Nic Patullo was out of the amp game… until he was back in
Nic Patullo has a degree in criminology with a minor in psychology. Not exactly the pedigree for a career as an amp designer/builder, but a love for electronics and a mentor with knowledge to share formed the foundation for just that. Today, New Vintage Amplifiers are the ‘go-to’ tone machines for folks like Mark Hoppus and Drew Brown among others.
NO ONE EVER said the view from the underground couldn’t be rewarding. For some, in fact, it’s a luxury. Having carved out a solid piece of business with pro-players in bands like OneRepublic and Blink 182, most days amp builder Nic Patullo smolders away in his Duluth-area workshop — an extension on the back of his garage — with a build list of custom work. Some days that means a red tolexed Rogue 50 combo, others it could be an 80-lb, Undertow 300 bass amplifier in black. New Vintage Amplification has become a ‘speakeasy’-style custom shop for a swath of touring pros, and as long as that pays the bills, Patullo is okay with it.
Gravitating towards electronics at an early age, Patullo used to bring salvaged appliances back to his parents house and pull them apart to learn what made them tick. Soldering by age 13, he soon turned his attention towards guitar. Around this time, the home recording craze was starting to take off, but equipment was still pricey. Patullo elected to build some himself — microphones, pre-amps and other stuff.
In his 20s, Patullo befriended regional amp repair guru Walt Gorgoschlitz of Flatstone Amps. When the need for extra money hit, Gorgoschlitz also would build custom amplifiers. After his assistant got sick during a big run of amps, he asked Patullo if he would be interested in lending a hand.
“That is where I really learned my design aesthetic — lead dress, importance of components, working with high voltages,” explains Patullo. “I took that knowledge and ran with it. A few years down the road Walt decided to retire. Me and a partner bought him out. We ran it (Flatstone) for about a year and then parted ways. I had quit doing amps all together after that. Just walked away from it.”