Laney Amplification dates back to 1967 when founder Lyndon Laney established the company in Birmingham, England. The amps generated a lot of ‘buzz’ amongst local musicians for their unique sound and affordability. Today, Laney is a multinational company working with established artists all over the world, including bands like The Prodigy, Killswitch Engage, Skindred, Black Sabbath, and many others!
Lyndon Laney played bass in a band with John Bonham and Robert Plant around the time the company was born.
Prior to starting his own amplifier business, Lyndon Laney had a stint playing bass in Band of Joy with John Bonham on drums and Robert Plant on vocals. It was around this time he decided funnel his passion for music into amp building.
Lyndon Laney founded his company on the notion of designing and building guitar/bass amplifiers with innovative tonal characteristics. The amps became popular in local gigging circuits, and demand for them naturally grew.
In 1968, Laney launched the flagship LA100BL head. That same year, Laney also built Robert Plant a PA system for Led Zeppelin’s US tour.
Laney’s legacy was cemented early on by helping define the sound of ‘heavy metal’ with Black Sabbath.
The signature Laney sound, reliability, and affordability were key features which set these amps apart from competitors. Laney amplifiers gained a reputation and became sought-after pieces of equipment for local musicians.
Of the guitarists seeking Laney amps in England at that time was none other than Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath. Iommi recorded Sabbath’s groundbreaking 1970 album, Black Sabbath, using the Laney LA100BL, exposing many more ears to the signature Laney sound.
Black Sabbath helped define ‘heavy metal’ as we know it today, due in no small part to Tony Iommi playing Laney amplifiers on the album. In fact, Black Sabbath‘s release sparked even more demand for the amplifiers, and the company had to relocate to a larger manufacturing facility.
Iommi’s Signature Products with Laney
Iommi and Laney have had a close relationship ever since. In 1995, Laney released Iommi’s first signature amp, the GH100TI, and in 2011 introduced a series of Iommi amps and cabinets, including the TI100 head. This amp was the only one used to record Black Sabbath’s 2013 release, 13.
In 2017, Laney made several reproductions of the flagship LA100BL amplifier at Iommi and his guitar tech Mike Clement’s request. 13 amplifiers were built to celebrate Black Sabbath’s 13 album.
These faithful recreations of the original amplifiers played at the start of Black Sabbath’s career are “as close to the real thing as buying an original LA100BL.”
Laney Amplification’s Innovations
Although Laney focused mostly on their flagship LA100BL throughout the late ’60s and ’70s, they also developed novel new products like their KLIPP series of amplifiers. The KLIPP series contained a built-in a treble booster.
In the 1980s, guitarists started demanding more overdrive/gain from their amps. Laney saw this demand and introduced the AOR (Advanced Overdrive Response) series, which had an extra gain stage built into the amp. This was an extremely useful feature because competitors like Marshall amps required modification to get a similar sound.
The AOR series was popular metal and hard rock players like Randy Rhoads, Vinnie Moore, George Lynch, and Ace Frehley. Since the early ’90s, AOR amps have become a staple of the stoner rock and doom metal.
Throughout the ’90s Laney continued building on their legacy of innovation with their VC line. These were combo units inspired by the iconic Vox ACs, but with the addition of built-in effects and other advanced features. Laney’s own classic VH100R head, as well as the GH50L and GH100L, were introduced around the same time, once more getting attention from high-profiles players like Paul Gilbert, Andy Timmons, John 5, and Joe Satriani.