Steamboat Ampworks, Movin’ On Up to Fifth Ward

If you happened to be at that little “Summerfest” festival-type thing people’ve been talking about quite a bit since about a month ago, you may’ve noticed a slew of banners floating around for someplace called Steamboat Ampworks.

I’d only vaguely heard the name beforehand, myself, so I looked ’em up after Day 1 of the ‘fest and was happily surprised to learn that not only are they local (woo!), but they were also providing the gear for bands playing at both the Rudyard’s and Warehouse Live Stages. Very cool.

The company’s run by a guy named Jacob Rynearson, who got his start doing amps for the also-cool Hawkins Amplification before striking out on his own, along with cohort William Hesser, who also plays in Ghost Town Electric and works at Dead City Sound.

Apparently Dead City has been kind enough to host Steamboat since its start back in 2009, but Jacob had some recent good news to impart: as of this past weekend, Steamboat is out on its own, moved on over to a new space in the Fifth Ward, I’m told (no idea what the actual address is yet, sorry). Here’re the full details:

After two and a half years of sharing space with Dead City Sound Studios, Steamboat Ampworks is moving to its new home just outside of Downtown, Houston.

Steamboat Ampworks offers a variety of Musical Instrument service with a focus on building custom tube amplifiers for guitar and bass one at time.  Steamboat was started by Jacob Rynearson in January of 2009.  At the recording studio Steamboat was able to service a wide range of musicians and connect with the demands of real, practical players.  Years of experience in repairing vintage amps, and responding to artists’ needs in the studio, gave Captain Jake the insight required to redesign the tube amp into a versatile tone machine. Along with unique cabinet design and vision, Steamboat Ampworks has been able to create an artistic and instrument-like amplifier.  In April of 2011 Steamboat Ampworks became a part of Steamboat Engineering, LLC formed by Jacob Rynearson and Dead City Sound Engineer William Hesser.

The company will be relocating from the North Houston area to the Fifth Ward neighborhood, not far from one of the Steamboat Boys’ favorite landmarks – the St. Arnold’s Brewery.  This new facility will lend itself to much bigger operations and capabilities, while retaining a personal setting for musicians to bring their amps for repairs, modifications and upgrades.  The company has been aggressive in grabbing players attention, sponsoring both SXSW and the Free Press Summerfest, as well as keeping a booth at the Dallas International Guitar Show. Next up, Steamboat Ampworks plans on holding a booth at the Nashville Guitar and Amp expo, where they will be debuting their Steamroller 200 watt bass amp.  Speaker builder and re-coner, Atlas Speakers, (based out of Willis,TX) will be joining the Steamboat boys on their journey across the South this August.

The company sells most of their products direct but often has a consignment with Fuller’s Vintage Guitars, off of 6-10 and Yale.  Dealers in the surrounding Houston and Austin areas will be announced soon.

Each amplifier is custom made according to the customers needs with high quality components.  Currently Steamboat offers just two models – the Steamboat Classic 18 and the Steamboat Classic 50.  The company also builds entirely custom amplifiers, from pre-amps, 2-channel to reverb to anything inbetween.  You have the option of dozens of different tolex colors (the vinyl wrapping protecting the amplifier), piping, four different logo styles, and even the knob style!  Or you can have the Steamboat Boys come up with an all original, one-of-a-kind look to suit you.  Captain Jake writes a blog detailing some of the custom builds and events at

Steamboat Engineering, LLC. offers a variety of services including custom tube amplifiers, custom speaker enclosures, vintage tube amp repair modification and restoration, speaker reconing, and studio production.  The new shop will begin operations right after the July 4th holiday.

Now, I’ll admit it: I am a total and complete gear-moron, no question. Back when my trusty little Fender amp did more than gather dust in the garage, all I ever wanted to know was whether or not I’d be able to turn the thing on and plug into it, that was it. So I’ve got no clue, technically speaking, how Steamboat’s amps & cabinets stack up — any customers out there willing to offer an opinion?

I have to say, though, that they look pretty sweet, and the sound at the Summerfest stages where I saw ’em used was pretty great. And obviously, buying local is almost always better, in my book. Maybe one of these damn days I’ll be able to justify getting a new amp & cabinet of my own. sigh.

At any rate, high-five to these guys for movin’ on up in the world…

Post by . This entry was posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011. Filed under Posts.

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One Response to “Steamboat Ampworks, Movin’ On Up to Fifth Ward”

  1. nyc guitar repair on February 18th, 2014 at 11:51 am

    thank you for this awesome article! what are your thoughts on the greatest guitar shop in town?

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