Vintage guitar amplifiers



2015-06-26 10:32:17

Vintage guitar amplifiers are amplifiers demed collectible because of their age, rarity, quality of sound or connection to a famous band or musician.

Brief history

Although many music memorabilia collectors shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars on vintage electric and acoustic guitars, vintage guitar amplifiers have also become a popular musical memorabilia item to collect in recent years.

Guitar amplifiers have been mass-produced since the 1940s, and since then there have been numerous changes to the amp's style, tone and appearance. Because of this, vintage guitar amps that were made between the 1940s and 1980 are considered to be very valuable and rare among collectors thanks to their unique style and tone.

Vintage guitar amplifiers can come in a variety of different brands such as Gibson, Martin, Fender, Gretsch, Epiphone, St. George Valiant, Marshall, Park, Vox, Swanson, Dumble and many more.

Metal guitar amplifiers were common during the 1930s or 1940s, while wood housing signal amplifiers were common during the early 1950s. If an amplifier has a grill cloth with slats of wood running through it, then it was probably made sometime during the 1930s.

Types of amplifiers

Vintage Gibson guitar amplifiers

Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas sold:

  • A vintage tan Discoverer Tremolo GA-8 amplifier with a Jensen speaker, foot switch and cover for $338 in June of 2011.
  • A tan vintage Gibson GA-8 Gibsonette Tremolo amplifier with rounded corners, the original footswitch and a Jensen speaker for $425 in June of 2011.

Vintage Fender guitar amplifiers

Bonhams in New York and California sold two of Eric Clapton's vintage Fender Twin amps with open-back cabinets, tweed covering, five style rotary controls, and four inputs, both of which were signed by Eric Clapton in 1997 along with an inscription that states "built by John Suhr for Eric Clapton" for $42,700 in March of 2011.

Vintage guitar/amplifier sets

William J. Jenack Auctioneers in Chester, New York sold a a vintage RMS-200 guitar amplifier (circa 1970) along with a vintage Les Paul electric guitar for $375 in February of 2010.

Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales Ltd. in Hillsborough, North Carolina sold a vintage Molodier amp that was made in Japan (circa 1960s) along with a Melodier dark red sunburst electric guitar for $50 in November of 2007.

Guide for collectors

The serial number on an amplifier is one of the easiest and most accurate ways to pinpoint the date, rate, and worth of an amplifier.

Vintage Gibson, Rickenbacker, Vox, Fender, Gretsch and Epiphone guitar amplifiers are considered to be the most valuable among collectors. Fender amps that were built before 1966, along with tweed-covered Fender amps are also considered to be collectable.

Vintage guitar amplifiers that were once used, owned or signed by a popular or well-known musician drive up the value of the item as well.

Amplifiers made of plastic housing are considered to be the least valuable.

Restoration of a vintage guitar amplifier is recommended, but only if there is noticeable damage. However, be forewarned that if you do decide to restore your vintage guitar amplifier, it may reduce the value.

For more information regarding where to find vintage guitar amplifiers, visit Vintage Amps or Rock 'n Roll Vintage or Vintage and Rare Guitars.

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