The guitar amp market seems to be “polarizing,” by which I mean that the trend seems to be moving toward the extreme ends of the market. The bulk of the market appears to be either the $500-and-below price point (sometimes way below) or the boutique, hand-wired tube amps with a great story and/or artist endorsement at the upper echelons of the price range. Buyers who bought amps at the previously popular price range of $500 to slightly more than $1,000 are now looking at amps that are $599 and below—generally tube type—from a major manufacturer.

Buyers are better informed now than at any point in history, as regards the features and construction of amps and speakers, thanks to the Internet. It’s true whether it’s a classic tube design or a new, cutting-edge technology that brings the tone and dynamic response of tubes to the player and that delivers more versatility and reliability, and better portability. I think players are focusing more on getting one great tone from their amp, rather than looking for one that tries to be everything to everyone. The traditional rock ‘n’ roll “stack” seems to be in decline as the venues in which musicians play get smaller, and as PA technology gets better and more affordable. You no longer need an amp that you can hear from the parking lot! So, smaller combos are doing very well. Lower-wattage amps can be pushed harder at a lower volume, and they deliver that “cranked tone” without causing you to lose your hearing!

Technology for guitar speaker design seems to be static. Guitarists seem slow to embrace new designs that use neodymium magnets and, instead, gravitate to classic, tried-and-true designs. The price of some of those speakers has come down due to production moving to Asia.

—Bob Bailey, Director, BOSS U.S.

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