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Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Mr.Reed, Jul 9, 2009.
How much would it cost to build a small 5 - 10 watt tube amp that sounds decent?
I've got decent wiring skills, but I'm new to the amp game. I got some time with wood work too so I'll be building the "box" as well. I also have a 8ohm 10" speaker (if I can even use it).
I just built a Tweed Harvard clone (5F10) into a Weber 5F2A chassis and cabinet. I sourced out all the other parts, but I think, all told, I have about $600 - $650 in it.
I have another thread here about it, but here's a final pic that isn't in that thread:
This has a 10" 8ohm Weber Sig 10S Alnico, runs 2 6V6s in push-pull, so I'm guessing it's doing about 12 watts. The best way to describe this amp is a very tight and clean Deluxe (5E3). It's basically a single channel deluxe with negative feedback and adjustable-fixed bias.
I got the cab for a killer deal since it had peeling tolex and I re-covered it, but my estimate on cost includes a Weber cabinet price. Since you want to build your own cab, take about $100 or so off my estimate (wood, hardware, and covering is about $75 or more depending on what you use).
The other option is a Princeton 5F2A which is in the 5 or so watts range. Still using a 10" speaker but it's one single-ended 6V6 and is not nearly as tight as the Harvard, but sounds great, too.
Just my pair of pennies.
I like that, lets say I already have the speaker, and some tubes, how much do you think it would cost? I'd probably go budget on the housing. It just has to sound nice, could care less about the looks.
If you use inexpensive transformers (Hammond), etc, already have the speaker, and built the combo cab yourself, and if you improvise a bit with inexpensive materials for covering the cab (tolex, grillcloth, handle, corners, etc. - those small "cosmetic" parts really make up a huge part of the cost of an amp build...), I guess you should be able to build something like a smaller tweed Fender (5F2, 5E3, etc.) for around 200$.
Chassis: $20 for a U-punch Hammond box (cheesy) or $70-$100 for a Weber or a Mojo. (Nice!)
Transformers: $50 for the least expensive stuff you can find. MM costs $125-$200 just for the transformers. There's your $200 right there.
Tubes: I get mine from under the bed, in the cookie jar, under the socks in my sock drawer. I can always hit up a few old timers I know, I get my typical 5Y3-6V6-12AX7 lineup for around $30 NOS. I save a bundle there. You could go nuts and stick a $125 NOS Telefunken in there, that would blow the budget pretty quickly.
Sockets: Buy NOS or Belton. You'll thank me later. Maybe you won't. You won't be aware of the problems cheap sockets cause if you never use cheap sockets.
Circuit board: $15 for the board and $15 for everything on it. That's if you shop around.
Cabinet: $10 for the board, $10 for a quarter sheet of plywood to make the baffle out of, have fun finding good 1/4" for the back panels if unless you buy a whole sheet. If you're buying full sheets let's say $40 for the 1/4" and $50 for 1/2". You get what you pay for here. Skimp on material and the back panels will try to turn themselves inside out when the tubes heat up.
Then $32 for a yard of tweed. $15 for a yard of grille. Handle, hardware and feet will eat up a $20 bill. Buy it all from one place or take it in the shorts on shipping.
There are guys selling 5F1 cabinets for $100 each. Do the math, they're giving them away.
The number to beat for a first build is $400. Beating that number requires creative horsetrading and shrewd shopping.
Hahaha, well I could get the wood from my dad and his neighbor. I'm more concerned with the inner workings of the amp (don't even know where to start). I'm looking to build something simple; no reverb, just a master volume and the Treble, Mid, Bass knobs, I would like an output jack (to headphones though), but I only need one input jack.
It seems like building an amp (to me) would be a lot more fun than a guitar, and I'm really intrigued by it. And RomanS, you make it look so easy in your "Princeton Reverb build from scratch" thread you have going. However, I'm sure it won't be near as quick for me.
Looking through this site, it looks like I could get away with only $200 for the amp (considering I have the speaker, and some tubes), and would be building the box from what is available.
Well, you can look for something like this -
which is 1) european; and 2) more than 200 bucks
but it gives you an idea. It uses Hammond chassis (which you have to drill yourself) and transformers, and there are no knobs, or cabinet, but that gives you an idea.
He also has this one, but this has no chassis, no tone stack, no tubes:
I'm not plugging for him, but this gives you an idea for an alternative to full-blown kits. At the cost of requiring more work (metal work) and not having a nice commercially-done chassis.
Don't forget about the hidden costs. Have a drill? Have a way to neatly cut 1-1/4" holes in it? and so on.
I DID mention using inexpensive transformers, and improvising with hardware/coverings, etc.
Here we go (thinking of something like a 5E3):
chassis: something from the Hammond 1444 series (alumimium - easy to drill, use a step drill bit for tube socket holes!): around 20$
OT: Hammond 1750E, Weber 041318, or original Fender: around 30$
PT: Hammond 290AX, Weber 025130 or original Fender: around 50$
tube sockets (regular ceramic types): 20$
pots, jacks, switches, lamp: 20$
caps & resistors: 20$
board, eyelets, wire: 15$
That's 175$ so far; the OP said he already has the tubes (which would add another 40$ or so for regular JJ/Ehx/Sovtek types), speaker (75$ for an Eminence), he can get the wood for free (pine boards from the hardware store for a small tweed type combo should be less than 20$, though), and I DID mention improvising with covering (how about a lacquered or oiled cab?), hardware (cupboard handle from the hardware store - 2$), etc. Shipping has to be figured in - so he should buy from as few sources as possible
So: 200-250$ (at most) should suffice for a 5E3, and it should be easily enough for a single-ended amp like a tweed Princeton or Champ (fewer sockets, less expensive transformers, etc.) - or how about Dave Hunter's Two-Stroke (there are detailed building instructions in his Guitar Amp Handbook).
I'll have more than enough tools to cover the job!
BTW, here's another link to some inexpensive small kits: http://www.stf-electronics.com/
Looking at clips for the "Two-Stroke," and it seems to fit the bill. I live in a dorm for most of my year, and the Blues Deluxe is often way too loud, and I live on the "Quiet" floor this next year. How much are these amps? Roughly the same $$? Can I get the instructions other than in that book?
Careful Roman, if you don't use all those expensive parts that amp will sound like crap.
Now back to reality- I've build damn near the identical amp to what Roman has spec'ed out. It sounds great! There's no reason to go overboard.
There's a kit for that Two-Stroke, but it is really expensive, as it comes from Victoria Amps...
But there used to be a Two-Stroke kit from Weber, you can still find all the parts there, you'll just have to order them individually; do get the book first, to make a parts list, and also google around a bit, ther are some builder reports around; there's aso a Two-Stroke Myspace page (with some corrections to the book): http://www.myspace.com/twostrokeampkits
With the stuff you already have, and using Weber or Hammond transformers, the Two-Stroke could be built for 200$ EASILY!
Thanks RomanS, I'll be reading about this for the next few weeks, hopefully I can get it built before I go back to school in August!