The first electric instrument amplifiers were not designed for use with electric guitars. The earliest examples appeared in the early 1930s when the introduction of electrolytic capacitors and rectifier tubes allowed for the production of economical built-in power supplies that could be plugged into wall sockets. Consequently portable vacuum tube amplification equipment was no longer dependent on heavy multiple battery packs for power. While guitar amplifiers from the beginning were used to amplify acoustic guitar, electronic amplification of guitar was first widely popularized by the 1930s and 1940s craze for Hawaiian music, which extensively employed the amplified lap steel Hawaiian guitar. There are a several different types of amplifiers on the market today to choose from. Your choice really depends on what you plan to plug into it, and the sound you want to get out of it. For an in depth history and description of amplifiers see history link at the bottom of the page.
Ampeg - musical instrument amplifier manufacturer headquartered in Woodinville, Washington. Although the company specializes in the production of electric bass guitar amplification, Ampeg also manufactures electric guitar and double bass amplifiers. Ampeg first existed under the name "Michaels-Hull Electronic Labs", as a partnership between Everett Hull, an accomplished pianist and bassist, and Stanley Michaels. The original goal of the company was to produce both a new microphone pickup that Hull designed, and to produce instrument amplifiers with a minimum of output distortion. In general, tube amplifiers will break up into a distorted sound when overdriven, an effect that Hull, a jazz musician, disliked. The pickup was intended to fit onto the end of an upright bass, and was dubbed the "Amplified Peg" or "Ampeg" for short. After gaining sole proprietorship of the company, Hull changed the company’s name to "Ampeg Bassamp Company".
Behringer - was founded in Germany in 1989. Today, it has business presence in 10 countries and territories around the world. With these points of presence and an international network of distributors and dealers, Behringer products are sold in more than 125 countries. Behringer designs and manufactures a full line of professional audio products for musicians and sound engineers. Their products include mixing consoles, analog and digital signal processors, guitar amplifiers, studio reference monitors, microphones and public address enclosures.
Crate - In the late 1970's, Crate made amplifiers that actually looked like wooden crates. They were manufactured with the same sort of chest handles found on military footlockers. Todat Crate makes a wide range of amplifiers for all the needs of professional and amatuer alike.
Fender - Fender Amplifiers have a long history. Leo Fender began building guitar amps before he started manufacturing guitars. The first of these amps were the K&F models, which were produced between 1945 and 1946. The original Fender amps were tube powered, and the company also started producing solidstate models in the late 1960s. The company makes acoustic guitars, electric basses, mandolins, banjos, and violins, as well as guitar amplifiers, bass amplifiers, and PA (public address) equipment. Other Fender brands include Squier (entry level/budget), Guild (acoustic and electric guitars and amplifiers), Rodriguez (classical guitars), Benedetto (jazz guitars), SWR (bass amplification), Tacoma, Jackson and Charvel Guitars, X Brand (bass amplifiers) and collaborated with Eddie Van Halen to make the EVH guitars and amplifiers.
Hartke - Hartke Systems is a brand of electronics best known for their bass guitar amplifiers and speaker cabinets. They also produce amplifiers and speakers for electric guitar, keyboard, acoustic guitar, as well as effects pedals, strings and other accessories. Hartke revolutionized the sound of electric bass when they introduced their aluminum speaker cones into the world of bass amplification. Hartke aluminum cone speakers produce a wider frequency range producing more lows and more highs than paper cone speakers. Aluminum has a faster transient response than paper producing a quicker clearer tone. Their production was, however, too finicky and time consuming that for many years, no one could produce them except Hartke. Samson Technologies is now the exclusive world-wide distributor of Hartke amplifiers, cabinets, combos and bass guitars.
Line 6 - is a manufacturer of digital modelling electric guitars, acoustic guitars, amplifiers and effects processors. Line 6 was founded in the mid-1990s and is based in Calabasas, California. After years of research and playing, Line 6 launched a patented technology in 1996, with the world's first digital modeling guitar amplifier. Their current flagship amplifier is the Vetta II, which can model two amplifiers at once, plus multiple effects and effects chains, both pre and post amplification. The unit is software-upgradeable, so as new amplifier and effects models become available they can be added to the device. And in 2007, Line 6 partnered with Reinhold Bogner to develop Spider Valve™ amplifiers - fusing the versatility of modeling with the performance and feel of a world-class tube amplifier.
Marshall - is a British company which designs and manufactures music amplifiers. Marshall is based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes. Marshall amplifiers are well known and highly popular among guitarists. Marshall amps were originally built as direct copies of Fender amplifiers, but soon incorporated certain traits which made them more favourable to guitarists seeking a heavier sound. Marshall also manufactures cheaper solid state or hybrid devices.Marshall also produces "combo" amplifiers, which combine speaker and amp in one case; and several variations of the classic stack design including a Marshall micro stack and a mini stack, the latter of which is a transistor practice amp about 10 inches high which runs on batteries. The history of Marshall amplifiers has become a source of great fascination and interest over three decades. In 30 years of manufacturing they have made a vast number of different models using many materials and techniques.
Peavey - Peavey Electronics Corporation is one of the largest audio equipment manufacturers in the world, headquartered in Meridian, Mississippi in the United States. Hartley Peavey founded Peavey Electronics in 1965 after building his first amplifier in 1957. Since its foundation, Peavey Electronics has been privately owned, and has grown massively from their humble beginnings in Hartley's basement in 1950s. The company maintains a museum featuring memorabilia related to Peavey Electronics and its notable users, which is open to the public. Recently introducing Modeling amps that have 32-bit floating point processors and Transtube analog distortion, so many users consider them some of the most "natural", or tube like, modeling amps made. Was named the 2008 Product of the Year at NAMM 2009.
Pignose - Pignose-Gorilla, commonly known as Pignose, is a manufacturer of portable, battery-powered guitar amplifiers, as well as other musical-gear such as A.C.-powered practice amps and guitars. The Pignose amp, now known as the "Legendary 7-100", is a battery-powered, 5-watt portable guitar amplifier with one 5" speaker. It was invented by Richard Edlund and Wayne Kimbell in 1969. The Pignose weighs five pounds and includes buttons for a guitar strap; it is considered the first portable electric guitar amplifier.
Roland - is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. It was founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi in Osaka on April 18, 1972. In 2005 Roland's headquarters relocated to Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. Today it has factories in Japan, the United States, Italy, and Taiwan. As of March 31, 2005, it employed 2,233 employees. a rise of over 200% from 729 employees in 2003. It has existed in different forms since 1960, making it one of the oldest still-operating manufacturers of musical electronics, and has survived changes in technology to become one of the most noteworthy and widely-used brands in electronic music and production today. Roland markets products under a number of brand names, each of which are used on products geared toward a different niche. Roland brand is used on a wide range of products including synthesizers, digital pianos, electronic drum systems, dance/DJ gear, guitar synthesizers, amplifiers, and recording products.
Vox - is a musical equipment manufacturer which is most famous for making the Vox AC30 guitar amplifier, the Vox electric organ, and a series of innovative but commercially unsuccessful electric guitars and bass guitars. Founded in Kent, England, Vox has been owned by the Japanese electronics firm Korg since 1992. Recently Vox has emerged as a leader in the digital amp modelling market with the release of its Valvetronix line of digital amplifier modelers. Utilizing Korg's REMS modeling software, the Valvetronix are driven via a low-power tube power amp stage. In addition to the Valvetronix, Vox has developed a line of analog effects pedals. Dubbed Cooltron, the line provides guitarists with vintage sounding overdrive, compression, boost, distortion, and tremolo.
Yamaha - Yamaha makes a large selection of amps from high end home theatre systems to professional stage and studio amplifiers.
Amplifier Schematics - Nice Site for schematics to some of the more popular amplifiers.
Tubes, Tubes, Tubes - a site for your vacuum tubes.
For PA's & Amplifiers - zZounds
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