Although best known as bassist with such rockers as Ozzy Osbourne, Vince Neil, Billy Idol, John Waite, Johnny Halladay, and Steve Lukather, Phil Soussan's career spans a much wider arc. With major credits as a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and mix engineer, he is a man of many talents. Nevertheless, his bass work is his greatest claim to fame, and like many top bass players, he relies on Ampeg bass amps. But it took one of those common hazards of gigging to discover them.
"I used to play bass with a childhood guitar player friend whose brother was an electronic tinkerer, and he was very good at making amplifiers," Soussan recalls. "I played through some of these amps, and I remember that I had a 15-inch speaker in a cabinet that I built, and it sounded very deep and very rich. Back then, when I started playing, we didn't have the luxury of lots of great deep bass. So anything that had that low end was appealing."
Young Soussan thought he knew what great bass sound was until an accident of fate led him to discover the real thing. "I was playing in a band, and we were opening for Michael Schenker. Something happened to our truck, and the equipment got stuck at the side of the freeway. I went to Michael and said, 'hey, I don't know if we're going to be able to play.' He looked at me and said, 'Why can't you use our equipment?' [Schenker bassist] Chris Glen had two huge Ampeg rigs-SVTs with Classics-and I remember plugging my bass into them, and it was a wake-up moment. All of a sudden I realized I had it all wrong. There was a particular quality or component of the bass sound that I had completely missed. I experienced it with Ampeg, and it changed my bass playing."
Since 1988, Soussan has been a confirmed Ampeg fan. He currently relies on SVT-2PRO and SVT-3PRO bass amplifier heads, the latter of which is currently the best-selling amp head in Ampeg's Pro Series. Both are powerful, rack mount amps with three-band tone controls, a five-position midrange frequency control, nine-band graphic EQ, ultra low/high boosts, and an effects loop. Soussan matches them with a combination of Ampeg SVT-810E, SVT-410HE, and SVT-1510HE cabinets.
Soussan has played with many amazing-and amazingly loud-drummers, and he needs an amplifier that can deliver both power and great bass sound. "I play with some of the most powerful drummers in the world," he asserts. "Believe me, I'm blessed, and it's a privilege. But it's a challenge, too. Ampeg helps me bring the thunder to that performance, and without the thunder, there's no power. For me, Ampeg brings the thunder."