When you want to play the guitar, it isn’t just the guitar that you need to buy.
You also need to buy a guitar amp.
The problem with buying guitar amps is that they can be very expensive.
Why Are Guitar Amps So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a guitar amp is around $500 with lower-end amps costing around $150 and high-end amps costing $1,000 and more.
Guitar amps are expensive because of the cost of materials to make them, the size of the amp, whether the amp came from a factory or was handmade, the amp’s brand name, and its ability to integrate with other devices.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail.
1. Gold Transistors
One of the most expensive parts of a guitar amp is its transistors.
Transistors play an important part in helping control the voltage of the amp.
Without a good set of transistors, your amp isn’t going to be able to produce the energy it needs to produce the best sound.
As such, a lot of expensive guitar amps contain transistors made out of gold.
Gold is a popular metal for transistors because it conducts energy so well.
They also don’t have the risk of tarnishing like silver when exposed to sulfur in the air.
As such, gold-plated transistors tend to last a long time.
If you want a long life for your amp, then gold-plated transistors might be of value to you.
The problem with using gold is that it’s an expensive metal.
It’s one of the most precious metals in the world.
Because it has such a high value, manufacturers have to spend a lot of money to source it.
Since the manufacturer’s production costs are high, it has to sell its amps at higher prices to offset those costs.
Guitar amps are expensive because they contain gold-plated transistors which are expensive to source.
2. Amp Size
The size of the amp can also determine its price.
Larger guitar amps typically cost more money than smaller amps.
That simply comes down to material cost.
The more materials that a manufacturer needs to make the amp, the more expensive it’s going to be to produce it.
As such, the manufacturer has to offset its costs with a higher price on the amp.
There are other factors at play, too.
Larger amps take up more storage space.
A store may not be able to carry as many large amps.
They charge higher prices as a result.
It impacts the supply of the amps that they’re able to sell.
Shipping costs are also going to be more expensive for a larger amp.
It’s heavier and takes up more space.
Since most logistics companies price based on weight and size, large amps are going to be costly to ship.
This means you’re going to face higher shipping fees on a large amp.
In the case of a store, it’s going to pay higher prices as well.
Since it’s taking on higher prices, the markup is going to be higher on the amp.
Guitar amps are expensive because large amps are more expensive to produce, store, and ship.
3. Speaker Quality
One of the most important aspects of a guitar amp is its sound quality.
The better the quality is, the more expensive the amp tends to be.
That’s usually because the manufacturer used more expensive materials to produce high-quality sound.
The problem with cheap amps is that you can lose sound quality the louder the amp becomes.
That’s not ideal when you want people to actually be able to hear the guitar and recognize the notes.
Distortion is not a good thing for an amp to produce.
To generate loud sound while reducing distortion, a company has to use some of the best materials possible in its amp.
When the parts come from high-quality materials, they’re usually able to produce high-quality results.
The problem with high-quality materials is that they’re often more expensive than standard materials.
The materials might be rare or difficult to source.
Since they cost more to source, the manufacturer needs to cover its costs with a higher price on the product.
Guitar amps are expensive because the amps that produce high-quality audio are more expensive to produce.
4. Speaker Cabinet Materials
Another important part of a guitar amp is its cabinet material.
The speaker cabinet is essentially part of the amp that surrounds the rest of the parts.
It houses everything.
Depending on the brand in question, the company might use expensive materials as the main component in its speaker cabinet.
Cheaper amps tend to be made with plastic or other inexpensive materials.
More expensive amps lean towards luxury materials.
For example, some of the most expensive amps will have wood as their cabinet material.
The type of wood it contains depends on how luxurious or expensive the brand wants to make the amp.
The rarer the wood is, the more expensive the amp tends to be.
That’s because the company has to spend a lot of money to source the wood.
Then it needs to shape, polish, stain, and protect the wood.
Because amps sometimes see a bit of abuse, the wood also needs to be durable.
Wood is also appealing to a lot of people.
It’s what some of the original amps were made of.
Because it has more perceived value, that also increases its price.
Guitar amps are expensive because the cabinet is sometimes made out of an expensive material like wood.
5. Real Leather Finish
The material of the cabinet isn’t the only aspect that can make a guitar amp expensive.
Some companies will also use real leather in the amp.
Whether it’s to cushion a certain part of the amp, act as an actual cabinet material, or it’s just used as a finishing touch, the degree to which a company uses leather can impact the price of the amp.
That’s because real leather is quite expensive.
A few factors can make certain types of leather more expensive than others.
One major factor is the type of leather.
Calf or cow leather is one of the more popular types of leather.
Calf leather, in particular, tends to be more expensive since it’s harder to accumulate.
Calves are smaller than full-grown cows, so they don’t produce as much leather.
Other types of leather are quite rare.
Alligator, ostrich, shark, and even kangaroo are some of the rarer types of leather on the market.
Depending on what type of leather the company is using, it could bring quite a cost to the total production of the amp.
Since it’s more expensive to make, it’s also going to be expensive to buy.
Leather is also quite durable which means it will last longer.
That adds value to the amp as well.
Guitar amps are expensive because companies that use real leather as a finish have higher production costs.
6. Control Unit Costs
Another vital part of a guitar amp is its control unit.
A control unit essentially lets the player customize the amp to their needs.
If the bass is too heavy, for example, then they can use the control unit to adjust the setting.
A control unit is also responsible for turning the amp on and off.
The unit makes an amp expensive because it can make the manufacturing costs a bit higher.
The more controls that the amp offers, the more expensive the unit is to make.
Some brands want to give their customers ultimate control over their amps.
A brand will work on its control unit for a long time to ensure it has precise control over the amp, itself.
A cheaper brand might not put as much attention into these details.
When someone uses a cheaper amp, the control unit might not give them the right sensitivity with which to control the sound.
For beginners, that might be fine, but for expert players, having the right pitch and tone is everything.
Ensuring that the control unit is precise requires a few costs as well.
Since the cost is higher, the price of the amp is higher.
Guitar amps are expensive because high-quality control units are more expensive to make.
7. Copper Prices And Insulated Wiring Costs
Guitar amps also have a lot of copper and insulated wiring inside them.
Copper is a very conductive material.
It helps transfer electrical power from one area to the next.
Insulated wiring is also essential for ensuring the power safely travels through the amp.
Copper isn’t always cheap.
While it isn’t as expensive as gold, it can be quite expensive when copper supplies aren’t steady.
Insulated wiring can sometimes be expensive, too.
It largely depends on what the company uses to insulate its wiring.
If it chooses a high-quality material like carbon fiber or durable plastic, then it might bring higher manufacturing costs.
If manufacturing costs are higher, the price of the amp is going to be higher as well.
Guitar amps are expensive because copper and insulated wiring can sometimes be expensive to source and use.
8. Handmade Amps
Some of the most expensive amps on the market are handmade.
These are the most expensive types of amps because instead of relying on factories to assemble the small, delicate parts, there are actual human laborers who do it all.
Human workers are more expensive than machines, and since an amp can take a while to produce, their wages tend to be high.
High labor costs mean that the company needs to charge high prices for its products.
The benefit of a handmade amp is that it often has an incredible sound.
An artisan can fine-tune every aspect of the production process to ensure the product is perfect.
Handmade amps are also customizable.
You can put the specific design you want to have on the amp.
However, because the company is focusing solely on you, you’re the one who has to cover all of the company’s manufacturing costs.
Guitar amps are expensive when they’re made by hand.
9. Brand Name
The brand of the guitar amp can certainly make it expensive as well.
Brand names make a product more expensive because the brand adds a measure of security and reliability.
Most well-known brands have been in operation for several years.
Some may even be a company that has been in operation for over a century.
During that time, the company built a reputation for itself in producing high-quality guitar amps.
Since the brand offers that security and reliability, it’s seen as less of a risk to buy.
People who don’t want to take the risk will be willing to pay more for a product.
Some of the top brand names that produce guitar amps include:
- Neural DSP
Because these brands put in the time to develop high-quality products, prices on the amps tend to be expensive.
Guitar amps are expensive when they come from high-end brand names.
10. Integration With Other Devices
A final reason guitar amps are expensive is that some of them can integrate with other devices.
One of the most important devices that some amps integrate with is a recording device.
This allows the guitarist to record directly from the amp.
It can result in a high-quality recording that they can then stream.
The more channels the amp has to integrate with, the more expensive the amp typically becomes.
That’s because it costs a bit more to make an amp that can integrate with other devices.
It also has a higher perceived value since being able to record directly from the amp might seem convenient to someone.
Guitar amps are expensive because their ability to integrate with other devices requires more manufacturing costs.