guitar amplifiers

A comparison photo of the shapes and sizes of transistors over time, ranging from the 1960s Black Glass (bottom left) to the 21st-century SOT-223 transistor (top right).

When it comes to vintage electronics, those contemporary to their release tend to see them as outdated, while the next generation has a different point of view. Here, our columnist dives deep into the subject.

Let’s begin this article with my memories from when I was a teenager, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. My father was an electronics wizard. He once built a 1000-watt tube pirate radio, and also my first guitar amplifier from a modified boombox. One day, while exploring his garage, I stumbled upon a dusty box labeled “Echo Device for Vocal.” To my surprise, I found two Matsushita MN3005 bucket-brigade delay integrated circuits (ICs) inside. As I’d been delving into the guitar world and its cults at that age, I felt like I had discovered a treasure! Even as early as the ’90s, analog delay was a vintage holy grail.

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Illustration by Kate Koenig

Nashville producer James Cody examines plugins from IK Multimedia, Native Instruments, Line 6, Waves, Neural DSP, STL Tones, Positive Grid, and Universal Audio that can help you take your guitar-recording to pro levels.

There are more audio plugins at our fingertips than ever before. Whenever new products or software hit the market, I always ask myself, “Will I actually use this and will it serve my needs?” On the topic of guitar amplifiers and simulation, I take a “best of both worlds” approach. When performing live, I use solid-state Quilter amplifiers because they sound great to me, and they’re lightweight and easy to transport to gigs. If something isn’t broken, why fix it?

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Bogner's beastliest amp is made miniature—and still slays.

Excellent sounds in a portable and very affordably priced package.

A footswitchable clean channel and onboard reverb would make it perfect.

$329

Bogner Ecstasy Mini
bogneramplification.com

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The original Bogner Ecstasy, released in 1992, is iconic in heavy rock circles. Though it was popularized and preferred by rock and metal artists (Steve Vai and Brad Whitford were among famous users), its ability to move from heavy Brit distortion to Fender-like near-clean tones made it appealing beyond hard-edged circles. Even notorious tone scientist Eric Johnson was enamored with its capabilities.

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