Amp kit compared to the real thing

lalagaga

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At about a grand, the Fender '57 Custom Champ is alot more than I'd like to spend on an amp. I ordered a Champ clone kit from Mojotone that I can't wait to arrive. Anyone here own or played both? If so, how does the kit version compare to the real thing? Thanks in advance!
 

JuneauMike

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I've never played the real thing (never seen the real thing) but a kit will cost around $1,000. An experienced amp builder could do it for way less, maybe even with parts laying around their workspace.

But for a newbie like me, when you look back on all the parts, shipping, tools, materials, mistakes, more parts, more tools; you arrive at a place where you don't dare add up the costs.
 

Jakedog

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I've never played the real thing (never seen the real thing) but a kit will cost around $1,000. An experienced amp builder could do it for way less, maybe even with parts laying around their workspace.

But for a newbie like me, when you look back on all the parts, shipping, tools, materials, mistakes, more parts, more tools; you arrive at a place where you don't dare add up the costs.
This. For sure.

I entertained the idea of building the amp I want as a project to keep me busy while there were no gigs. I looked at what the amp I want costs. I looked at what the kit costs. I looked at the crap I’d have to buy to build the kit. I thought about what it might cost me to get my amp guy to fix it when I screw something up, which this being the very first time I’d ever tried to do anything of this nature, I would.

I came to the conclusion that I was better off spending a couple bucks on new headphone practice toy, and spending all my boredom time practicing, and just buying the amp I want when I’m back to gigging full time.

I say none of this to discourage anyone from building their own amp. Just to make sure anybody doing so, who hasn’t done it before, is being realistic about the outcome.

When I looked I honestly didn’t know what good kits cost. I figured (without looking) that I’d be able to get the amp I wanted for maybe half to two thirds the cost. Nope.
 
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NEED4TWEED

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I've never played the real thing (never seen the real thing) but a kit will cost around $1,000. An experienced amp builder could do it for way less, maybe even with parts laying around their workspace.

But for a newbie like me, when you look back on all the parts, shipping, tools, materials, mistakes, more parts, more tools; you arrive at a place where you don't dare add up the costs.

How about half that.

https://tedweber.com/5f1-c-kt/



To the OP, good for you man. I've never played any originals but I've built a couple amp kits now (5E3 and 1987 Marshall), which to me sound amazing - very close to the classic sound, if not unidentifiably different without doing an A/B - and better than any production amps I've owned in the price range.
 

JuneauMike

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How about half that.

https://tedweber.com/5f1-c-kt/



To the OP, good for you man. I've never played any originals but I've built a couple amp kits now (5E3 and 1987 Marshall), which to me sound amazing - very close to the classic sound - and better than any production amps I've owned in the price range.
Yep, that price is very seductive for sure. Same thing for Mojotone, or any other kit. But if you get sucked into this hobby with the idea of saving money, you will be disappointed.

By your third or fourth amp, you can do it pretty cheaply (though by then you will be smart enough not to want to), but the guy starting from ground zero is gonna burn through his budget very quickly.

If you are doing this because you have a reverence and curiosity about guitar amps, none of the rest of this stuff matters. I still get a special feeling when I turn my 5F1 on and see that light glow. There is nothing like the sound or feel of a Champ. That's what I paid for.
 
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NEED4TWEED

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Yep, that price is very seductive for sure. Same thing for Mojotone, or any other kit. But if you get sucked into this hobby with the idea of saving money, well that's where it falls apart.

By your third or fourth amp, you can do it pretty cheaply (though by then you won't want to), but the guy starting from ground zero is gonna burn through his budget very quickly.

If I had to estimate the cost of the tools specific to building an amp, since you may already have the others and/or can utilize them otherwise, I'd say you can get what you need for easily less than $100. Add that to the price and you're still way ahead. Especially if you get economies of scale building another.

I understand it's not for everyone, but I think the cost savings are there. Especially when you can handle most repairs on your own and don't need to rely on an amp tech.
 

JuneauMike

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If I had to estimate the value of the tools specific to building an amp, since you may already have the others and/or can utilize them otherwise, I'd say you can get what you need for easily less than $100. Add that to the price and you're still way ahead. Especially if you get economies of scale building another.
You and I just disagree there. A decent Variac costs right around $100, but I sure can't buy a dependable and accurate multimeter for that price.
 

NEED4TWEED

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I built a 5E3 back in April from StewMac. I've never played an original but I LOVE my amp kit. It sounds perfect to my ears. I like it even better than my '59 Fender Bassman LTD.

Likely because the LTD is PCB. I still don't understand how that makes a sonic difference, but I'll argue it does.
 
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NEED4TWEED

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JuneauMike

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To the OP, the 5F1 Champ is an important artifact of rock and roll. It is Adam and Eve, it is Patient Zero of an eternal affliction. You should go for it, and work hard to understand every component in it and how they work with every other component. When you fire it up and play through it, everything changes for you. Definitely go for it.

But you will be much more satisfied if you do it for love rather then as a way to save a buck. But you can build an excellent amp on your own.
 

jmp81sc

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I think building amps is more of a hobby for most of us. My first build was a Bassman and a 2x 10 cab. I was all in for about $800, about the same price as a used reissue bassman, however it was a great learning experience and got me started in the hobby.

You can save money by building your own cabs and buying blank chassis and use an existing speaker cab. I do my builds mostly as head units, and use a 1 x 12 cab and a 2 x 10 cab.
 

NEED4TWEED

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To the OP, the 5F1 Champ is an important artifact of rock and roll. It is Adam and Eve, it is Patient Zero of an eternal affliction. You should go for it, and work hard to understand every component in it and how they work with every other component. When you fire it up and play through it, everything changes for you. Definitely go for it.

But you will be much more satisfied if you do it for love rather then as a way to save a buck. But you can build an excellent amp on your own.

Yes, we agree there. The costs savings is a perk.
 

Dan_Pomykalski

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This. For sure.

I entertained the idea of building the amp I want as a project to keep me busy while there were no gigs. I looked at what the amp I want costs. I looked at what the kit costs. I looked at the crap I’d have to buy to build the kit. I thought about what it might cost me to get my amp guy to fix it when I screw something up, which this being the very first time I’d ever tried to do anything of this nature, I would.

I came to the conclusion that I was better off spending a couple bucks on new headphone practice toy, and spending all my boredom time practicing, and just buying the amp I want when I’m back to gigging full time.

I say none of this to discourage anyone from building their own amp. Just to make sure anybody doing so, who hasn’t done it before, is being realistic about the outcome.

When I looked I honestly didn’t know what good kits cost. I figured (without looking) that I’d be able to get the amp I wanted for maybe half to two thirds the cost. Nope.
I’ve built three amps now and they cost way less than the retail version. I built my AB763 for around $400, my 5F6-A for around $350, and my father-in-laws JCM800 for $700. If you have parts already, and build a cabinet yourself, it cuts the cost significantly.
 

Preacher

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I have built a 5E3 from a partial kit from Dave at Boothill (he sent me all the caps, resistors and such). I made my own Garolite circuit board with eyelets, and bought my OT and PT from Hammond I believe. I am using a Weber signature speaker in my home made cabinet.

I have also played an original '56 5E3 as well. I have sound clips from both and I just need to figure out how to load them.

To my ears the '56 and my homemade did not sound that different. The '56 seemed to have a little early breakup than mine did but I also felt my low ends were a little more tame that the '56.

All in all unless you want to spend $4K on a vintage amp I say build one.

I will also say that it is not as cheap as you would think. Not counting labor I probably have over $800 invested in mine, and countless hours of tweaking and modding to get it to sound right.
 

Jakedog

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I’ve built three amps now and they cost way less than the retail version. I built my AB763 for around $400, my 5F6-A for around $350, and my father-in-laws JCM800 for $700. If you have parts already, and build a cabinet yourself, it cuts the cost significantly.
Well that’s just it. I don’t have parts. I’m not an amp tech. I will definitely not be building my own cab, and don’t own the tools to do so, nor know how to use them, even if I wanted to.

Sure, if you already have all the tools and skills, and parts laying around, I’m sure you can save significantly. For your average Joe off the street, you won’t. That was my point.

If the object is to gain satisfaction and skills, and say “I made this”. Then it can be a good investment. If your goal is to simply get the same thing for significantly less money, it’s really not feasible.
 

Dan_Pomykalski

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Well that’s just it. I don’t have parts. I’m not an amp tech. I will definitely not be building my own cab, and don’t own the tools to do so, nor know how to use them, even if I wanted to.

Sure, if you already have all the tools and skills, and parts laying around, I’m sure you can save significantly. For your average Joe off the street, you won’t. That was my point.

If the object is to gain satisfaction and skills, and say “I made this”. Then it can be a good investment. If your goal is to simply get the same thing for significantly less money, it’s really not feasible.
The JCM800 I built for $700 was for all of the components, including the tubes. I just bought a circular saw for $25. A few pine boards would be like $15. Make a box out of those boards, you have a JCM800 for $740. A JCM800 is $3150. That leaves $2410 for a decent soldering iron.
 

oldfish

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i made a 5f1 clone from a ampmaker kit cost £120 tubes and speakers i have .had to buy a chassis £30 built cab with stuff i had laying about and sound very nice i highly recommend ampmaker kits and they came with UK made transformers;)
 




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