Rick Jones †

While the number of double bass pickups has been growing continuously since the 1980s, the number of double bass amplifiers has remained very small for a long time. Polytone, Gallien-Krueger, or a handmade Walter Woods – but that was almost it with the choice of double bass suitable amps. This changed at the end of the 1990s, when the American engineer Rick Jones came onto the market with a radical new idea: a combo amp designed specifically for double bass, with the speaker pointing downwards rather than forwards.
The first experience reports from the USA were promising, and so I quite soon ordered one of these amps from Rick Jones, who converted it to the European 220 V for me as a one-off. And so I soon had the first Acoustic Image Contra in Europe. On stage, the actually inconspicuous black ton quickly attracted the eyes and ears: a round amp? And the speaker points downwards? The concept was well received worldwide, the bassy-soft sound did well after years of being used to mid-range amplifier sounds. But I also had to get used to the omni-directional sound radiation. In some rooms it worked fantastically – in others not so well. And at an open-air gig, the amp bravely blew the sound into the lawn, but couldn’t compete with the sound-absorbing properties of the vegetation …
Over the past 20 years, Rick Jones has continued to develop his amps. And the success of the AI amps encouraged other manufacturers to take the needs of double bass players more into account in their designs. From the beginning, AI amps had a piezo-friendly high input impedance – this unobtrusive feature was actually the amp’s most important feature. Early on, a model with a second (microphone) channel with phantom power was added. However, the downward speaker orientation, originally the “trademark” of AI amps, was abandoned by Rick Jones a few years ago. The Doubleshot has two speakers mounted “back to back”, the current Upshot finally has one speaker facing upwards – an idea Ampeg tried with the “Fountain of sound” back in the 1950s.
A few weeks ago, Rick Jones fell in the shower and suffered a bleed in his brain. After treatment and surgery, his family initially thought he was doing better, but in mid-April he woke up in the middle of the night, went to the emergency room and collapsed, hitting his head again. Despite the efforts of the ER team, he could not be revived and died.

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