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
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.
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
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