Wanting to Build My Own Amp - Where Do I Start

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by gobi_grey, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. gobi_grey

    gobi_grey Tele-Afflicted

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    I know I need to work on my soldering skills and get better equipment. I'm usually pretty neat when I'm doing fresh work but if I have to keep changing things, it gets sloppy fast. I don't have a solder sucker and nowhere in town sells them so I'll have to order one. I'm not sure how to properly clean up old messes to be able to start fresh.
    My electrical knowledge is lacking. It's confusing yet very intriguing. I want to know that stuff but it makes my brain hurt. Lol. I am a smart cookie and I know I can learn it, I just gotta find some good learnin' material. I've learned a lot on here but when I dive into a technical thread it quickly goes over my head so I don't benefit much from it after that but it still fascinates me and I try to make sense of it the best I can.
    The idea is driving me nuts and I find myself thinking about it all the time. It just feels like something I need to do. I'm not yet sure of what amp I would like to build. There is plenty of time to decide that later. For now I need to learn, learn, learn! Where to begin?
     

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  2. Deepblankspace

    Deepblankspace TDPRI Member

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    My first amp build was a
    1. Kit, because thats a no brainer. Dont have to know nothin about what parts you need.
    2. A 5f1, 50s fender champ, because it has the lowest component count out of all the kits.
    3. Paid a little extra and went with Mojotone, they have a great customer support team and most the time i was chatting with one of their lead guys. Vs a cheap kit with no support and lackluster instructions
     
  3. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd recommend the tweed Princeton over the Champ. It's easier to build as there's more space in the chassis, and is a much more versatile amp with only a few more components.
     
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  4. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    There has to be a thousand build threads archived here.
    The 5f1 and 5E3 are two very popular ones. Many would build the 5F1 to get their feet wet, then move on to the 5E3.
    Start reading some of them, it’s interesting and very educational.
    Good luck,
     
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  5. vintagelove

    vintagelove Tele-Meister

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    By breaking a couple things.

    Then, eventually, you start making things.
     
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  6. OldPup

    OldPup Tele-Meister

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    I'm interested in this and learning as well. Uncle Doug on the YouTubes has a number of great videos about how tube amps work, how resistors and capacitors work, how to bias single ended tube amps, etc., etc. Here is a link to one of his videos:


    D-Labs is also good, but I get the impression (anyone please correct me if I'm wrong) that he just jumps in sometimes and starts replacing stuff a little willy nilly. But in this video he goes over how to take measurements across a Fender Champ.



    There's also RobRobinette.com with a ton of explanation.
     
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  7. gobi_grey

    gobi_grey Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks, I love those guys. I also like to watch the guitologist, he sometimes does amp repair work.

    I like that idea since I already have a 5f1 and a 5e3.
     
  8. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I agree on both. Some good help also, single ended amp.

    https://ax84.com/archive/ax84.com/static/p1/P1_Theory_Document.zip

    https://ax84.com/archive/ax84.com/static/p1/AX84_SE_Builders_Guide.pdf
     
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  9. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2020
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  10. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    Learn by planning and building. Read build threads and Rob and more build threads and Merlin and more build threads as you plan your own. Take notes. Sketch on layouts and schematics. Ask questions as you plan. Then build slow, ask questions, post good pics, and wait for clear answers before going on.

    The perfect first build might be a SF Champ or VibroChamp with a 10” 8ohm speaker. Such a nice spacious chassis! But AFAIK no one makes a kit, and a good kit is really helpful for first build as noted.

    So what @Uncle Daddy said... 5f2a, 10” 8ohm speaker/OT, big cab, decent room in chassis, and nice amp.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  11. Bendyha

    Bendyha Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    WARNING - BUILDING TUBE AMPLIFIERS IS ADDICTIVE.
    "I want to build my own amp within the next few years. Where do I start?" ..................Where do I stop? is the real challenge.

    If you want some reading material to bring you up to scratch on Basic 1959 Audio Electronics.....All, and more than you need to know to build and understand tube amplifiers, then these Norman Crowhurst books are excellent!
    Books/crowhurst_basic_1.pdf
    Books/crowhurst_basic_2.pdf
    Books/crowhurst_basic_3.pdf

    The 1958 army training book, Basic Theory & Application Of Electron Tubes, is also a great book.
    Books/army_theory.pdf

    Once you have finished these, I can link you to a few more advanced tombs.

    Good luck!
     
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  12. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    The first thing I ever built, even before a pedal, was a Vibrochamp.

    You can build almost any amp for $600, barring really large or really complicated designs.

    But the smallest, least feature rich amps still rarely come in under $400.

    Unless you're in it purely for the experience (for which every person is going to have different ideas about the value/$ they are happy to pay for those experiences), then consider once the amp is done what you really want to own, or play, or gift to someone or whatever. Among builders on forums the tweed Princeton is really popular for good reasons. Among guitarists broadly, it isn't as popular, for reasons also worth considering.

    Good luck!
     
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  13. smoothrecluse

    smoothrecluse Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I’d start with a pedal kit; less investment money and time-wise and you can begin to get an idea if that’s your thing.
    I used to use Small Bear electronics; they had a really helpful website. I’m sure there’s dozens of pedal kit companies now.
     
  14. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I think you just need to jump in and try it. Most of us will give you a bunch of advice, but really, many of us just jumped in. You will learn what it's like, if you really like it (can be frustrating at times!)
    Pick a small easy amp and give it a go. Champ?
    Fair warning though, tweed style chassis are far harder to to work on than say BF style.
     
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  15. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Meister

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    Maybe you should first start by getting into the amp repair business...learn all about electronics from the ground floor?
     
  16. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    Mojotone makes a Vibrochamp kit, but it'll only appeal to a builder as you can get the real thing for less.

    https://www.mojotone.com/kits/BlackfaceAmpKits_x/Mojotone-Blackface-Vibro-Champ-Style-Amp-Kit_2
     
  17. koolaide

    koolaide Tele-Holic

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    Don't forget to learn components, their color codes and know how to solder.

    I agree with Oldpup- Uncle Doug on youtube.

    I know he is controversial. but my first book was Dan Torres -Inside tube amps-you can get it on kindle for 9.95. I think I paid like $50 Bucks for my hard copy many years ago.
    Not affiliated with any persons or companies mentioned(FWI).

    Be careful and safe. Have fun.
     
  18. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some suggest building an effects pedal as a good start for skill building ...
     
  19. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I was going to list these also but was short on time to look for them. Hifi oriented but a good basis.

    Kind of hard repairing stuff when you don't know how they work. Also repairing amps require you to have some stock on hand and test equipment. Can't run before you learn to walk.

    And speaking of troubleshooting. Ohms Law, voltage, current and resistances in series and parallel, the parts are just resistances (capacitors and inductors can be viewed as a resistance (reactance) at a specific frequency). Why is the voltage split in the circuit as it is? Working and faulty circuit, thinking in these terms allows you to troubleshoot.

    The effects pedals are a good low voltage place to start. The problem with them is it is easy to let the smoke out of the part. A tube is much more tolerant.
     
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  20. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    My first was a 5w SE amp with a Marshall plexi type preamp. www.ampmaker.com kit.

    Then made and heavily modded a champ (absolute tone monster with a 12”) and an 18w.

    The champ is the most straightforward and adding things like a tone control and variable negative feedback teaches a lot about the design of amps.

    i enjoyed making the cabs as much as the amp.

    Study a bit, be fully understanding of the safety side (and practice it), ask/read stuff here.... but jump in. Its bigger/easier than pedals and small electronics.
     
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