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Ever since the technology advanced away from tubes, amps have become more affordable, versatile, and overall capable.
Tube amps cost a lot of money to produce, that’s how it was back in the day when they were the only option, and that is how things are today too.
Modeling amps completely drowned the market in terms of price to performance ratio. Components are largely manufactured in China at dirt cheap prices, which makes it hard for every one else to compete. All major amp brands aside from few have moved their production overseas. The only amps that are still being built in Europe and United States are tube amps.
With all that being said, we are slowly seeing a rise of interest in American made guitar amps. Tubes are coming back in style, and their nature requires precise and skilled craftsmanship. That kind of production costs money no matter who does it.
But it’s general consensus that American built amps are among the best ones you can buy period.
Kings of Tone
Due to fierce competition and an already saturated market, even the largest U.S. based amp manufacturers have outsourced the majority of their production overseas. So basically most of the budget modeling amps are going to be made in Asia, no matter which brand you look at.
The only amps that are being built in-house are tube amps of different quality. That is the only thing where they can make a profit while keeping the production in state-side.
There’s a great assortment of impressive American made amps.
First brand that always comes to mind is Mesa/Boogie. This California based company is one of the few that manufactures all of their amps at home in Petaluma, CA.
How good these amps are?
Does that even require an explanation? At the moment, they are probably among the top 3 amp manufacturers in the world. Their products are the highest form of perfection when it comes to guitar amplification.
Now you are probably wondering who else makes amps in United States, that are worth the extra cost. We could go ahead and name a whole bunch of big league players, but you probably already know about these. What we want to talk about is the somewhat obscure sub scene of boutique amp manufacturers that operate in United States.
These small companies are pushing the envelope of amp design. Such small shops simply need to innovate in order to stay competitive. That’s why some of the best amps from America don’t carry a big name label on them, but a one that only a handful of people have heard of.
Another thing that makes these boutique amps so interesting is the fact that you can find models which will give a truly unique sound. The amps produced by small amp shops are usually made in limited series, so chances are that you will be one of the few that has the access to that specific amp.
If all of this makes you wonder just how big of a mortgage you would have to take in order to buy one of these amps, you can relax. There are incredible boutique tube amps that are fairly reasonably priced.
You will definitely have to spend more than you would on a decent modeling amp, but in the world of tubes these amps are actually decently priced.
So just to quickly recap. By purchasing either big brand tube amps or boutique amps that are made in United States of America, you are buying high quality components put together by highly skilled professionals, which together offer what is usually a very unique sound.
It really doesn’t get much better than that.
Buying an American made amp used to be a matter of prestige. These days, it’s more about superior quality than anything else. With the return of tube amps to the main stream, manufacturers regardless of size are engaged in fierce struggle to increase their market share.
Competition is the engine behind innovation and competitive prices. So if you want to spend your limited budget on something that is proven and reliable, do your best to find an American made guitar amp. You won’t regret it.