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Thread: Favorite Jazz Amp

  1. #1
    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Favorite Jazz Amp

    Friends...

    My buddy called me the other day, seeking a recommendation for a Jazz Amp- something that would compliment his collection of Jazz Guitars. Off the top of my head, I mentioned the Roland Jazz Chorus 120, perhaps a Fender Twin Custom 15, maybe a Polytone. If it were me, there would be no distortion channel (bleck), plenty of punch, but a very clean sound.

    So... for those of you who like the cool jazz sound, do you have a a favorite jazz amp to recommend.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Depending on the "flavor" of Jazz, and budget...

    The two Polytones I've played would work wonders, and I only played the very simple ones - no verb or distortion or stuff. The other recommendation I can sincerely give is pre-70s Ampegs. Not so much the "Universal" series - Jet, Rocket, Mercury (and their variants), although they are also excellent amps, but the Geminis, Echo Twins, etc. They were made to run clean, fat, and punchy.

    The founder of Ampeg was an upright jazz bassist himself, and he was involved with the company from 46 to the late 60s, and his entire mission was to make the best jazz amps for the players of his day, and even their "cheapest" amps always came with at least two power tubes and a 12" speaker. I owned a gorgeous Reverberocket II for years, then sold it to a friend who actually plays jazz. In the right hands (and with the right tubes) they're sweet.

    Don't rule out a medium to big Gibson, either...

    Justin

    By the "right tubes" I mean not modded to take 6V6 or 6L6s <IF> the amp originally took 7591s. And NOS or UOS 7591s are worth it. As a bonus, Ampegs ran their tubes pretty conservatively til the 70s, so they usually have original tubes still in them and running. I used to actually buy busted Ampegs just to get 7591s out of them...
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I usually use music from recordings - rather than playing guitar - as I service amps. I play guitar through them before leaving, but I like my hands free. For nice clean music, some of the nicest sounding amps are old flip top AMpegs, like a B15. Super clean and round.

    I like a 15" for jazz. WHile your JC120 will get lots of votes, deservedly, you might also look at Lab Series, a BB King favorite.

    But for strong and clean, I also suggest the pedal steel amps, of which Peavey made a bunch.

    You know, as much as I love a good tube amp, I think tubes are less important in a jazz amp. Polytone, the Roland, the Lab Series, all solid state. JAzz cats don't drive the piss out of an amp, they are not looking for over the top gain. There are great sounding tube amps, yes, like those AMpegs and others. But don't overlook any amp just for being solid state.
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    Polytone is a favourite of some of my jazz customers - nice and portable as well. In fact the guy who teaches jazz guitar at one of the universities uses one. Quirky construction, which I like. Another guy uses an old Peavey Nashville 400 (one with the 15" 'pancake' speaker) as per Enzo's comment.
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  5. #5
    Stray Cap DrGonz78's Avatar
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    A good friend of mine plays Jazz and he really rips on the Jazz chorus amps. His claim is that it just does not cut through the mix enough when playing with a full band, still many would argue with him on that one. The Polytone, Barcus Berry or Standel amps come to mind for the old classic tones. However, a Traynor YBA1 (unmolested) driving a big fat 15" speaker sounds really nice!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    Polytone is a favourite of some of my jazz customers - nice and portable as well. In fact the guy who teaches jazz guitar at one of the universities uses one. Quirky construction, which I like. Another guy uses an old Peavey Nashville 400 (one with the 15" 'pancake' speaker) as per Enzo's comment.
    Polytones are also easy to find pretty cheap and simple amps to work on.

    If you want something really cheap an older Peavey Bandit can do a jazz sound pretty well. I have a 65w one with the scorpion speaker swapped out for a bass speaker and the back of the cabinet closed up. Not quite as much definition as my Polytone S15b, but it has distortion and reverb. The bass speaker smooths out the distortion as well.

  7. #7
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCarlos View Post
    Friends...

    My buddy called me the other day, seeking a recommendation for a Jazz Amp- something that would compliment his collection of Jazz Guitars. Off the top of my head, I mentioned the Roland Jazz Chorus 120, perhaps a Fender Twin Custom 15, maybe a Polytone. If it were me, there would be no distortion channel (bleck), plenty of punch, but a very clean sound.

    So... for those of you who like the cool jazz sound, do you have a a favorite jazz amp to recommend.

    Thanks!
    I think the answer depends on what style of jazz you're playing, what kind of instruments you need to keep up with and the size of the venue. If you're playing duets or chord melody in a dinner environment then a Mini Brute might be a great choice. It worked for Joe Pass, but it won't keep up with a big band horn section.

    There are quite a few guys at jazzguitar.be that swear by a 5e3. Obviously those guys aren't playing very loud. Jonathan Stout gigs with a 1930s EH-150 or a PV Classic 30 for large venues. He has an interesting page called Modern Gear for the Vintage Player.

    James Chirillo is the go-to guitarist for the Jazz at the Lincoln Center big band. He swears by Fender tube amps. On the big stage at LC he uses an L5 into a Twin Reverb. He doesn't play loud, but he likes tube sound and he likes an amp that will never distort. On the small intimate quartet gigs he uses a Princeton Reverb. He has a series of videos on how to play acoustic vs. acoustic-electric guitar in a big band setting and he talks a bit about guitar setup and amps.



    In other words, there are many ways to skin a cat, and today's modern amps can do the job well. IMO it's impossible to go wrong with a Twin Reverb.
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  8. #8
    Supporting Member TomCarlos's Avatar
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    Lot's of great suggestions... thank you!! Your replies give us a nice list to investigate. Oh darn... I didn't ask about a suggested speaker... But I think we can figure it out- in the event we either need a recone or replacement.

    Tom

  9. #9
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    I have to admit I love a neck humbucker through my DIY LM3886 power amp. (No preamp) My 3886 gain is set for line level input. Into a EVM12 or Eminence Private Jack. A little roll off on guitar tone knob. Really great...surprised me. Very Pat Martino esque.

  10. #10
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    Oh and these IMO are the best acoustic amps...which I found also provide really nice jazz tone too. AER amps. JMO.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...d9f43f4487907b

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