Sound quality is in the ear and brain of the beholder. Lectrolab amps certainly support their intended purpose, which was to provide a good quality amp for beginner to intermediate guitarists. But wait, there’s more! Harp players go nuts about them. Guitar players rave about their Lectrolabs, and we have many comments from Lectrolab owners attesting to superlative recordings using Lectrolab amps.
Some models exhibit higher gain/distortion than others. You can hear a very saturated-sounding R200B on the R200 page. On the other hand, some players have expressed the desire for more saturation from models such as the R700C, which was designed to be a very clean bass amp. Examples:
- playing straight inro an unmodifed R700C gives you a great blues/rock texture.
- If you slam a R700C with a high input signal it will create quite a growl!
Any Lectrolab in good condition can sound great. As always, skill and inspiration matter more than the amp (or anything else).
See the page devoted to each model to learn more about them.
HAVE YOU PLAYED THROUGH A LECTROLAB? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Enter your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” box at the bottom of the page.
Here are some quotes taken from comments to this website, and from multiple other sites by (mostly) happy Lectrolab owners:
R203 – This is a cheap, nasty amp with a particle board cabinet and a tube complement that was surplus from radio manufacture. But these old amps often work great for practice or recording, the puny output power gives you rocking distortion at relatively low volume.
R400 – best $200 I ever spent. …I couldn’t be happier with the way this little monster roars. This amp always delights and I use it for all of my gigs, small or large. I just mic it through the PA when need be. I have no idea what one of these is worth, but it would take a considerable amount to get me to part with mine. Oh yeah!
R400C – I love it. A very warm tone made for Strats. I push it hard with my Rat pedal and it’s a Mini Marshall… And amzingly loud too.
R400C – This little thing flat out ROCKS. and low wattage lets you turn it all the way up & let it scream. Cleans up real nice with volume knob work, distortion is very warm, fill-boddied & fuzzy like an old rolling stones track. Look. I have played through EVERYTHING, and this thing is the best investment I ever made. This is the best amp I have ever heard. Think of a combination early 70’s fender deluxe crosed with an old Vox AC-15. I have been hiding it behind the marshall stack on-stage and letting it work a good Mic. Everyone wonders how I get the AMAZING tone out of a marshall… I’ll never tell. Got this on e-bay for $70.00 plus shipping. Would have paid $1000.00 had I heard it first.
R400C – Anyone who has ever heard this little amp has tried to deal me out of it. I use it in the recording studio a lot. It has a very warm clean tone at lower volumes, And when I light it up it has great old tube distortion. I plugged it into a 4×10 Marshall cabinet for an album project and I literally drew a crowd in the studio because it sounded so awesome. Pure EL-84 tone!!
R600 – I not all that impressed with the amp the way it is. It really only suitable for my electric piano. Maybe a pedal steel? Definitely not a hot guitar amp that breaks up nicely at low volume.
R600 – THE BEST tube distortion that Ive ever heard. Words cant describe it. I’ll try……..with volume and tone knobs both on 4 the sound is anything from old school surf tones to the coolest blues tones that youve ever heard, and the amp is SOOO responsive to playing style and picking changes….Like it sees what your playing and “breathes” into your pickups for an awesome sound. With it all on 6 the tubes glow real nice(2x6v6 / 2x12ay7)and you get the most life like gritty tube drive that will clean up or break up with volume changes and will sustain for days. I wish they still made amps this nice…..sigh. This amp has has outlived many of the people I know from that generation……oh yeah, Im some dorky 17 year old kid from Indiana. Its a tank.
R600 – Clean tone is great.
R600 – This is one of the best sounding harp amps I’ve ever heard!
R600C – …this thing has sonic soul in spades. At upper volumes, the EL84 drive is incomparable w/ tons of compression & tube sag. At lower volumes, this is one of the most warm, vibrant amps for acoustic picking I’ve ever played. Just a jewel. The Jensen helps, but I’ve got other amps with nice vintage Jensen’s & this amp bakes it…gotta be the circuit. After I got this Lectrolab, I ultimately sold three ol’ vintage amps that I’d sworn I’d always keep. It just smoked ’em. Tonally, this is close to the best amp I’ve ever played. And I’ve owned & played plenty–mainly vintage. (You can have the modern soulless crap). If I hadn’t heard this ol’beater, I’d have thought $200 was too much. Now that I’ve got it and played through it a ton, I think it beats the daylights out of some great amps including a number of nice vintage fender’s & gibsons that cost a more than twice as much–in fender’s overrated case, 10 times as much. Its worst day is better than most famed amps’ best month!
R600c – this is my FAVORITE amp! I’ve been kicking it around for years and will never get rid of it! Marshalls and Fenders have come and gone but this baby is here to stay. It’s not a super loud amp, although mine could probably use some servicing to get it running optimally. It’s pretty much always dirty sounding at band levels with your bridge pickup wide open, although it is VERY responsive to your picking attack and pickup selection. It’s very responsive (like a good tube amp should be), it cleans up with both pickups on (or just the neck) and wails when I select the bridge/lead pickup. Very cool. It ‘s the kind of tone that makes me want to play- I never know exactly how it’s going to react- very organic. It’s never perfectly clean, it has just the right amount of drive. It’s a classic overdrive that just gets creamier when you add a distortion pedal. It’s great! I run all Boss pedals- chorus, delay, distortion, reverb- straight in. Sounds beautiful! Kind of Vox-ish but not shrill, kind of Marshall-y but not painfully loud.
R600C – This has turned out to be one of the ccolest amps I’ve ever played, much less owned. I leave my Two-Rock 100 watt head in the car as a backup when I bring this amp in to a gig. Another reviewer said that his/her Lectrolab is too noisy to record with…something must be sick in there, caps or something; tubes maybe. This amp is silent until turned past 4 or 5, and at that volume, it has Deluxe -ish punch and presence, mixed with AC-30 style snarl and clarity. I adore this amp; with a Route 66 pedal and a Strat, one can conjure up an entire catalog of tones. I just played a showcase where the band copped Johnny Cash, Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, Keith Urban, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson, Elvis ( early and later), Beach Boys, Beatles, Lynard Skynard, ZZ Top, Wild Cherry, Santana ( “Smooth” ), and Kentucky Headhunters, and an original country/rock song by up-and coming Dave Russell. I did it all with the Lectrolab 600, and the Route 66, with the pedal set for MINIMUM distortion, and MINIMUM compression. Oh, and the amp was on 3&1/2, and filled the stage at The Garage at the Reno Hilton. I should shut up about this amp until I get another as backup, but I’m serious…I live near Mesa Boogie and Two-Rock, and have good friends at both places. I’ve played a lot of amps from both manufacturers, and even spent big bucks to MODIFY my Boogies! I own a very special one-of-a kind Two-Rock, and a “One-Rock” prototype. This Lectrolab is the equal of any of them for tone, very Hi-Fi Magnatone-like, while still being voiced like a “real” guitar amp (Fender/early Marshall/ Dumble “clean” side. Enough, this amp is 10 in every catagory. Go get one, while they’re still cheaper than solid state Yamaha’s…and they still are! This is my favorite amp EVER. See above. I love everything about it, and hate nothing about it, and is only comparable to Holy Grail amps like Magnatone 260, 280, or their Leslie simulator organ amp. I didn’t choose this amp; it snuck up on me and ended a lifetime of tone quest. Now I just have to play well enough to deserve it. No lie.
R700C – When used with any sort of preamp gain it can scream and wail at mid volume! Running solo it has that creamy tube tone that can’t come out of microprocessors. Great little blues machine! I certainly give it a high recommend… it seems to be a tank… this thing is the real deal! I think you would pay in the $1000+ range for this tonal quality today.
R800D – Picked it up at a rummage sale for $20. Just finished a jazz/chill album where that was was all I used for the leads. Still cant believe I found it. It has the best trem circuit I have ever heard. Cool “straight wire” with gain sound. This one gets quite loud. I dont think its dark, just more natural to the source, unlike a fender.
R800D – …found this amp abandoned OUTDOORS, obviously given up for dead. [see rehab effort here] Now for the good part…the sound. All I can say is WOW! About 33% of the volume gate is plenty sufficient… the Lectrolab kept up with anyone and anything on the stage, including a Fender Twin. It just sounded awesome and the tone has inspired my playing to say the least. I’ve got many positive unsolicited comments from friends and congratulations on the amp acquisition from all of the musicians.
R800D – Depending on the guitar used, my R800 can do any sound you can imagine (no death metal). The only thing that would make this amp better would be verb.
S400 – Whoever made these, they knew how to make an amp sound good… I’m so in love with its tone… deep, pulsing tremolo. This is a superb recording amp’a rich, complex overdriven tone that sounds huge with a mic. It reacts really well to the picking attack and cleans up as you roll off the volume. The tremolo is very musical and thick. For a small practice amp, it has a very nice bottom. With an overdrive pedal, it thickens and deepens even more and nails tones from the early 50’s Hubert Sumlin to the early 70’s Ronnie Wood… If you can find an original 60’s Lectrolab, you should snatch it up. I’ve played this next to a Supro Twin Eight and it held its own (and the Valco-made Supro Twin Eight is an awesome little amp).
S400 – Very clean when at a low setting. Nice, warm, bright tone. Thick, even distortion when fully driven. Cleans up with turn of the volume. Kinda noisy, but its old… Gots tone my other tube amps do not have.
Single EL84 Model – I recomend this obscure amp for anyone who likes a natural overdrive at moderate volumes.
Multiple Models – …they have Jensen speakers and can be real old style blues amp tube screamers. I’ve got 3 Lectrolabs and they just do not give me electrical problems — at all. No reverb, no channel switching, not even seperate bass and treble — just ‘tone’. Plug into the mic channel, crank up your guitar — and you got a nice blues amp.