Imagine trying to play for an audience without using an electric amp. If it sounds next to impossible, imagine how early musicians felt. Before the electric amp was created, guitarists struggled to make themselves heard. Thankfully, many different powerful amps are available today, so volume is rarely a problem. How did we get here?

It’s all thanks to the invention of the original amplifier back in the early 1920s. Engineers created public address systems for movie theaters, but they were too large and too expensive for the average musician. After some fine-tuning, these PA systems became available in smaller formats that could be plugged into walls in 1927.

As portable amps became more and more popular, many companies competed to create better versions. Electric stringed instrument and amp combo sets were common, but the quality of the sound remained somewhat poor until the late 1950s, when musicians started partnering with manufacturers to create more powerful amps.

Thanks to the popularity of distortion in the 1960s, many new kinds of amps were created to allow musicians to tinker with different settings. Today, the electric guitar amps used for gigs come with a variety of options that offer crisper, louder, and more compelling sound. Who knows how the amp will change and grow over the next decade?