Well-Known Portaflex Users

Apr 23, 2021
Well-Known Portaflex Users
  • The B-15 has helped define the sound of recorded bass guitar.

    James Jamerson (top)

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    Donald "Duck" Dunn(top)

    In the studio with Booker T and the MGs, Donald took to the B-15 like a duck to water.

    Justin Meldal-Johnsen (top)

    Justin Meldal-Johnsen used a B-15R with a mic and no DI on Beck's Sea Change album

    Mix Magazine (top)

    Mix Magazine has a long running Series called classic tracks. The articles detail how various classic tracks were recorded. Also try searching for "B-15" and "B15"on their site for additional references. Check out BB King's The Thrill is Gone, Joe Walsh's Life's Been Good, and Black Sabbath's Paranoid to name a few.

    Rolling Stones (top)

    Bill Wyman was known to sometimes use Ampeg amps in the studio. He would make the other kids dress up and stand in line to use his amp.

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    1965 Brian, Keith, and Michael

    Lee Rocker, Stray Cats(top)

    His studio amp was a B-15 as described in this May 23, 2014 Bass Player interview: Lee Rocker

    Earth, Wind & Fire (top)

    Verdine White has had a long relationship with his B-15 for studio recording.

    John Paul Jones(top)

    John Baldwin plied his trade as a journeyman bass player with his B-15 amp. Eddie Kramer recounts: He used to arrive at the session wheeling in his Ampeg B15 bass amp, with the charts under one arm and his Fender bass over the other, plug in, stand up on the conductors rostrum and proceed to conduct the entire 60 piece orchestra with the bass in his hand.!! His B-15 also found its way into some Led Zeppelin sessions.

    The Band(top)

    You can see Rick Danko playing a B-15S in the movie The Last Waltz. A B-15 was sometimes used in their studio recordings.

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    Cosby, Stills, Nash & Young (top)

    B-15's were common in studios when they were recording. One example is Stephen Stills playing a Fender Bass with dead strings through a B-15 on Carry On. I think that the bass part at 2:10 helps make the song.

    The Ampeg B-15 from Inception to Resurrection(top)

    ref: Bass Player, The Ampeg B-15 from Inception to Resurrection, Chris Jisi, March 14, 2011

    Will Lee: “Wow, the B-15— the stalwart of the studio. When I broke into the session scene, all the studios had ’em, with a lock and chain around them and MANHATTAN BASS CLUB stenciled in white—although I was always able to use them. At that point, they were mostly for monitoring and pretty much had to be turned off when the red light came on to prevent leakage in the live room. I was a DI guy back then, but I used the amp for tuning, jamming, and working out ideas, as well as live in the clubs. Later, they were used as recording amps until the mid ’80s, as bassists realized the B-15 was a great way to get a big amp sound by isolating it and putting a mic in the ‘Sweet spot’ through proper placement. Thanks, Jess Oliver, for looking out for your fellow bassists and innovating such amazing gear as the B-15 and the Baby Bass!”

    Bob Babbitt: “The B-15 was the amp I owned and used live and in the studios in Detroit, and later in Philly and New York. In Nashville, when they mic a live amp, it’s usually the B- 15; I used one on recent recording projects for Peter Frampton, Rod Stewart, and Phil Collins. They remain in studios to this day because younger producers, engineers, and bassists love the sound, whether they’re recording something Old school or contemporary music. The B-15 is a timeless bass amp with a timeless tone.”

    Chuck Rainey: “From 1962 to 1982, the B-15 was my main amp; that includes all gigs, films, and many recordings. In the New York studios, most of the amps owned by the Manhattan Bass Club were B-15s or B- 12s, and as a member, I provided one. The amps were usually placed on some kind of stand or support system, miked or with a direct signal taken from the back of the amp to the board. Many engineers and bassists preferred the B-12 because it was smaller and not as loud as the B-15, and it had a specific and even bass tone. Both amps were terrific and a big part of my career and my sound.”

    Marcus Miller: “When I started on the New York session scene, the B-15 was the bass amp you saw in every studio. By 1983 or so, you stopped seeing them; bass players were recording direct by then. But I did a lot of early sessions using a B-15. If you listen to Luther Vandross’s Never Too Much album, you can hear it. Engineer Michael Brauer made a little ‘house’ for the amp, from baffles and blankets, so the sound wouldn’t leak into the other instrument mics. I think engineers liked the Warm, tube-y sound of the B-15, combined with the small, unobtrusive size.”

    Jerry Jemmott: “I used the B-15 both live and on sessions in New York, usually with an 80/20 blend of direct and miked amp sound in the studio. I wasn’t a member of the Manhattan Bass Club; I had to roll mine in and push theirs out of the way. Paul Roland Martinez (who played on ‘Hey Leroy’ with the Jimmy Castor Bunch) and I had our own little stash of B-15s and B-18s in selected studios. It was a brilliant, portable combo design with a great, Tight sound.”

    Sean Hurley: “I’ve been using my B-15 on almost every recording these days, except the most distorted rock tracks— although I recently drove the heck out of one on a session for producer John Shanks. What a glorious sound! It’s the perfect recording bass amp: It doesn’t need to be loud to get a killer tone, and is easily tucked away in a closet or isolation booth. With a flatwound-strung bass it’s Old school, and with roundwounds it’s as modern as anyone needs. Pure bass tone that records with almost no effort, no unwanted frequencies to Cut, nothing to be added—Jess Oliver got it right! The B-15 has stood the test of time.”

    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: “I use the B-15 when I need a punchy, Sweet, natural tone—which is most of the time, in fact. Sonically speaking, I just find it so consistently rewarding. The amp seems to provide the perfect spectrum, with the right amount of ‘note.’ It’s midrangy, without ever being ‘pokey’; it’s deep without being Flabby. Even on some big rock recordings, I’ve found it well suited for a surprisingly big sound. Historically, I think the platform was amazingly well conceived and forward-thinking. There’s nothing like it, nor will there likely ever be.”

    Darryl Jones: “The B-15 has always been a part of the studio experience for me. They were ever-present in all the studios I worked at in Chicago, New York, and L.A. No matter what kind of music you were recording, from R&B to jazz to rock, you could always find a suitable sound through it. In recent years, even with all of the other choices available, the B-15 has become more coveted, and now it’s exciting to see the release of the Heritage B-15. I hope I’ll be doing sessions for many years to come on both vintage and new models. Thanks, Jess Oliver and Ampeg, for getting it right from the jump.”

    James Jamerson: According to Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Jamerson used a B-15 live (and occasionally in the studio), sometimes with an extension cabinet; the amp would be set with the bass knob all the way up and the treble knob on half.

    Howlin' Wolf Band(top)

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    Jimi Hendrix(top)

    Jimi is looking like an appirition on the Dick Cavett stage.
    Hendrix B-15.JPG

    Eagles Legacy(top)

    Formally known as Eagles by New Gig In Town, the band is based in Holland.

    Jimmy Miller(top)

    Bowzer, Rocky And The Rollers, assorted 50's, 60's and 70's acts, The JDJ Project.
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    David Gilmour and Pink Floyd(top)

    David Gilmour's recording studio. At 3:23, you can see his B-15N. What else would they use to record Pink Floyd records on a riverboat.

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    Ronnie Lane(top)

    With the Faces
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    Great bass tone with The Faces.

    Bob Glaub(top)

    A studio musician. He’s done session work and toured with artists including John Lennon, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Ringo Starr, Donna Summer, Stevie Nicks, Crosby, Stills & Nash (& Young), Warren Zevon, John Fogerty, and Leonard Cohen, to name just a few.

    Stories Behind the Song: Bob Glaub
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