Friedman and Jake E Lee roll out the red Tolex for a fire-breathing new signature amp that balances ‘70s Plexi tones with ‘80s aggression “and a little more scream”

Friedman Jake E Lee JEL20
(Image credit: Friedman Amplification)

Friedman Amplification and Jake E Lee have unveiled the JEL-20, new signature guitar amp – which has a matching 1x12 speaker cabinet – housing all of the former Ozzy guitarist’s tones in a compact 20-watt all tube head. 

The JEL-20 is unmistakably a Jake E Lee design, dressed in a deep red Tolex with white piping, and it based around the two core sounds that have been the bedrock of his electric guitar tone for over 40 years, a ‘70s Plexi-style sound and the more aggressive ‘80s voicing.

“This amp puts the two specific tones I use to create my sound in one head: the sweetness and warmth of a classic Plexi and the more aggressive slant of the master volume amps of the ‘80s – all tweaked to my taste,” said Lee.

It might be inspired by ‘70s and ‘80s tube amps but the JEL-20 does not want for contemporary features. It has an internal load and cab-simulated output that allows you to send the signal to the front of house or desk via the XLR output. 

The XLR output has ground lift and level controls, and switchable ‘center’ and ‘edge’ speaker emulation modes. You can even record silently with the JEL-20 not connected to any speaker at all. There is also a ultra-transparent buffered series effects loop on hand so you can integrate your pedalboard

Friedman presents Lee’s signature sound across two footswitchable channels. The JEL channel is all about that ‘80s aggression Lee was referring to above. It has dials for Gain, Master Volume, Bass Middle and Treble, and there is a Gain control with a push/pull high/low gain voicing. The Plexi channel shares the three-band EQ with the JEL channel and has its own independent Gain and Master Volume controls, plus a Bright switch.

There are some useful global options for teaking the sound, too. A presence dial can be found on the rear of the amp head, and there is an SAT switch on the front that we’ll take as shorthand for ‘saturation’, it indeed adds some saturation, and the extra gain and compression that comes with it. Lee says you want lack for gain.

“I grew up in the ‘70s and those muscular, articulate rock tones were the tones I always sought, but I made a name for myself in the ‘80s when you needed a little more aggression and a little more scream,” he says. “I’ve always tried to retain a little of that ‘70s heart and I still do, and that’s what this amp does – though it’s got plenty more on tap if you need it!”

Friedman Jake E Lee JEL20

(Image credit: Friedman Amplification)

Under the hood there are a trio of 12AX7s in the preamp, a pair of EL84s in the power section, and two custom-made transformers. 

The amp is housed in a road-worthy Baltic birch cabinet, as is the accompanying (but sold separately) 1x12” speaker cabinet. The JEL-112 CAB is a closed-back speaker cabinet, loaded with a Celestion G12M-65 Creamback 16 Ohm speaker. 

The amp weighs just 22lbs. The speaker cab weighs 26lbs. Both are available now, with the JEL20 priced £1,849 / $1,699, and the JEL-112 CAB priced £799 / $699. See Friedman Amplification for more details. 

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.