Amplifiers, or amps, amplify the sound signal produced by electric guitars and other instruments. Because they are such as basic piece of equipment, it is important that as much thought and attention is placed into buying the right amp as into buying the right instrument. A poor-quality amp combined with a top quality guitar will detract from the quality of the guitar. It is also important that the amp has the required functionality, as well as being within budget and meeting other practical considerations.
About Fender Amps
Fender is an iconic American producer of stringed musical instruments and amplifiers. Since its origins in 1938, Fender has grown to become one of the best loved and recognisable amplifier manufacturers. The first amplifiers, which were valve amplifiers, were produced in the 1940s. These were followed by solid-state amplifiers in the 1960s. Today Fender’s top-end guitars, basses and amplifiers are used by musicians worldwide.
Buying a Fender amp is an investment. They are made to last, with a robust and reliable design, and made to sound great, built with years of electronics experience and knowledge. Today vintage Fender amps are as sought after as the more technologically advanced modern versions. Whether buying a vintage model or a pre-owned modern version, the same standards of quality and class apply.
Choosing a Used Fender Amp
There are many different types of used Fender amp available, and buying any amp involves making various decisions regarding cost and usage. Reading product reviews and fan websites is a good way to learn more about the various models out there.
Types of Amp
The two basic types of amp are valve amps, also known as tube or vacuum tube amps, and solid-state amps. Valve amps were the earliest type of amp made by Fender and other manufacturers, and work by means of an electric current being transmitted through valves. They are considered superior to solid-state amps by many audio enthusiasts and professional musicians because of their warmer, more relaxed tone. Other advantages include their longevity, reliability and affordability when it comes to maintenance and replacing parts. Valve amps by Fender are highly sought after. Examples include Excelsior, with its refined and distinctive retro style, Super Champ X2 and the top-quality Super-Sonic models.
Solid-state amps have a number of advantages over valve amps. They are generally cheaper, smaller and more portable. Because of these basic factors, they are especially popular with beginners and also many more experienced musicians. Solid-state amps use semiconductors, which often results in a cooler and slightly rougher sound than that from valve amps, though improvements in modern technology mean that many solid-state amps sound more like valve amps. Solid state-amps from Fender are well regarded and adhere to high standards of quality. Examples include the very affordable Frontman 10G and models in the immensely popular Mustang series.
Today hybrid amps are also available, which aim to offer the best of both worlds. In hybrids the preamp is a valve amp and the power amp is solid-state. They tend to sound more like valve amps than solid state amps do and are generally more portable than valve amps. Examples of Fender hybrid amps include the Champ 25 and Champ 25SE.
Modelling amps are not just amplifiers but are capable of providing extra sounds and effects, such as simulating larger speaker sizes, simulating the sound of valve amps and adding special effects such as reverb and chorus. Modelling amps tend to be expensive in comparison to other amps because of the extra functionality they provide, but there are many affordable models out there. Examples of Fender modelling amps include those in the Mustang series.
Amps are configured in two basic ways. The first type, known as combo, consists of amplifier and speakers housed together. This makes them convenient to use but it can also make them more bulky and less portable, depending on size. They are a good choice for those just starting out, however, and are generally cheaper than the second type of configuration. If the initial amp is outgrown, then extension cabinets can be added later.
Combo amps come in various sizes, from smaller mini amps and practice amps to full-size (1x12) amps and full-size (2x12) amps. 1x12 amps have one 12-inch speaker, whereas 2x12 amps have two 12-inch speakers. 1x12 amps are good for small performances whereas 2x12 amps offer more versatility, though they are also slightly less portable.
The second type of configuration is head and cabinet. These have the amplifier (head) and speakers (cabinet or cab) separated, which gives added flexibility when it comes to varying tone. Head and cabinet amps are often more powerful than combo amps which also makes them attractive to many professional musicians. If buying separate components of a head and cabinet amp, be sure to check that the amplifier and speakers are compatible.
Heads range in size and power, with smaller heads typically up to 100 watts (W) which is sufficient for smaller and medium-sized venues and larger heads having anything over 100 W up to 400 W or more, generally sufficient for large venues.
Heads and cabinets already connected are known as stacks. Stacks are less portable than separate heads and cabinets but are otherwise convenient as they are ready to use. Half stacks have smaller heads with one 4x12 cabinet, 4x12 cabinets having four 12-inch speakers. Full stacks have larger heads with two 4x12 cabinets. Full stacks offer the highest power and are more suitable for large to very large venues.
Other considerations when buying an amp include cost, portability and style. Amps can cost anywhere from around £50 to over £2000. Though generally, used amps will cost less and are a good option for novices and those on a limited budget, vintage Fender amps are collectibles and can fetch high prices. Examples of more affordable Fender amps include the Frontman 10G, Mustang I and Mustang II.
When it comes to portability, there are many Fender amps that can be transported easily. One of the best is the Mustang Mini. With the clue in the name, this compact and lightweight amp is designed specifically with portability and versatility in mind.
Style is an important consideration for many, and Fender amps are well known for their classic appearance. Several Fender amps are limited editions, and these can quickly become collectors’ items and fetch high prices. But all Fender amps carry the same attention to detail in their aesthetics as they do in their performance. Carry handles, stylish knobs and a distinctive smart appearance are typical across the board.
Buying a used Fender amp is a good option for those wanting the performance quality of a Fender while on a budget. Checking seller feedback and reputation is essential here, as is reading the product description carefully and checking out warranty and returns issues. Buying from individuals does not generally offer the chance of a warranty, which depending on the cost of the amp may or may not matter so much. Sellers should offer accurate descriptions and only offer goods for sale that are fully functional. While it’s good to be cautious, buying a pre-owned amp is often an excellent option and many people go down this route with no problems, finding an excellent bargain in the process.
Besides reading carefully through the specific listing, it can also help to visit product review websites and fan sites that can often give further information about the particular model of amp. The Fender website may also be helpful, as it can give full details about specifications as well as prices as new.
Find Used Fender Amps on eBay
To find used Fender amps on eBay, navigate to the eBay home page. From the tabs to the left select All Categories, followed by Musical Instruments and Pro Audio Equipment. Then select Amplifiers. Under Brand select Fender and under Condition select Used. Further criteria such as the number of channels and power can also be selected. A price range can be specified to filter out listings which are too expensive. Alternately, used Fender amps can be searched for directly by typing terms such as “used Fender amp” or “used Fender combo amp” into the search bar at the top of any eBay page.
Buying a used amp is often an excellent way to obtain a high-quality amp at a lower price. Fender produce some of the most iconic and highly regarded amps available. There are various types of amp, including valve amps, solid-state amps, hybrid amps, combo amps and head and cab amps. These vary in performance quality, tone and power, as well as in price, functionality and portability. When buying a used amp, be sure to check the seller’s feedback and read the product description carefully.