Employee Spotlight: Angelo Mazzocco, Lead DSP and Embedded Systems Engineer
1. Before you came to Line 6, what, if any, was your previous experience working in the music industry?
None! I grew up playing guitar and recording music with my friends, but Line 6 is my first full-time job out of college. While in college, I had been building distortion boxes after hours in the electrical labs and machine shop where I was a research assistant.
2. How did you come to work at Line 6?
I saw an early Line 6 ad in an issue of Guitar Player in 1998, while I was finishing school. It seemed like it would be the perfect match. I placed a few calls and wasn’t getting through when I noticed that if you stayed on the line long enough it would dump you into the automated phone directory service where I was able to get the direct number of Alan Zak, who was the VP of Engineering at the time. We had a nice conversation, and it ended with Alan saying, “You should stop by if you are ever in Southern California.” I don’t think he expected me too, but I hopped on a plane and showed up at the front door. I’ll always be grateful to Alan and Line 6 co-founder, Michael Doidic, for taking a chance on me. I think it helped that I told them how much I liked Frank Zappa.
3. How long have you worked for the company?
Since October of 1999.
4. What has your experience with Line 6 been like?
Fantastic! I get to work with incredibly smart and talented like-minded people every day. I get to work on products I’m passionate about and I get to pick up and play the guitar at work. What more can you ask for?
5. Can you share some of the highlights you’ve experienced at the company?
There are tons! Releasing the first project where I really had an influence, the FM4™, was a big milestone. Working on the algorithms for the ToneCore® series was an amazing collaborative experience. Also, having the good fortune to collaborate on custom DSP code for Brad Whitford, Lyle Workman, Eddie Van Halen, James Taylor, and the Edge throughout the years has been a dream.
I get the biggest thrill whenever I see someone use something I’ve worked on. We put so much passion and hard work into each project, and it seems like you leave a piece of yourself behind. Every time someone gets inspired by using a product that I’ve worked on, that little trace of me that I left behind comes alive.
6. What role does music play in your life?
Outside of family, music and guitars play a central role in my life. Obviously there is the work connection, but outside of that I’m fanatically listening to music, transcribing music, writing music, practicing my guitar, dialing in tones, repairing gear, setting up guitars, putting guitars together, collecting guitars, collecting pictures of guitars, researching guitar manufacturers’ history, talking to friends about guitars, reading about guitars, reading about guys who make guitars, buying books about guitars, trying to get my kids to play guitars and drums; it doesn’t stop!! Luckily I have a very supportive wife.
7. Do you play any instruments, and if so, which ones?
I got my first guitar for Christmas when I was 7 and I have been playing every day ever since. I also record bass guitar parts, and in the last few years I have been teaching myself how to play drums.
8. Have you used any Line 6 gear? If so, what are some favorite products, and how does the gear help inspire you to make music?
Currently, my favorite setup is using our Relay® G50 wireless, into an M9®, into a DT50™. It’s simple, flexible, and sounds fantastic. I can’t say enough about how amazing the Relay is. It really brings out the full sound of your guitar, even better than a guitar cable. There is no cable capacitance to roll off the tone of your instrument, so it’s like a Technicolor version of the guitar you know and love.
I spend a lot of time with the POD® HD500; its flexible routing capability and new amp models lets you dial up rich, complex, and beautiful tones.
Also, I was lucky enough to get a hold of a black JTV-59 guitar which is a dream to play. The neck joint is so much more comfortable than other guitars of that particular style, and its versatility is unparalleled.
9. What have you learned about the significance of music instruments/products in the lives of musicians?
Instruments, amplifiers, and effects instantly become an extension of the player. It’s an extremely personal relationship, and it takes a lot to earn the trust of the player. Everybody out there can be sure that we are extremely hard on ourselves when it comes to sound quality, touch response, and reliability. We are on a permanent quest to outdo ourselves with each new product we work on.
10. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I spent a lot of my early childhood drawing. I was always fascinated with the act of creating something from nothing: taking a blank piece of paper and turning it into something extraordinary, watching buildings rise up from vacant lots (both my grandfathers and my father are in construction), or picking up a guitar and playing something spell binding. I always knew I wanted to be creative and build stuff, but I never knew quite what. In 8th grade, we were talking about future plans, and a great friend of mine named Marc said, “Well, I know Angelo is going to make crazy guitar stuff one day.” It blew me away, I had never considered doing that until that moment, but from then on I was on a singular mission, and that mission led me to Line 6. Thanks, Marc!