"I can’t believe how good that amp sounded last night!!! Every note was as clear as a bell. I can’t believe how it handled the bass with that 6” speaker! It sounded better than the 10" in my [alternate brand]. WOW!!!!"
It started one evening while sharing a late night Thai dinner with Randy Napoleon. Randy had flown in to play with Freddy Cole and being that we were two guitarists it didn't take long for the conversation to turn to gear. You know how it is.
These days Randy makes his home in the NYC area. Crowded everything. Small spaces. Taxi cabs. Maybe a subway ride too. For amps this means the smaller the better. But Randy being who he is didn't want to sacrifice sound quality of his archtop for portability. And he wanted solid state. Also an all-in-one "grab and go" solution.
Randy had auditioned most everything on the market. And was playing a compact German amp popular with the acoustic flat top and gypsy communities. But nothing really quite right for that straight up traditional archtop Jazz sound and which also works in a variety of venues/spaces/playing situations. Randy posed the challenge: "what else?"
Well, finding this answer meant going back to the drawing board with thinking cap firmly planted. Not necessarily starting from scratch, but more about evolving a new twist. Clean yet warm with lots of headroom to keep things articulate and responsive yet tiny and light meant power from a circuit tuned by Jazz ears. No doubt: Acoustic Image Clarus. Check.
But what about giving it a voice? What about a speaker cabinet? How small could it get? And it had to function whether placed on the floor or raised on a chair as Randy often does. Hmm. An idea. And a call to Raezer's Edge. Would it work?
A study of small PA speakers with high power handling and broad flat frequency response. A rough hand drawing for the cabinet design. Software for tuning the ported cabinet. Purchase several drivers to audition. First listen. The smallest of the bunch. Wow, surprising: this from a 6" speaker? Really? Further refinements. Then ready for the real test. A call to Randy.
Well, perhaps we should have named it the Randy Napoleon model. But instead it's just the ONE-6 COMBO. Bottom line: it really works. Sound. Size. Portability. Flexibility.
So go listen to Randy when you have a chance...what a great guitarist! Wonderful composer/arranger too - and listen to the body of work on his albums. Buy a few too! Also, if you make it to Gothenburg Sweden check out Ulf Bandgren. Sheesh, can Ulf play! Ulf has One-6 COMBO s/n No.2. Now Ed Laub plays one too. And so it goes.