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5F1 Champ - Weber Kit Build/Review

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by jvande7, Oct 6, 2020.

  1. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    I've built many pedals, but this is just my 2nd amp build, as I built a Mojotone 5E3 kit last year which turned out great.

    I'd like to compare the experience of the Mojotone 5E3 to this Weber 5F1 kit. I think that's where the value of this post lies, as we don't need another general 5F1 build thread.

    I've been buying Weber speakers for almost 20 years now, so I decided to try their amp kit instead of Mojotone--mainly because I knew I wanted the 8" Weber Signature Alnico speaker, and if I was going to pay for that shipping...might as well get it all from Weber to save money. Weber also had the best price going, although not by much.

    I appreciate and respect Weber speakers, and I will certainly order from them again in the future, but there were several snags with this project. First off, they only give you $15 back for each transformer if you decide to opt out of theirs. This is fine for the $25 OT, but the PT sells for $52.50 retail. Also, one week after I placed my order they had a sale on amp kits for 11% off. Since my order hadn't shipped yet (and wouldn't for several weeks) I emailed them to ask if they would give me the 11% off, but received no response. Most importantly, when my order did arrive it was missing several parts. It was missing a 100K resistor, the 470 ohm resistor I should have been sent was actually 1K, and the power cord cabinet clamp thingy was missing.

    I emailed and they replied a couple days later saying they'd send me the missing pieces. Based on the lack of response from my 11% sale email, I figured they'd be slow to help out, so I went ahead and ordered the parts I needed through Amazon since I could have delivery in just 1-2 days. This meant that I had paid a bit more than I thought I would for the kit. I could have waited for Weber to sort it out, but I wanted to complete the build ASAP so I could play with it on my 1-week vacation (staycation).

    Mojotone didn't skimp out on any parts when I built their 5E3, and they included a nice plastic case with dividers instead of a ziploc baggy. All parts were included and of decent quality, whereas Weber omitted a few crucial parts, and a couple of their parts were pretty cheap--mainly the chrome-painted plastic on/off lamp assembly (I've since ordered a proper metal one). I was happy to see Weber supplied quality Switchcraft input jacks though!

    Both builds turned out great, but obviously the Weber kit was a bit more of a hassle due to missing parts. The cabinets were of comparable quality, and I shellac'd/lacquer'd them both myself. Oh and I went with Classic Tone 18030 and 18019 transformers for the 5F1 and I'm getting 380v plate voltage using either NOS 5Y3 or new JJ 5Y3 (only 1-2 volts difference). I'm also happy to report that my Weber 5F1 is not the least bit noisey, barely any hum at all.

    Ultimately I would order from Weber again, as I've gotten good service from them for many years, but since the simplest of builds (5F1) with such a small parts list couldn't be sent to me without missing pieces ... I'd definitely shop around first.


    5F1 top.jpg 5F1 front.jpg 5F1 guts.jpg Tele 5F1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  2. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for the review. Good job!
     
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  3. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    yeah, the fuse holder is cheap, the chicken head looks cheap, the plastic pilot light holder is worthless (actually broke/deformed it trying to screw it in), the pot is cheap trash (wafer loosened from the pot body and was impossible to actually get tight again, had to order a higher quality one), and something is just off about the silkscreen. i put classictone transformers in mine, they use some chinese cheapos. everything else is fine. i can understand the transformers from a cost perspective, but for the price they really shouldn't be skimping on those minor things mentioned above.

    too bad hoffman shut its doors. it's way more worth it just to order his parts kits and worry about cab/speaker later.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  4. Urshurak776

    Urshurak776 Tele-Afflicted

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    Thank you!
     
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  5. jman72

    jman72 Tele-Afflicted

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    Great review of the Weber kit, and good to know about your experience. I built a 5F1 with my son a few months ago from a Boothill kit (with ClassicTone transformers included), and it was a great value for the price, so I'd definitely recommend it.

    As an aside, I built my own cabinet and put a 12" Jensen C12N in it and it sounds FANTASTIC! I just spent an hour jamming on it and I really think that it is the perfect little tube amp for home use (with a 5751 preamp tube, it doesn't break up without an OD pedal, so I can literally get any tone I want out of it). I've been using it for about 4 months with my band (a weekly outdoor, low volume rehearsal), and it is perfect for that situation. I feel silly saying this (given that the Champ is such a classic amp), but I think it is underrated for its versatility with the right tube/speaker choices. It is most definitely NOT the one-trick pony I thought it would be.
     
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  6. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    Yeah the fuse holder is cheapo too, you're right. The pot is definitely suspect, but doing alright for me so far. I did have to really finesse the plastic lamp holder into place trying to tighten it enough to be useful but also trying not to crack the plastic.
    It'll probably work just fine for living room players, but if you plan to transport the amp at all it's probably wise to pony up for some less delicate parts.

    Lastly, when are all of these companies going to get a clue about the power transformers? There's basically only 1 transformer out there that would give you proper voltages (if you're trying to clone a vintage unit, which many of us are). The Hammond 290AX with 275-0-275 option. Everyone else seems to be supplying PT that put the build at 400v, which yes is within +20% of the 340v spec on the schematic but seems far from ideal for the classic Champ sound, no? (too much clean)
    The Classic Tone transformers I got do sound pretty good, but I'm tempted to swap the PT out for the Hammond 290AX.
     
  7. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    I just picked up a couple NOS tubes including a 5751, and I will admit when I set my sights on the 5F1 Champ I was thinking no cleans, just a nice little boxy honky grinder/ripper for classic ragged rock & roll tones--but yeah it actually gets really nice cleans on the lower end of the volume dial, and can take dirt pedals really well at those settings. Much more versatile than I expected, like you said.
     
  8. tubeToaster

    tubeToaster Tele-Meister

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    I built a Princeton reverb from a Weber kit. I didn’t like the capacitors and the pots supplied with the kit. The transformers worked well and the output transformer sounds good. I have used Weber power transformers on 3 other builds with no problems. One of them is 14 years old and still going strong.
     
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  9. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    Nice! Yeah I would have used the Weber transformer (Heyboer HY022772) no problem, but the voltage of the PT (375-0-375) is too high for the 5F1 build I was going for. I actually wish I had gone with the Hammond 290AX which has a 275-0-275, but I'm happy with my Classic Tone 18019 PT 325-0-325 which puts me at 380v.

    Oh and yeah the filter caps are just basic unbranded cheapos. Might be fine, might not. I wish I could have upgraded to better caps when I was selecting my options at the time of purchase.

    As others have said, if you buy the budget kit, expect the budget parts. I get that. I'm just putting this info out there so any potential builders can better plan their attack/results.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
  10. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great review. I love Weber speakers and really love their customer service too.

    The nice thing about a 5F1 is that there are so few parts and each part is important enough that its maybe more fun to build one from scratch. You can buy a handful of resistors and "high-grade" or bin the ones with the closest tolerances, etc. I think any pre-packaged kit is probably gonna have its share of compromises.
     
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  11. tubeToaster

    tubeToaster Tele-Meister

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    You are right about the Hammond 290ax. I used a Hammond 290CAX for a 5f2a build and the voltages worked out good.
     
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  12. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Your review of your Weber kit is helpful and balanced, and I'm sure you're right -- this is the vibe you get reading about Weber kits for many years. I'm not sure the service issues date back to Ted, but the kit parts philosophy totally does. He set out to build a kit folks could get for less $$, and he succeeded.

    **Here's the thing:** Weber's speaker shop is totally different in philosophy and operation from their kit shop (and their cab shop, which in years past was actually a different outfit altogether). AFAIK, their speakers were and *are* built to be the best they can be for what they are (eg, the modern versions of Jensen classic 'Chicago' models). I've had super service and awesome results from their speaker shop for years and years, but even many years ago I had severe problems with their cab shop and I've always seen "eh, it's OK" and "but it works" as the *typical* review for their kits.

    TLDR version: I'd never order a Weber kit, but I always consider their speakers among the best.
     
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  13. harpdog

    harpdog Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I just ordered the kit...maybe if I had seen this first, I wouldn’t have.
    Oh well, this will be my first amp build and I will take my time and expect some compromises...glad for the warning!
     
  14. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    Absolutely! Their speakers are ace.
     
  15. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    Their kits are not bad, don't worry. The cabinet and chassis are quality, and their speakers are top notch. You might just want to upgrade some of the smaller bits like the on/off lamp, the fuse, and maybe the volume pot. And then maybe upgrade the capacitors if you're picky. But honestly, it'll work out great as-is. I'm only complaining because I'm obsessive and want to build this sort of heirloom piece that I hope lasts longer than I do.

    Just be sure to check your box of parts against the list of what you should have received, this way you can email them right away to have any missing parts sent out to you so you're not waiting on them to complete the build. I bet you most likely won't have anything missing though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2020
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  16. harpdog

    harpdog Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Thanks...will do!
     
  17. jvande7

    jvande7 TDPRI Member

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    Ah, couple more things re: Weber kits and service.

    1. The cab I received was expertly wrapped in tweed, and the tweed was already slightly coated with lacquer/shellac to my surprise. I view this as a bonus, though it may have just been a factory error in my favor. I won't say the cab was flawless, but it was certainly worth the price.

    2. CJ at Weber was super helpful and responsive regarding the pre-purchase questions I had about transformer specs and more.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2020
  18. harpdog

    harpdog Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Read the fine print last night and learned Weber does not supply a step by step guide. I need that. I cancelled the order and will go with a Mojotone 5F1 now.
     
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  19. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    I've ordered a fair amount of parts from Weber in the last few years. I've been happy with all of the transformers I've gotten from them, made overseas but seem to be comparable quality to Classic Tone in my experience. Small parts are fine, the pots may not be top quality but I've only had one that I had to take apart and fix.

    That being said, at least half of the time they have forgotten one or more parts of my order. They have always shipped out the missing parts quickly by you definitely need to check your order as soon as it arrives.

    Customer service otherwise seems to have gone downhill in the last year. I got a defective speaker from them that had voice coil rub out of the box. I didn't finish the build for several months after buying the speaker and therefore didn't notice the issue and when I finally did and asked them if they could do anything about it I got no response at all. I would have been annoyed but understood if they just told me I was out of luck but getting no response at all was worse then being told to go screw myself...

    Between that experience and their shipping having gotten really expensive I haven't ordered from them since.

    Not saying I won't ever order from Weber again, but recently I've gone back to AES since they are cheaper when you hit their free shipping minimum and you end up with better parts and service.
     
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  20. Twangbo

    Twangbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Beautiful build man! Thanks for the review- just built the Mojo 5F6A kit and it was expensive but nice for a Noob like me to get his feet wet. From here on out I want to try scratch builds as I've learned a ton! It had a bad 9 pin tube socket that they replaced quick with no hassles except the wait which wasn't long. Cheers!
     
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