I began selling The People’s Amplifier about a decade ago. During that time, there have been three different head cabinet designs, more than a few website redesigns, a couple of minor changes to the circuit components, and several hard lessons learned about marketing and the changing landscape of internet presence and social media.
Something that has definitely NOT happened is the era of massive sales. What I usually tell folks is that I’ve sold every amp I’ve made, and that all of my clients are delighted to be playing through their People’s Amp. I’m proud of that, and I’m also proud that the amps are being used by working musicians, and the design has proven itself to be durable. However, it’s not like they are flying off the shelves.
Maybe hand-building amplifiers in today’s market is a fool’s game. I’m fully aware that there is no way that I can compete, price-wise, with big-name amplifiers. They use Chinese factories to build their amps in quantities suitable for big box stores, and can sell a whole lot of amp for a small price tag. Many of them aren’t worth the boxes they are shipped in, but that’s a different discussion. That’s also not necessarily true for all factory-built amps. It’s a great time to be an electric guitarist, and there are many fine choices for us to play through, handmade, or otherwise.
Sometimes I think about the amount of time, energy, and other resources I sink into this project and ask myself, “Why don’t you just stop?” Honestly, I think that would probably be the advice I’d receive from almost anyone who were to look at the situation from the outside. So, why is it that I persist?
First, and foremost, I love tubes and tube guitar amplifiers. To me, they are fascinating. The way they work is almost magical, and I get a big chuckle out of using 100 year old technology in this modern world of ours.
I also just plain enjoy building things. It’s fun for me to start with a pile of random pieces and parts and end up with something that is highly functional. Even if I never sell another People’s Amplifier (god forbid!), I will probably keep building them, coming up with new designs, and tinkering as much as I can. Call me sick, but I like solder fumes.
In addition, The People’s Amp project came from an honest desire to share what I had discovered with other players who might have been in the same boat as I was. I started building amps because I wanted a simple, durable, useful amp that wasn’t going to cost me an arm and a leg. When I pared the design down and cut out many of the fancier cosmetic options, I found that I could make a handmade tube guitar amp at a very reasonable cost, which means that I could also sell them for a very reasonable price.
So, I’ll keep on keepin’ on, I’ll keep building, I’ll keep blogging about it, and I’ll keep telling everyone who will listen about The People’s Amp. Maybe I’ll even sell one or two.