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Category 5 is built on a partnership between Don Ritter and Steve Scott that began as a way to make amplifiers and raise money (and awareness) for charity at the same time. The focus was first on charities providing relief for natural disaster victims (of the Asian tsunami and hurricanes Katrina and Rita), thus the names of the company and its amplifiers. As it has grown, so has the scope of both the products and the philanthropy, which supports an expanding list of worthy causes from Feed the Children and Voice of the Wetlands to the “Blues in the Schools” program, and Blue Star Connection, which provides musical instruments to children with life-threatening illnesses.

This is worthy of mention not only because it exemplifies the principle that you do well by doing right, but also because Cat 5’s amplifiers demonstrate the virtues of doing it right from the get-go. The designs are built on the notion that it’s the players, not the builders, who should determine what qualities an amp has. The touring pros and other players Ritter and Scott set out to satisfy needed tough, overbuilt cabinets and chassis that could handle life on the road; they needed scalable power output to achieve the same tone from the same amp at the right volume for any venue; and they needed amps that would be easily coaxed into giving up outstanding tones. In other words, the design principle and the philanthropic principle are really the same principle: try to give people what they need.

Category 5 started by making waves on the blues scene, providing back line for several festivals (where they were often asked to sell their amps right off the stage), and in a short time they’ve gathered a truly impressive list of artists. The number of signature offerings and approved charities continues to increase.