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Best/Most economic 18 watt kit?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by chago04, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. chago04

    chago04 Tele-Meister

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    I'm looking to build an 18 watt kit one of these days and was wondering which kits I should look at? Which has the best sound? Which are the most economic? Which layouts are the easiest to assemble or mod?
     
  2. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Short answer: Weber's is the cheapest. GDS is the best.

    Layouts: They're mostly Richie Hall layouts from ten years ago when the 18 watt buzz started. You have a choice of the stock layout with trem or the TMB layout (Treble, Middle, Bass) that's an attempt to make the 1974 into a JTM45.

    Keep it simple! One of the more popular layouts is the Lite II. That's an 18 watt stripped down until it can't be stripped anymore. No BS, all tone.


    A lot of guys go crazy with "mods" before they even build the amp. Power scaling. Master volume. Maybe even throw a channel switching board in there. The very same guys often find themselves plugging into the basic "volume, tone" channel. Might as well have built a Lite II! :lol:
     
  3. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I built a Mojo 18W kit and had no complaints . . . I don't know what the current price is.

    Bob Arbogast
     
  4. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    I built the Weber 18 watt vib last winter. If your looking for a small amp to play in the bedroom this ain't it. What I mean is it gets pretty loud before it gets dirty.
    The webers come with a big output tranny and that may have something to do with it.
    I lost intrest in the thing and built a 5e3. At some point I'm going to mess with it some more.
    Truth is the more I play small amps the more I like the bigger ones.
     
  5. Duke

    Duke Tele-Meister

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    The 18 watt 1974x was my first build. I did a lot of research before buying a kit. I decided to go with the pioneer responsible for reviving this great amp, GDS (Graydon Stuckey). His kit isn't the cheapest (almost double Mojo), but if you're fairly new to amp building, you'll get the most complete step by step illustrated guide I've ever seen in an amp kit. Graydon also uses top notch parts, not Chinese junk that comes in some of the lower priced kits. Every resistor and cap is clearly labeled. You can choose from a standard trem or TMB circuit. Graydon is a one man show and will work with your too. He's just outside Fenton, MI, so when you're in MI you could visit. This amp is killer. The only thing I've changed on it since I built it four years ago is I put vintage style mojo tone caps in place of the orange drops. This amp is a rocker for sure, and as mentioned, not a bedroom amp by any means.

    Here is a link to a video I made. I was demoing my LP Studio when I sold it so I don't highlight the amp much. I was playing through the trem channel (no trem) at volume 3. I turn it up to 5 during the video. The amp has a Celestian Green Back in it. I made the cabinet out of soft maple.
    http://s415.photobucket.com/albums/pp231/kk_duke/?action=view&current=GDS18WattTrem.mp4

    Good luck in your choice.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
  6. Duke

    Duke Tele-Meister

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    +1...On my list of to do amps is a home brew Lite II. You can build one with a 12" inch speaker into a very small cab...small but mighty.
     
  7. Ed Storer

    Ed Storer Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I assembled an Allen Sweet Spot a couple of years ago. Certainly not cheap, but it does sound great and the components are all top quality. The wiring is sort of tight with reverb and tremelo, but I really enjoyed doing the build.

    The amp has an Emi Li'l Texas neodymium speaker and weighs 28 pounds. I love the sound. It's a keeper.

    The customer support from Dave Allen in hard to beat.
     
  8. snottyboy

    snottyboy Tele-Meister

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    I'll pile on in favor of GDS. I've got a standard version with tremolo and it defines what I think of as classic Marshall tone. I haven't played another Marshall-flavored amp that I like better. No idea about putting it together as I didn't build it, but I had to chime in based on tone alone.
     
  9. SoK66

    SoK66 Tele-Afflicted

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    x3 on GDS. Mine started as a Mojo 18w kit I got from SDG amps and I hated it. For some initially inexplicable reason, Mojo changes the simple 18w layout, scrambles the components all around. They have preamp leads over lapping the power secdtion, making it very unstable. Turns out they did a force fit, using their JTM45 board for the 18w. Their chassis is also for a head and not the combo version, so everything is pretty tight inside. The original was pretty sparse. I tossed the Mojo speaker fro one of the Brit maded vintage Celstion G12s. Damn!

    I initially just threw the Mojo board away and replacced it with a Watts Audio 18w board, no more issues. Later I converted it to a TMB, which is a killer. Used another Watts Audio board. It sacrifices the channel #2 trem (which is actually quite good, btw) to accomodate the TMB circuitry, but retains the #1 channel in stock form, just volume & tone control. I used topcoat wire, too, instead of the cloth covered stuff Mojo supplied. Had a bunch of it left over from a Metro Amps JTM45 build.

    [​IMG]

    GDS or Trinity get great reviews, but GDS really provides a great kit. Did one for a homeboy a couple years ago and was very impressed. He supplies everything up to the cab & speaker, the latter of which you can get from Mojo and be very impressed. THAT they do very well.
     
  10. Duke

    Duke Tele-Meister

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    I also have built a Trinity Deluxe. Stephen was a pleasure to deal with. I know Billy Gibbons give the Trinity 18 Watt a shout in one of his books, but I've personally never played one.
     
  11. spankdplank

    spankdplank Tele-Afflicted

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    Even cheaper than Weber is building a Lite II B using the board and instructions from guitaramplifierpcbs.com . The PCB is about $25 and they have a parts list you can order from and free build instructions. I built mine from a gutted Epiphone Valve Jr chassis and PT, sourced the OT and rest of the parts on the internet, and built the cabinet. I probably have less than $250 in mine, inlcuding a new Eminince 12'' Legend speaker. The Lite II B is just a single input, volume and tone, no trem or TMB controls, but it sounds great, and at 18 watts and with the efficient Eminence speaker, is plenty loud enough for the club gigs I play. A very fun project and not too hard to do.
     
  12. timmytVA

    timmytVA Tele-Holic

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    That describes my Ceriatone 18W to a "tee". It's a TMB with numerous mods:
    Mercury transformers, master volume on the TMB channel, extra gain stage, and power scaling. It's also in an oversize cabinet (11" deep vs. 9").

    I bought it that way for a good price, so no complaints there. Honestly, I use the normal channel almost exclusively. There are a lot of great tones to be had with just volume and tone knobs and different guitars. The power scaling works well for getting good dirty tones at quiet volumes. I've considered having the master volume removed and the TMB channel converted back to tremolo. Still might do it.

    Muchxs is right - for the way I play the amp, a simple Lite build would be plenty.

    Tim
     
  13. eggman

    eggman Friend of Leo's

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    Howdy,

    Threads like this really "get" to me. I have severe British amp GAS..and very little money. I've never assembled a thing in my life. I'm tempted to get a tweed Champ kit and have a go before undertaking a somewhat more complex 18 watt 1974X build. Temptation.
     
  14. Duke

    Duke Tele-Meister

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    DON'T...you'll be sorry after awhile. A TMB gives you so much more variation. I love my trem, but I'd like to have a TMB too. Just get another amp.
     
  15. Duke

    Duke Tele-Meister

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    Two very different animals. The 18 watt was a more difficult build, but it was my first and I made out okay with no experience at all. Go with the tone you want, not the complexity of the kit.
     
  16. jrewing

    jrewing NEW MEMBER!

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    Hey Guys,
    Sorry to hijack this post, but I am currently working on a 18 watt tmb. I have been working on it for about a month and I have been very meticulous. I just finished it and fired it up. NO SOUND! I have triple and quadruple checked everything. All solder joints seem to be ok, but I don't think I am getting any power to the board. It powers up and the tubes start warming, but when I check the filter caps on the board, hey have no voltage. I checked to voltage immediately after turning it off. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    JR
     
  17. SoK66

    SoK66 Tele-Afflicted

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    Need pics. Also, go over to the 18 Watt Forum and DL the voltage chart. Check all of your voltages against the ones they have listed.
     
  18. jrewing

    jrewing NEW MEMBER!

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    Yep,
    My voltages on the el84's and the ez81 are spot on, but I am not getting any power to the 12ax7's. I suppose i need to rewire.
     
  19. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Whatever you build, I'd recommend something with TMB. When I had an 18-watt type amp I hated the lack of bass. To an extent, that's an EL84 problem, in my opinion....but having bass control would really help.
     
  20. TurtleFang

    TurtleFang Tele-Meister

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    Could an EQ pedal help overcome that, or is on-board/off-board eq shifting too much a different beast?
     
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