Dennis Lenarduzzi, a partner at Edmonton’s workspace, rocks out through a Purdy. Video: Brent Felzien
There isn’t an electric guitar player alive that doesn’t lust after a ’58 Fender Twin or a ’63 Vox AC30 amplifier. The craftsmanship from the period makes these amps sound pure and soulful. The problem is that they’re scarce, expensive and prone to breaking.
The solution is an explosion in boutique amp manufacturing. A boutique amp is often a reinterpretation of a vintage tube-amplifier, built by hand with modern improvements. Because they are built using equal parts science and romance, their appeal is subjective. And for those looking for a boutique amp with Alberta flavour, Edmonton’s Purdy Tube Amps has been selling modern takes on the classics since 2009.
Peter Purdy is a self-taught electronics magician who started fixing amps after his brother removed the tubes from his ’60s Ampeg and reinstalled them incorrectly. “When I turned it on it was a light show,” he says, chuckling. For 40 years, playing as a musician (while working for CN), Purdy, 61, became the go-to guy for musicians when an amp needed fixing. When he retired seven years ago, he decided to put his knowledge to use, building modern tributes to amps from the golden age. And yes, the volume does go up to 12.
Photograph Bluefish Studios