Do Guitar Amps Cause Cancer?

It may sound silly, but the question from the headline is often asked. If you worry about possible danger caused by amp’s radiation, this article is for you.

Do guitar amps cause cancer?

No, guitar amps do not cause cancer. Yes, production process of a guitar amp requires using some of the harmful chemicals. Nevertheless, a guitar amp, as a finished product, does not impose any threat to human health whatsoever.

Amps have been used for more than 70+ years by now. Wouldn’t it be noticeable if guitar amps actually could cause a cancer?

In other words, wouldn’t there be so many musicians with cancer, today? As a result of years exposure to guitar amps.

That’s obviously not the case. Therefore, we can safely conclude that guitar amps do not cause cancer.

In Case You Got A Warning Message…

On some products, there’s this warning message. It says something about health risks, cancer, chemicals, and so on.

Here’s the story.

So, you ordered yourself a brand new guitar amp. You open the box and see this bizarre warning that goes something like this: This product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and/or other reproductive harm.

What the hell is going on? – you may asked yourself. Do guitar amps really cause cancer?

No. As it’s been already stated and debunked at the beginning of this article. What’s the thing with those warnings then?

Warnings like this are on every product in California. It’s Proposition 65 law that requires businesses to provide these warnings to Californians.

However, if you’re not living in California, there’s still a chance you got this warning with your new guitar. That’s because it’s difficult to determine in advance which products companies sell will reach residents of California.

Due to ongoing cross-border e-commerce sales, some companies give these warnings to every product sold, even when not sold to California or the United States of America.

What’s The Thing With Proposition 65?

OK, so Proposition 65 requires those warnings. But what it is exactly? Let’s see what California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says about this:

Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warnings to Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.  These chemicals can be in the products that Californians purchase, in their homes or workplaces, or that are released into the environment. By requiring that this information be provided, Proposition 65 enables Californians to make informed decisions about their exposures to these chemicals.


Proposition 65 has the list of chemicals that can potentially cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm. You can check the list on the same page, here.

What Harmful Chemicals Do Guitar Amps Contain?

As it’s been pointed out, guitar amps do contain some harmful chemicals. What are those?

Well, I’m not expert, but here’s what I assume it is.

Anode/cathode coating contains chemicals. Vacuum can contain a little amount of gas. Some amps may have a bit of gallium or mercury.

But that’s not something you should worry about. Every electronic device contains chemicals. There’s nothing new about this.

Also, guitar amps are very well protected from inside and outside. The tubes are sealed with a thick glass to keep the vacuum intact.

Anything outside of the amp can’t get inside, and vice versa. Of course, unless you break it. But even then it’s a small chance for any harm.

Of course, you certainly wouldn’t feel good if you were to eat the tubes. But, since I assume you don’t find guitar amps tasty, I can assure you that you’ll be perfectly fine.

Should You Be Concerned About A Proposition 65 Warning Notice?

When it comes to guitar amps, then no, you shouldn’t be concerned. Proposition 65 can be really helpful when you’re buying food products, for example.

But amps? Of course chemicals used in the manufacturing process do not impose any danger whatsoever.

The threshold exposure limits that the State of California has set for many chemicals on the two Proposition 65 lists are far below the “safe”. Other regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, various European health agencies, and the World Health Organization.

The bottom line is this: Proposition 65 is written by State, not by scientists!

What About Noise Pollution?

Studies have found that noise pollution can, indeed, make your health significantly worse.

Guitar amps can sometimes get very loud. If you’re a guitar player that likes to crank up the volume on your guitar amp, you certainly wonder about this issue.

Can loud guitar amps make your health worse?

Ohio State University published a study in 2006 about potential risks of noise pollution.

Here’s what it says:

New research suggests that years of repeated exposure to loud noise increases the risk of developing a non-cancerous tumor that could cause hearing loss.

“It doesn’t matter if the noise comes from years of on-the-job exposure or from a source that isn’t job-related,” said Colin Edwards, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health at Ohio State University.

In the current study, people who were repeatedly exposed to loud noise over the span of several years were on average one-and-a-half times as likely to develop this type of tumor compared to people who weren’t exposed to such noise on a regular basis.

Source: Science Daily –

As you can see, exposition to loud noise over years will increase the chance of developing a non-cancerous tumor that could cause hearing loss.

Children are most vulnerable group of people when it comes to noise pollution. If you’re a guitar player, make sure you don’t play that loud when kids are present.

Final Words

Do guitar amps cause cancer? No, they don’t. Almost every product in its manufacturing process uses some potentially harmful chemicals, but that does not mean the product itself is harmful to our health.

Proposition 65 law makes sense when we decide what food, or some other, products we plan to buy. But it does not have much sense to add those warning sings to other products, like electric guitars.

Companies that make any devices, or instruments, are required to put these warning signs, but you shouldn’t be concerned about it.

There’s no any danger whatsoever a guitar amp can impose to your health. If that were the case, then there would be a lot of guitar players out there with cancer.

So, yes, guitar amps are perfectly safe.

Great & Affordable Guitar Amps in 2020

In case you’re interested, check out the article where I picked and reviewed 8 great and affordable guitar amps.

If this article provided an information you find valuable, I’m more than happy about it. Check out other interesting articles from this page.

Cheers, and rock on!

Recent Posts