Ampeg first existed under the name Michaels-Hull Electronic Labs, as a partnership between Everett Hull, an accomplished pianist and bassist, and Stanley Michaels. The original goal of the company was to produce both a new microphone pickup that Hull designed, and to produce instrument amplifiers with a minimum of output distortion. In general, tube amplifiers will break up into a distorted sound when overdriven, an effect that Hull, a jazz musician, disliked. The pickup was intended to fit onto the end of an upright bass, and was dubbed the Amplified Peg or Ampeg for short. After gaining sole proprietorship of the company, Hull changed the company's name to Ampeg Bassamp Company.
Ampeg was acquired by Magnavox in 1970 and held until MTI of Japan acquired Magnavox in 1980 Ampeg V Series. In the 1990's-00's Ampeg came under SLM (St Louis Music). SLM was subsequently bought by Loud Technologies in 2005 Ampeg SVT.
Ampeg holds six U.S. patents under the Ampeg brand name. In 1960 Jess Oliver (real name: Oliver Jesperson) created a combo amplifier with a chassis that could be inverted and tucked inside the speaker enclosure to protect the vacuum tubes. This combo bass amp became known as the Portaflex and remained a popular choice through the 1960s. Also in the 1960s, Ampeg became the first company to incorporate reverberation (reverb) in an amplifier with its Reverberocket, which preceded Fender’s Vibroverb amp by nearly two years.