About Harry Joyce

Harry Joyce

Harry Joyce himself turned HIWATT amplifiers in the 60′s and 70′s to what was to be quoted as the “The Rolls Royce of guitar amplifiers” not unlike what George Scholz did for his own HJ amplifiers which in comparison are touted as “The Bentley of guitar amplifiers”. Harry learned how to hand wire point to point by US military men in 1952. He later went to work for the two big speaker giants at the time Celestion and Fane in which he told us they turned out amazing quantities of speaker per hour. Harry Joyce was the first ever to hand wire guitar amplifiers point to point to military specs. HIWATT was having repeated repair problems and that was the reason Dave Reeves had to seek out his expertise. Harry corrected all the problems (8 in total) in the design and wiring (of HIWATT) and brought amplifiers sales and quality to the highest levels. Harry stopped building HIWATTS in 1976 because Dave Reeves (original designer of HIWATTS and Sound City) wanted to find a cheaper way of doing things to make more profits. He (Reeves) later decided to build the amps with PCB and with hearing that suggestion from Reeves, Harry refused to work with him because he felt it was an inferior design which would only cheapen the sound/quality. (A note for trivia buffs) Harry Joyce himself said that, “I (Harry) never built a HIWATT combo design for Dave Reeves and he had never seen a HIWATT combo on Dave Reeves bench” (up to 1976). Harry and Dave believed they were being knocked off by someone else in the UK. Another bit of info out there which Harry called “complete rubbish” is that Harry worked for Biacrown in the later years building PCB amps for them. Harry did take on some work after his Hiwatt venture but only in an advisory capacity and never laid hands on a PC board. There seems to be some dispute whether Harry built PC amplifiers for Hiwatt which he told George Scholz himself never happened. Because there might be receipts (assumption base of Harry building PCB) for Harry Joyce at a later date than 1976 was explained by Harry as he worked in an advisory capacity and NEVER himself built a PC amp for anyone. Harry was owed for services past from Hiwatt (pre 1976) and he said he was the only one paid after years of legal dealings. None of which Harry was a part of (legal dealings). If there is LEGITIMATE pictures of Harry building a PC amp please post them where they can be seen. Harry never gave permission for anyone to sign his signature “in his absence”. I’m sure all you HIWATT buffs have seen the so called Harry Joyce signature in magic marker along the bottom edge of the chassis and on some built after Harry retired from HIWATT. Well as Harry put it “complete rubbish and I’ve never signed a chassis there in my lifetime”. Sad story was Harry was at a music convention in the US where the normal “anything for a buck” vendors were. He saw a young lad as he put it carrying a HIWATT head. Harry asked (the young lad not knowing who he was talking with) “would you mind if I took a look at it”? The young lad was so proud of his purchase said “sure you can look at it, it was built by Harry Joyce himself “. “Right” Harry said, “let’s take a look”.

They took off the box to show the exposed chassis and sure enough the counterfeit Harry Joyce signature was along the bottom rim of the chassis. Harry was so disappointed for the lad and was very delicate about what he was about to tell the new owner. Harry asked “would it be possible to return this amplifier to the person that sold it to you”? The young lad said “now why would I want to do that”? Harry gently broke the news to him by telling him that “this is not Harry Joyce’s signature”. Very defensively the lad said “now how would you know that”? “Well, I’m Harry Joyce and I didn’t build that amplifier and that certainly is not my signature”! “ I would suggest to you to tell the man you just bought this from that you just met Harry Joyce and he said that he did not build that amplifier and he can contact me if he’s got a problem with that”. Harry said the lad was crushed and never found out if the he tried to take the amplifier back to the bogus vendor. Nothing made Harry madder than someone using his name without his permission or authenticity. “In the UK it happens all the time” said Harry. “There’s a guy down the road from me claiming to build authentic HARRY JOYCE amplifiers (2001) how’s that for rubbish”? We asked Harry why don’t you do something about it ? Harry was such an honest and easy going human being that he hated conflicts even at his own costs and would avoid them if possible.

In 1976 Harry walked out on Reeves and never looked back. Harry was retired from the military and received benefits so he was always in good shape. In 1992 he was talked into coming up with his own design (HARRY JOYCE AMPLIFIERS) and built them completely from scratch, as how they are being built today by Harry Joyce USA under the watchful eye of George Scholz. The first three went to the “ROBERT PLANT GROUP” (formally of Led Zeppelin). He later found THE BLACK CROWES (Rich Robinson) as lovers of his amplifiers and used our amplifiers and speakers cabs to this day with the exclusively designed SCHOLZ CLAISSIC drivers. Brad Whitford of Aerosmith also has been seen using a Harry Joyce among other players in the pro field. We came into play when Harry’s US distributor was having a hard time selling Harry’s equipment basically because the distributor didn’t care much about it and was concentrating on a completely different line of business. Harry was thoroughly disgusted and was thinking that no one was interested in his amplifiers in the US. Then there was George Scholz who was always a huge HIWATT fan because of David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and a huge fan of Harry Joyce. Long story short we contacted Harry through our dear, friend Denis Cornell (superb amplifier builder) only to find out how heartbroken Harry was thinking that the U.S. was not interested in his amplifiers (so he thought).We convinced Harry that his first US distributor did not take it seriously enough and it was certainly no fault of Harry’s that his amps were not selling. Harry gave us a shot at it which proved to be a soul saver for him and his dream of becoming successful in the U.S. came true for real. Unfortunately what happened in the years to come was also heart breaking. Harry was diagnosed with the worst type of cancer and did his best to hang on. He built his amplifiers for us right up until a few days before he died (2002).This is what kept Harry’s spirits up and knowing that the U.S. was behind him and that we were going to continue with his name and legacy to carry on the finest of hand built guitar amplifiers. This is a promise we made and we will keep doing it as long as we can.
Harry affectionately called George Scholz his “GENIUS” because in the same way he (Harry) brought HIWATT to a superior level George Scholz did the same for him with the HARRY JOYCE design and came up with an exclusive speaker (THE SCHOLZ CLASSIC) and Harry Joyce cabinet design. Here we are, modern day, striving for bigger and better. The HARRY JOYCE amplifiers are built like no other. This was the reason Harry felt at ease with his legacy being continued by us. It started in the 1960′s by hand building amplifiers for Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Kinks, Queen, who are just among a few “Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer’s” that made their way to the top with the help of Harry Joyce’s expertise. Harry Joyce was one of the finest people that anyone would have wished to be associated with. He was our dear friend first and business partner second. We did everything we could to make Harry’s time as worthy as his beginnings and Harry did everything he could to show us his love and appreciation for our love and dedication to him. Harry Joyce will be sorely missed by all but certainly never, ever forgotten. We still love and miss him and think about him everyday.