There’s a long standing joke about “guitar porn”- catalogs, websites, shows- as being porn for the guitar and amp enthusiast. The Amp Show Los Angeles takes it one step further by putting on a show not in an auditorium, but in a series of adjacent hotel rooms with each performance seemingly louder than the next. Once a guest can get beyond the weirdness of walking into a series of hotel rooms, all of which first pass a bathroom on the right or left, it’s actually a pretty good show. Maybe it’s the best thing for these trying economic times and works out for all parties involved- a hotel near the airport has nearly a floor of rooms available and a group of vendors need a place to crank up some amps. It may not have worked out for guests on the second floor if they had a late night, and there was a group of Korean tourists that are going to have a unique view of the US, but everyone else seemed to be having a great time.
What the amp show is about, by and large, are very small boutique guitar amplifier builders. Many sell direct and many do not have the capability to distribute to large chains. Therefore, amp buyers never get to hear them and both parties are out of luck. The Amp Show fixes this by offering a location where the serious buyer (or the most serious of non-buyer) can test drive the amps from the serious makers from around the country in one location.
There were many great products at the show-unfortunately too many to list here. Standouts include the Line 6 room. Why is a company known for modeling amplifiers at amp show like this? Because, love them or hate them, they have stayed true to their vision. There are a lot of modeling amps from a wide variety of vendors, but Line 6 is the company that continues to push the platform as a viable alternative to hand wired tube amps for the professional musician. Even though their products can be seen in all the major chains, from the traffic in their room it looks like there is still a lot of interest from people that want to see them up close and personal.
A fairly new line with a great idea is Jet City Amplification. Most of the line is designed by industry legend Mike Soldano, with production taking place overseas. There are a great many people that will never afford a Soldano amp, much less a custom mod by the man himself. Jet City brings a pro design to a cost effective level that most anyone can afford. Another interesting twist is that Jet City will be producing amps by other designers as well. Historically done fairly often by guitar makers, very few amplification companies have had such joint ventures. Designer Andy Marshall, unfortunate enough to never be able to produce a line with his last name, from THD is first. The THD licensed PicoValve is available now. Like Soldano amps, many people probably wouldn’t be able to afford a THD until now.
There were about 60 more companies there, loud and proud. Some you’ve never heard of and some of the big guys like Fender, Vox, Egnater, and 65 amps. The Amp Show featured a number of discussions and giveaways on each day. There are a number of shows around the country and dates can be found at www.ampshow.com