Amp kit compared to the real thing

Preacher

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I think the key to this is know that you are taking on a project that is going to take you some time to complete. Forget the 5-6 hours, it is easily 20 plus hours by the time you read, ask people questions, rework things you don't like, on and on.
In the end, you will have an amp that sounds every bit as good as an original. Keep in mind that there are no originals that aren't 65 years old, so who knows what the originals sounded like?
Your new amp will be very close in sound to the original or whatever they are selling today as a reissue. Same resistors and capacitors, speakers are still speakers, etc.
As far as costs, well building from a kit is more expensive than buying a completed amp in many cases. I might argue that building Fender Tweed amps is less cost than a new reissue, but that is my opinion.
Go ahead and tackle the Champ, it is the simplest amp you can build, see how you like it, and if you have questions you have lots of people here who can help. Mojotone makes decent kits and they can offer you assistance as you go. If you find this isn't for you, well so be it, but you have your amp. My bet is that you are going to love your amp and you will catch the bug that the rest of us have, which results in a wall of amps that you have built.

Although I agree with this post 100% and don't want to get into a pissing match to see who has the greatest stream I wanted to throw my two cents in here. If I could have built my amp in 20 hours I would have made my wife very happy. She was constantly mentioning how much time I spent in the shop working on that amp.
I figure I had at least 20 hours in the cabinet alone, shopping for wood, cutting wood, buying a finger joint jig, cutting finger joints, cutting more finger joints, going to buy new wood to cut new finger joints, shaping, gluing, finishing and upholstering said amp. That doesn't count the hours of tracing circuits to find my faults and rewiring to get rid of hum and hiss.

I am many times amazed by people who undertake their first build and post a pic and proclaim it was "quiet as a church mouse". My first fire up sounded like a NY Rat that had been set on fire. And my second fire up was just as bad. But through trial and error, lots of patience and lots of hours I finally got it right and finished. The amp sets right behind my desk and currently has an Ibanez Artcore 58 plugged into which I will be playing some tunes through at lunch today.

Here it is with my Blackguard Tele

IMG_1836.jpg
 

ReverendRevolver

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Wrt this post ... I wouldn't recommend anyone attempt an amp build if they don't already own a multimeter (and are very familiar with usage of same).

On the subject of an amp build kit .... I also wouldn't recommend it to anyone who does not have consistently good soldering ability.
Many posts on TDPRI of the innards of amps and guitars, show sub-par soldering (to be polite). There's a direct inverse relationship between soldering quality and faults.

I've been reading this thread (and staying out of exchanges between people who are aggressively trying to help) but this post is neutral and logical enough to bear repeating.

I'm bad at soldering. I KNOW I'm not good. The reason I know this is I've successfully done things in the past that I couldn't do now. Tiny traces on PCB reattach to leads with junk solder and an iron from Walmart level stuff, that I cant do now.
I have decent irons, bad irons, and old irons, good solder, junk solder, resin, desolder braids, bulbs, suckers. I know what I'm doing enough to talk someone through it and get them better than I am.
But I dont do it often. If you want to get good at soldering, a junk breadboard kit, then dyi pedals are safer than amps. Doing things often let's you hone your abilities.
A commonality I see is amp builders are able to make each amp more sturdy, tidy, and overall better than the last.

An amp isn't a good place to realize you have bad habits like not keeping the irons tip clean, keep getting cold solder joints, overheat elements, or blob too much solder where it shouldn't be.
Anything that retains power in capacitors is probably not the place to hone said skills.
But people who are comfortable, work safely, and have a grip on understanding how electricity behaves are in a better spot than other people.
Using a DMM doesn't really matter for putting a new jack or switch in a guitar (ok, maybe checking continuity) but amps are a different beast.
Anyone digging into this needs to know thier limits, respect lethal amounts of electricity, and stay safe. Not trying to be scary. It might look like an IKEA bookshelf, but risks are closer to bench loading and then firing your own ammo.
 

Dan_Pomykalski

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Said the guy who has experience building three amps. You are proving my point, as well as demonstrating poor reading comprehension skills. At no time have I discouraged anyone from building their own 5F1 Champ. If you have zero experience working with electrical circuits you can build a really nice Champ. I'm just not blowing smoke up his rear about it being a cheap hobby, or project for that matter.

So, I'm guessing you aren't sending him the money? :rolleyes:
Speaking of reading comprehension, again, I’ve already shown you multiple routes and price points.

I’m calling this one; you lost this argument like three days ago. At this point you’re just repeating yourself and trying to get the last word, because that’s all you have left.
 

JuneauMike

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Speaking of reading comprehension, again, I’ve already shown you multiple routes and price points.

I’m calling this one; you lost this argument like three days ago. At this point you’re just repeating yourself and trying to get the last word, because that’s all you have left.
keyboard.jpg
 

EsquireBoy

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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!
Never played a kit from Mojotone but I had owned the 57 custom champ for about two years and was not overly impressed by it.
 

Goudacris

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There is no cost savings. But yes, other than that, we agree.
I'm jumping in to say that I'm starting amp number two and I built my 5f1 for SO much less than $1000... It is cheaper. It will only be more expensive if you insist on having every premium tool money can buy.

I used a 20$ soldering iron, and got a multimeter for 15$ used. The only other stuff you need you could easily coble together from second hand shops. Hell, if you have a cab, you could build the chassis and screw it to some wood for a big savings. If you've never done crafty hobbies, this really isn't that hard a place to start, and the reward is big.

All that said, you can do this with the thought that you'll save money, but I bet you'll discover a new, priceless, hobby.

Finally, don't let anyone tell you building amps isn't cheaper than buying the retail models. If I'm wrong, I'm gonna need some proof, because I've spent dozens of hours sourcing parts and tools, and comparing kits.
 

JuneauMike

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I'm jumping in to say that I'm starting amp number two and I built my 5f1 for SO much less than $1000... It is cheaper. It will only be more expensive if you insist on having every premium tool money can buy.

I used a 20$ soldering iron, and got a multimeter for 15$ used. The only other stuff you need you could easily coble together from second hand shops. Hell, if you have a cab, you could build the chassis and screw it to some wood for a big savings. If you've never done crafty hobbies, this really isn't that hard a place to start, and the reward is big.

All that said, you can do this with the thought that you'll save money, but I bet you'll discover a new, priceless, hobby.

Finally, don't let anyone tell you building amps isn't cheaper than buying the retail models. If I'm wrong, I'm gonna need some proof, because I've spent dozens of hours sourcing parts and tools, and comparing kits.
Great! Show us some pics of your 5F1. Sounds awesome.
 

David C

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Although I agree with this post 100% and don't want to get into a pissing match to see who has the greatest stream I wanted to throw my two cents in here. If I could have built my amp in 20 hours I would have made my wife very happy. She was constantly mentioning how much time I spent in the shop working on that amp.
I figure I had at least 20 hours in the cabinet alone, shopping for wood, cutting wood, buying a finger joint jig, cutting finger joints, cutting more finger joints, going to buy new wood to cut new finger joints, shaping, gluing, finishing and upholstering said amp. That doesn't count the hours of tracing circuits to find my faults and rewiring to get rid of hum and hiss.

I am many times amazed by people who undertake their first build and post a pic and proclaim it was "quiet as a church mouse". My first fire up sounded like a NY Rat that had been set on fire. And my second fire up was just as bad. But through trial and error, lots of patience and lots of hours I finally got it right and finished. The amp sets right behind my desk and currently has an Ibanez Artcore 58 plugged into which I will be playing some tunes through at lunch today.

Here it is with my Blackguard Tele

View attachment 818690
I was trying to be optimistic on the 20 hours...I know I have many more into that amp and I didn't want to scare him away from building one.
 

David C

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Firstly, thanks for all the replies. I've never seen this level of discussion on any other guitar forum before. Kudos to the community y'all have built here, and I'm happy to be here.

Back to my original question, I'm mainly interested in comparing how a 5F1 amp kit would sound compared to the real version or something comparable like the '57 Custom Champ that is readily available for purchase today.

I have some experience building pedals and have most of the equipment necessary for the amp kit.

I agree on the cost factor. The price of the kit plus build equipment is still cheaper than the retail equivalent, but not by that much if you add in the time required to build it. That said, I've always wanted to build an amp so price isn't as much of a factor compared to final quality.[/QUOTE
Then have a great time and drop us a line if you need some help.
 

vintageampz

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I have never heard a "kit" or factory made clone of a 5F1 Tweed Champ sound the same as the "real thing", or an early Black Face or the early Silver Face Champs either.

If you want a true Champ sound, buy a real Champ reissue from Fender or a used one. Players are always reporting "barn finds, from the "closet", "gramps kept it under the bed", hick pawnshop or little music stores.

Granted this was back in 1989, but I bought this 1963-4 "Transition" 5F1 circuit Fender Champ in a Monterey CA small music store for $200. The shop owner thought it was a FrankenChamp. It wasn't, it's the real thing and minty condition with the original 50's 2-prong plug and cord. The history is it's known Leo never threw away anything and the Fullerton factory had a hundred '59 5F1 chassis and wired circuits and Tweed boxes but no more Tweed cover as the move to "Tolex" was well underway in 1960. The "Transition" Tolex on Tweed 5F1 Champ was born. Only about 100 were made. That is RARE.
Fender 63-4 Champ Black Tweed front.jpg

Fender 64 Champ Black Tweed.jpg

But be diligent, keep an eye out, small music shops you drive by, "Estate" and moving sales, drop in nearby Goodwills and Saint Vincent DePauls thrift shops and their online stores, etc but forget Pawnshops, their crooks and too savy after all those phony "reality" pawn shows.

I found all these this way and they were Cheap, some needed new tubes, maybe needed to be recapped.

1965 Champ minty, think I paid $150 for it in the 80's. I also have a 1966 I found at an Estate sale, $100 in Anaheim CA
Fender Champ 1965.JPG


Fender Champ 1965 back.JPG


A couple of early "Silver Face" 1967 Champs. Champ and Vibro Champ. I picked up another 68 SF Champ in Arizona for $200 in 2009, looks VG outside but needs a going through inside - new caps and resistors, tubes and the original Jensen need to be reconed. Some day I'll get to it after all my customers are taken care of.
1967 Fender Champ Silver Face.jpg

1967 Fender Vibro Champ Silver Face.jpg


Be patient and cash in your wallet.
 
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JuneauMike

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I have never heard a "kit" or factory made clone of a 5F1 Tweed Champ sound the same as the "real thing", or an early Black Face or the early Silver Face Champs either.

What do you hear in Tweed Champs that are missing in the clone circuits you've heard?
 

Uncle Daddy

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In reponse to the question "how would the Mojotone kit sound compared to the original", it would sound great but not the same. The Mojotone misses out the V1 cathode bypass cap which is an important influence on the overall gain.
 

JuneauMike

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In reponse to the question "how would the Mojotone kit sound compared to the original", it would sound great but not the same. The Mojotone misses out the V1 cathode bypass cap which is an important influence on the overall gain.
Not following here. The bypass cap was only left off of the original drawing. But it was there in the original Champs. I think it was either a mistake, or a modification done during production.
 

D'tar

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Does someone need a kit built?

Hmm... I need a project.... Say.... Working chassis for the price of parts and shipping...

PM if interested.
 

KelvinS1965

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It would have to be purchased separately and added in. I’ve never seen a Champ without this cap.

I bought a Joyo Sweet Baby 05 amp 2 years ago*, which is a Chinese made clone. They left the bypass cap out, but there is a space on the PCB for it, so most owners put one in. I found it made a big difference in sound, though it's hardly a point to point copy, I understand that it is the same circuit.

I ended up getting a Tweed cab made for mine (cost as much as the amp). I may eventually replace the PCB with a turret board kit I can buy from a guy in the UK, but currently no need to. I'm sure it won't sound as good as a Custom '57 Champ, but for 1/6 the cost of one at UK prices I can't complain.

It's my kitchen amp and I've used it many times to play at open mics. Small enough to carry in, loud enough for the smaller places I play at, of course it's breaking up nicely at those levels too. Often get complimented about my sound (usually with my Tele or a P90 Les Paul).

* I priced up a kit and it was rapidly approaching what I could have spent on a used Champ. This was £130 ($160?) B stock with a year's warranty.

The cab might live on with different internals one day, but for now it works and sounds fine. Looks like the badge has fallen off though. ;)
Esquire & Champ 1.jpg
 




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