Eight underrated Australian gear manufacturers you need on your radar
16.04.2021

Eight underrated Australian gear manufacturers you need on your radar

Words by Benjamin Lamb

From vintage tube amps to contemporary guitar builders, explore the best of the local crop.

Today, we’re plunging into the guitar and amp world and shining a light on those lesser known brands, or those who came and went with little fanfare.

It’s a deep dive into some of Australia’s smallest but best manufacturers that are worth researching further.

Read all the latest features, interviews and columns here.

Ormsby Guitars

This Australian run business was the brainchild of ex-carpenter Perry Ormsby, whose years of experience around wood and timber led him to create what he saw as the perfect guitar.

With expert craftsmanship and immaculate sound, Ormsby Guitars have become a mainstay in the Aussie guitar scene, with their brand only getting bigger and better.

They’ve got a large range of shapes and sizes worth diving into, run in Australia but built in Korea, they also manufacture for a bunch of the world’s biggest and most popular guitar producers. Find out more about them here.

Octigan Guitars

This boutique guitar manufacturer is truly one of Australia’s best. Each and every instrument that leaves Octigan has been hand crafted by Roderick Octigan, the boss and head luthier of the brand.

The customer is involved in every step of the process, from choosing the wood to the tightness of the strings, truly ensuring you are getting your ideal guitar.

Octigan Guitars are Australian run and built, working out of a workshop in Boronia in Melbourne’s East, so you know you’ll be getting the best.Build your dream guitar with Octigan here. 

Eminar Amps

Coming out of Melbourne back in the ’70s, Eminar manufactured guitar and bass amps, and a bunch of other different speaker systems. They built a bevy of amps within those boundaries, from a relatively humble 40 watt to a custom massive 250 watt amp for all those heavy metal fans out there.

The all-valve amps have acclaimed for their high volume, guitarists often not needing to turn up the amp past three or four.

The brand doesn’t seem to be around anymore, but you can dive into more info about them here. 

Goldentone

Another one of Australia’s top amps comes from Goldentone. Also around back in the day, Goldentone started in Melbourne back in the early 1960s. Their first foray was into the world of combo amps, before moving into the valve-amp world.

Goldentone is one of the most premium and high quality amps that are still popular even in 2021, and still sell today. See if you can pick one up on Music Swop Shop here.

Baez

Coming out of NSW back in the ’70s, Baez Amps are yet another Aussie amp brand that didn’t receive as much attention as they deserved.

Run out of a small workshop in Newcastle, Baez Amps didn’t get too far across the country, but became a mainstay of the Newcastle and wider Sydney live music circuit.

The loud, high powered amps were built by Mick Sampson mainly for rock music, who still apparently ventures into the amp-building world every now and then.

Check out some more info about them here, and check out the amp against a Marshall below.

Strauss Amps

Coming out of Melbourne’s South Yarra back in the early ’60s, Strauss were one of the biggest brands of the time. They built guitar, bass and PAs in a variety of forms, with one of their most notable creations being a monster 350w valve amp called the ‘Strauss Warrior.’

Their range of amplifiers was favoured by many musicians in Melbourne’s emerging rock ‘n roll scene of the ’60s and ’70s, with Billy Thorpe being a notable user of Strauss Amplification in his heyday.

While the brand originally bit the dust a long time ago, their name has been revived recently for a run of affordable, Australian-designed amps, which you can find out more about here. 

Shub Guitars

Coming out of Preston in Melbourne’s North, Shub Guitars is a high-quality custom guitar brand bringing the best parts of all our favourite guitars into one. This truly makes for an unforgettable playing experience. 

Shub’s head honcho Jon will also use his expert skills and high quality pieces to give your current instruments a bit of a tune up and help them last a little longer.

His high quality manufacturing has seen him build guitars for some of Australia’s best and up-and-coming musical acts. Find out more and check out some examples of Shub’s handiwork here.

Rex Amps

Brothers Frank and Lamberti began their instrument making venture in the world of manufacturing banjos and mandolins, which apparently was a lucrative business pre-1960, with the brothers burning out with too many orders, before moving into the world of amp building. 

Their range of Rex amps involved the super popular Bass King which were loved by many across Australia, and have long been compared to the build and sound of Goldentone.

The brothers stopped making the amps in the early 1970s, and it’s said around 3000 amps were produced during that time. But the brothers came back into business in the early 2000s, rebuilding amps that they never completed back in the day.

Today, the Lamberti legacy lives on through local distributor remain a force within Australia’s musical instrument scene today thanks to their presence with Vibe Music, which is ran by none other than Joe Lamberti, the son and nephew of Lamberti Brothers founders. Dive into the interesting world of the Lambreti Brothers here.

Find out more about some of the biggest, bulkiest Aussie valve amps of the ’60s and ’70s in our comprehensive feature here.