The Innovators

Jeff Genzler
By Jim Roberts ,

Roger Sadowsky

It’s a familiar music business tale: An entrepreneur comes up with a new product, starts a company, and is successful. The company grows and is acquired by a big corporation. For a while, everything seems to be going well—but then everything goes south and the company is gone. At that point, the entrepreneur is faced with a choice: get out of the business or start over.

That’s what happened to Jeff Genzler. In the early ’80s, while working as a professional musician in Arizona, he built a PA system in his garage. That worked well, so he began to make more gear, including 1x15 cabinets for a bass player. “A friend saw those and said, ‘Hey, man, I want one,’” Jeff recalls. “That friend had a music store, so I started building bass cabinets for him. Eventually that morphed into the business that was Genz Benz.”

That new company became a full-time family operation with Jeff’s wife and a small crew building bass and guitar gear. In 2001, Genz Benz signed a distribution deal with KMC Music and grew some more. Two years later, KMC acquired Genz Benz, but left the day-to-day operations largely untouched. “From 2007 to 2011, we were at the forefront of the lightweight amp revolution,” says Jeff.

Operations changed after Fender acquired KMC in 2007. Genz Benz manufacturing was eventually moved to Mexico—and then, in 2012, the company was shut down. “We didn’t really know why,” says Jeff. “I stayed at Fender for a while, in R&D, but in 2014 I left.”

Later that year, Jeff and his wife moved to Brooklyn to be close to family, and he “re-invented” himself, as he puts it, by starting Genzler Amplifi cation. His new products were developed in collaboration with engineer Scott Andres, who had been one of his creative partners at Genz Benz. “With this new company, we had a clean slate and some great ideas,” says Jeff. “We wanted to go beyond what we had done before.”

Genzler immediately made a splash with the Magellan 800, a Class D head, and the Bass Array 12-3 cabinet. With the head, Jeff says, “we wanted to give bass players complete control over their sound, whether you’re plugging in a P-Bass with flats or an active 5-string or whatever.” In addition to the usual EQ controls, the Magellan 800 has a unique contour circuit. Reviewing the head in BP’s November ’16 issue, Jonathan Herrera wrote: “Rather than offering only the typical mid-scoop shape, an A/B switch also gives the player access to a mid-boosting contour.” The mid-boost, Jeff says, gives the Magellan 800 great flexibility and “a classic vintage vibe.”

The Bass Array 12-3 is a 1x12 cabinet that eschews the usual tweeter for four 3" neodymium drivers placed in an array in front of the woofer. “It’s not just for the highs,” Jeff says. “We let the woofer do what it does efficiently in a ported cabinet, but it rolls off at about 800Hz. That’s where the array rolls in, for the mids and highs. And when you stack them, they disperse horizontally 120 to 130 degrees and project deeper into the room. There’s no more ‘hot spot’ in front of the cabinet.”

Genzler’s initial offerings were so successful that he soon added a smaller head, the Magellan 350, along with a bass combo and an acoustic guitar combo. The Bass Array line has expanded to six models, the latest being the BA410-3, a 4x10 with a 6x3 array. “There are ten drivers in that cabinet, and it’s still only 55 pounds. A couple guys have told me, ‘That thing is a velvet hammer.’” (For more on the Bass Array cabs, see Ed Friedland’s review in September ’18.)

Summing up his career in the music business, Jeff says: “It’s all about your ability to develop compelling products and deliver them to the market quickly. And you have to be connected to your customers. Every conversation we have with a customer, whether it’s phone or email or social media, comes through me. We want our customers to know they’re having an interface with the person behind the product.”

For more about Genzler gear, go to genzleramplification.com.

Jim Roberts was the founding editor of BASS PLAYER and also served as the magazine’s publisher and group publisher. He is the author of How the Fender Bass Changed the World and American Basses: An Illustrated History & Player’s Guide (both published by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard).