About Guitar Amplifiers
Many electric guitar amplifiers are every bit as iconic as the players who have used them, with many famous guitarists synonymous with the amps they chose to use. Jimi Hendrix and Marshall, the Beatles and Vox, Santana and Mesa/Boogie, and Dick Dale with his Fenders - all would look different onstage without their amps of choice. Whether your taste is tube, solid state, or modeling, there are enough electric guitar amps out there to find your perfect tone as well.
We just want to be heard
Guitar amps originated when guitarists found themselves struggling to keep up with loud brass sections in the big bands of the 1930s. The first designs were low-wattage, clean-sounding designs based on tube radio and accordion amplifier designs. Soon rock 'n' roll reared its head and players like Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, and Ritchie Blackmore demanded more volume. Jim Marshall's first Marshall stacks answered that call. As players kept wanting still more volume and features, amplifier companies like Peavey, Orange, Friedman, and Hughes & Kettner stepped up and answered their demand for more gain, more clarity, and more options.
The defining amp tones, and beyond
Most modern amp designs have their roots in the classic circuitry that defined popular music from the 1950s through the 1980s. These amps are responsible for defining sounds and genres, offering players new and wider tonal options. Fender is known for their glassy cleans, Vox defined the British Invasion, Marshall is the sound of rock, Mesa introduced the world to high-gain, and Line 6 brought digital-amplifier modeling to the table. Today there are numerous companies offering their own take on these basic platforms, with boutique designs being extremely popular. Companies like Budda, Morgan, and 65 Amps deliver quality that is at the top of the industry.
American and British tone
Tube amplifiers can be broken down into two basic categories: those based on EL34/EL84 power tubes ("the British sound") and those that carry 6L6/6V6 tubes ("the American sound"). Examples of famous British tones are a cranked Marshall 1959 "Plexi" head with its EL34s and the chime that can only be achieved with EL84-powered Vox AC30 or AC15 combos. American tones include everything from a crystal-clear Blackface Fender Twin Reverb to a fire-breathing Mesa/Boogie Triple Rectifier stack.
Modeling and the future
Today, high- and low-wattage tube amplification designs continue to thrive and hopefully always will. But hot on their heels is the revolution Line 6 started with modeling technology. Within one amplifier, you have access to multiple onboard effects and tones based on the most desired amplifiers out there. These all-in-one solutions are marvelous for players who need a plethora of sounds for recording or performing, when multiple amps aren't an option. Amps such as Roland's Cube line, Yamaha's THRs, and Peavey's Vypyr have continued the technology, offering players more options than ever before.
Questions about Guitar Amps?
Sweetwater's Sales Engineers are regarded as the most experienced and knowledgeable professionals in the music industry, with extensive music backgrounds and intense training on the latest products and technologies. They are available to offer you personalized product advice any time you need it.