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James Burgess is a master jeweler by trade. He has owned a jewelry store in the Central Valley of California for many years and is well known for his exquisite custom jewelry. My wife has a 1 carat diamond solitaire on a platinum band that he custom made and it is gorgeous. I confess that he is a friend of mine in case I seem "biased" (pardon the pun) in favor of his products.
Jim is highly intelligent, a musician, and has a background in electronics from back in the day when tubes were still the standard and transistors were "the new thing". Back in the day, he built some custom tube based electric guitar amps for his musician buddies and also built some tube audio gear for himself. When people heard his gear (myself included) they had to have it. It was well built, sounded fantastic and he sold them at reasonable prices. Word got around and he has since built one of a kind items that people requested and has made everything from basic single ended amps (that sound great even though they look plain) all the way to amazing exotic pieces with thousands of dollars in parts, multiple chassis boxes and a hundred plus hours in labor. Many of the custom chassis boxes use exotic wood and are hand crafted in his wood shop. The exotic stuff is usually made when a regular client calls him, they talk, and together decide what to build. These are his best pieces in my opinion and the craftsmanship is superb. I own one exotic pair of mono blocks and a number of "standard" pieces and they are all fabulous.
When he has free time (between restoring classic cars for himself and his regular full time job) he will do custom work for people when he can if they e-mail or call. He may build an amp or so a year and list it on Audiogon and those are usually lower cost amps but still of high quality and they all sound great.
With all that said, Jim is a friendly, honest, hard working, humble, wonderful man and I'm very fortunate to have known him for nearly 20 years and am proud to call him my friend.
If you ever get the opportunity to pick up a piece he built from the ground up, I suggest you do it and enjoy the music. There are a lot of other amp builders out there, but finding one that puts a master jewelers skills to work on custom audio pieces is rare. He is typically booked up for months in advance if you want a custom piece.
Just FYI, the exotic gear he has built is done at the request of his clients as Jim usually prefers the "keep it simple" approach and some of those amps (like a good 45 based amp) are pure magic. Rich, lush, silky midrange, solid musical bass, and musical detail to die for. The only down side is the low power output so efficient speakers are important if you want high volume levels.
If you want to reach Jim, send me your contact information through audiogon and I'll forward your message to him.
Thank you for your post, Brad! You did a superlative job in laying out the background and of a man many of us admire from afar and would like to get to know better.
I first heard of James Burgess about a year ago through a friend of mine, Rob Trankley, that I met (virtually) here on Audiogon. Despite his ALWAYS upbeat, humorous, and generous nature, he eventually let me know he was being utterly ravaged by cancer. This hobby was one of his very few places of refuge in the storm. Sadly, he has passed from us. But, I will always remember him telling me about his James Burgess amplifier, and how it constantly brought pride and joy into the life of both he and his wife. It's a rare (your description suits that to a "T") man indeed whose amplifiers can provide to a person what James' do.
Hmm. I have a pair of amplifiers that I was told were made by James Burgess. They started life as Wurlitzer organ amps, but got modified to use 45s as SETs. The mod was done a long time ago- all of the wiring inside is done with cloth covered wire.
They came from an estate a good five years ago. The owner used them with a pair of Coral Betas which I also picked up.
my Burgess amp is stereo 6b5 push pull has 12sl7 and 12sn7 tubes driving a pair of 6b4 tubes per channel
I added a 3 position selector and 3 sets of gold input jacks to the rear of the amp as well as a gain control on one of the inputs , the amp sound great and is dead quiet .
i was going to list it for $1200.00
if anyone is interested contact me and i will foward pics
I also had a cage made for it ,and it has 24kt gold plated audio note knobs as well as a professional paint job