Left to right: Tim Pinnell, electronics design engineer; Mike Boone, master guitar technician; Dan Altilio Jr, owner, luthier
Dan Altilio Jr
Dan's parents each had guitar-playing younger brothers. Thus he was influenced at an early age by the sounds of guitars, especially electric guitars. Growing up in New York City exposed him to an incredible diversity of music and musicians. As he went from singing in a vocal group with his buddies to amateur rhythm guitarist playing for after-school dances in the 1960s, Dan pursued a formal education (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and eventually graduated from the New York Institute of Technology second in his class. After school he gained invaluable experience in automotive and mechanical technology at his day jobs, and spent time "in the woodshed" learning to play lead guitar during the explosion of rock music following the British invasion.
New York afforded Dan the opportunity to attend many legendary concerts by such artists as The Who, Jethro Tull, Chicago Transit Authority, Blood Sweat and Tears, Mountain, Yes, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention, Jeff Beck, Johnny & EdgarWinter and many more. By the time he began working part time as a guitar tech in the early 70's, Dan was a full-time professional lead guitarist playing with several well-known artists and had formed bands with Tico Torres (drummer, Bon Jovi) and with Steve Van Zandt (Bruce Springsteen). Dan and Steve toured as co-lead guitarists in a show band for several months on the road. Dan has also performed on the 1998 album, "Pieces of the Past" by singer/songwriter Tim Flannery. Flannery's friends Bruce Hornsby and Steve Poltz guested on those tracks.
In 1975 Dan was a founding member of the board of directors of Di Marzio
® Pickups and served as vice-president until 1985. During that time the company became known for innovation and excellence in design and manufacturing, and Dan was a critical team member in advancing the art and science of guitar technology.
During the years prior to founding TOP GEAR Dan had the opportunity to do custom work or build instruments for several famous players including Pete Townshend, Rick Derringer, Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan, Earl Slick (David Bowie, John Lennon), Vinnie Zummo (Joe Jackson) Kasim Sultan (The New Cars) and more.
Now in business for over twenty-five years, TOP GEAR has acquired the highest reputation for service and excellence, and Dan is proud that he was able to make his dream of "The Best of Everything For The Professional Guitarist" come true.
A native San Diegan, Tim had already established a reputation among local musicians as a tube amp whiz when he brought his considerable talents to TOP GEAR. As Dan recalls, "He brought in his modified Fender Bassman head and it sounded better than my own amp which had been done by a famous New York amp shop! I said, 'And you want to work here? Sounds good to me!'"
You don't learn how to build, modify and repair vacuum tube amplifiers by going to school. Tim learned his craft through a unique combination of basic electronics courses in high school, working for a man who himself was an expert in the field and who had written a book on the subject, and good old fashioned do-it-yourself experimentation. Plus, he owns a pretty good set of ears, without which you can't hope to be any good at what Tim does.
In the process of becoming an expert himself, Tim acquired the uncanny ability to look at a circuit board and by understanding circuit theory, to draw out a schematic himself if one wasn't available! This has proven invaluable in his chosen profession, since schematics are often unavailable for many older amps and other gear.
Tim is also an accomplished guitarist and singer, and founded his own group, "The Bedbreakers" and produced the band's CD in the 1990's.
In his twenty five years at TOP GEAR Tim has contributed invaluable assets to our position in the field of providing state-of-the-art technology to our customers. He also feels an obligation to treat all our clients with the highest respect and accommodate their wishes to the best of his ability. His commitment to high standards of performance and reliability in his work are a perfect complement to the goals embodied in TOP GEAR's mission statement.
Mike was first a customer of ours back in the early days when our reputation was young. He brought his guitars in to have custom work done and in the process we got to know him. As the years began to roll by, Mike continued to shop at TOP GEAR and expressed a desire to work here. When the opportunity to set up a production line came along, Mike's previous experience proved invaluable and we asked him onboard to be our guitar builder. Over the course of the run, Mike built hundreds of guitars from raw parts, hand wiring pickguards and jig drilling and mounting bridges and tremolo systems.
By the time the manufacturing job had run its course, Mike had not only obtained vast experience setting up guitars, he had acquired the TOP GEAR attitude of uncompromising quality. As he put it, he learned to "use The Force." Now with us almost twenty years, "the new guy" is a Fender GOLD Certified electric guitar service technician and has become an essential part of our team.
7293 University Avenue La Mesa, California 91942 (619) 464-4969
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