Dating guitar amps
If the source signal was louder than what came out of the speaker, as would have still been the case in the early ’20s, what would have been the point?The first high-powered audio amplifiers were developed for public address systems and theater installations. As technology allowed for smaller, portable combo amps, without the bulky batteries required for operation before 1927, PA systems quickly became popular with musicians and are still preferred for certain instruments today.
After all, there was 10 years between Loar’s departure and Bellson’s arrival, and almost another 40 before he wrote about it (think ’48 Broadcaster).
Presented here in chronological order of release are the commercially-available American guitar amps from 1928 to the end of 1934.
Common features of these models include bent metal chassis with no control panels, a single volume control and one or two input jacks, field coil speakers with built-in output transformers for the power amp section, thin (1/4″ to 3/8″) wooden cabinets, and AC power cable with non-polarized two-prong plugs.
Loar may have experimented with electrifying stringed instruments during his short stay at Gibson, but his project would have been doomed because there was no amplifier available at that time to make it feasible.
So which came first – the electric guitar or the guitar amp?