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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Lap steel Amp Advice

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

islandgirl - Posted - 12/24/2019:  13:59:42

I have really been enjoying my Asher Hawaiian Junior lapsteel, but I think I might need a new amp. This is a topic I know ZERO about, so I’m hoping someone has some advice. I would only need a practise amp, as I am plugged into a system any time I play outside of my home. The only amps we have around here are either acoustic or bass amps. I told my husband I was getting myself a new amp for Christmas and he insists acoustic amps are the same as electric guitar amps. Not sure where he is getting this info, but I’m not convinced. All I know is I am getting very frustrated with the ones we have. Any suggestions about what to buy?

hlpdobro - Posted - 12/24/2019:  14:23:16

Acoustic amps are specialized. Some more than others.

In my experience, lap steels are best mated to low power tube amps (5W-20W). so they can be over driven when required.

I personally use a Gen 1 Fender "Blues Junior".

I've tested lap steels with the Fishman Loudbox family of acoustic amps.

Not very pleasing to my ears.



islandgirl - Posted - 12/24/2019:  16:44:34

Thank you, Howard, that has been exactly my experience, and it’s good to know it’s not just me doing something wrong. I appreciate the recommendation so that I have an idea of what to look for while I’m wandering around my local music stores.

hlpdobro - Posted - 12/24/2019:  16:57:45

I should also say that there ARE some impressive new modeling/solid state amps that really react like tube amps. You  should look at those (sometimes less expensive) solid state amps.

I've had "junior" for years and have no reason to change. You should consider a solid state amp if it sounds good to you. These would all be considered "guitar amps".

Good luck in your search.


Edited by - hlpdobro on 12/24/2019 16:58:41

DBChimer - Posted - 12/24/2019:  17:04:36

This question is right in my wheel house.

Hip is right, a low power tube amp is the way to go with a lap steel and The Blues Junior is a good choice.

Before you make a final choice however, be sure to check out The Fender Super Champ x2, a 15-watt vintage modified all tube amp with a 10-inch speaker.. It's lightweight, portable and ruggedly built. Don't let the 15-watt output fool you. This baby performs as well as some 30-watt output circuit board amps.

It's capable of delivering a multitude of sounds with infinite, creative controls and its reasonably priced.

I've used it as a practice amp for over 3-years with my lap and it holds its own in delivering the volume and sound I need to play in slightly larger than medium-sized venues.

It's been a real workhorse for me and I've had zero problems with it.

Edited by - DBChimer on 12/24/2019 17:09:12

JC Dobro - Posted - 12/24/2019:  20:05:48

+1 on Howard’s and DB’s suggestions. If you do want to overdrive a tube amp at lower volumes, a tube screamer has always been a “go to” accessory for me personally.

As a solid state alternative, I have had decent results with the Roland CUBE series. I donated my last one when I thinned the herd, but I found it to be a capable solid state practice amp, with lots of modeling features. Admittedly it’s been about 5 years and I haven’t kept up with their latest offerings...

But yeah, lap steel into Fender tube amp with a bit of ‘verb = heaven.

Terry Harris - Posted - 12/25/2019:  06:31:20

Right now I use a Fender Blues Deluxe reissue. The clean channel is wonderful and it has an overdrive channel too. The problem with that amp is that it's 40 watts which is way to much power for most things I use it for. If I was gonna do it again, and I might, I would save up for the fender Deluxe reverb or the Princeton amp which both have plenty of power. You can push them until they break up on their own, gets kinda loud, or use a pedal. In my case the pedal is a Tube Screamer.

One of the go to amps for pedal steel was the Peavey session 400, a solid state amp. I think they can be had pretty reasonable.

Edited by - Terry Harris on 12/25/2019 06:40:31

hlpdobro - Posted - 12/25/2019:  06:53:31

As a pedal steel player I can say that the Peavey steel amps are way too clean and too much power. I would have loved to own an old Princeton but alas...vintage was outside of my budget.

They do sound glorious though.

An earlier post equated "breakup" with volume. With "juniors" separate input gain and master volume you can turn the master down while cranking input gain and achieve breakup at any volume.



Edited by - hlpdobro on 12/25/2019 06:56:09

Wildeman - Posted - 12/25/2019:  10:10:33

The Fender Mustang 2 modeling amp is a good affordable option. Its versatile and gets good tones imo, 12" speaker and 40 watts is definitely something you can play with a band.
Most acoustic amps have full range, full frequency speakers that dont work very well with magnetic pickups, piezo's don't work well with regular guitar amps either.
I've found those Mustang 2's for as little as 100.00 used, a real bargain. The Pro Jr's are excellent too and seem to go closer to 300.00 when i see them.

Terry Harris - Posted - 12/25/2019:  11:10:22

Howard, I ended up getting an attenuator made by Weber and that has really helped for playing in my music room. Outside it's not so bad that i need one. 40 tube watts are a lot of juice!

mesmithut - Posted - 12/25/2019:  13:02:15

I'll second the Mustang II as a good option for a practice amp. You can get decent emulation of a Fender tube amp for lap steel and I managed to dial in a clean reverb sound that works pretty good for my pedal steel practice. Plus, with the solid state modeling, I can plug in headphones, still get the sound I want, and practice lap or pedal steel at any hour without getting thrown out of the house. And you can find one for dirt cheap.

FrederickPatterson - Posted - 12/27/2019:  07:24:08

I've had this amp since I was about 13 years old. Still my favorite!


little ray - Posted - 12/28/2019:  08:14:19

Peavey has built amps that are voiced for the steel guitar for years
I'm a pedal player who has found them very acceptable for non pedal as well. A tube amp can be another way to go.

islandgirl - Posted - 12/28/2019:  10:58:22

Thank you to everyone who chimed in here. My holiday commitments are nearly finished and I’m really looking forward to having everyone getting back to their routines so I can get out and start visiting my local music stores and pawn shops.

Dobronaut - Posted - 01/02/2020:  15:17:04

I’ve played many many amps in search of a good lap steel tone. Much to my surprise my search ended when I bought a SS Peavey Studio pro. Ridiculously cheap too. In the UK you can find them second hand for the price of a night out. The tele sounds wonderful as well.

Biggfoot44 - Posted - 01/12/2020:  17:24:15

My eye opening encounter with a " good" amp , was a vintage Tweed Princeton . I suddenly realize what an amp was supposed to be .

But alas , back in the real world , a ( non- programable , previous generation ) Roland Micro Cube is what I use , and it offers serviceable tones . Alas my limiting factor is my playing , not the equipment .

And this past summer , I probably had my one and only experience of ever playing out with a steel .

In better than expected results , only two people got up and left when I broke it out .

( No , I wasn't being rude per se . Rather than a usual Jam , this was a private picnic , and the host himself approves of the occasional use of electricity , having played predominantly Country back in the 1950s .)

wlgiii - Posted - 01/13/2020:  07:35:09

Two more cents-

I use a reproduction Fender Champion 600 (5W)- it's small, but sturdy, and has a nice tube tone. The retro look also goes well with a '54 Dual 8.

Lounge Primate - Posted - 01/13/2020:  13:28:33

Nothing to me sounds better on lapsteel than a low wattage tube amp. Pawnshops often have some interesting “antiques”. I’ve got an old pawn-bought tube DeArmond that my band mates used to call the dinosaur, both for its age, and it’s wonderful roar.

And I’ve got a Pignose, a Blackface Princeton, and a variety of old and new weird amps..........

But the amp that is always there in my practice corner in my house is the Fishman Loudbox mini. Howard is correct about Loudbox’s not sounding quite right for that lap tone, but with the plethora of blues and over-drive pedals, you can get pretty close.

And the mini works great with the dobro (Nashville/Douglas) pickup, and (Sue) it works great as a practice amp for that pedal steel your about to dive into, and it sounds great with my acoustic guitars, and the line out works fantastic at gigs if needed.

And it’s tiny. So my wife let’s me leave it set up all the time. The Fender Twin, no way.

Edited by - Lounge Primate on 01/13/2020 13:32:46

gzerninplatz - Posted - 01/15/2020:  13:37:17

You want tiny AND tubes? The Milkman "The Amp" preamp with direct out, or plug in a speaker (up to 100 watt final amp stage)....fits on my pedalboard...

jed - Posted - 12/05/2020:  16:17:12

I love the internet. This little thread put me on the path to pick up a fender super champ on pure faith ?? I hope it sounds good!

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