What makes Jim Kelley amps so special?

Aslan

Gold Supporting Member
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I've been listening to the video's on the Suhr web site and I love the sound of the Jim Kelley amps, but what makes them so expensive? Using 6V6's it would appear to be a take on a Fender Deluxe Reverb only with 4 power tubes and pull treble and boost features. Is there some exotic circuits or parts that make the difference? I like the simplicity of the amp and it sounds killer with the EV speaker though it is probably rather heavy (they don't list the weight of a combo). I'm mystified though at the price ($3,600), is it because they are only produced in small numbers by a legendary guitar/amp maker (Suhr) or maybe they are selling them as fast as they make them so why not charge what people are willing to pay? Anyway, the Jim Kelley 1x12 combo would be my dream amp, maybe someday I will win the lottery!

PS: Is it possible to make a DRRI sound like a Jim Kelley using pedals (EQ, etc) or mods?
 
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Aslan

Gold Supporting Member
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2,644
I've looked at the schematic from the Jim Kelley web site and it is basically a preamp & power amp design much like a Fender AB763 (except the pull mid/treble functions), I was hoping someone with a amp repair/building background would comment on it.
 

lgehrig4

Member
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6,137
Never had one and I don't know how closely related to a Fender SR it is, but it certainly doesn't sound like one. I imagine we're paying for design and imagination. It obviously has a feel and tone that's somewhat unique or people wouldn't buy them.

There are a million people cloning Marshalls but right now if you want a Jim Kelley it seems you have to buy a Jim Kelley
 

cugel

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4,517
Kevin O'Connor discussed Kelly's at length in one of his books. He points out that Kelly did some clever things iirc. It's.not a bfdr
 

Jimmy MAck

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I'll echo cugel. Read the article in VG a couple months ago. It gives a good rundown of the design and theory of the Kelly's.
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
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22,073
I was a Jim Kelley dealer back in the 80's and I toured with a FACS for 325 dates a year for a few years.... Mark Knofler was using them as well then..
Tone wise, they aren't a bf Fender sound.. I don't like BF Fender amps for my tone. not enough mids and shrill highs....They are in the Fender camp, but so much more and I used the pull bass switch, which was for a mid boost... I used mine with Gauss bass speakers in Legend Theile cabs, which are extremely inefficient ..... It was quite a sound.. The tone that Joe Bonamassa had on that video are what they sound like.
I stopped using mine cause good 6V6's were in short supply, and the Kelleys ran high voltage through them. Nowadays with the 500 volt JJ 6V6, this isn't an issue.... I've thought about gettin another one. Regarding the price, they were expensive back then.. Comparable in price to a Trainwreck or Dumble....
 

Dexter.Sinister

Still breathing
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I owned a 30/60 combo and a BFDR at the same time. Not alike in girth, mass, response, tightness...

The 6V6s ran at the edge of instability. Massive iron. Etc. Not much like a BFDR except they both start with the RCA receiving tube manual....

One of my favorite amps.
 

fusionbear

exquirentibus veritatem
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,920
The JK design uses a James style tone stack. Very different than a BF. Also very large coupling capacitors to the power tubes. Very little gets lost. It is one of the few amps that sounds beautiful whether clean or dirty. Never owned one, but my older brother did until stolen. He actually cried when it got stolen... I played Ebenezer's Suhr built one and it is no less inspiring. JK is brilliant. Really knows his stuff.... He should, he is a mathematician...
 

mikebat

Member
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11,085
All I can add is I heard one in a local shop, played by a solid player and it sounded great! He played a Hendrix-like style, with a slightly pushed sound and....it was really good. Solid low end and that bounce you get from a great amp.
 

Northerner

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Messages
1,682
They were originlly called Fortune amps.
The first one was based on a fliptop Ampeg.
My old buddy Todd who Jim made it for still owns it.
 

Husky

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11,973
It is the price it is simply because of math. Labor and cost of materials. The amount of time it takes to build one to the way they were originally made, cost of components for instance CTS push pull pots, Custom Transformers old school on paper bobbins, expensive speaker. Hand wired excellence. You get what you pay for, an amplifier that will live longer than you do. There is 0 inflation built in to this amp. Open one up, it is a thing of beauty. Nothing to do with a Deluxe except for the power tubes used. The construction is in an entirely different league.

I've been listening to the video's on the Suhr web site and I love the sound of the Jim Kelley amps, but what makes them so expensive? Using 6V6's it would appear to be a take on a Fender Deluxe Reverb only with 4 power tubes and pull treble and boost features. Is there some exotic circuits or parts that make the difference? I like the simplicity of the amp and it sounds killer with the EV speaker though it is probably rather heavy (they don't list the weight of a combo). I'm mystified though at the price ($3,600), is it because they are only produced in small numbers by a legendary guitar/amp maker (Suhr) or maybe they are selling them as fast as they make them so why not charge what people are willing to pay? Anyway, the Jim Kelley 1x12 combo would be my dream amp, maybe someday I will win the lottery!

PS: Is it possible to make a DRRI sound like a Jim Kelley using pedals (EQ, etc) or mods?
 

Aslan

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,644
John Suhr,
Thanks for responding, I will own a Jim Kelley amp some day, is it possible to play one in a band setting without the attenuator? Could you comment on the "James style tone stack", I've never heard of this and it sounds interesting. I really appreciate your willingness to give insights into the amp, thanks again!
 
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