Dedicated to Tone: Acoustic Image's Rick Jones
Early on, electric guitar players seemed interested in using the amp head in their existing cabinets so Jones designed a removable head that could run any cabinet a guitarist pleased and resulted in the Clarus 1R becoming the first guitar oriented amp head for the company. Jones is also not afraid of teaming up with rival builders to supply musicians. "We entered into a relationship with Rich Raezer with our amp heads running those cabinets," Jones recallsa move that less self-assured builders would have avoided, but that Jones saw as providing a needed element to the musicians' toolbox. Today, players have the choice of the head or combo series amps. Acoustic Image amps are also popular with keyboardist and, with two channel systems especially, vocalists. In an almost counter-intuitive move, Jones has met a progressively segmenting market with products that span those niches through quality, compactness and affordability.
Acoustic Image's facilities reside on a nondescript Raleigh, NC road mostly dedicated to other light industry. A small sign let me know I was at the right building. On the day I visited, the operation was manned by three long-time employees and Jones himself. But the place was busy with activity, and, of course, with the testing beds that each amp must pass through before being shipped. Jones walked me through the line from empty cabinets and waiting circuit boards to the testing rooms and the shipping dock. It's a small, efficient operations where each employee seems capable of handling whichever part of the operations needs doing (each is also a musician).
In the lobby Jones had assembled a line of amps that represented the evolution of his company. You could see the movement from dabbler to professional in the maturity of design. "We've always been about getting the musician the best product we can get them however that works for the player," Jones says, citing his willingness to incorporate ideas from players feedback. "And if you need anything, if the amps breaks down, you're calling right here and I might be the one answering the phone," he continues. That's what is reflected in that line of evolving amp models, a core belief about the quality musicians deserve in obtaining their own personal tone.