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Considering An Amp Build

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Clifford1, Dec 27, 2017.

  1. Clifford1

    Clifford1 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    69
    Nov 26, 2017
    Kansas
    Ive been thinking of building a 5e3 as my first attempt of an amp build. First and foremost I actually want a 5e3 amp, but if I can DIY one and learn along the way that holds a ton of value to me.

    My question is regarding skill level and any needed learning I should do before jumping into something like this. My soldering skills are good and I can follow a basic diagram. My schematic reading is not great but I’ve seen several simple photo layouts of this circuit. Knowledge on why and how the circuit works is weak. Any suggested reading?

    Ideally I’d buy the boothill component kit and then procure the other parts once I reached that point.

    Is a 5e3 within an average tinkerers skill level? I’m kinda a do it myself when possible type.
     

  2. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    53
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    I’d suggest you check out @robrob ‘s site. He’s got loads of info about tube amps like the 5E3. I mean absolutely loads of info, diagrams, anecdotes, tips, mods, etc...

    I don’t know how the rest of the guys approach amp building but after Mounting sockets, chokes (if you have them) and transformers, I wire my heaters. Then I start the power supply from fuses to switches to transformer and rectifier circuit. Then I add my filter capacitors and test my voltages.

    Note: Make sure you have the ability to drain your filter caps because they’ll hold onto hundreds of volts even after the power is disconnected. I’ve got a bleeder resistor on my filters to drain the excess once the power is off but I still always check my filter caps with a volt meter before I do anything with the circuit.

    Then I work back through the circuit from outputs to preamp.

    The problem you might find is that one amp isn't enough. Right now you think you want a 5E3 but once that’s done, it’ll be a Bassman or a Marshall or something else.... it goes on.

    Have fun and post a build thread.
     
    robrob and Clifford1 like this.

  3. Clifford1

    Clifford1 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    69
    Nov 26, 2017
    Kansas
    The robrob site is outstanding. Should give me plenty of reading to do. Thanks for the heads up.
     
    robrob likes this.

  4. danlad

    danlad Tele-Meister

    194
    Mar 24, 2015
    Here and there
    Merlin Blencowe's books are great for understanding more of what is going on. All the circuit elements the 5E3 uses from preamp to tone control to phase inverter (plus lots more other designs) are covered in a way that will expand your knowledge but not get in the way of making those inevitable baby steps.

    My only (hard won) advice would be to pick a design & just do it or else you'll want to put everything on switches to hear the marginal differences for yourself but just end up causing yourself problems. Just revel in the toneful simplicity of these old 50s designs and leave the complexity to Mesa Boogie!
     
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  5. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    46
    Jan 9, 2010
    Western Canada
    My first amp build was a 5E3. I had built a couple of pedals prior to, to build some experience and confidence.

    I highly recommend reading and studying basics of electricity and tube amps, before jumping into an amp. You should try and learn what is going on in there. Placing each part, after studying its purpose is a great way to grasp new learnings.

    Troubleshooting initial start up problems will be less frustrating. Maintaining the amp in the future will be easier. Also your 2nd, 3rd and 4th amp build will be so much more enjoyable.

    We can recommend some books. Stuff written in the 40’s-50’s is just about right.
     
    awasson and Clifford1 like this.

  6. Texas_tele2015

    Texas_tele2015 Tele-Meister

    Age:
    42
    134
    Dec 17, 2014
    Mesquite, TX
    Just finished a boothill 5f1 build and turned out great. Was thinking of a 5e3 but decided would be best to go easiest and learn as much as possible then move on up. Read,research and talk to other people on here and other forums for advice and help. Those of us with the building bug have to stick together. Best of luck. Have fun and above all be careful as you already likely know.
     
    Clifford1 likes this.

  7. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    46
    Jan 9, 2010
    Western Canada
    Clifford1 likes this.

  8. Finck

    Finck Tele-Meister

    Age:
    52
    202
    Oct 11, 2017
    São Paulo - Brazil
    Above all, I recommend that you pay attention to polarity of the big electrolictic caps (they can explode if you reverse its polarity) and be very cautious with the high voltage (it can kill you). Never mess with the circuit when it is turned on, and ever discharge the caps previously to any task inside the amp.
     
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  9. DrPepper

    DrPepper Tele-Meister

    Age:
    58
    196
    Nov 24, 2017
    Texas
    Yes, a 5E3 is an excellent start, especially with the abundance of knowledge on the internet. Jump in, start a build thread and post pics.
     
    Clifford1 likes this.

  10. DrPepper

    DrPepper Tele-Meister

    Age:
    58
    196
    Nov 24, 2017
    Texas
    A jumper from pin1 of V1 to ground?
     

  11. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    53
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    I’d have a point on my filter cap after the rectifier that I could take to ground via a hefty resistor. That way you can drain them safely and quickly.

    On my amp (EL84 15 watt Push Pull), at the first filter cap, I’ve got a nice big resistor (220k) wired in permanent to drain the voltage. Within a few seconds of the power being off, it’s below a lethal level. Mine uses a solid state bridge rectifier so I’m not sure how you would incorporate this sort of thing with tube rectification.
     

  12. Clifford1

    Clifford1 TDPRI Member

    Age:
    29
    69
    Nov 26, 2017
    Kansas
    I like the idea of a bleed resistor in the circuit but I can build one into a jumper without much trouble.
     

  13. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    53
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    Yes, I think a hardwired resistor of a few watts is a good idea too. I’m just not sure what a suitable value would be in a 5e3 so that it didn’t affect the power supply adversely while it was running.
     

  14. DrPepper

    DrPepper Tele-Meister

    Age:
    58
    196
    Nov 24, 2017
    Texas
    I don/t know about you guys, but once I get amp built, I'm ready to play. Not spend days under the hood... a jumper wire is good enough for me.
     
    Outlaws likes this.

  15. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Age:
    66
    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    My first Amp was a Boothill 5E3 quiet honestly I thought it was pretty easy, I've built a few 5E3's and 2 G15 reverb's. I still have a lot to learn the trick is taking your time
     
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  16. awasson

    awasson Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    53
    Nov 18, 2010
    Vancouver
    Once it's built and the cover is on the chassis, the odds of electrocution is slim. Also, the circuit should eventually bleed the voltage down when it's turned off. It's during the build and servicing that you need to be worried. Up here (Canada), all manufactured electronics require a bleeder to be CSA approved.
     

  17. Outlaws

    Outlaws Tele-Meister

    197
    Jan 16, 2007
    None
    Everyone should own a pair (at least if not 5 or 6 pairs) of alligator jumpers. Keep a resistor stash on hand. It’s a 10 second process to clip to chassis and probe the caps with a resistor. Plus you now have a quickly accessible bleed on hand for every amp you run into. It’s no more dangerous than probing with a meter...which still needs to be done anyways.
     
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