Absolute amp noob, where to start?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Tdel10, Nov 5, 2016.

  1. Tdel10

    Tdel10 Tele-Meister

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    So , how many times has this been asked before :D

    The only amp I own is a fender frontman 25r(changed to a carvin speaker) and I think it sounds like crap. The only other amp I've ever played was some line 6 deal with about 150 knobs and twelve different inputs. Needless to say , I wasn't a huge fan of that one either.

    So, if I wanted to build a simple tube amp that has that classic fender or vox sound just to play in the living room with. . . . What do y'all recommend ?

    Is there a good, reasonably priced kit available?

    I've never messed with a tube anything , but I did rewire my house during a remodel and I'm currently putting a 100A subpanel in the garage so I have at least a little electrical experience . Hanging ceiling fans , replacing switches/plugs. . . Etc is no big deal , I can't imagine 1950's amp technology can be that much more complex. Tediously wired maybe , but my confidence is high
     
  2. Ash Telecaster

    Ash Telecaster Friend of Leo's

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    I built a 5e3. It was my first time trying to build anything. It was challenging but doable. There are much simpler circuits.
     
  3. cnlbb

    cnlbb Tele-Afflicted

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  4. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

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    Boot Hill 5E3 is a great amp to start with. What you need is the ability to solder, be willing to post your progress as you build, and patience.


    Boot Hill 5E3 http://boothillamps.com/5E3_Kits.html To many people in this forum have built the Boot Hill 5E3 to get started so it’s well documented so getting help or a question answered will not be a problem.


    Soldering you really have to be able to solder a decent joint but it’s a skill that can be mastered easily.


    Patience without that don’t waste your money on a kit. Check and recheck everything you do.


    Document you work with pictures, post them in the forum an extra sets of eyes are always helpful. I’ve seen so many builds end up with “ what’s wrong with my Amp” the answer is always post some pics.
     
  5. Outcaster

    Outcaster Tele-Holic

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    For livingroom play... 5F1 Tweed Champ with a 10 inch speaker. Great cleans transition into legedary dirt at moderate volume all with one knob.
    It's simpler than the 5E3 and doesnt have the interactive channels which, while cool, can also be confusing or frustrating.
    Start with the Champ, then do a Deluxe after you've been hooked
     
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  6. john_cribbin

    john_cribbin Tele-Afflicted

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    Well I'll come at this from a different angle.

    Do you know the sound you're looking for? If not, you may well pick and build a wonderful valve amp that doesn't appeal to you any more than what you're currently using.

    I would say seriously consider picking up a secondhand Vox Valvetronix or Fender Mustang. Bost of which do a pretty good job of modelling classic valve amps.

    Use one of those until you can identify the tone that puts the smile on you're face. Then you are in a strong position to pick the kit that's going to work for you.
     
  7. Doctorx33

    Doctorx33 Tele-Afflicted

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    I converted an old mono tube hifi amp from the fifties into a firebreathing 5F1. Running through a D130 it sounds incredible.
     
  8. richa

    richa Tele-Afflicted

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    A few questions. Are you really wanting to build an amp for the fun of building it or primarily to save money?
    If the latter have you seen the monoprice amp? - seriously.
    If the former - the boothill kits get a lot of coverage on the forum so that's a big plus if you're really just wanting to build an amp.

    Are you looking for dirt at living room levels? How loud is that for you? Even a Champ might not get you there.
    You might want to look at Rob Robinette's low wattage version of a Champ circuit (robrob on the forum or google champ micro for his page). No kit though that I know of so there's a bigger learning curve plus sourcing parts etc. This would be ambitious for a first build I think, but might ultimately be where you need to go if you want something you can drive hard at reasonable volume.

    Whatever you do take it slow.
     
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  9. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Afflicted

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    IMHO: Save yourself a pile of grief and simply buy a "quality" fender tube amp like a blues Jr, Princeton reverb or deluxe etc (each is is a huge step up from what you are now using.) They can by had at good prices in the used market, they are "pro" quality and if that ain't good enough - and you think you need something better - then you will at least have a reference point to start a project with.
     
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  10. Tdel10

    Tdel10 Tele-Meister

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    Thank you for the recommendation. That seems to be a very viable option that I will seriously consider .

    I didn't mention in my original post that I've also installed about a million car audio systems, complete chassis wiring harness', engine wiring harness, motorcycle wiring... Etc in a professional body/custom rod shop, and I'd rate my soldering skills from the car world at a 9.9 out of 10. Not bragging but , I've got that skill set well on its way toward mastery. Not an issue.

    Nothing about the work (in my limited research ) scares me, it's more the knowledge I guess. With most things , the best way for me to learn is just to jump in with both feet and do it. But due to the high voltage nature of this particular subject, that may not be the best approach.
     
  11. Tdel10

    Tdel10 Tele-Meister

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    This may be the way to go. I have no idea what I actually want. I've been an acoustic guy for the last 10 years just now jumping into the electric world. I have an El cheapo Squier strat , and am building my first Tele(the first coat of sanding sealer is drying as I type this ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ).

    All I know for sure is that I strongly dislike that strat (in general) and especially through that frontman.

    I do however like the intrigue of building my first guitar with an amp to match it. I'm in it for the project mainly , not the cost savings.

    I also have no idea what you guys are talking about with all these numbers lol. 5e3, 6v6...etc. I assume those are tube models but I don't know what factory made amps use what and even if I did I wouldn't be able to identify each one by the particular sound they create.

    Do they make a first time guitar amp for dummies book? I feel like a high school kid (I'm 30 BTW) trying to figure out how to impress a girl. So much to learn !
     
  12. Scooby Snax

    Scooby Snax Friend of Leo's

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    I'm going to offer a different angle, something in a Vox / Marshal can be done with an EF86 Lite?
    if you go to 18watt dot com, there are circuits there with layouts. Not that I don't love TDPRI, it's an amp forum, and the designs are tested and have many helping hands also.
     
  13. Doghouse_Riley

    Doghouse_Riley Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm making my first venture into learning tube amps too. So I can relate to getting confused by all the jargon. I do know that 5e3 is the model number for the Fender Deluxe. 6v6 is indeed a vacuum tube (power tube used for the 5e3 and a lot of others).
     
  14. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Your sound is much more a product of the amp than the guitar. That's why it's better to have a middling guitar and great amp than to have a great guitar and middling amp. The Squier might never be your favorite guitar, but it'll sound a lot better through a better amp.

    Yup, buying an amp might be the better course of action. Building an amp is a lot of work and can be more expensive than buying a decent tube amp. My Pro Junior works wonders - just eighteen watts, and with a good boost pedal, it holds its own in electric jams and gets compliments from the audience. I got it used for about $300.

    I started on a build for the fun of it recently, but I know it's a high-risk proposition. As many have said, it's not rocket science - it's harder.

    And you're right. A lot of knobs and a bunch of half-ass emulations are no substitute for a simple amp that knows how to sing. A Pro Junior just has two knobs - volume and tone. Plenty for most purposes. I have a bigger, better tube amp, but I usually just grab the PJ.

    So if you aren't thinking about a build for the fun factor, don't bother. Even if you do want to tackle a build at some point, getting a good tube amp now to play while your build is coming together isn't a bad idea.

    There are lots of books out there supposedly for dummies, but none of them makes it easy - because it's not easy, unless you grew up around soldering irons and capacitors.
     
  15. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller Tele-Meister

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    A great place to start is The Guitar Amp Handbook by Dave Hunter. It defines the components and breaks down the different stages within the amp. It then goes on to describe several different amp makes, and finally takes you through building an amp.
     
  16. dbl9

    dbl9 TDPRI Member

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    My $0.02

    Tdel10, you seem like a prime candidate for building. Join us down the rabbit hole:D.

    5a3, 5c3, 5e3, 5f1, 5f2, 5f11, 6g3... these are all Fender circuit codes.

    First number is the decade
    The letter is the generation, a,b,c, etc...
    Last number is the amp type 1 is Champ, 2 is Princeton, 3 is Deluxe, 4 is a Super etc...

    Watts Tube Audio's site has schematics and layouts for all the Fender circuits.
    https://tubeamplifierparts.com

    5e3 = Fender Tweed Deluxe. About 14 watts. 12 inch speaker. They built a number of different circuits as the Deluxe developed over the years. You can see the whole development at forum member Robrob's excellent site:
    https://robrobinette.com/Fender_Deluxe_Models.htm

    5f1 = Fender Tweed Champ. About 5 watts. The originals came with an 8 inch speaker, but people build them with 10s and 12s too.

    These are both absolute classic circuits.

    6V6 is a type of output tube (as opposed to pre-amp tubes). Others are 6L6, EL84, EL34, KT66... it goes on.
    They are uses in a couple of ways:
    Single Ended (SE) uses one tube, as in the 5f1 Champ
    Push pull (PP) uses two tubes, as in the 5e3 Deluxe

    The most common preamp tube is the 12ax7. There are others.

    Here is a great place to read about this stuff:
    http://www.valvewizard.co.uk

    Having said all that, if you are a dive in kind of guy, then just order up a 5f1 and build it. It is a great place to start. All the details will sink in slowly as you work and have questions. There is great support on this forum. If in the end it is not loud enough, build a bigger one:lol:. You will have fun.:)


    All normal "high voltages can KILL YOU" warnings apply.
     
  17. Tdel10

    Tdel10 Tele-Meister

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    I think we just had a "wanna go do karate in the garage " , "did we just become best friends " YUP moment there .

    Thank you. That helped a TON!
     
  18. dbl9

    dbl9 TDPRI Member

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    :lol:Hopefully no one looses any teeth this time;)

    +1 on the Boot Hill Kits.
     
  19. mungus

    mungus Tele-Meister

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    5F1 Tweed Champ (add a tone knob for a 5F2A)
    5E3 Tweed Deluxe
    Fender (Blackface) Princeton
    Matchless Spitfire/Lightning

    It's actually very easy to assemble a kit. The hard part is debugging mistakes. So don't make any. If you can work carefully and patiently it's not unreasonable to expect your amp to power up first time.

    You've got to the safety stuff backwards (start with the safety ground - the most important part of the amp) and then have the discipline and care to follow all the rules. Mistakes with high voltages could be punished severely.

    The 5F1 is a very simple circuit. It's only 4W but it'll easily be the loudest thing in your home (unless you have an expensive hi-fi system or you test jet engines in the yard). The others are all around 15W.

    The 5E3 is also very simple. Good choice for a first build.

    The Princeton - with tremolo and reverb - is a much more complicated circuit. That could be a challenge for a first build. There's a good chance you'll have problems to debug and to make a success of this you'll probably need to learn a lot more theory.

    The Spitfire & Lightning are "voxy" amps. These are reasonably simple circuits. Ceriatone do some kits and also for some Bad Cat designs which share some Matchless DNA.

    A new Vox AC15 is pretty cheap... but where's the fun?
     
  20. Stingfan73

    Stingfan73 Tele-Afflicted

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    First off, I would recommend EXTREME caution in building your first guitar amp, and if there is even the tiniest voice inside that hints that maybe you shouldn't have jumped into the build, I'd stop and reassess. Bragging rights of what you tried to do but almost got killed trying aren't particularly compelling. Be safe. Not sorry. Put intelligence and caution before confidence for best result.

    That said, I think a "classic" Fender sound is a Blackface Fender amp, but those are expensive. Even though I'm not a huge fan of their tone, based on the price and sound as a tube amp, a Blues Jr. seems a pragmatic, cost-conscious choice. A nice, well-kept used BJr is a good amp, and should be fairly reasonable price and in-line with any "build-your-own" and the bonus is you don't have to worry about whether your health insurance premium payments are up to date and up to snuff before starting out on a build.
     
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