Photo: Bryan Lasky

A new vintage gear and instrument shop is coming to Troy. Starting May 1, local artists can head to Love of Fuzz on 455 Fulton St. for everything they need to help find their sound, or to have owner TJ Heimel repair the collection they already have.

“I’d really like to help the established artists figure out the sound that’s in [their] heads,” Heimel says. “That’s something I always thought I excelled at—if somebody has an idea, we’ll figure it out. I’ve always loved the recording side of things. This little amp sounds really bad but if you mic it and put it in the background of this track it’s gonna kill—that kind of thing.”

The inventory that will stock Heimel’s will be almost entirely made up of the musician’s personal collection, a “bucket list” of sorts that has been gathered up over the past 16 years.

“I finally go to this point where I have it and now I’m gonna go sell it all and that hurts but I know it will all come back eventually. I’m really confident that when I open the doors I will have the coolest vintage collection of any store around. It’s exciting in that respect.”

Heimel has worked at Parkway Music in Clifton Park for the past seven years—where he developed a rare passion for retail—and as guitarist for the band Sun Natives, he has made quite a few connections in the Capital Region music scene. His collection supplied his entire band’s set up and he became a community resource, lending out amps and supplies for recording sessions and shows. With Love of Fuzz, he feels he will be able to continue serving the community in a unique way.

As a Troy native, Heimel is also excited to be part of the city’s come-up. Leasing a building downtown, he says, felt like an easy decision. He noticed it’s great for walking traffic and business owners seem to be generally supportive of each other.

He’s following on the heels of young, local business owners who inspired him to take the leap such as Cory Nelson of Troy Kitchen, Heidi and Frank Sicari of Takk House and Franklin Alley, Felicity Jones and Mike Romig of Superior Merchandise Co. or Josh Coletto, who co-owns Nighthawks Restaurant and Bar with Howard Glassman. Joey Berben and Max Wolff will be opening their Troy vegan deli around the same time Love of Fuzz sees its first customers.

“I’m excited to see what the leadership of this area will be in about 10 years,” Heimel says. “I think of that a lot because I never thought of myself saying, ‘I’ll own a business one day.’ But when you start meeting the people who are running these businesses you realize they’re just taking a risk and are scared to death every night, too.”

He says he plans to keep sales local, despite the popularity and ease of the online market.

“I don’t want to ship [gear] to Iowa,” he says. “I want someone down the street to have it, to be here and do that…There are beautiful people running the scene here, some kind of common collective here that, five years ago, didn’t exist. Now it’s ‘the weirder the better’ and ‘let’s get everybody here.’”

It’s brave move given his rare and valuable collection which includes massive Marshall and Fender amps from the ‘70s—or the SVT amps he tells The Collaborative were specially designed for the Rolling Stones tour setup. He’ll have a solid collection of guitars and pedals as well.

The vintage gear, Heimel hopes, will serve these local music scenes well. He’s been excited to see collectives like Super Dark Collective booking and promoting fuzz heavy, garage rock and punk bands with a massive sound. Lo-fi acts are dominating the underground scene in Albany and Troy, with artists recording on older gear to explore how to make new sounds and releasing their work on vinyl and cassettes.

“There are very few things past 1985 that I’m interested in at all,” he says. “But this trend now of people looking around like, ‘There’s something special about 1970s Fender amps or whatever it is.’ I think it’s gonna do well for me.

Heimel says he is excited to have a set location where he can tinker with the instruments and amps as well. It’s a hobby he began exploring years ago while working as a mechanic. Though he was most confident working with his hands, he was sick of working in a garage and started playing with guitars–—taking them apart, finding out how each piece works and putting it all back together.  

Over the past few years, he has been repairing instruments and amps for local music folks out of his basement. After a while, musicians were coming in and out of his home almost every night. Love of Fuzz will aim to serve as that same environment, just friends trying to achieve specific sounds and make new music.

“I feel like there are shops around where, if you don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s an uncomfortable experience or elitist,” Heimel says. “I love the gear side of things but I love to break it down and explain everything, That’s one thing I’m really excited about because I feel like there are a bunch of demographics out there who are not being catered to, my hope is to serve everybody.”