A few years back, amid NAMM buzz, bassist Amanda Ruzza escaped the mega music convention’s sensory overload at the Nordstrand booth for a bit of respite. And, no surprise, after checking out a few of our high-end instruments, she didn’t leave anytime soon. As she made music, we filled her in on the new pickups then in early development.
Dunlop’s Darryl Anders, an early Nordstrand Pickups devotee, told Amanda later that he was using our pickups exclusively. That was a customer testimonial that Ruzza couldn’t ignore.
We sent Amanda Ruzza a custom pickup to try out, made for a Tobias bass she was underutilizing. The Tobias felt great but sounded so-so before then, Amanda said. Once the pickup made the Tobias hum, Ruzza became an instant fan. So much so that she put one on another of her main basses, as well.
Amanda was quick to comment on the new pickups in her bass.
“It was like I had this brand new, perfect-sounding bass. I took it to record at a major New York studio, recorded it straight from the bass into the board, and there were no hisses, noises or EQ issues. Nothing was touched, even during the mix. It was just pure sound.”
In her early twenties, Amanda Ruzza received the coveted Latin American World Tour Scholarship to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music where she studied bass performance and contemporary writing and production. After only two semesters, an all-girl country band out of Nashville recruited Ruzza for her talents. From 2003 to ’07, Amanda toured with the band, Mustang Sally, entertaining troops in the military across America and overseas 262 days a year. Ruzza said that the military audiences were some of the most appreciative and energized crowds she’d ever played for.
The experience also landed Amanda in the studio with Barry Beckett, an original member of famed Alabama music studio Muscle Shoals’ first rhythm section. Beckett’s career included stints with Aretha Franklin, Dylan, Paul Simon, Duane Allman, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Traffic and more. “I never met anyone like him,” Ruzza says about her time recording four studio albums with the legendary musician and producer.
Working with Beckett made Amanda a better bassist, she says. After he tweaked her finger placement a bit on the neck, Ruzza spent many months woodshedding, practicing scales at slow speeds until she was able to get a fuller sound out of her instrument.
These days, Amanda Ruzza’s reputation precedes her, and invites to play are specific to what other musicians know she can and will deliver. Aside from playing in Jill Sobule’s awesomely-named band, Dinah Shore Jr., and her own jazz outfit, the Amanda Ruzza Group, she has also done session work and performed live with artists such as the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra’s Arturo O’Farrill, celebrated cellist Dave Eggar and Japanese pop stars Senri Oe and Osny Melo.
Now known as a musical chameleon, Ruzza feels comfortable in the studio or on the stage with jazz vocalists like Kevin Mahogany and Shirazette Tinnin, goth-metal band Evanescence’s Amy Lee, or fellow Brazilian Antonio “Moogie” Canazio, a Grammy award-winning engineer and producer with album credits for Eric Clapton and Barbra Streisand.
In 2012, Amanda released her first full-length recording, “This Is What Happened.” Ruzza says she approached the songs as if she was writing a novel. Her intention was to record a demo, but in the end things went so well that at the suggestion of her drummer and co-producer, Mauricio Zottarelli, Ruzza added a couple more songs to complete the session. Amanda and Mauricio are considered a go-to rhythm section amongst NYC musicians.
We are very proud to have Amanda Ruzza as a part of the Nordstrand family!