Internet music retail giant Reverb has been doing its end-of-year accounting, tallying up the gear that we have been buying, and has released its list of the top 20 biggest-selling amps of 2021.
It a list that has some familiar faces, some guitar amp classics that dominated last year’s list, but taking number one spot in its inaugural year was a micro amplifier with stacks of effects and digital amp modelling tech under the hood, in a compact form that fits inside your pocket. That’s right, step on down, Fender’s Mustang Micro – officially, Reverb’s top-selling amplifier of 2021.
What does the Mustang Micro’s triumph tell us about the current trends in guitar playing? Well, from a supply side POV, it tells us that digital modelling technology is changing what’s possible with the guitar amplifier.
Again, the Mustang Micro is pocket-sized, it has a dozen onboard effects and a dozen amp emulations – most remarkable. And yet, not only is this a generously spec’d practice solution, it can be used as an audio interface.
From the demand side, Reverb said that another year in which digital amps dominated the list was yet again another sign of the pandemic’s impact.
“Modellers in general were quite popular again this year, which can certainly be attributed to the pandemic, at least partially,” says Reverb. “The other reason that they're getting quite popular is that they're frankly getting much better. The qualities that have always made them appealing – smaller size, less weight, and wealth of amp options in one package – are still there, while the tech has improved tremendously.”
Indeed, it is telling that the highest-charting tube amp in 2021 was the Vox AC15C1, which came in at number eight – though it should be noted the tube-driven preamp hybrid designs of the Orange Micro Dark and Micro Terror came in fourth and fifth respectably, suggesting that guitar players still value tube tech somewhere in the design. With digital technology getting closer to emulating the response of the vacuum tube amplifier, today’s guitarist now has the option.
8. Vox AC15C1
12. Fender Rumble 100 / Boss KTN-Mini
13. Boss Waza Air
15. Marshall DSL20HR
16. Fender Champion 20
18. Fender Rumble 40 V3