Los Angeles, California—January 2016… He’s a master of the groove and a Grammy winner, but that doesn’t even begin to explain the impact and extent of Jerry Jemmott’s immense body of work. Since the tender age of 12, the soulful bassist has been plying his trade, initially on acoustic bass and then on electric; by the time he was 20, he had hit the road with the legendary King Curtis. His work has laid the foundation for hits by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Chuck Berry, BB King, Duane Allman, Herbie Hancock, and countless others.
Through it all, Jemmott has relied on Ampeg bass amps as a part of his sound, including the legendary B-15 and SVT. So it makes sense that he’s become a big fan of the new all-tube PF-20T bass amp, one of Ampeg’s new all-tube designs in their popular Portaflex series. The Portaflex series delivers the styling of vintage Ampeg amps in modern designs for today’s bassists. The PF-20T’s grille cloth, sleek black diamond Tolex, and robust cabinet design are straight from the classic Ampeg amps that have always been crucial to Jemmott’s sound.
“The difference between Ampeg and other bass amps has always been the sound quality,” Jemmott asserts. “Before I discovered Ampeg, I did not like my electric bass sound. My first Ampeg amp was the B-15. I still use my B-15 and my SVT-7PRO but I’m especially excited about the PF-20T. The sound is very tight. That’s one thing I really love about Ampeg amps — they all have a nice tight sound that lets me hear my instrument as a bass more than as a bass guitar.”
That distinction is an important part of his sound, Jemmott explains. “I hear a bass sound in my head that comes in part from having started on acoustic bass. And I can always get the sound I want with Ampeg amps. It’s a key part of my tone. Its unique construction gives you that tight sound; it’s fat but not boomy. For me, that’s the key to making a bass sound like a bass.”
Whether it’s his SVT, vintage B-15, or the new Portaflex, Jemmott relies on Ampeg to be a part of the groove he’s laying down. “Whatever style of music I’m playing, it’s gonna be funky,” he observes. “The presence of the bass is what really matters, and with the PF-20T, the presence is there — it sounds good whether I keep it low or crank it up. Whatever style of music I’m playing, when I need an expressive sound, Ampeg is there for me; it allows me to bring out the best in my playing.”
Visit Mackie at the NAMM Show, Booth 209A/B, at the Anaheim Convention Center, January 21-24, 2016.