Amp kit compared to the real thing

Guitarteach

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My build is better IMHO.. not least because it has killer mods, (variable NFB, tone, cathode bypass boosts and a homebrew VVR) a big airy cab and the big voice and perfection of a 12” Celestion Blue.

I actually don’t quite get the ‘clone build’ idea of duplicating an existing model. Why? The cab and speaker upgrades really open it up and it is an absolute tone monster.

Kits = chance to customise/personalise and tweak and manipulate at component level IMHO.

I don’t know the mojotone kit and if it gives you guidance on what each part does and ideas to mod it as you go.

It’s a lot of fun whatever... and that is priceless.
 
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Uncle Daddy

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I built a TAD Princeton Reverb for 900 quid. A 12" handwired amp with over-spec transformers for a grand less than a Fender equivalent.
 

JuneauMike

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Not even on avoiding the amp tech in the future, huh?
I've built three amps so far (two of them scratch built) and am toiling away on a fourth scratch build which will be the coolest thing I've ever made if it gets finished.

I don't make a living building amplifiers, I have no formal training in electronics and my understanding of the circuits I build are, at the end of the day, limited. I can look inside an amp and understand the basic operation of most all the components, and I'm comfortable in finding sources for more information when I need to. But I am out of my depth when it becomes necessary to dive into the math of creating magic from a circuit. When I build an amp, I spend way more time reading then I do working. And I've learned things on every build that I wish I applied to previous builds. Every one.

If my DRRI goes on the fritz, I'm taking it to a qualified professional. I am not an amp tech. Do you consider yourself an amp tech? Do you think a hobbyist who just finished his very first 5F1 is a qualified amp tech?

I get where you are coming from, really. This is a fun hobby and there are savings to be had if you have enough knowledge and experience to know where to skimp and where to spend. But we run the risk of misleading people if we just extol the budget aspects and ignore the hidden costs (both money and time) that come with this hobby.

I have no doubt that an inexperienced enthusiast can build an awesome 5F1 on their own. But this is not an erector set, and people should get into it with a clear idea of what they are taking on. Another reason not to overplay the the costs is that most people who successfully build their first amp end up building more. If you enjoy playing guitar you should keep on playing guitar. If you want something more out of the experience, building an amp is a great way to get that.

In a lot of ways this reminds me of the hobby of radio control airplanes and cars. You dive in, have a great time and a few years later you look around your garage and realize you've been overrun by your hobby. And you wouldn't want it any other way.
 
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NEED4TWEED

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I've built three amps so far (two of them scratch built) and am toiling away on a fourth scratch build which will be the coolest thing I've ever made if it gets finished.

I don't make a living building amplifiers, I have no formal training in electronics and my understanding of the circuits I build are, at the end of the day, limited. I can look inside an amp and understand the basic operation of most all the components, and I'm comfortable in finding sources for more information when absolutely. But I am out of my depth when it becomes necessary to dive into the math of creating magic from a circuit. When I build an amp, I spend way more time reading then I do working. And I've learned things on every build that I wish I applied to previous builds. Every one.

If my DRRI goes on the fritz, I'm taking it to a qualified professional. I am not an amp tech. Do you consider yourself an amp tech? Do you think a hobbyist who just finished his very first 5F1 is a qualified amp tech?

That's cool. I think most issues can be solved with signal tracing, an understanding of how the amp functions, testing equipment/tools, and relying upon forums or friends you may have made that are more knowledgable when you have questions. I think most "qualified" amp techs would say this is what they do themselves, they just have years of experience doing it. And there's only one way to get that.
 

JuneauMike

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The 57 reissue is not the rel thing anyway! Good choice, your kit should be a great amp.
Can you elaborate on this?

I'm just realizing that after 20 posts on this forum, many of them quite passionate, no one has actually addressed the OP's question. How do the kit-built clones compare to the vintage 5F1?
 

NEED4TWEED

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Can you elaborate on this?

I'm just realizing that after 20 posts on this forum, many of them quite passionate, no one has actually addressed the OP's question. How do the kit-built clones compare to the vintage 5F1?

EDIT: I think he was referring to the '57 Custom Champ being a reissue and not vintage.

Good point but here's one:

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.
 
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JuneauMike

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Good point but here's one:
Yep, good info on the Deluxe. I would love to play a real Fender 5F1 Champ myself just to know. But I would guess, given that circuits behave in predictable ways, that the clones are pretty close.

Some of the things you can't account for is component values drifting over the years the general superior quality of modern speakers vs the cheap stuff Leo settled on. But that's part of the magic.

When you think about it, all the vintage guitars still hanging around today are just survivors. There were piles of guitars built in that era that were eventually discarded and forgotten about, maybe because they didn't have that special magic that makes a real player hold onto them. Fun topic to think about.
 

NEED4TWEED

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Yep, good info on the Deluxe. I would love to play a real Fender 5F1 Champ myself just to know. But I would guess, given that circuits behave in predictable ways, that the clones are pretty close.

Some of the things you can't account for is component values drifting over the years the general superior quality of modern speakers vs the cheap stuff Leo settled on. But that's part of the magic.

When you think about it, all the vintage guitars still hanging around today are just survivors. There were piles of guitars built in that era that were eventually discarded and forgotten about, maybe because they didn't have that special magic that makes a real player hold onto them. Fun topic to think about.

Yeah today's different components will make a difference for certain, however minor, but this will also be the case for the '57 Custom Champ. Yes, fun to think and talk about.
 
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JuneauMike

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Yeah the difference in components will make a difference for certain, however minor, but this will also be the case the for '57 Custom Champ. Yes, fun to think and talk about.
Here's a gut shot of Fender's "Custom Champ." We should at least be thankful that it's not on a PCB board. Good for them.

preview.jpg
 

JuneauMike

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You don't need a variac and you absolutely can buy an accurate and dependable DMM for way less than $100. Bulding amps isn't something that requires a high end Fluke.
You don't need either of those to build an amp. But you pays your money and you takes your chances. ... YMMV.
 

schmee

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Can you elaborate on this?

I'm just realizing that after 20 posts on this forum, many of them quite passionate, no one has actually addressed the OP's question. How do the kit-built clones compare to the vintage 5F1?
Well, first: I've not had an 5F1. Old or new. I did make a mistake though, I didn't realize he was talking about a hand wired new amp. So the Fender probably represents the original pretty well if they didn't change component values....

But most clones of Fender amps are great representatives of the original. The design is probably a much larger part of it than what Transformers, caps etc. are in it. In other words, you wont hear much difference at all in the parts selected, (say... <5% of the sound if that?) but you will hear difference in the design between amps. Probably the biggest "part" you can actually hear a difference in is the speaker I would say. JMHO!
 

Boxla

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

Until I read this, I had no idea about PCB and now that I do, I had no idea the LTD is a PCB. Thanks for the info. I have learned my new something for the day! Very interesting indeed. All I know is that I think the LTD is, pretty OK at best and I LOVE my 5E3! How it worked on the first fire up and how it's still working today still amazes me.
 

Dan_Pomykalski

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How many amps have you built?
Built three. Rewired three.

Edit: Also, objection, your honor. Relevance?

Edit 2: @Jakedog @JuneauMike https://www.tubesandmore.com/user-projects/exhibit
$220 for all of the components except the power transformer and wire. Wire’s $10 a spool. The power transformer can be ordered from Weber for $40. If you’d like to be as accurate as possible and want to spend a little more on an output transformer, there’s plenty of money left over.
 
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Nickfl

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You don't need either of those to build an amp. But you pays your money and you takes your chances. ... YMMV.

Well, a variac is genuinely not a useful tool in building an amp kit, there is no reason to "bring it up slowly" with new caps and it doesn't protect against shorts or anything else. Spending $10 building a light bulb limiter will get you much further. I'd recommend buying an oscilloscope before a variac and I certainly don't think a first time/casual builder needs a scope...

As for how much to spend on a DMM, that is something everyone just has to decide for themselves. A lot of old guys who work with electricity swear by Fluke, but I've also heard that they are no longer what they once were. I've built and repaired over 20 amps with a $45 Klein meter and its never failed to do what I asked of it and its rated Cat 3 600v just like a Fluke that costs 4x the price.

Not trying to argue, but I want to present an alternate opinion for beginners who may be reading. As you say, M does indeed V.
 

JuneauMike

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...I've built and repaired over 20 amps ...
Not trying to argue, but I want to present and alternate opinion for beginners who may be reading. As you say, M does indeed V.

And I would argue that you are not in a good position to offer a beginner an "alternative opinion." I on the other hand, blundered into my first build totally unprepared, made pretty much every mistake you can make, ruined perfectly functioning components and still wanted more at the end. I'd much rather be as realistic as I can with new enthusiasts rather than give alternative opinions.

In any case, the guy has bought the kit already so he's invested. He's likely going to make his mistakes, get stuck, get unstuck, and lean on other experienced builders to finish his project. And when its all over and he's absolutely blown away by his own results, he's going to be here offering helpful advice to the next newbie. And he's probably going to plan another amp build shortly after that.

Regardless of our experiences, I hope the guy dives in with both feet, makes a mess, sorts it out and ends up with an amp he wants to play for the rest of his life. It's totally worth it.
 




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