Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

All That Jazz

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

All That Jazz

Article excerpt

For years, jazz guitarists like John and Bucky Pizzarelli and Sheryl Bailey have relied on JazzKat amplifiers to reinforce the swift lines and complex chords they play on their electric archtop guitars, and no less a stickler for sound than the late Les Paul swore by the JazzKat he used at a weekly gig at the Iridium, a jazz club in New York. But these workhorse amps are designed with maximum versatility in mind. I checked out the TomKat, a ten-inch combo, and found it to be a resonant contender when it comes to steel-string amplification.

SMALL WONDER

The TomKat is a whole lot of amp in a small and lightweight package. It measures 15 inches by 15 by nine and is only 16 pounds. Overall the amp seems rugged and roadworthy, though its handle feels a little insubstantial, as do the mini toggle switches for the Master Phase and Tweeter controls and for switching the assignment of the built-in effects between the two channels. Each of the channels includes a gain control and fiveband EQ. Channel 1 has a standard quarter-inch instrument input, while Channel 2's input will accept either a quarter-inch plug or an XLR. This means you can plug a guitar into Channel 1 and a microphone into Channel 2, making the amp a mini PA system. Channel 1 has a cool feature: a single 12AX7 tube that can be switched on or off, giving the user the benefit of getting both a solidstate and tube sounds in one convenient package. The amp doesn't include a footswitch for switching between the channels, or a jack for connecting an aftermarket accessory, but plenty of players will not miss this feature.

TUBE WARMTH

I tested the TomKat using both a Martin OM-28E and a Gibson Historic ES-335. With the EQ controls set flat, I plugged the Martin into Channel 1 and straight away was impressed by the amp's warmth and power. At 200 watts RMS, it's more than robust enough to fill a medium-size club and cut through drums and bass for ensemble playing, and it's relatively noiseless to boot. …

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