Vintage Sound JZ series Jazz Tube Amps | INTRO

Vintage Sound JZ series Jazz Tube Amps | INTRO

Posted by michael biller on 21st May 2014


I grew up playing archtop Jazz guitar and double bass on Polytone amps. Efficient solid state tools. They were THE amp, or so I thought. Most any instrument I plugged in sounded fine in a generic "Jazz" way. Plus Jim Hall, Joe Pass, Ray Brown played them too. Also Fender tube amps or their clones drove me nuts with their overly bright trebles, boomy bass, and scooped mids...let alone the weight thing.

But then one day I plugged into a friend's old torn up tube amp designed and built before the dawn of Rock. THERE was my same archtop guitar but sounding way more like its natural self where the wood and resonance came through beautifully and balanced with an open 3-D quality that I'd not experienced. He must have seen my jaw hit the floor; a few days later he brought that amp to one of my gigs with a bow tied around it. A gift.

One thing led to another and before long I was tweaking a Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb. Change speaker. Change power tubes from 6V6 to 6L6. Change to point-to-point wiring. Change this component and the other. But it was never quite right. Eventually I realized that what I really needed to do was to start with a clean slate. 

Long story short: a partnership with Vintage Sound Amps to develop a truly Jazz-voiced BF based all tube amplifier representing THAT sound character, balance, response, and consistency through the guitar's fretboard. Plus the requisite clean headroom, EQ controls useful to Jazz players, all with portability. And double checked by Jazz ears with an archtop guitar in hand. 

The result: The VSA-JZ series line of amplifiers. Specifically tuned/voiced for Jazz guitar.

As of this post, we have three production models all housed in a small Princeton¬©-sized cabinet with a 1x12" speaker: the VS112-JZ 15-watt @ 30-lbs, the VS112-JZ 50-watt @ 38 lbs, and the 50-watt John Stowell signature model also @ 38 lbs. There's also a 1x12 extension speaker cabinet for pushing more air when the playing situation requires. Other configurations available on a custom order basis. And we just might be thinking ahead to what's next.

Many personal thanks to Bruce Forman, Frank Potenza and Peter Bernstein who very kindly auditioned the prototypes and made hugely valuable suggestions.