LOS ANGELES, CA, USA – JANUARY 2016 – Groovemaster Jerry Jemmott has two Grammy Awards but that doesn’t even begin to explain the impact and extent of his work. Since he was 12 years old, the soulful bassist has been plying his trade, initially on acoustic bass and then on electric, and by the time he was 20, he was working with the legendary King Curtis. You’ve heard his work with 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, including the legendary B-15 and SVT. So it makes sense that he has become a big fan of a new member of Ampeg’s B-15-inspired Portaflex series: the all-tube, 20 watt, PF-20T bass amplifier. The Portaflex series delivers the styling of vintage Ampeg amps like the B-15 in modern designs for today’s bassists. The Portaflex 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.
“Before I discovered Ampeg, I did not like my electric bass sound,” Jemmott asserts. “Then and now, the difference between Ampeg bass amps and their competition is the Ampeg’s sound quality. My first Ampeg amp was the B-15, which is portable and affordable. But the most impressive part, as with the new PF-20T, is that the sound is very tight, and it sounds good whether I crank it up or keep it low. I still use my B-15 and my SVT-7PRO but I’m especially excited about the PF-20T. The various Ampeg models don’t sound the same but they all have a tight Ampeg sound that lets me hear my instrument as a bass more than as a bass guitar.”
This subtle distinction is important, according to Jemmott. “I hear a unique bass sound in my head that comes in part from having started on acoustic bass,” he relates, “and I can always get the sound I want with Ampeg amps. It’s a key part of my tone. I tried a large bass amp and had to struggle with it to get the sound I wanted; with the PF-20T, I got my sound right away. 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.”
The way bass amps are used live has changed some over the years, and, Jemmott explains, his Ampeg PF-20T lets him adapt to the changes and still get his sound. “For some jobs today, you want to keep the volume low and mostly use your amp as a monitor. The presence of the bass is what really matters, and with the PF-20T, the presence is there, even at low volume. I am looking forward to trying the PF-50T, which has a little more power, but the PF-20T has handled anything I’ve asked of it.”
Jemmott plays a lot of recording sessions in Los Angeles, working in an assortment of musical genres. “With every style of music I play, my playing will be funky. But I do change my tone. Although I usually keep the tone controls on my amp in the middle at 12 o’clock, I might boost the treble if I’m playing rock and get more low end for jazz. But whatever style I am playing, when I need an expressive sound, it’s there for me with the PF-20T. Like all of my Ampeg amps, it allows me to bring out the best in my playing.”