Amp Recommendation

  • I've played only acoustics and am brand new to lap steel and plugging in.   There are so many choices of amps out there I'm having a hard time sorting it all out.  I need something to get started when my airline comes in.  I don't want to spend a fortune but I don't want junk either.  This won't be for performance but satisfying my own ear is important.  Also, if anyone thinks I should look ahead and get something with extras that I wouldn't think about right now but might appreciate later, please let me know about that too.

    I'd love to have some commentary on here that would point me in the right direction.


  • Look into Quilter amps. I own three of them, they are top notch.

  • Thanks Richard!  I'll definitely check them out.  So to narrow it down a bit - I don't think I need a lot of power.

    Is there a particular model you'd recommend for a lap steel?

  • @CC Barton It's hard to pick a "bad" one, though my experience has been 50 years of tube amps- which are now all in deep storage.  Each has a little different set of features, though my three are all very high powered (200 watts each). I want lots of clean headroom, so have always gone for higher powered amps, as possible. The Quilters are solid state, but their tone is quite comparable to tubes.. I know a girl who has gigged a Quilter Interblock 45, in a rock band, which she loves- but really any of them are very, very good amps. My son in law is playing through a Quilter 101 mini reverb, mine are a Tone Block 200, Tone Block 202, and their latest model, a Mach 3. 

    It really depends on your budget, and what you want to do with it. I use mine everywhere and anywhere- home, studio, live gigs- for whatever I need to play.. Guitar, bass, lap steel, pedal steel.. really any of them sound teriffic, and get plenty loud, but sound great even through headphones for silent practice when my wife wants quiet.. lol

    I would look on for used ones, and see what you can find. Remember, more watts will give you more volume on tap- but you don't have to turn it up. Nice to have that option, though.

    All my Quilters have been ultra reliable, super lightweight, great sound, and they take well to pedals. Reverb and delay are common with steel playing, and some kind of overdrive, which can be used with confidence. 

  • @CC Barton another, less expensive option would be Roland Cube amps- I haven't owned one, but have played through one owned by one of my sons.. Lots of people love them, it really depends on budget and your desires. Almost anything "works", some folks like the old ratty sound of blown out tube amps (for some types of blues, these can be glorious), others want pristine cleans (like some country pickers).. I want all the options. Good, strong cleans that can be colored with pedals give you the versatility to play whatever style you want. The more you play, the more you will focus on your personal strengths and tastes. Hope you find what you're after. A bad day on steel is still a good day, regardless.. lol

  • Thanks for such a great wealth of information, Richard!  I really appreciate all of it and you've given me a lot to think about and explore.  I seriously know NOTHING about amps or anything electric so I feel like I've landed in a new country where I don't speak the language...yet.

  • @CC Barton anytime. This is really a lifelong trek, feel free to reach out, if I can help. All good, friend. ;)

  • @Richard Rice Hi Richard - someone recently called my attention to the Fender Mustang LT-25.  The price is right for me but I'd appreciate any thoughts you have, pro or con about how it would work with a lap steel.  Thanks :-)

  • @CC Barton it's not my area, but it would suffice, I'm sure.. for a while. I'd say most any guitar amp will work, I haven't played one of those. 

    That said, I would be scouring Facebook Marketplace, pawn shops,, etc., for something used. 25 watts is fine for learning, but wouldn't do it for me. I'd want more of a professional model, more power, at least a 10" or 12" speaker.. Those student models have their place, but once you get going they usually collect dust. I think you would do well to get an older Peavey- they are plentiful, powerful, reliable, and reasonably priced. You can upgrade as you grow, they won't have all the bells and whistles of these little amps, but they get loud enough to play with other folks and have already depreciated in price. I would prefer one with reverb, but even that is added nicely with a pedal.. same with overdrive/distortion.  

    Again, I'm not dissing the amps- I really don't know them. Just generally higher powered amps give more clean headroom, wider tonal response, and enough volume to carry you in a group. Student models are generally underpowered, smaller speakers, not enough oomph. A lap steel needs the wattage to hold clean sounds at higher volume. Why not get one that gives you an advantage over the long run?

  • Not knowing your location, I can't really help you look- I've had Vox Valvetronix AD30VT, which was great until I was with a drummer and bassist.. the 50 watt version was loud enough, the 30 watt seemed loud until I got out and played with people. I see there are several different models on, used, even higher powered ones with 2X12" speakers, very reasonably priced. They had a nice bunch of effects in them, which made them attractive when I was teaching many different styles. Didn't need anything extra, just the instrument, a good cable, and the amp. Lotta bang for the money.


  • @Richard Rice Thanks Richard - I appreciate your wealth of knowledge.  I can't emphasize enough what a rank beginner I am with this instrument.  There are no performances or groups in the near future for me - just solo practice and then practice with a teacher.  Any amp I get now can be for now and then if/when I get the hang of the instrument and understand more about the workings and differences of amps I can spend the time exploring the used market.

    You've been a great help...I'll hang on to this conversation and come back to it later on when I have some experience under my belt.

    Happy New Year my friend!

  • @CC Barton same to you. There's a real good place you can join, loads of folks with all kinds of experience.

    You will learn so much in there.. it's worth the price of admission. All manner of discussion on anything steel related.

    Just keep going, have fun. Happy New Year to you, as well. ;)


  • Thanks for the link, Richard, and again for your help!

  • @Richard Rice Quilter amps are great

  • @Bred Green I love mine.. they are really portable, sound fantastic. I played an outdoor show with no sound support, with a borrowed Tone Block 200 and a single 15" EVM15L- accidentally drowned out the whole band on one solo- even the drummer.. it was frighteningly loud, but stayed solid, musical. I've since bought that amp, then a couple of Blockdock 12" cabinets, then a couple of Steelaire 15" extension cabs, then a TB202, now a Mach 3 head. I keep getting them, but am hesitant to let any of them go. haha 

    Running a pair of them with extension cabs is glorious, for a clean freak like me.. 400 watts in stereo, 2X12, 2X15.. with stereo delay is a dream come true. Headroom beyond any reasonable expectation. Or drag one 200 watt unit to a gig that sounds teriffic, weighs about 20 lbs. Mind blowing, after hauling all the big amps since the 1960's.

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