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!

4 thoughts on “Max Butler Amp Review”

  1. I have four amps built by Max, including the one he built for CC Deville. Max signed it on the inside. I have confirmed this with Max. In your review you say that Max builds two models. That is true, but he has built more than two. I have one of the first amps he built back in the late 70’s, simply called the “50” it has a 2-12″ cabinet with EV’s in it. It sounds amazing! I have a Swamp 50 that Max custom bulit for me in 2007. An orange Silver Hammer with channel switching. The CC Deville Silver Hammer also channel switching and a bunch of bells and whistles. And the 50 that I bought out of a Liquor store. Max builds great stuff and I buy everyone I can find. They never disappoint. I am somewhat glad Max isn’t better known, because you can pick his amps up cheap because people don’t know who he is. Although he should be a household name for building boutique amps years before it was fashionable. He is a pioneer that does not get the attention he deserves. Not to mention a very nice person.

  2. Chuck, thanks for the comment! Max did tell me that the CC Deville “Silver Hammer” amp was sold on ebay a few years back. I believe Max signs all his amps on the inside. Thanks for the details on the other amps you have. It’s true that Max only builds 2 models of amps, but he has built a lot of custom configurations over the years. He’s told me about amps with push pull pots, and he has mentioned that 2×12 combo (although he hates them). I think he mentions in one of the video interviews that his thoughts on the 2×12 are that the sound is not optimal because of the amp and it’s sheet metal being loaded in the top of the cab. He prefers the exact dimensions required for only the speaker. But he did tell me that he’s build 2×12’s on customer request in the past, as he as also built in some custom switching configurations as well.

    If you think your amps are great now, you should send them back to max one by one for maintenance. He has some new secrets that would make them sound even better then they do now. Also, in the coming months we are going to build Max his own (well deserved) web site, and we’re hoping to get as many Butler amp owners as possible to send in images of their amps. Would you be willing to take pics of all 4 of the Butler amps in your possession for the image gallery on the new web site?

    Thanks again for the comment Chuck!

  3. i own two swamp 30s, and i too have had the pleasure of meeting Max. when i went to meet him i needed work on my amps because they both needed up keep. i have yet to find a better amp, and i have no plans on ever selling mine. they are great amps for a great price and he will gladly do upgrades on them for cheap, talk about costumer service. i also know who owns the first amp that max ever made infact it still works, and the guy still uses it.

  4. I live in South Alabama. I saw an add for a gibson explorer for sale in the small town of Mckenzie. I drove over to look at the explorer and ended up buying it and the amp he was using. It was called a “Butler” and I had never heard of it. When I got home, I took the amp apart and inside it was written built for Mark Sliker, and was signed Max Butler. I did a little research and found out he was the bass player for a band called Ded Engine and later a band called Smashed Gladys.

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