Vintage Guitar Amplifiers

A Guide to Picking the Right Vintage Amplifier

Guitar amplifiers increase the volume of your music, and can alter and enhance the frequency and tone of the instrument. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, eBay has a wide range of vintage amps to suit every budget and size requirement.

What should you consider before buying a vintage amplifier?

The availability of additional effects via a vintage amplifier can polish the sound of any output. Before purchasing an amp, however, there are a number of factors that should influence your choice:

  • Whether you play acoustic or bass guitar, and the type of music you play.
  • Your budget.
  • Your preferred brand of vintage amplifier.
  • The portability and adaptability of the amp, and how compatible it is with your other audio equipment.
  • The size and noise output of the amp.
What size of vintage amp will you need?

Apart from issues with portability, large amps can take up a lot of space and aren't always necessary. If you only need an amp for jamming sessions in your bedroom, then 15 watts would be more than sufficient. If you play in small clubs or pubs, a 30-watt amp would be enough. Amp size also depends on the number of musicians in your band, the size of your co-musicians' amps (especially the volume of instruments like drums and horns), and the placement of the amp itself. Anything over 60 watts is considered a large amp and is only suitable for large venues.

What types of vintage guitar amps are there?

Guitar amps use different technology depending on their age. The main types are:

  • Tube (or valve) amps: These provide full-rounded sound but must be matched with the right speakers.
  • Solid-state amps: A cost-effective solution that produce consistent sound quality. Lightweight, reliable, and versatile.
  • Hybrid amps: These use a combination of tube and solid-state technology for high-quality sound.
  • Digital-modelling amps: These are lightweight, inexpensive, and flexible because they can mimic tube amp technology.
What should you look for when buying old amplifiers?

It is important to ask an eBay vendor for photos of the vintage amp you're interested in, and request a close-up shot of the chassis. You should look carefully for any damage to its outer casing and ask about the amp's history, and if any maintenance and repairs have been carried out.