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5E3 Kit-or Roll Your Own? First Time Build

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by backalleyblues, Apr 23, 2019.

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  1. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    Howdy Everyone!

    Got some cash together recently, and I'm looking to turn it into a pile of parts, err, a Tweed Deluxe!

    Now, this will be the first time I'm building an amp, but I'm reasonably fluent in building low voltage stuff-effects pedals and the like, and I've always worked on my own electrics, so I've got some soldering chops, and tools in hand. Assembling and troubleshooting an amp, while a fair step up, is doable for me, especially with all the Youtube videos available, and many other sources, including here!

    While I have the capabilities and the space to assemble and test a 5E3, building a cabinet is out of the question-I can finish one easily enough, but a lack of woodworking tools and space shoot down the idea of scratch building a cabinet for this project.

    I've seen a number of kits online, all with their strengths and weaknesses, and all near the same price point. I'm sure I'd be happy with most of them (the Tube Depot kit looks especially tempting!) but is it possible to build something of the same quality cheaper, or better quality at the same price? If I go this route, I'd probably want to get the chassis and parts, transformers, etc from the same source-cabinet, tubes and speaker are easy enough to find, so I'm not worried about that too much.

    So what say ye, fellow solder slingers? thx in advance for your responses!

    Franc Robert
     
  2. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Good for you, and go for it.

    If the question is can you build cheaper, or better at the same price, by steering around a kit, the simple answer is no. Kits come in at several price/quality levels, but each actually represents pretty good value. Sure, experienced builders save money by having lots of parts lying around -- and knowing which local dumpsters to check for more -- :) but the markup on a kit is more than offset by the fact kit suppliers can buy the parts wholesale and you basically can't. Plus you save real money by combining shipping -- building a complete parts list and ordering it all correctly, from just a few sources, is *not* easy.

    Rather than go on and on about kit vendors, here's my post in a good thread about some kit suppliers.
     
  3. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

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    i would add to king fan, and he knows his stuff, that the most expensive parts are the cabinet, speaker, chassis, and the transformers. everything else is not that expensive.

    i have built the tubedepot kit and it is a great amp. i have also built two other 5e3 amps by sourcing the parts, but, due to the high cost of the parts noted above, i can not afford to keep building them and expect to make any money off of them. so, they've become part of my herd of amps. the latter amps were built with a couple of mods from robrob, rob robinette. one is the marshall lead mod and the other is the negative feedback mod. both are great.

    play music!
     
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  4. Mr Ridesglide

    Mr Ridesglide Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If you are going to source all your own parts do your best to have a near perfect parts list. Shipping is the ouch of it all. Cabinets are hard to save money on unless you get lucky. Speakers can be found reasonably at times. Bloom for free shopping mv on the big ticket items when possible. The rest is fun!!
    Good luck and post pictures:)
     
  5. Urshurak776

    Urshurak776 Tele-Holic

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    I sourced all my own parts and if had to do it again, I would get a kit. Boot hill Amps is a great source.
     
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  6. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

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    This. It's the big ticket items that drive the price.

    Kits can save you more in shipping than you would save by ordering parts piecemeal from several suppliers, too. Especially if you miss a few items on your materials list and have to make multiple orders.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
     
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  7. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    I source all my own parts and have a box of miss ordered parts to prove it :mad: The first Amps I built were kits, I think for the first time build it’s a good choice eliminates guess. If you order something wrong the part/parts you have another waiting time and shipping charge. I can’t recall any self-sourced build I bought everything from one vendor so that adds to shipping cost.

    I enjoyed sourcing the parts now I always buy more than I need I probably could build two 5E3's now less Transformers. Also, when I send in an order, I add some stuff I don’t need at the time but will in the future. Most parts are pretty inexpensive except chassis, Transformers, Speaker and the cabinet. I buy them when I need them (I do have some extra speakers & chassis) I do have a very complete wood shop I build my own cabs.
     
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  8. mherrcat

    mherrcat Tele-Holic

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    I built an Allen Accomplice Jr. a couple of years ago; excellent kit, comprehensive instructions.

    When I wanted a 5E3 I ended up buying a completed chassis on Reverb.com and a cabinet/speaker from Armadillo Amp Works. I just didn't feel like going through that whole build process again. The "stock" 5E3 circuit is pretty simple and there are several quality builders out there. I did end up doing some Rob Robinette mods on it myself, though...
     
  9. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    That tube depot kit is hard to beat price wise. The PCB is a negative if you ever want to mod anything and most people are going to see it as an indicator of lower quality even though it should have no real effect on the way the amp sounds. That mod speaker is kind of a downside too, not really the right speaker for the amp IMO. Otherwise its a pretty good value.

    Someone mentioned Boothill, and I'd second that. I got a kit from him for my first build and he was the best value out there at the time for a turret board kit.

    If you are interested, I'm in Jacksonville and I might be willing to build a cabinet for you for the cost of materials plus a bit for my time. PM me if you want to discuss it.
     
  10. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm considering ordering one from Mabelaudio. Not a kit but a completed amp minus the cab and speaker although they do offer kits too.
     
  11. Paul-T

    Paul-T Tele-Holic

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    I followed the board's recommendation for Boothill, his kit was great, his 5E3 really complements the info on, eg, Rob's site, and I doubt you could find the parts significantly cheaper, especially if you like Classic Tone transformers. Also, his selection seems to include things like sturdier p/s caps (I can't see what tubedepot offers as I couldn't see a breakdown last time I looked).

    I actually bought a chassis from Mabelaudio aka Ampmart as I'm in the UK, because postage prices. Chassis looks great. If you email them to ask for postage prices first, they will give you a cheaper deal for postage. Delivered super-quick although they're being a bit sketchy about damage sustained en route.

    Chunkocaster, check yours carefully as I've seen tech's comments about non-standard and relatively dangerous wiring on the internals, whether true or not, maybe post photos of the internals here?
    [edit to avoid derailing thread, I looked for but can't find the mention, it was from a tech working on the interior, it was only dangerous because there was HV on pins he didn't expect, not because of poor earthing etc].
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  12. Chunkocaster

    Chunkocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for the heads up on the potential wiring issues. Will post pics and seek advice here before powering the amp up if I go ahead and order one.
     
  13. intensely calm

    intensely calm Tele-Meister

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    @backalleyblues , are you looking for cabinet that is finished? Can you, or would you be willing finish a raw cabinet? Basically wrap, or spray a box, or assemble flat pieces? Just curious.

    There are a couple fully assembled "raw" cabinet options on ebay, I believe they ship from Cali.
    That being said, I've just built some Champ 5F1 cabinets, and I'm considering selling "flat" kits.
    Basically, all the wood will be cut and box jointed, edges either left proud, or radius'd. The cab kit would need to be glued together, sanded and finished as the buyer would see fit.

    I don't know if there is a market for this kind of "flat" kit. It will be like putting a bird house together... a very large and loud bird house.

    Here is a Champ cabinet I put together last weekend, a Tweed Deluxe would just be a bigger sibling.
    Envision all the sides, speaker baffle, and back panels all cut, laying flat in a box.
    Would save on shipping!

    As for price, I don't know yet, still streamlining my process to save time and money.
    I'm just thinking out loud at this point.

    I've recently purchased a 5F1 Champ kit from Boothill Amps, Dave was very responsive and got the amp kit sent right out. He's in Florida too!

    CB_Cabinet2.jpg

    My Champ cab is the same height and width, but 1/2" deeper than standard. My butt fits better on it.
     
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  14. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    I suppose it depends on the components in the kit. I like to put my own together. For sure I want:
    -Switchcraft jacks
    -CTS or Alpha Pots.
    -Waxed cloth wire with no liner.
    -Quality tube sockets (not ceramic)
    -Carling switches.

    Get your own speaker.
     
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  15. Bill Moore

    Bill Moore Tele-Afflicted

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    My 5E3 build was with a Tube Depot board, already set up for some common mods. The problem I encountered was the two sided board traces didn't go through the board, (I had to solder top, and bottom). I heard they fixed that problem though.
    5E32.jpg.JPG
     
  16. mjcyates

    mjcyates Tele-Meister

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    Well my first amp build was a Boothill kit so I would probably recommend that. Just know that when you get your first amp built and working you are either going to want to re-do it with your own parts selection and/or build another amp;).
     
  17. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    I'll give you a buzz... Franc
     
  18. muswell_hillbilly

    muswell_hillbilly Tele-Meister

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    I'm pretty much in the same boat as you ;)

    I asked myself the same question, and ended up with a combination of kit/self-source - thx so much to this great forum for guidance.

    I went with the Boot Hill Amp 5E3 chassis kit, with both of Dave's recommended cap upgrades. Based on recommendation of @robrob , I went with David Allen transformers - TP40D & TO26. After reading many posts on this forum, I chose a Weber speaker - 12a125a. Before I read about these bee-box cabinets, and not having any wood working tools, I went all-in and purchased a cabinet from Armadillo Amp Works. Finally, I spent a lot of time reading @robrob's site, and planned some of his favorite mods into my initial build, which meant a shopping trip to TubeDepot.com for a variety of components to facilitate experimenting once I put something together that actually works ;)

    I'm mostly a forum lurker at this point, and trying to learn as much as possible. I commit to posting my build experience once I get started!

    Cheers!
     
  19. backalleyblues

    backalleyblues Friend of Leo's

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    I can FINISH a cabinet, no problem-it's precision cutting and milling that I'm not able to do (and finger joints-fuhgettaboutit!)

    Assuming I source my own cabinet, I very likely would stain and seal it-seen a lot of cabinets done that way, and I really like the look. I've fought contact cement enough times to know that I dislike it intensely, to say the least! Besides, it's a 5E3 FrancenLuxe, I can make it look however I want!

    So to recap-If I go the Boothill route, that's $300 for the electronic end of things, another $65-70 for tubes, $66 + shipping for a Weber Signature Alnico, then the cabinet... about $150-200 for the cabinet, I'm guessing, before the Tube Depot Kit becomes a better value... hmmmmm...

    Franc Robert
     
  20. rocksmoot

    rocksmoot Tele-Meister

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