When we first heard about Ultra Sound in New
York, it seemed too incredible to be real— 21
state-of-the-art studios in midtown Manhattan,
acoustically tuned and loaded with amazing
sound systems and gear: Midas, Lab.Gruppen,
XTA, Martin Audio, Sennheiser, Bechstein
pianos and DW Drums (with Sabian hand-hammered bronze cymbals in the jazz rooms);
guitar and bass amps from Komet, Matchless,
Bruno, Dr. Z, Victoria, Diezel, Mesa Boogie,
Mojave, Cornford, VHT, Bogner, Alessandro,
Aguilar, Epifani, Egnater… the list just keeps
going. Throw in the other things Ultra Sound
does—sales, service, rentals, music education programs, etc.—and the place starts to
sound like gearhead utopia. Co-owner Gene
Sinigalliano explained the concept.
When we got into this, very early on, I became
friends with some guys who actually built really
high-end guitar amps. That led me on a quest
to put in these studios some of the finest, finest
stuff you could ever put in a studio.
It sounds like you just decided to go “above
and beyond” in every way.
My goal at first was to get rid of the guys who
just bash away at gear, and bring in the pros.
That was very successful, starting in the early
nineties bringing in Tony Bruno’s amps, and
Matchless—and it even extended to when I
redid the sound systems in the studio. I’ve got
two of the finest sound systems in the world.
My biggest thing is, I’m really into promoting
an hour and start writing songs, but that’s not
really an advantageous way to spend your
budget. You can come into our studio for pre-production, and in the daytime for $25 an hour
you can work on what you’re actually going
to do on your album. The unfortunate thing
is that sometimes then these bands go to the
recording studio, and it doesn’t have anywhere
near the quality of the stuff we have here—but
actually, then we start getting calls from the
studios, looking to rent the amps that they did
pre-production with here.
So instead of figuring out how to round up
the gear they used in your studio, they can
rent it from you?
A lot of studios know that guys who are looking
for something really special, like Trainwrecks
or Dumbles, you know… we have all that stuff.
I have more Trainwrecks than anybody in the
world. That’s kind of what we do; we don’t buy
anything except the finest quality.
How did you get started with sales?
So what exactly is Ultra Sound?
We are, first, the biggest music rehearsal studio
in New York City, and we have without a doubt
the finest gear of any rehearsal studio in the
world. But we are also one of the largest boutique guitar amp dealers. We’re not a recording
studio; our business is a little different. New
York is different from anyplace else. Kids don’t
have basements to practice in, and people
don’t have cars to drag equipment around in,
so the rehearsal studio business in NY presents
a band with a fully functional studio with all the
equipment, so they can just walk in with their
drumsticks and guitars—everything they need
is there… we took that to the next level.
and creating a place where new music can
thrive, where it’s not just the rich professionals that can afford to come here. The younger
bands that are the new life of music for the
future can also afford to come and use great
gear. We also donate a lot of equipment to the
public school system. When we got new sound
systems, we took our old ones and instead of
selling them, we donated them to the New
York City public schools, and installed them. I
think that’s an important thing.
If you’re going to drop a big chunk of change
in a recording studio, the ability to dial in
beforehand exactly what you’re looking for,
with the best equipment you can find—that
seems like a smart move for a band to make.
We were initially getting all these incredible
quality amps at a time, back in the early nineties, when guitar amps had really hit a low
point. There were a few who were building
incredible amps. But nobody knew much about
them. We were lucky enough to find out about
those very early on and incorporate them
into our studios—we were putting Brunos,
Matchless, Dumbles and Trainwrecks in our
studios where guys would rehearse with them
every day. People were flipping out, saying, “I
love this amp, where can I get one?” There was
no place to buy one. They’d say, “Can you get
one for me?” and I’d say, “Okay,” and it turned
into sales. We’re not a music store, and we
never really meant to sell stuff, but people liked
the fact that they could come here and actually
play these things in a real studio environment,
in a non-sales environment without pressure,
where the studio is not only soundproofed, but
also sound-tuned… so all the acoustical anomalies go away, and yet you still have a lively
room. It really paid off. People can come in and
play the amps and listen to them in a real-world
environment, and really know how they sound.
There are very few other places where that can
be done. The special thing is you can be as
private as you want to be, or you can have your
friends come in with you and give you opinions,
or you can come in with your band…
Rehearsal studios for a long time were thought
of as a “second banana,” meaning you go to
a recording studio like Avatar, Power Station,
someplace like that, and the equipment would
be very high quality. You’d go to a rehearsal
studio and it would be the lowest common
denominator. Rehearsal studios tried to get
away with the least expensive stuff they could.
It is, especially when you consider that our
equipment is probably better than what many
recording studios have. We don’t have all the
recording equipment—that’s not what we do—
but if you’re going in to do pre-production,
which is what smart people do… look, you
can go to a recording studio for $400 or $500
We are a studio first and foremost, and yes, we
are one of the biggest boutique amp dealers,
but you don’t have to be looking to buy an
amp to come and try these amps or play them.
You’re more than welcome to just book the
time and play.