why are guitar amps so ugly?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by marvin cobain, Jul 31, 2020 at 11:17 AM.

  1. rizla

    rizla Supporting Member

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    I would change the furniture to match my guitar gear. So much easier.
     
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  2. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    I think we live in a era where people have the urge to reply even without reading properly, since I already explained that it wasn't my intention at all to be sensationalist or making clickbait. I made that title just because it's exactly simply what I think and that's what I wanted to talk about in the thread. I wasn't thinking to make clickbait, and I wasn't expecting to see so much people butthurt and making jokes that one expects from a six year old child like "ugly as your mom".
    Than you can go ahead and make the same joke like the one above like it's not been written several times, because I don't care, but no. No sensationalism was intended. It probably look so to those who, I realized later, saw this thread and felt offended thinking something like "how dare you, my amp is gorgeous".
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 4:31 AM
  3. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    Form follows ... function.
    Yup ... tools not jewels.
    Oh, and OP ... I agree that your thread title was a bit of a troll (I'm surprised I even clicked on it). Whether or not it was your intention, it had that effect and now we get to have fun with it.

    I can see where an art piece can be as much of an advantage as a disadvantage to the manufacturer. For every one that you or I might like, someone else might hate it and that means a lost sale.

    It's a risky proposition to stray too far, although posters above have put up some rather innovative designs that I think would have a broad appeal. I skipped through most of this thread, but I did catch a post of a Vintage 47 amp which I think is a way cool piece. If your wife has problems with one of those, then I suggest a deeper look into your relationship :eek:

    So now ... are we all going to go out and crappy sounding amp that looks cool? I'm in the hi-fi business and cool looks sell a lot of crappy gear to the unwary buyer.

    ... Thom
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 5:01 AM
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  4. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    the form follows function argument here does not have a lot of sense here onestly. It's not like a nice looking object can't be useful (it's form follows function, not form follows ugliness), and in this case part of the function I'm looking for is not being a huge cumbersome thing (which of course, means also a lesser sound quality) because I don't have a lot of space, and being decent looking enough to not make the room look, as someone said before, as a ac dc backstage. I'm talking of a small practice amp that has to stay there, not going everywhere on the road from a gig to another.
    And about the hi fi customers: I think that a lot of people buy some cool looking stuff just because they think in term of compromises. They want a good enough sound and a cool looking object, instead of having the ultimate listening room that is also absolutely awful in terms of look like many audiophile rooms I've seen.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 5:25 AM
  5. MRscratch

    MRscratch Member

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    not sure i know what you are talking about..
     
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  6. rizla

    rizla Supporting Member

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    Oh no, I think you misunderstand. I understand where you are coming from. Once you posted some pics of what you would like I totally got it, yeah, they could look quite cool and less obtrusive in that sort of style. I would just go out to my workshop and make a new cab for an existing amp if I felt as strongly as you do. You might not have the tools or ability to do that, I dont know.
    But your thread title whether you want to acknowledge it or not is going to get some derisive posts in reply, you might as well accept that and have fun with it.
    Fwiw I find guitar amps to be handsome objects but I dont find guitars to be works of art and find them to look out of place in a living room situation.
    As for my comment about changing the furniture to match the amp, it was simply because at this stage and this far in no one including yourself has put forward any viable alternative for you to a standard amp design.
     
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  7. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    No one's is arguing in favor of ugly, and I agree that equipment designs can convey beauty while still fulfilling their intended function.

    I think there's a broad range of amplifiers are beautiful - from the conventional to the innovative. Clearly you don't, so vive la differance ;)

    A hi-fi designer once said to me that you can design for aesthetic, but the object should at the same time always convey its essence. All too many purchasers of hi-fi gear that's priced well beyond the no-compromise threshold (easily into five figures per component) are purchasing trophies and nothing more. I can't begin to recount the atrocious systems I've heard that are priced well over $100K.

    Maybe this is your opportunity to submit a custom cabinet design to an artisan?

    [edit]@rizla made a similar suggestion while I was composing this post.

    Wouldn't this be a more constructive thread and title: "amplifier cabinet designs as art pieces"? It would certainly yield a better chance of addressing your "problem" with what's out there.[/edit]


    ... Thom
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 11:05 AM
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  8. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    I'd really like to. I don't know if I'd be able to do it. Or better, I suspect I had to learn tons of things in order to make it myself.

    I actually have, and as I've said it's being interesting to read many comments, both of those who tried to help or give their point of view about my perplexity and those who just disagree. But I really wasn't thinking "let's troll the gearpage". I was seriously thinking that for a community obsessed with the look of guitars I would have found a lot of people who would like to see more attention to design, at least for practice amps made to mainly stay at home.

    I'd like to have a nice looking cheap amp, but I'm not that stupid, obsessed nor rich enough to change the whole furniture to look nice with a small amp, a thing that would be way more expensive than buying even a great amp to play live.
     
  9. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    really? That's the most curious thing to me. I've seen tons of guitars that I think that are really beautiful instruments.
     
  10. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    really (part 2)? I mean, I've always thought that a lot of hi fi stuff is overpriced or even meaningless (like super expensive cables that are utterly useless) but I thought that spending those big amounts of money that would allow other people to buy a luxury car or even a house the audio quality would at least be great in any case.
     
  11. Brad2

    Brad2 Member

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    No use making them really fine looking when taking them on the road. Scratches, stains and other depravations look even worse on an amplifier that used to look fine. Making them road worthy is more inportant.
    I like the looks of my Orange micro terror though and the small PPC108 cabinet. They still looks plain cause I don't gig with them.
     
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  12. galibier_un

    galibier_un Supporting Member

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    The "right" Dumble is worth it to the right guitar player, and some expensive hi-fis are their equivalent, but they're far and few between. I'll leave it at that.

    Back in topic ...

    You need to get off the interwebz for 2 days and design the cabinet of your dreams. Come back then and show us what 'cha got :D

    ... Thom
     
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  13. rizla

    rizla Supporting Member

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    Okay. You are either extremely literal or you are being deliberately obtuse.
    Have fun.
     
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  14. Muttlyboy

    Muttlyboy Member

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    I need to ask a couple questions :
    Do you currently even own a guitar amp?
    If you do, do you like how it sounds?
    If you do not, do you know of any amps that you like the sound of?

    You say you want an amp to keep in your home that will look how you'd like it to in your home...

    There is nothing wrong with that.

    There have been several posts depicting some rather high end amps made with very nice furniture grade hardwood cabinets. Do any of those amps appeal to you?

    You mentioned price at one point.
    You can solve your problem by having a cabinet made.
    Would you be willing to pay someone to build a cabinet to your specification?

    Do you really plan to do anything about it?
     
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  15. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    yes

    it has some problem right now but yes. The thing is that I'm not playing in any band (I play for pleasure, it's not my work) and the thing is quite huge for the space I have now.
    And what I want is a little thing that is not very expensive. While I like good design, I'm not going to make great plans to learn how to build an amp myself (not because I would not like to, but I'm not that hardcore and in that case I would just buy a ugly amp). This discussion was not meant to learn how to achieve the ultimate goal of having a great looking amp, altough I appreciated the suggestions and discovered some nice models (and many terrible ones). The lack of effort in the design of amps and even more variety, compared to what I see for guitars and audio systems (and not just hi fi) was the point of the thread. I'm definitely not going to spend for a boutique amp, because that's not what I wanted in the first place and I can't spend that kind of money now.
     
  16. Muttlyboy

    Muttlyboy Member

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    There is nothing wrong with playing guitar at home for enjoyment...I'm guessing that most of us here don't go out to do gigs. It's tough out there, and most places that have live music don't want to pay musicians.

    Getting home late, and waking up tired and hungover doesn't help matters with the day job either.

    I'm thinking that small Yamaha THR10 practice amp is small and un-obtrusive enough to not be too much of an eyesore. (It could be re-housed in a custom cabinet one day in the future)

    I don't know what your current amp is, but maybe that could be re-housed in a smaller cabinet.

    I guess the reason amps are "ugly" (if they even really can be ugly) is because for the most part, just as people have already said, the amps are mostly intended to be used as tools.

    There are more expensive boutique amps for the people who are willing to pay for something that looks fitting with the decor in the living room.

    For that matter, Fender has put out several limited edition versions of popular amps, but for the most part they are designed to be attractive as a stand alone object, and not really to match with a particular decor.

    I understand having Champaign and Caviar taste on a Beer and Pretzel budget, I just learn to like Beer and Pretzels
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2020 at 9:09 AM
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  17. jrjones

    jrjones Supporting Member

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    The amps that come to mind immediately:

    fender tweed, Marshall bluebreaker, matchless.
     
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  18. marvin cobain

    marvin cobain Member

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    I swear I didn't see this before. It seems there are some other persons like me after all.

    http://www.notplayingguitar.com/2011/08/why-are-guitar-amps-so-ugly.html

    Why Are Guitar Amps So Ugly?



    Would you put the average guitar amplifier in your living room? Maybe more importantly, would your family let you put it there?



    I recently got an electric guitar and spent some time looking around for an amp for playing at home. Most of the time I’ll be playing in my living room, so it would be kind of nice to have an amp that looks a little decent with the rest of the decoration.



    Surprisingly, my living room is not painted black and doesn’t resemble a grimy stage. So why are all guitar amps designed to fit into that setting?



    Guitar Amp Aesthetics
    It seems guitar amp manufacturers have a serious lack of imagination when it comes to the design of their amps. The typical guitar amp boasts a surprisingly standard set of stylistic characteristics…

    • It’s black.
    • It’s a no-frills square or rectangular box.
    • It has big chunky corners made of black plastic.
    • It has an unstylish handle that sticks up out of the top and stops you putting things on it.
    • It has a control panel full of industrial looking buttons that would be more at home in a power station than the average home.
    • It has an ugly speaker cover ideal for gathering dust.


    Apart from the odd model fitted with quaint brown vinyl or tweed (think Fender Blues Deluxe) and some variations in the colour of the speaker cover – not always very tasteful – the average amp has little to help it fit into your household decoration.



    Most Amps Spend Their Time At Home
    Now, this typical look might be fine for rock concerts on a dimly lit stage. But most guitar amps don’t live their lives on a dimly lit stage.



    Most guitar amps spend 99% of their working lives in the homes of us guitar players. So, why are there no guitar amps designed to fit into such a setting? Why don’t they build amps that you might find in a Habitat or Ikea store, something that you’d like to invite into your home?



    It might be fine to build a 100W tube stack with the rugged black looks suited to stage and touring use. But those little 15W practice amps, people they are just not going touring anywhere beyond the guitarists front porch. So why not spruce them up with a few decorative touches to make them more amenable to household life? How about some nice wooden finishes, soft painted colours, or pastel fabrics to go with the other items in your home?



    A Better Looking Guitar Amp Helps You Play Guitar More
    You might be wondering what all my ranting about guitar amp design has got to do with your guitar playing. Well, a better looking guitar amp is not just a decorative matter, it can actually help you practice and play guitar more.



    Your current amp is probably hidden away in the cupboard at the back of your spare room because it’s too ugly to be left out in the lounge. So, every time you think about practicing guitar you have to go and search for the amp, install it and set it up before you can play.



    That’s not only a little lost practice time, it’s also a barrier that makes it harder to start. From time to time I bet you’ll even give up the idea of guitar practice because setting up that amp just seems like too much effort. It’s so much easier to just switch on the TV…



    But if you have a nice looking amp sitting ready to go beside your sofa you have one less obstacle to starting guitar practice. Ensuring it is easy to start practice is a good way to help you practice more.



    A Call to Guitar Amp Manufacturers
    So come on you guitar amp manufacturers, help us out. A lot of guitar amps spend more than 99% of their lives in the homes of guitar players, so why not make them look a little like something you’d like to invite into your home?



    What do you think of guitar amp looks? Share your thoughts by clicking the comments link below
     
  19. Mark L

    Mark L Member

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    Lots of Naugas. Unfortunately, we weren't so enlightened back then.
     
  20. GGinMP

    GGinMP Silver Supporting Member

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    Tone is in the Magic Fingers.
     
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