loud, clean, powerful, smooth, warm, bright, clear, and a great platform pedal.

Here's why I have this amp in the first place. Unfortunately, having arrived unexpectedly quickly at middle age, I am faced with significant bilateral shoulder injuries, resulting in the need for surgical intervention and, in the interim, the inability to lift or carry anything of any significant weight. This condition has rendered my venerable Fender Twin Reverb Reissue useless. My musical requirements for a loud and perfectly clean sound left me with few options. The objective was to find an amp that is virtually as powerful, loud and clean as the Twin Reverb; could be carried with ease with one hand; has an excellent clean sound; can be used for a variety of clean applications, and can take high gain overdrive and distortion pedals well. This set of objectives seemed at worst mutually exclusive, and at best fairly elusive. I knew that I needed at least more clean headroom than a Deluxe Reverb could offer. I knew that the reviews for the JE200 were excellent. I knew that people spoke highly of how the JE200 took pedals. So I gave it a shot. Having owned and played an Evans AE100 for several years (the AE100 was a 100 watt combo with a single 8" speaker, great for solo jazz guitar) I knew that Evans was a great company with a great product. But now I needed something bigger. MUCH bigger. The JE200 is NOT a small amp. It is a decent sized cabinet, which is good, because that wood produces some fine warmth and bass response. Over the years, though, as it has evolved, the JE200 has gotten leaner. Back in the day, I recall the estimated weight to be somewhere in the mid-40s. Now with a Neo speaker and a new power section, it is a lean, mean 30 pounds (approximately). Plug it in, and you immediately realize that all that great sound is still pumping. So there it is. All the power, tone, ease of use, and portability anyone could possibly want.

I regret all those years of lugging around the giants, or schlepping a bunch of weenie amps to practice only to find crunchy tones when I needed clean. OR how about the time the output tubes blew an internal fuse in the middle of a set at an important gig! The Evans JE200 has NO compromises. The sound is glorious, the portability is essential, and it WORKS.
 

Jon C

Member
Messages
17,877
Nice review, thanks.

Do you know much about/ can you compare the JE200 to either the JE150 or the RE200 (10" speaker)? One of each for sale on my local Craigslist and I've wondered about giving them a test drive.

Thanks.
 

Michael Hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,914
Great review. Your assessment of the tone controls jives with my experience (I had a JE150 for a while). Probably the best, most musical EQ on a guitar amp.
 

DeaconBlues

Member
Messages
2,975
Good info. Thanks.

I'm a bit past middle age. More into the senior citizen realm and I definitely have issues regarding the weight of my amp. I've been trying to get a decent tone from a lightweight amp for awhile now. Neo speakers are a good way to get there. I've tried Jensen, Celestion, Eminence and Weber Neos. I've got a Weber Neo P15PN in a Fender Tweed Pro (27 lbs). It's nice to have a few choices to pick from. Who makes the Neo in the Evans?
 

Jon C

Member
Messages
17,877
Great review. Your assessment of the tone controls jives with my experience (I had a JE150 for a while). Probably the best, most musical EQ on a guitar amp.

What did you think of the JE150? How long ago did you have it and for how long? As I mentioned above, there's one locally I can check out & am curious. Thanks.
 

billyguitar

Member
Messages
5,856
I have a JE150 that I bought in 1999. It is a really nice amp. With the right pedals it can impress for rock and blues as well as jazz.
I think the weakness with these amps are the speakers. A few years ago I even bought the neo Eminence he used at the time and it struck out too. I've tried a JBL D120, Altec 817, Jensen Neo, EVM12L, Tone Tubby Alnico, Tone Tubby 40/40 and a Weber VST JBL Neo clone with a paper dome. The old EV might be the overall best but I really like the Tone Tubbys. I would really like to try their new Nashville model that is rated for 75 watts.
 

chumley

Member
Messages
221
I had the steel guitar amp(SE200 ?) a few years ago. My only gripe with it was that it was a 200 watt amp @ 4 ohms, but came with an 8 ohm neo speaker, which cut it's power considerably. I don't know that it put out much, if any more volume than my 80 watt Peavey Nashville 112. The amp weighed under 35 lbs. and had a spring loaded tilt back handle mounted underneath. I have a couple of friends who swear by their RE200 amps. The RE200 is really compact, as well as a featherweight.
 

Michael Hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,914
What did you think of the JE150? How long ago did you have it and for how long? As I mentioned above, there's one locally I can check out & am curious. Thanks.

I liked it quite a bit. It was quite a while ago that I had it, but I owned it for about 3-4 years. I didn't ever use it for rock or pop gigs, but for the big band jazz I was playing at the time it was perfect. (I certainly don't doubt it could have pulled off other types of jobs with aplomb.) I ended up selling it when I got interested in owning a tube amp again and built my first David Allen kit.
 

Jon C

Member
Messages
17,877
I liked it quite a bit. It was quite a while ago that I had it, but I owned it for about 3-4 years. I didn't ever use it for rock or pop gigs, but for the big band jazz I was playing at the time it was perfect. (I certainly don't doubt it could have pulled off other types of jobs with aplomb.) I ended up selling it when I got interested in owning a tube amp again and built my first David Allen kit.

Thanks. I am overloaded on tube amps and should probably use my (used) SWR Calif. Blonde for this (archtop/jazzy amp) before looking at the Evans -- that's my acoustic/vocal amp that can also do bass duty. But the JE150 has more flexibility maybe (?) w/ the Scruff knob &c.

At least as a used item the price is right (550-650?).

Jon
 

Fusionshred

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,152
Sorry; no experience with the JE150 or the RE200. If I were playing strictly jazz I'd probably go with the RE200, but I need monster projection and figured the extra cone size would help with that.

And although the combo is rated at 200 watts, that is indeed at 4 ohms. With the internal 8 ohm speaker (probably truly around 6 ohms) it pumps about 120 watts. With an extension speaker, you'd get 200-240 watts. But just the combo by itself with the 1x12 is pretty powerful. I toyed with the idea of getting the matching 12" extension speaker cab, but haven't needed it yet.

I think the speaker works well in this amp. I have no issues with it. The speaker currently being used is an Eminence Beta 12A. Here is the info on the speaker:

http://www.evansamps.com/products/accessories/eminence-beta-12a

Anyone who wants detailed info on the amp feel free to PM me too. I will probably have some demos up soon and they will be with the Evans and a Carvin FG1.
 

ylo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
915
Nice review. I played an Evans combo with built-in 10" speaker a few years ago, and this thing really seemed to nail the Johnny Smith sound -- as much as this is possible without having a Johnny Smith guitar and his fingers and technique -- a really mellow, warm, but not at all dull jazz guitar sound. I think Evans amps produce an amazing sound for the size, much nicer than Clarus, Polytone, Henrikson etc. to my ears.

My only gripes are that they are hard to find and too expensive new.
 

Fusionshred

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,152
The Scruff control is gone. It is replaced by a control called Buff. I think they are different, although I am not sure if this was just a renaming of the control. The Buff control is good to me - it sort of pushes the treble but not like a typical presence control. I'm not sure how to describe it. It's interesting.

As for the price, the way I figure it is that it is really no more expensive than the aforementioned Fender TRRI or other amps, and is far less expensive than boutique amps, and does just as many things (if not more) and just as well (to some) plus it's lighter, more portable, and solid state (how much do new power tubes and a rebiasing cost over the course of, say, ten years?).

To some, the cost is high, yes, but to me the value is there (this is the only good sounding, light, powerful enough, reliable amp out there that I have found).

A Pritchard has more channels but is more expensive. There are plenty of BOUTIQUE tube amps that would be considered a bargain at 1400 and are far more expensive at that. If you think of this as a quality, high powered, great sounding boutique amp (and forget for a second that it doesn't have any tubes) than it really doesn't seem all that expensive any more, relatively speaking. I think people devalue solid state amps and say that they should be cheaper by virtue of their solid stateness and lack of tubes; however, one could argue that the R&D that goes into making something that sounds this good and is solid state and 30 pounds should make this an expensive amp.
 

billyguitar

Member
Messages
5,856
When I was using my Evans for rock and blues I used a Reverend Drivetrain pedal and a compressor. Set the compressor to boost and compress and run it into the Drivetrain with the gain way down and you I could get a great singing tubular tone.
 




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