The Development of the Amp

12th September 2017

It has been almost a century since the first electric guitar amplifiers hit the market and we’ve certainly come a long way since then! In this blog, we’ll take a brief look at the evolution of guitar amps over the years.

Many enthusiasts proclaim that the electric guitar amplifier as we know it today was born in the late 1940s when Fender released the first tweed-covered amp. From that point on, most of the amps tried to imitate the Fender sound. The first amps were designed to produce the cleanest sound quality possible.

During the 1960s, overdriven amplifiers brought about the sounds of accidentally torn speakers, leading to experiments with deliberately cut speaker cones. Despite this, overdriven amplifiers continued to be used for electric blues and some pop styles. Several preamplifiers were later produced to follow overdriven valve amplifier tones.

In the 1980s, distortion pedals were produced to support metal and punk styles. Multi-effect racks and floor units became prevalent, with options for switching between a wide range of overdrive sounds, in addition to other popular effects. There was also a rise in custom-made amplifiers.

In the 1990s guitar signals were passed through an analogue-to-digital converter and software emulation of overdrive designs brought it lead to digital-to-analogue conversion. The Line 6 AxSys 212 was one of the few amps that did this. Some of these sounds are quite impressive when used with emulation of various speaker box designs. Fuzz preamplifiers used by grunge artists were revived and this lead to the revival of overdriven sounds to suit blues and rock artists.

In the early 2000’s, a boom of companies producing and selling digital amps to semi-pro musicians, bedroom players and home recorders was seen as these companies tried to ensure their future in the recession.

We’ve merely skimmed the surface of an infinite well of information. Our hope is that this blog will inspire you to continue your research to learn more!

For more information on amplifiers and to see our collection, including amplifiers by Line 6 and Yamaha, come down to Olimpus in Mosta.