Shop Spotlight: The Music Locker in Derby on the British Amp Legacy

The Reverb community spans the entire globe. Every shop is just one piece in the larger mosaic of musicians across the world, bringing along its own local scene, knowledge and history.

We recently caught up with Jono Kirk and Martin Gribby from The Music Locker, one of our shops in Derby across the pond in the United Kingdom. Their story reflects that of many Reverb sellers - friends doing what they love, catalyzed by the support of other musicians.

Check out our conversation below on their start as a shop and our shared obsession with vintage British valve amps.

What was the motivation to start the Music Locker? How did you get into this business?

Well, first of all, we never intended for The Music Locker to get so big. We were (and still are) simply two friends who loved vintage gear and decided to invest a bit of money into the instruments we loved. It all spiralled from that. As we bought great instruments, people started to become interested in what we were doing. We saw a window of opportunity in an area we were in love with. We still refuse to see it as a business. It’s a passion that puts food on the table. What a privilege that is!

We all know Vox and Marshall, but what are some lesser known British amp companies that still capture that '60s valve magic?

Personally, I'm in love with the late ‘50s, early ‘60s Selmer amps. They captured a niche market way before anyone else did. Their cosmetic side of things are to die for - especially the croc era. We live less than half an hour away from the old Carlsbro factory. They built great amplifiers in the ‘60s and are deemed the 'poor man’s Plexi' still today. They even used the same components as those £5,000+ ($6,500+) Marshall amps, but sell for way less than a tenth of that. There are so many amazing British valve amplifiers that blow the roof off today's reissues in both build quality and price.

What's the single most impressive or important guitar or amp that's come through your shop?

Vintage Selmer TruVoice

Oh my. Being a musician myself, along with a lover of the classic ‘60s music, it is so hard to pick one instrument. I love them all. However, we were unbelievably excited when we were offered an original 1960s 4x10 Marshall Bluesbreaker - THE amplifier of the ‘60s. They are a thing of legend. This is the amplifier Jim Marshall built for Eric Clapton to fit in his boot. There were literally only hundreds made. At one point in the early naughties this was the most rare and valuable amplifier. Play an old Les Paul or SG through that, close your eyes, and you'll feel like you're set in a London penthouse in 1965.

What single amp do you think captures the British amp legacy best of all?

Besides from the Bluesbreaker, I'd have to say the Vox AC30. We've had near enough every model from every year of the ‘60s and they never disappoint. Our favourite band at The Music Locker is The Beatles, so we're naturally biased towards the AC30. One day we'll own a mint condition fawn AC30. It's fascinating to see how quickly the cosmetics changed in the early ‘60s. We've had a couple of fawns that were painted black. This all stemmed from Vox changing the design from fawn to black because of demand for something “cooler.” Everyone who owned the fawns in the early ‘60s painted theirs black to fit in with the new design! And now, in 2016, everyone wants the original fawns. Typical.

Any tips for people interested in buying a vintage amp online?

I honestly wouldn't consider buying a new amplifier. They lack character compared to vintage. Where else can you buy something that will increase in value year over year and can be used and enjoyed at the same time? It's a no-brainer.

The Music Locker Shop Now
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