What Are the Actual Most Popular Boutique Amp Brands?

Take a stroll through the many pages of amps for sale on Reverb, and you're bound to see at least a few names you don't recognize. The days when just a handful of amp makers dominated the market—and a search for a new amp might start with Fender and stop with Marshall—ended decades ago. The steady march of masterful makers entering the boutique scene continues unabated, making today arguably the "golden age" of amp design and production.

Nowadays, the high-end amp market is flooded with hundreds of brands to explore, each with their own lineup of core models and countless power and speaker configurations. And while we can't offer a quantitative answer for which is going to sound the best, we can deduce which brands garner the most sales and rank as the most popular in the boutique amp scene.

There is one big old caveat to everything that follows. Since this data is drawn directly from Reverb's order histories dating back to 2014, all of the rankings and figures are limited to our marketplace. We do think that our numbers are a reasonable stand-in for the market at large, but there may be many brands that sell better elsewhere and are not reflected in our figures.

The Big Picture: Best-Selling Boutique Amp Brands on Reverb

We'll start with the big numbers. Here's the breakdown of best–selling boutique amp brands by total number of sales on Reverb. All of these calculations include amps, cabs, and combos.

Brand Avg. Used Price
1 Dr. Z $1435.82
2 Bogner $1189.46
3 Friedman $1617.41
4 Bad Cat $1026.57
5 Morgan $1358.82
6 Swart $1046.75
7 Two Rock $1749.92
8 Matchless $1746.90
9 Tone King $1478.89
10 Carr $1464.33
Brand Avg. Used Price
11 Suhr $1236.17
12 Victoria $1189.46
13 Engl $968.32
14 Jackson Ampworks $1399.23
15 65amps $1146.48
16 Rivera $1608.76
17 Magnatone $896.90
18 Soldano $1340.78
19 Divided by 13 $1438.02
20 Fuchs $1260.16

By Order Volume

By Dollars Spent

The proportions in these graphs are based on the total sales of just these top 10 brands, not the entire amp market.


As you can see above, Dr. Z easily claims the top spot as the most popular boutique amp brand on Reverb. This success mostly comes from the good doctor's sterling reputation for quality and sound dating back to 1988, as well as a robust roster of endorsing artists.

Dr. Z also offers a much wider array of products than many of the brands on the list. Whereas many smaller and younger amp makers only offer a few models at high price points, larger companies like Dr. Z are able to invest in new product design and diversify their catalog to include models that match a broader spectrum of players, styles, and price ranges.

Third–ranking Friedman is a relative newcomer to the top echelon of the list. When subdividing our data on a yearly basis, Friedman does not rank in the top five total sellers until 2016, showing a steady rise in the overall rankings. This ascent coincides with the release of the wildly popular Friedman BE-OD overdrive pedal, which may be related.

Many of the brands on the list were launched in the late '80s, including top ranking Bogner and Dr. Z. The youngest companies on the list are 65Amps, Jackson Ampworks and Swart, which all launched in the early 2000s.

Most Popular Amp Models of the Top Three Brands

Dr. Z

Maz 18 Avg. Price:
Carmen Ghia Avg. Price:
Maz 38 Avg. Price:


Shiva Avg. Price:
Atma Avg. Price:
Goldfinger Avg. Price:


PT-20 Pink Taco Avg. Price:
BE-100 Avg. Price:
Runt 20 Avg. Price:

Fastest-Selling Used Amp Brands

Another useful analog for the popularity of a particular amp brand is how long it takes for their amps to sell on the used market. Here's the breakdown of which amps sell the quickest when a used listing crops up on Reverb.

Brand Avg. Sell Time (Hours)
Tyler Amp Works 151.17
At Mars 177.5
Bludotone 188.9
Atomic 193.5
Therdrail 201.5
Jim Kelley 224.9
Star 226.4
Aracom 227.8
Matrix 237.6
Bluguitar 242.7

Though not the most dominant players across the board, these fast–selling amp brands tend to rely on word–of–mouth buzz and fierce communities of fans. When a used specimen does come to market, these followers are quick to make offer, as there's no telling when another one may be on the sale block.

Most Expensive Amp Companies

While most expensive isn't necessarily a measure of popularity, it does offer some insight into which boutique amps are considered the absolute best–in–class. Unlike the first set of charts above, where a wide array of products drives sales and market share, these makers tend to focus on very specific amp designs with extremely low production numbers.

Not surprisingly, Dumble, the most mythic of all amp makers, dominates this list with a whopping average order value of nearly $60,000. Dumbles like the Overdrive Special are the Les Paul "Bursts" of the amp market. When the occasional Dumble comes to market, the high–end amp community scrutinizes its provenance before some well–heeled collector eventually makes an offer.

Most of the other brands on this list are owner–operated businesses that produce amps in very small numbers. In the case of Diaz, these amps are no longer in production following the death of legendary designer César Díaz in 2002.


What Is "Boutique" Anyway?

There is, of course, no official definition of what makes an amp company "boutique" and pulling together the data for this article did require some editorializing on our part to determine which brands to include. Mesa/Boogie, for instance, is often pointed to as the original boutique amp brand, but has grown enough in the four decades since its launch to no longer really carry the designation.

In general, we've excluded brands where most work is done by third parties or across multiple large–scale manufacturing plants. Most of the brands we did include are operated by one builder or a small team all working under one roof.

Ultimately, though, the boutique moniker is as much an aesthetic ascription as an economic one. It's as much about branding as it is actual manufacturing process. Very few "boutique" amp brands label themselves as such, and most of the builders behind these numbers are instead focused on doing what they do best: designing and building some of the best tube guitar amplifiers ever devised.

But which amp guru builds the machine that'll truly unlock your untapped tonal garden?

Short answer: probably all of them.

The competitive nature of today's market means that most extant amp brands really do offer amazing products by any standard. Visiting an amp show or an indie guitar shop with a decent amp section is like making a choice at an Italian gelato stand. It's all gonna taste fantastic; it's up to you which flavor you like best. I recommend the Nutella swirl.

Is there a corner of the gear market you'd love more insight and data on? Let us know in the comments, and we'll try to tackle it in a future post.

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