Five Hot Vintage Amplifiers: Underdog Amps Lighting Up the Used Market

A little while back, we had a post called a "5 Guitars on the Rise" in which we called out a set of guitars we've seen increase in value in the past couple years. Since then we've been keeping an ear out for rumblings on the amp side of the equation. Some of these amps are in clear revivalist fad territory, while others are just starting to get their build a reputation. All of them fall into the category of overlooked pieces of gear history that lack the price tags of something from the likes of Fender or Vox.

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Silvertone 1480 Series

If we didn't mention the Silvertone 1480s, we'd probably hear about in the comments section at the bottom of the page. These simple gray amps were produced by Danelectro in the '60s and sold by Sears as part of their Silvertone brand. There were five entries in the lineup, and we actually have an entire post all about the 1480 series and its models. The stately 1482 is a Reverb favorite, with a single 12-inch speaker that's plenty loud for most club gigs when mic'd. The large piggyback 1484 model has climbed in value the most with some recent sales topping the $1000 mark for stacks in particularly clean condition. The 1480s have been used on tour by the likes of Jack White and Beck.

Recommended for:

Indie Rock, Country, Stylish Good Looks. Find a vintage Silvertone amp on Reverb.

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Sovtek Mig 50

Like the now iconic military green Russian Big Muff pedals, Electro-Harmonix founder Mike Matthews produced Sovtek amps in Russia at the end of the Cold War. Named after a Russian aircraft, the Sovtek Mig 50 is a two-channel, high-gain powerhouse that sounds like a brigade of T-34 tanks rolling over the steppe. Often compared to a Fender Bassman, 

the Mig 50 sports two 6L6 power tubes, three 12AX7 preamp tubes, and an extra Mid knob in the EQ section. Additional controls let you turn up the presence for added shimmer and link the two channels together for a whopping boost of sound.


The important distinction when it comes to Mig 50s is whether you're looking at a Mig 50 or a Mig 50H. The 50H models added an extra gain stage and a master volume, which makes it as much Mesa Triple Rec as Fender Bassman. Though most commonly available as a head, Mig 50 combos or matching cabinets pop up every so often.

Recommended for:

Metal, Noise, Brutal Soviet Implications. Find a vintage Sovtek amp on Reverb.

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Traynor YBA-1

Traynor was founded in Toronto in the '60s by Pete Traynor, who, like many amp pioneers, got his start as a repairman and ceaseless tinkerer. Traynor's amps, while unabashedly based on popular Marshall and Fender circuits, were built to escape the repair problems Traynor was used to seeing while working for Long and McQuade. The result: Plexi-like tones from a Canadian amp that can withstand the Calgary Stampede.


The mainstay Traynor model was the YBA-1 Bassmaster which, like the Fender Bassman, was a bass amp largely adopted by guitarists. This amp was released through the '60s and '70s in various incarnations including the YGA-1 which replaced two EQ controls with speed and intensity controls over a tremolo circuit. These amps have classic circuits and easily accessible interiors, which makes them the frequent target of modders looking to enhance their sound.

Recommended for:

Hard Rock, Modding, Positive Canadian Vibes. Find a vintage Traynor amp on Reverb.

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'60s Supro Combos

It was last year at NAMM that the gear world first gawked at a series of clean Supro reissues made in the US by the same guys behind Pigtronix pedals. Compelling reissues like the modern Supros often spark a new interest in original examples, even though reissues are often inspired by the rising popularity of the vintage pieces to begin with. Chick and egg conundrum aside, Supro combo amps continue to captivate for good reason.


Supro amps were produced by the Valco company in Chicago and are associated with '60s Chicago blues as well as with the early careers of both Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. The S6420 stands proud at the top of the desirability list (it was, allegedly, the one Jimmy Page played), and while rising in value, has always been a sought-after amp. It's the smaller and more obscure Supros that seem to be catching up with the larger models in the past couple years.


Pro-tip: All Gretsch guitar amps from the '50s and '60s as well amps with the Oahu brand name were also made by the Valco company and deliver the same vibe and tones as these.

Recommended for:

Blues, Classic Rock, Led Zeppelin Worship. Find a vintage Supro amp on Reverb.

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Music Man RD Series

Like the Stingray bass, Music Man RD amps were designed largely by none other than Leo Fender himself. Fender brought many of the tenents and innovations he carried through his time with Fender to an even further degree with Music Man. These amps are hybrid in design, using a solid-state preamp section with a tube-based power section. While some purist dismiss the RD's due to this solid-state dilution, the combination means you get the added punch and efficiency of solid-state with the classic warmth of tube power.


These amps come in a head format as well as few combos. While played for years by Mark Knopfler and endorsed by Eric Clapton, the RD amps have never had the same appeal as models from Fender. This means that quality examples can be had for totally reasonable prices, a fact which more and more players (like garage rock champion Ty Segall) are starting to recognize.

Recommended for:

Pedals, Punch. Find a vintage Music Man amp on Reverb.

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