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!