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Toronto’s Yorkville Sound & Traynor Amps Celebrate 60 Years

The iconic gear firm will be celebrating throughout 2023 with a limited-edition commemorative product, a series of company profile videos, and special events.

Canadian pro audio manufacturer Yorkville Sound and iconic amplifier brand Traynor Amps are celebrating 60 years in 2023. This milestone marks significant achievements in manufacturing, sound technology, and tells the unlikely story of how a mild-mannered jazz trumpeter and a rock ’n’ roll bass player ignited a major cultural shift in Canadian music.

Six decades ago, Long & McQuade founder Jack Long and then-staff repair person Pete Traynor took a walk outside of the very first Long & McQuade location on Toronto’s Yonge Street, seeking inspiration for their new venture. With the Yorkville street sign in their line of sight, Yorkville Sound was born.

The first Yorkville Sound product was also a first for the globe. In the early ’60s, lead vocalists showed up to gigs with a microphone and a hope that there was something to plug in to. At the request of a local band, Traynor built two road-worthy column PA speakers to solve this problem once and for all. The resulting Yorkville YSC speakers comprised the first known portable column PA system, soon to be commonplace on stages around the world.

“The YSC PA columns kickstarted the whole portable PA industry in North America,” says Mike Holman, Yorkville’s historian and employee of the company since 1970. “It started a line of pro-audio firsts including the first portable stage lighting system, the first mobile concert sound operation, and the first wedged stage monitor, to name a few.”

As Long & McQuade pioneered music gear rentals, it was the natural hub for Toronto musicians to stock up in preparation for their legendary Yonge Street gigs. Noting that bass gear was usually the first to be depleted, Traynor examined the popular amps of the ’60s and built his own line of Dynabass amplifiers. Later renamed Bass Master, the amp earned a global reputation as a workhorse for decades to come.

In partnership with Long & McQuade, Yorkville Sound and Traynor’s homegrown structure has given Canadian musicians unprecedented access to high-quality and affordable music gear. With this model in place, countless Canadian musicians were able to plug in and turn up.

“Yorkville & Traynor are common denominators among the Canadian music community,” says Steve Long, Yorkville Sound’s CEO. “Somewhere in every Canadian garage band’s history is a Yorkville Sound product or Traynor amp.”

Jack Long & Pete Traynor then.
Jack Long & Pete Traynor now.

Yorkville Sound has grown from a few employees in the back of the original Long & McQuade store to over 200 employees in the 150,000-square-foot facility in Pickering, Ont., where all their North American products are manufactured. “We’ve been in Pickering for over 30 years,” says Long, “We’re proud of our team, which includes employees that have been with us since the very early days, and generations of families.”

Outside of Canada, Yorkville has a U.S. office in Niagara Falls, New York and international distribution. “Our products resonate around the world, particularly in DJ communities, where heavy bass is paramount,” says Long.

Sixty years in, Yorkville Sound continues to innovate on a global level. Most recently, Yorkville unveiled the EXM Mobile series, the world’s best portable battery-powered PA systems, giving musicians the latitude to set up great-sounding gigs anywhere. “The Pete Traynor ethic of leading the charge in product designs and building gear from a musician’s point of view is a core part of who we are,” says Long.

Yorkville Sound will be celebrating its 60th Anniversary throughout 2023 with a limited-edition commemorative product, a series of company profile videos, and special events.

For more information about Yorkville Sound and Traynor Amps visit yorkville.com and traynoramps.com.