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The History of the JazzKat
The JazzKat amplifier is probably the most significant new amplifier to come along in the last 30 years. I believe the history of how it occurred is significant and should be told. My name is Vince Giardina and the story your about to read is true and no names have been change to protect anyone.
Jazzkat Amplifiers, LLC was formed to produce the JazzKat Amplifier. The individuals originally involved are Vince Giardina & Marty Abbate. Marty and I have known each other for over 30 years, growing up just a few blocks apart in Lodi, NJ.
I grew up playing guitar in the early sixties and continue to play today while Marty was involved in the other end of the music business taking care of how the sound came through as an audio engineer for major bands.
Marty was way ahead of his time with many of his creations. He had a 1970 charger with 8” speakers and a full tube amplifier in the trunk. I am sure many of you are familiar with what are called “kickers” today, those large speaker cabinets that kids place in their back of their cars. Well Marty was “kickin” long before today’s youth were born and I can tell you that his car system sounded better than most home theater systems available today.
But Marty’s inventions didn’t stop there as he built and developed many sound devices including a fuzz tone that had a sustain that was second to none. It was way ahead of its time and has not to this day been equaled.
I had taken a different path with his music and played in trios and quartets, playing music at weddings, cocktail parties and small clubs. I enjoyed and frequently visited clubs such as Gullivers in West Paterson and of course many of the hot spots in NYC.
Marty went on as a sound engineer to may top groups of the time including Ten Wheel Drive, Harry Chapin, B. B. King and many others. I had spent a great deal of my life as a mechanic but due to a motorcycle accident I decided one day to change my career path and moved to South Carolina and went back to school to become a chiropractor.
I played on and off over the years being involved in different types of music from top 40s to contemporary Christian, although my first love was always jazz.
So now that you have a pretty good idea of our history I can take you forward to the JazzKat era. Before the turn of the century I started playing jazz again. During these last few years I have been very fortunate to meet a number of jazz players. I started taking lessons from Vinnie Corrao who has played with some of the biggest names in the business, including Ella Fitzgerald, Jack McDuff, Willis “Gatortail” Jackson and many others.
A little later I was fortunate to have met John Pizzarelli, one of the great jazz guitar players, singers and band leader around today. John is not only a top shelf musician but a great individual.
So what does all this have to do with the JazzKat. Well in meeting all these wonderful guitar players I started hearing a common wish. Of musicians in general jazz guitarists are very picky about their “sound” and most of them spend years fine tuning the sound of their music and certainly their guitar is a big part of that. As Vinnie has said so many times, a guitarist’s soul is expressed in their instrument.
The common wish that I heard was for an amplifier that had several key points. They wanted it to be light weight, easy to setup, accurate, clean and have a great tone. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well it may sound simple but there just was not a single amp available that had all of this in one package.
That’s when it hit me; why not build the perfect amp? The amp everyone keeps asking for. So as soon as this idea hit me I knew I needed someone with an electronics background that could help me achieve this. As you probably guessed by now I immediately called Marty. I explained my idea to him and asked him if he could help me design it.
Well I called Marty and we talked for a while and decide to get together on this project. I knew the sound I wanted and already had in my mind all the specs and features that I knew we needed. Marty started to design the electronics and several months later we were ready to build our first prototype. I had contacted Eminence Speakers and they graciously agreed to help with speaker design. During this time Marty and I spent literally 7 days a week together at night in his shop.
When the first prototype was done I took it to Vinnie for his opinion. Although he thought it was close the sound was just not quite there and he mentioned that he heard some extra harmonics coming from the amp.
I immediately called Marty and told him to stop by Vinnie’s on his way home. After we spent some time with Vinnie discussing different aspects of what felt needed to be tweaked and Vinnie telling Marty about the extra tone that he heard, we went to make the changes.
Days turned into weeks as Marty and I continued to try to improve the sound. I had an appointment with John Pizzarelli coming up to demo the amp and right until the last second Marty was tweaking the amp trying to get just the right sound. I left and drove over to John’s. He played his seven string and was very happy with the sound. So happy in fact that he asked if he can take the prototype to Birdland in New York where he was playing that night.
The night was a great success allowing us to take our product to the next step and manufacture what has become the internationally known Jazzkat Amplifier.
Never resting Marty and I have refined the product line, adding features, refining the sound and adding a great new line of amplifier products.
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