Guitar Amplifiers

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         T     ubes or Solid State? Combo or half- (or full-) stack? Modeling or… um… not modeling? The
               available amplification options for guitarists are numerous (and sometimes confusing) and the
               climate is ever-changing, thanks to emerging technology and continually fickle trends amongst
         players. We recently spoke with a few of the heaviest hitters in the field to get a feel for what’s going
         down in the world of guitar amps these days and what can perhaps be expected in the near future.

                                                             Shane Nicholas             Dale Krevens             Trevor Gibson
                                                             Senior Marketing Manager, Vice President, Tech 21   North American Sales
                                                             Fender Guitar Amplifiers   USA, Inc.                 Manager, Peavey
                                                                                                                 Electronics Corporation

54 MMR                                                                                                                       APRIL 2010
What is selling through to your retailers: Big vs. small, modeling       Patrick Stevenson: Kustom guitar and bass amp sales are
vs. standard, and so on?                                                 very strong so far in 2010. We have introduced two
                                                                         completely new lines with intuitive operation and
Patrick Stevenson: High-value is taking the lion’s share of              vastly improved tone and features at high-value pric-
the amp business regardless of the technology. Consum-                   ing. For example, a 100-watt half-stack with a $399.99
ers are leaning towards lower price points and seem less                 street price.
inclined than a few years ago to step up to a significantly
more expensive amp just to sample potential new tech-                    Dan: Sales are up over 37 percent for Ashdown and
nologies. Combos and half-stacks are selling through, but                slightly up on the Stagg Guitar Amps so far this year.
very few full stacks. Simple and fun seem to be selling.                 We are encouraged with the 1st Quarter results.

Luke Zollinger: Small Class A tube amplifiers are still re-               Luke: We’re very happy to say that our sales are up
ally hot; we’ve enjoyed enormous success from our con-                   right now. Dealers are ordering with more enthusi-
tribution with the Tiny Terror range of products.                        asm as they are finally getting rid of bad stock from
                                                                         when the retail market was first hit.
Dan Barker: As Distributors, we handle both Ashdown
Bass Amplification and our own line of Stagg Ampli-                       Dale: Amp sales are down about 30 percent.
fiers. Sell through for both lines have increased over
last year with larger Amps surging ahead of the smaller                  Mitch Colby: Our product offering has expanded espe-
Amps in general. However, we have seen as of late an                     cially in lower price ranges than continue to sell even
increased interest in smaller, professional Bass units                   in the challenging economic times. This expanded
that can be used on the Gig. Ashdown’s Little “B” and                    product offering has allowed us to grow our business
its 100 watt Five Fifteen Mini-Stack are selling beyond                  over last year.
our forecasts.
                                                                         Are solid-state amps gaining acceptance with pro and semi-pro
Shane Nichols: The usual core products are doing well, with              players? Do you feel tube amps will always have a place in the
more esoteric products having a harder time. The amps that               market?
offer great value for money continue to win consumers.
                                                                         Pyotr Belov: Tubes are what all serious guitarists (and
Dale Krevens:
            Definitely the smaller Trademark combo                        many serious bassists) will always lean toward. Don’t
amp formats, 60-watt 1x12s and 30-watt 1x10s.                            get me wrong, solid state has its place and is great for
                                                                         some applications. However when the player is ready
How are sales compared to this time last year?                           to step up to the next level, it is inevitable that they
                                                                         will gravitate towards tube amps. Basically tubes are
Trevor Gibson: We are optimistic that we will have a                     a tried and true method that produces the range of
much stronger first quarter.                                              tones which purists crave which is not possible to
Description: Consumers are leaning towards lower price points and seem less inclined than a few years ago to step up to a significantly more expensive amp just to sample potential new technologies. The Night Train amplifier has been a great new product, while updates and improvements to the more traditional VOX designs like the AC4 and Custom Series AC15 and AC30 have improved our market share. The tube amplifier has an immeasurable place in the history of rock-n-roll that will forever hold it as the pinnacle of quality sound for the audio enthusiast. Blackheart was the first to offer the working musician boutique-quality tube amps at an affordable price point.
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