Category Archives: Billy Gibbons

Butler Silver Hammer Amp Video Review

This is a video review and demo of my Butler Silver Hammer guitar amp – which is a PTP (point to point) hand wired Plexi style amp. It’s like a Marshall Plexi, but the difference is that this amp actually has 2 channels (one clean, one overdrive), AND this amp has a master volume control on BOTH channels!

In the video I do a full walk through, including the controls on the front and the back, before doing a demo on each channel (straight in), and then I demo it with my pedalboard. Sorry about all the banter (some people complain that they just want to hear the amp, not all the specs), but I wanted to be sure to include everything I could think of for somebody actually interested in buying one of the amps.


Here’s the video of the Butler Silver Hammer built by Max Butler of Eaton Rapids, MI. If you’re interested in seeing more about his amps, visit


Max Butler Amp Review

This is the *Official* Max Butler Amp Review page. I’m proud to say that this is the first EVER video interview placed online with the legendary Max Butler, the master guitar amp builder located in Eaton Rapids, Michigan (MI). I’m providing this interview series so musicians can finally hear commentary directly from this master amp builder. So often online, what you can find are only blog reviews and forum posts from musicians. I want people to be able to hear directly from Max Butler himself commentary about his amp builds. If you provide comments and questions below, I’ll add more interviews with him in the future to answer those questions as well.

There are many cookie cutter amps to be had at Guitar Center, and the great bulk of the moderately priced ones now come straight from China. If you decide to buy a nice “boutique amp” from a master amp builder, odds are you’re probably going to have to pay $3,000+.

Max Butler has been building amps for 28 years, and for the entire duration has barely charged enough to cover the cost of parts alone. That’s right – he’s not even making a profit. He hand wires the amps point-to-point style, and hand builds the cabinets, installs the speakers, and covers them in the tolex covering of your choice. His love of musicians, and passion for amp-building is very evident.

Max Butler doesn’t have a web site, he has never advertised in any way – he has been building amps for 28 years out of his Eaton Rapids basement shop merely by the word of mouth. And during that time he has almost always consistently had orders for new amps. He estimates he’s built between 300-400 amps to date. I own one currently – and another is on order.

Max Butler builders 2 kinds of tube-based guitar amps, the “Silver Hammer” (based on a 50 watt Plexi), and the “Swamp”. In the Part 1 of my interview with Max he talks about the Silver Hammer amp and how it began – because he wanted a Plexi with a Master volume. It’s a 2 channel amp with clean and distortion channels, reverb, and footswitch. It has 1 volume and 1 master per channel, in addition to presence, bass, middle, and treble controls. Max has built Silver Hammer amps for Eric Johnson, CC Deville, Billy Gibbons, and other famous players.

Max Butler’s newest guitar amp, the “Swamp” is his newest creation – which he talks the most about in Part 2 of the interview. The “Swamp” amp comes in 15, 30, and 50 watt configurations of a standalone head on top of a speaker cabinet. I say “newest”, because he’s built about 60 of these (out of the 400) over the last 6 years or so.

I currently own a Silver Hammer 50 watt amp (which I will review here soon), and I have a 30 watt Swamp on order (which I will review when I receive it as well). When I pickup my Swamp, I plan to interview Max again and ask him to (re)tell the stories of amps he’s built for famous players, as well as to provide some commentary about various tubes.

Harmony Central Reviews of Butler Amps

Lasing State Journal print interview with Max Butler from 2006

I bought my Silver Hammer amp off Craigslist from another player who had way too much gear. I bought it on sight alone after reading the online reviews – which led me to do some research to find the man who built it. I made the 90 minute trip to meet Max Butler in person last summer, so I could have him give it the once-over and make sure it was in tip-top shape. Not only did I meet probably the nicest man I’ve ever met, he was very gracious – and we talked guitars and amps for a few hours. Once he had my amp for a week, he found there was a problem with the transformer – and he replaced it with a Bassman transformer, replaced the power tubes and one preamp tube, AND recapped the amp for $127.00!! Unbelievable!! He even replaced one tube socket he thought was flaky. Just about all his amps are $1,000, you simply can’t buy boutique amps of this quality ANYWHERE for that kind of money.

Please enjoy the following interviews with legendary master amp builder Max Butler.

Max Butler Amps Interview Part 1


Max Butler Amps Interview Part 2


If you own a Max Butler amp – please comment below. If you would like to comment on his interviews, or ask Max a question please comment below as well.

If you would like to contact Max directly, please Use My Contact Form – and I’ll reply with his phone number so you can call him.

Max – if you read this, thanks again – for the interview, for your amps, and for all you do for musicians!

ZZ Top – Breakaway Video

[youtube_post video_id=kSHhAkVreiw]

I love ZZ Top, you can often catch me trolling You-Tube for ZZ Top Videos.¬† I could watch them all day because I just love the way Billy Gibbons plays that ‘ol geetar!!

Description: music video for ZZ Top’s song “Breakaway” taken from their 1994 album “Antenna”. Video featuring Vincent Schiavelli and Fairuza Balk.

ZZ Top - Eliminator [New CD]

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ZZ Top - Deguello [New CD]

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ZZ Top - El Loco [New CD]

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1 CENT CD One Foot in the Blues - ZZ Top

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ZZ Top ~ Lot of 3 LPs ~ Tres Hombres, Tejas, Deguello ~ Used

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Billy Gibbons: Guitar Player of the Week

I love Billy Gibbons! I’ve always liked ZZ Top, and to those of you that think this band is just “Sharp Dressed Man”, and “Legs” – you have no clue! ZZ Top has a catalogue of blistering blues songs like “Just Got Paid”, “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers”, “La Grange”, “Tube Snake Boogie”, “Tush”, and more songs than you can count on all fingers and toes! Billy Gibbons is ‘that bearded guy’ with the Cheap Sunglasses, and he can lay out the blues licks – and the slide guitar, like nobody you’ve ever seen.

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Billy Gibbons

Maybe I like Billy because I know he was good friends with Stevie Ray Vaughan – another person near and dear to my guitar playing heart. They were good friends, regulars of the Texas music scene – both cutting their teeth on the dust bowl blues circuit.

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Billy Gibbons

Billy Gibbons Tells a Blonde Joke

Billy’s a funny guy, quite a character – here’s Billy telling a Blonde joke…

Billy Gibbons Slide solo on “Just Got Paid”

As I said, Billy is a great slide guitar player – watch him play the solo on his classic song “Just Got Paid”:

Buddy Guy & Billy Gibbons: Montreux Jazz Festival 2008

Billy likes to jump on stage whenever he gets the chance, and there’s a lot of YouTube videos of him with other guitar players and bands – check him on stage here with Buddy Guy at Montreux!

Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top in Texas Monthly 1976

If you’re interested in the history of ZZ Top, you can always read about Billy Gibbons on Wikipedia, but here’s something really cool…check out this magazine article from 1976 in the early beginnings of ZZ Top:


Billy Gibbons remains one of my favorite guitar players, and in my cover band we play at least a half dozen ZZ top classics every time we gig out. Which ZZ Top songs are your favorite?

Also read: Billy Biggons ZZ Top Lesson

Billy Gibbons – ZZ Top Lesson

The ZZ Top Guitar Lesson post I made on this blog is one of the most visited pages to date. I can understand why, ZZ top has tons of songs that guitarists of all ages want to learn. It’s kind of like “Iron Man”, every guitar player has to learn “Tush” don’t they? Last year I finally bought a ZZ Top Guitar Tab book Anthology – just so I could learn all the riffs that I hadn’t figured out over the years. This is one of the only guitar books I’ve purchased in the last decade, and it was worth every penny!

Hal Leonard ZZ Top Anthology Guitar Tab Songbook

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: ZZ Top - Guitar Anthology Songbook Sheet Music Song Book

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Billy Gibbons has such a unique blues sound, and his tasty licks and riffs are in some of my all time favorite songs – like “LaGrange”, “Waiting for the Bus”, “Tube Snake Boogie”, and “Just Got Paid”. I’ve read that he has played his ’59 Les Paul on every single record to date, and he named it “Pearly Gates” for it’s heavenly blues sound.

Seymour Duncan has produced the “Pearly Gates” humbucker, and let me tell you – it will change your guitars sound into a blues-rock machine! I even use mine for a great Van Halen, 80’s hair metal sound. I installed a pair of Pearly Gates pickups in my Ibanez Artcore semi-hollow body guitar, and it sounds 100 times better! I got a great deal on my Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates on eBay – here are some deals listed there right now:

USA Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Plus & 59 PICKUP SET Humbucker Pickups Black

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Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates Humbucker Pickup

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Billy Gibbons plays Texas Flood 2008

This is an incredible performance you may not have seen yet, it’s Billy Gibbons of “that little ‘ol band from Texas” – ZZ Top! He’s playing at the Fender gala at NAMM – and he belts out his rendition of “Texas Flood” on his well-worn Telecaster. He talks a little bit before the song – which is why this guitar video is 8 minutes long. He remembers that back in the day he and Stevie Ray Vaughan would fight over the words to the third verse of this song (and it turns out they both had them wrong). You just can’t beat Billy Gibbons, he makes it sound like “Pearly Gates” Every Time!