Bassist Jimmy Miller plays jazz, rock, pop, classical, country, and even Arabic music. But he’s best known for his work with ’50s-’60s powerhouse Rocky & the Rollers. The old-school rock ‘n’ roll band plays a full schedule of shows in their home state of Florida, along with regular out-of-state gigs backing some of the era’s legends, including ex-Sha Na Na frontman Jon “Bowzer” Bauman’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Party and Ultimate Doo-Wop Party shows.
Miller has long relied on Ampeg for that classic warm and punchy bass sound his gigs require. So it’s no surprise that he was one of the first artists to get his hands on Ampeg’s new Portaflex PF-50T all-tube bass amp.
“I’ve been playing through Ampeg amps since 1978 – mostly an SVT but I also love B-15s,” Miller explains. “I love pretty much anything that says Ampeg on it, and the Portaflex PF-50T is as ‘Ampeg’ as any amp I’ve played. I use it with both my upright and my electric, and it’s amazing! I think it sounds very comparable to the B-15, but the EQ is more like the three-band EQ on an SVT or V-4B. The Portaflex PF-50T is lighter and smaller than a B-15, and the sound just blows me away.”
The Portaflex series offers a range of cabinets including the new PF-112HLF ported 12-inch, but Miller initially tried out the Portaflex PF-50T with two of his classic cabinets. “The first night, I used the PF-50T with an Ampeg B-15 cabinet, the old double-baffle cab,” he recalls, “and as I expected, it sounded like a B-15 amp. The next show, I used it with an SVT-210AV; the ten-inch speakers give it a little more high end and extra punch. Both ways, the amp sounded great.”
One of Miller’s favorite features in the new Portaflex PF-50T is that the amp’s DI output goes through the transformer. “That’s huge,” he states. “In the studio, you don’t need a cabinet; you just plug in and go. For live gigs, I don’t usually like DIs, but I’m over the moon about the PF-50T’s DI output because the whole sound of the amp goes through it. When you play high notes, the bottom never drops out like it does with solid-state DIs. Every note has as much weight up high as it does down low.”
And as good as the PF-50T sounds on stage, Miller confirms it sounds even better in the house. “I walked way out into the back of the hall, and my bass sounded absolutely perfect,” he concludes. “I was flabbergasted. This is what a DI should sound like!”