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Old May 25th, 2008, 01:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Tell Me About Do-It-Yourself Amps and Kits

I'm thinking about building a low-power amp one of these days, but I'm not sure where to start. I don't really need botique quality parts as this will be a first attempt. I'll probably use a chassis from a blown amp I have, and I won't need a speaker, as I have plenty. I also have a few soldering irons laying around, but would listen to suggestions in that department.

Is there a good informational site that is plain spoken, not amp-geek oriented? What places should I avoid? What places would you recommend.

I'm sure there are some threads like this, and I will probably search when I'm more familiar with terms and such. For now, I'm looking to get started.

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Old May 25th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This may not seem exciting or be a popular idea, but why not start off by repairing the blown amp you mentioned?

Just a thought.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 01:22 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A great place to start your amp building career, (I bet you can't build just one) is the AX84.com site.

They have several different SE type amps there with schematics, layout and all the help you would ever need.

There are also some interesting P-P type amps on their site.

The P1-Ex is a great place to start.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This may not seem exciting or be a popular idea, but why not start off by repairing the blown amp you mentioned?

Just a thought.
It's a Peavey Rage 108. Hey, I love Peaveys, but SS is not my thiing.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 03:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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It's a Peavey Rage 108. Hey, I love Peaveys, but SS is not my thiing.
Yikes. Ok, I'm with you there!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Layout is the tricky part, so if you can find a good pictorial layout, that puts you way ahead of the game.

Another possibility: pick up a circuit board for a Fender or whatnot from, say, turretboards.com -- who also has most of the loose parts. You can build up the board, then figure out how to graft that into your chassis.

I'd say start with a 5F1 champ....everybody needs at least one of these little suckers. Easy build too.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd vote for either the weber 5f2a (I built one and love it) or a 5e3 kit from weber...

Webers kits don't have fancy components but they work fine. They have a decent layout drawing and even beginners can build them and they are fairly inexpensive... and you don't have to source your own parts...

OR..... the stf 5e3 might just go in your rage enclosure. that would be cool.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 04:25 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Another possibility: pick up a circuit board for a Fender or whatnot from, say, turretboards.com -- who also has most of the loose parts. You can build up the board, then figure out how to graft that into your chassis.

I'd say start with a 5F1 champ....everybody needs at least one of these little suckers. Easy build too.
That's what I'm going to do. Nice website, by the way. Thanks for the recommendation. Their Schematics/Layouts page isn't working. Any other sites with that info?

Looks like something I can handle. And it looks like it'll fit pretty easily.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 05:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Just search "5F1 Champ" layout....the official Fender layouts are all over the net. "Fender Field Guide" is one place. Here's one:

http://www.kbapps.com/audio/schemati...5f1layout.html

The 5F2 Princeton has a tone control but I'm not sure whether that is an improvement or not. The 5f1 just has a volume knob and the on/off switch is on the volume pot in the original...a nice touch to have one sole knob in this day and age.

Anyway, if you get one of these going, you will definitely dig it!! THE classic!


You can blow holes in the chassis for tube sockets with a step drill...$15 at Harbor Freight.

Any questions ask the folks here or PM me.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 05:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I've found that fearing up for the build requires multiple sources of information.

When it comes to discharging the caps, read as many different perspectives and procedures as you can. You will soon start to see what is generally accepted good practice.

By reading and viewing different sources, you are exposed to a wider range of info. I've not been given any bad advice on the usual amp building sites, but I like to double and triple check my info.

A 5F1 is a good starting point. My first kit was a Mission Amps 5E3. If you prep for it and take your time during the build, you will have a very nice amp when the iron finally cools down.

Good luck and remember to enjoy the journey.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 10:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I would suggest a kit with all the parts included on a first build. That way you don't have to drill holes, create space, adjust cabling routes, look for hard to find parts, etc... A kit with good instructions or a forum for questions will make life easier the first time, unless you are just into DOING IT THE HARD WAY!
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I would suggest a kit with all the parts included on a first build. That way you don't have to drill holes, create space, adjust cabling routes, look for hard to find parts, etc...

I was just going to ask that. I don't have a workshop and drilling holes into a sheet of metal is never going to happen.

Is there a place that sells "kits" that are more "assemble yourself" than "build yourself?"
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:14 PM   #13 (permalink)
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IMO, that Rage 108 is a BF Champ waiting to happen.

- Scott
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Old May 25th, 2008, 11:39 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I think it'll be a Champ. There's plenty of room for mods later, and I want simple now so I can learn.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 12:17 AM   #15 (permalink)
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@Emu!

There are no hard to find parts in a Champ. A huge industry has arisen to sell Champ parts. Drilling holes in metal is not that hard if you get yourself a step bit, but since you can buy the chassis and boards ready to roll (and ready to take the stock replacement transformers) that is the reasonable option unless you are intent on scratch building.

The "kit" would sure look better for most builders with the regulation chrome chassis and all. It is easy to drill holes in sheet metal but not so easy to come up with something that looks great. Something that looks as good as a Weber chassis is ADVANCED metalwork and takes lots of crazy tools. I have built 50 or more tube electronics devices from scratch and I'd buy a chassis in a second for a Fender amp project.

-------------------

@FirstBassman

Any Fender amp kit is basically "paint by numbers" --should all bolt together and voila you have a Champ or whatever. The 5F1 champ is an entirely reasonable project for a neophyte builder. More complex amps are not "harder" but there is a lot more of it.

-----------------

Where you come in on the scratch build to kit continuum should be something you can feel. I'm building a Harvard right now and could build in on a trashcan lid, but I bought a board from turretboards.com and modified a 5f2 chassis with extra tube holes etc. this afternoon. Sucker is gonna look GOOD...yee hah!

Here's a pic of my Harvard chassis...

PS: I used to encourage people to build tube gear for my job. I published a DIY tube hi-fi magazine. It is not that hard to do and super fun and rewarding!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 10:03 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I figure it's just another parts build. I can follow instructions. I've built cars from junkyard parts, guitars from parts, and computers from parts, so I suppose an amp couldn't be that much harder as long as the parts are there. I've got no problems drilling holes in metal, so I'll stick with the Peavey chassis.

I'm definitely going Champ. It looks simple but it also looks like if I wanted to I could add to it if I wanted, say, three tone controls instead of one, or an extra gain stage, or the abiity to slave another amp or two...

But I'm starting simple.
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