Amps 100% made in the USA are often handcrafted and are good in terms of quality, whether it’s about sound or durability.
The amps’ parts can be produced overseas and assembled in American manufacturers. Therefore, they are pretty expensive, but people still pay for them to provide themselves with a good and secure amp for a longer period.
I know some people that don’t want to hear about others but USA amps. They are sure they are the best in every single aspect.
That made my curiosity alive and put some questions in my head. Then, I started to search for some information and wanted to find differences between the amp made in the USA and one from another country.
So, I provided you with all the things that you need to know about the USA amps so you can answer the question – Are USA-made amps really the best?
Amps Made In The USA
Before we start, here is a list of brands that produce amps in the USA. Generally, they are all good, long lasting and versatile.
- Mesa Boogie
- Ugly Amps
- Carr Amplifiers
- Friedman Amp
|Fender||$70 – $3500||long-lasting||wide range, best for country, jazz, blues, and rock||Manufactured/assembled in the USA||Amazon, Sweetwater, Reverb, Thomann, factory store|
|Mesa Boogie||$400 – $5500||long-lasting||wide range, best for rock, blues, metal||Manufactured in the USA||Amazon, Sweetwater, Reverb, Thomann, factory store|
|Ugly Amps||$850 – $1500||long-lasting||wide range, heavy to vintage sounds||Manufactured in the USA||Factory store, Reverb|
|Bergantino||$600 – $2500||long-lasting||Wide range, the electronic genre included||Manufactured in the USA||Factory store, Reverb|
|Carvin||$220 – $2900||long-lasting||wide range, best for rock and metal||Manufactured in the USA||Factory store, Reverb|
|Carr Amplifiers||$900 – $4200||long-lasting||70s classic rock genre||Manufactured in the USA||Factory Store, Reverb|
|Friedman Amp||$1400 – $3000||long-lasting||wide range||Manufactured in the USA||Amazon, Sweetwater, Reverb, Thomann, factory store|
|Bogner||$1700 – $2700||long-lasting||wide range||Manufactured in the USA||Amazon, Sweetwater, Reverb, Thomann, factory store|
Cost: Amps Made In The USA
Amps made in the USA are pretty expensive because most of them are hand-built and made from quality components. Carvin and Fender seem to be the most affordable ones.
I’ve played two songs through the friend’s Carvin amp, and I got the creamy sound I wanted. I couldn’t believe that a beginner amp sounds like that.
Beginners often choose cheaper amps, and they can’t find one like that with the Friedman label, for sure.
A 20W Fender amp is excellent for home practice, portable, and pretty cheap compared to other amps, so many guitarists have it in their collections. Friedman’s 20W amp is way more expensive and for this price, you can find a higher-wattage Fender gear.
When it comes to Mesa Boogie, I can’t say that $5000 amps are available to any guitarist as many of us play at home only or have gigs at the local bar. The price is high due to its high-quality and reliable components.
Actually, there are three main factors that define the price – parts’ quality, labor, and design.
Expensive gear means expensive, high-quality, and tested parts. Many USA-made amps are hand-built so the production process requires well-skilled workers, not assembly lines or machines for wiring and assembling.
Also, design requires so much effort, which reflects on the product’s price, of course.
I recommend you to buy a Carvin or Fender one if you want to save more money.
If your budget is pretty significant, then try several amps and decide which suits your style the best. Therefore, don’t buy online if you have an opportunity to choose the amp.
Simply choose whatever you like because amp choice is mostly a subjective thing.
Durability: Amps Made In The USA
Every amp made in the USA gets positive comments when it comes to durability. This USA-made gear has quality components, and therefore it’s reliable and long-lasting.
For example, Fender amps are long-lasting and are pretty reliable. You can find some vintage 50s or 60s fender amps that sound like they’re new. You can buy it on Reverb and enjoy the music.
USA-made amps have high-quality capacitors, transistors, and valves. These components wear out over time, but quality is the key to their durability.
Also, many shops include a warranty so you can be safe for some period of time. It’s such a nice feeling that your gear is protected.
You should have one more thing on your mind, and it’s about amps in general – solid-state amps can last more than 25 to 30 years even if you play through it every day. Tube amps can last more than 30 years too, but they require some work every 2 years – re-tubing, upgrades, and repairs.
I recommend you to take care of your amp, whether it’s a cheap or an expensive one, and try to avoid high temperatures and stress. If you don’t take care, even the most expensive amp’s lasting period will be shorter.
Versatility: Amps Made In The USA
Almost every USA-made amp covers a wide range of genres. They are suitable for playing rock, metal, punk, blues, country elements, and many more.
Of course, there are some variations in particular groups/amps from the particular manufacturer.
For example, I had a chance to play through the Recto-Verb, and it covered all blues elements really well, but it’s not so good for my favorite bluegrass song from The Carter Family.
Therefore, I find it less flexible than Mark Five, for example, even though the prices are almost the same.
It’s good to mention that a sound sent by an amp can be experienced in different ways by different people. So, one amp’s description can include that the amp can be great for country elements, while the person who owns it says it has nothing common with the country genre.
So, choosing an amp is a pretty subjective thing, and the right amp is one that suits you the best.
That’s why I recommend you not to buy amps online if possible because you really need to hear the sound and see if that’s the right one.
Label: Amps Made In The USA
There are two types of USA-amps’ labels – Made In The USA and Assembled In The USA.
Mesa Boogie, Carvin, Carr, Bogner, Friedman, and many more amps are 100% made in the USA. That means all of the amps parts are USA-made, and those parts are assembled in the USA, too.
On the other hand, some Fender amps are made in the USA, especially reissued ones. Whereas more of them are assembled in the USA – amps parts are made overseas and delivered to the USA for assembling.
So, if you want to have a pure USA amp, then take a look at the label. But be sure that boutique shops like Ugly Amps provide unique USA gear, so you don’t have to be concerned about it.
But, there is a question – why are people even concerned whether the amp is the pure USA or a half USA-made?
As I said, USA amps are mostly hand-built, and they always take care of the components’ quality and their testing. People are skeptical when it comes to massive components production and their quality-control standards.
Availability: Amps Made In The USA
Many USA-made amps are available at online retailers and shops. Some of them are available in the factory store only.
You can easily and safely buy a USA-made amp on sites such as Amazon, Sweetwater, Reverb, and Thomann.
Therefore, USA-made amps are available worldwide. They are not hard to find, and everyone can enjoy them. But, some of the manufacturers don’t have sales in their focus.
It’s pretty hard to find Ugly Amps’ products on sites such as Sweetwater or Reverb, as you can find Fender or Mesa Boogie, for example, but this company has its site on which you can make an order.
Like Ugly Amps and many other USA manufacturers, Bergantino wants their amps to be high-quality engineering products and not sales. Therefore, they remain a close and well-knitted group.
This is reasonable – those products have high prices and are custom for working musicians. They may think it’s unnecessary because they won’t succeed as they’re not affordable.
Amps Made In The USA Vs Amps Made In Mexico
According to many guitar players, Mexican Amps don’t sound any different than those produced in the USA. The price difference is not significant.
A theory that explains why Mexican and American amps are the same says the Fender’s USA location is very close to Mexico, and according to Fender, most of the workers/ amps makers are mostly of Mexican descent as well.
British Amps Vs American Amps – Marshall Vs Fender
Most British amps sound narrower and more focused. USA amps have a more open-sounding and less restrained feel. British amps are not better than American ones, and vice versa – it’s all about a personal preference.
Many guitarists group amplifiers into two categories – those that sound British and those with an American sound. It’s sometimes hard to see the tonal difference between these two amps.
As I said, it’s all about a subjective feeling, and there’s no right or wrong choice. Many people love British amps, while others don’t want anything but an American one.
Popular British amps are Marshall Amp, Orange Amp, and Vox Amp.
I will mark off a Marshall amp and a Fender amp from the USA, as they’re two giants in the musical industry, and compare these two.
|Cost||$60 – $3700||$70 – $3500|
|Sound||gritty, saturated and crunchy gain, sharper clean tones, more upper-mid range||more lower-mid range, scooped distortion, warmer clean sound|
|Flexibility||wide range, best for classic rock, heavy metal||wide range, best for country, jazz, blues, and rock|
Cost: Marshall Vs Fender
Marshall and Fender amps have a similar price range from approximately $65 to $3600.
Therefore, both these amps are affordable and accessible to any guitar player.
Sound: Marshall Vs Fender
A British amp Marshall has a gritty sound, saturated and crunchy gain, sharper clean tones, and tends to place more emphasis on the upper-mid range frequencies.
An American amp Fender tends to place more emphasis on the lower-mid range frequencies, has a scooped distortion, and a warmer clean sound.
Therefore, many people tend to buy one over another one because they want more gain or maybe a warmer sound. It’s important to mention that the sound difference is not audible sometimes.
Durability: Marshall Vs Fender
According to many guitar players, Fender amps seem to be more reliable than Marshall amps.
But, we can’t generalize. There are just some people’s experiences and opinions.
Flexibility: Marshall Vs Fender
Both Marshall and Fender amps can handle a wide range of genres, but Marshall is more for classic rock and heavy metal, while Fender is more for the country, jazz, rock, and blues sounds.
This difference is a reflection of the sound difference I’ve talked about.
Amps Made In The USA Vs Amps Made In China
Amps made in China are the same as amps made in the USA. They’re only cheaper because labor rates are lower and manufacturing costs go down.
But, the problem is that amps made in China are automatically downgraded because of their Made In China label.
Amps made in the USA are respected for a reason – they are high-quality products. But, they are not significantly different when compared to amps made in other countries, such as China, the UK, and Mexico.
People look at the product through its price, and I agree it’s one of the quality criteria. But, that doesn’t mean the more expensive USA product is better than a Chinese one, for example, because besides the components’ quality and design, the price is also determined with a labor cost, and China has lower labor rates than those in the USA.
So, I recommend you not to look at the Made In label or a manufacturer name first – go into the music store, play through several amps and choose one that fits you the most.