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Weber 6a14hp kit review

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Mark the Moose, Jan 4, 2020.

  1. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    Having just finished this build, I thought I would review the kit for the next guy trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on it.

    First off, this is a Princeton reverb with bigger transformers and 6l6 power tubes, so it comes in around 35 watts. The circuit itself is unchanged, so read Rob Robinette’s Princeton reverb page to really understand what’s going on under the hood.

    First off, it took around three weeks to get the kit. I assume this is because they build cabinets to order. Mine is a 1x12 in smokey tweed and black. It came well packaged and undamaged.

    There are no instructions. No layout, no pictures, no words of encouragement. I used the layout on their site and Rob Robinette’s layout in two tabs on my iPad. It might be nice to print a color layout so you can mark off parts as you go.

    The cabinet is top notch. The tweed feels like it is coated with lacquer or poly, not sure which. It’s pine construction, perfectly square, the tweed pattern lines line up, the seams are straight, the grill cloth lines are straight, and the hardware is securely fastened. Couldn’t have done better myself. The chassis is solid and well built, the faceplate holes line up perfectly. Note: the faceplate and holes are not to original spec, the knobs are stacked tightly towards the left. This leaves plenty of room for a mid pot, switches, etc for desired mods. That being said, I would (and did) build it stock and get it running before making mods.

    Looking at the parts, the cap can was back ordered and took another week to come. There is no cap can clamp, so measure the diameter and order one. There’re weren’t enough bolts and nuts to properly fasten everything, you can scavenge from around the shop or grab a box of whatever is needed at your local hardware store. The transformers are...heavy...not sure how you would determine the build quality without opening them up. The OT did not line up with the holes, I’m assuming the chassis was punched for a standard OT, so you will need to drill. The eyelet board material was fiberboard, perfectly fine, but missing one eyelet. The tube sockets are kind of cheap so if you are going to roll tubes, they may not hold up long term. If you change your tubes once every year or two, they’re probably fine. Capacitors look really cheap, no name brand with the yellow wrapping a little loose. Probably work fine but may need a cap job a few years. Pots and jacks are also no name, but. They work fine. Again, I expect them to last a few years before replacing them. The tubes are no-name Chinese tubes. I’ll use them out of the gate but will probably replace them after six months.

    The build went fine. Go slow and double check your work every few minutes. It’s particularly easy to miss a wire or connection on the back of the board. I like to populate the chassis, then the board, then connect the wiring between the two. Go through Rob’s new amp startup procedure to find issues without causing damage.

    The amp came with a Weber 12f150, which I requested to be broken in. It sounds stiff to me, and the bottom end became more present after a couple hours so I don’t know if they actually did the break-in or not. It’s a well loved blackface speaker and sounds pretty good to me, but I don’t yet know if I’ll keep it or try some other options.

    The amp sounds fantastic, even at low volume. Everything I hoped for. That being said, I was on the fence between a scratch build. I had my parts list together, planned to build my own cab, use Allen transformers, a Hoffman board, etc... but this kit was so much less cash. Eventually the budget won out. They do cut corners on some parts, but I don’t think the tone is in any way compromised...just expect to replace some things sooner rather than later. All in all I expect most hobbyists will be quite pleased with the results.

    EDIT: a couple other things I meant to mention... It comes with springs instead of a bag for mounting the reverb tank, I’m making a bag to keep it clean and protected.

    All the small parts come in a bag and are unlabeled. If you don’t know your resistor and capacitor codes you will need to look them up or measure with a meter.

    Also, the snap in place power receptacles are fine but not super tight. I intend to treat them with care.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2020
  2. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's a remarkably fair and detailed review, and it sounds like you did a really good job on the build.

    I'm not gonna defend Weber -- as I say, your review sounds accurate. Weber's kit operation has always been a budget-conscious stepchild to their top-drawer speaker shop. But I wanna put your accurate review in perspective for new builders who may not know the rest of the kit scene.

    You mention they don't send a printed layout, but you also mention they do have a layout and scheme on their website. Weber layouts aren't perfect (few small shops' are) but they're pretty darn good. They contain useful tips and cautions, they're easy to read compared to many, and in fact they're used fairly widely even by people building *other* kits. So I'm gonna give them a decent grade there.

    They do say on their website the kit takes 2-3 weeks to deliver, and you're absolutely right, part of that must be the cab. Again for perspective, good cab shops around the country almost all have a lead time, a lot of them longer than that.

    The absence of some bolts and screws, the misplaced OT hole, etc. aren't what we'd like, but they're exactly the kind of thing builders sometimes complain of even with more expensive kits, and as you say they're easily corrected. The cap can clamp may be missing (just guessing, not sure) because Weber thinks you'll bend down the mounting tabs and solder them to the chassis -- and I agree with you, getting a clamp is a lot easier.

    It's totally fair to tell potential buyers this doesn't have instructions; many think amp kits are like model airplane kits. To be fair, the kit's description has a very thorough explanation of what you get and don't get, the complexity of the build, and the expertise level you need. As an old-school builder I woulda said 'no instructions' is better -- you have to go to sites like Rob's and read build threads here and learn a lot as you build. :) And of course scratch builders have to do that and more.

    But also, the recent wave of 'complete instructions' have so far worried a lot of folks here for omissions, odd choices, old-fashioned or wrong-headed wiring, and confusing ambiguities. There may be high-class kits with complete and accurate instructions (Dave Allen has that rep) but they're not common.

    Your comments about the transformers and components sound more than fair. Cost cutting was one of Ted's valid, original goals -- Weber set out to save you money, and they succeeded. Too many reviewers say "I built it to save money, but the parts were really cheap..."

    As for the speaker, I bet they did do the break-in. Factory break-in over 24h is always gonna be partial, especially on a famously 'big' speaker like the 12F150. Play it hard for a month and I think you'll start to hear it open up.

    Again, thanks for a useful, informative review. And again, I don't disagree with anything you say; all this yada yada is by way of making sure new builders looking at Weber see the rest of the playing field.
     
  3. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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  4. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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  5. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Good review. You might want to change those jacks if they are no name. Some I had years ago were so soft steel that the tang that contacts the guitar cord tip didn't stay in firm contact after only a few plug ins. Not springy steel, soft.
     
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  6. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    Volume pot is already scratchy...

    I wouldn’t steer anybody clear of this kit, but don’t expect a boutique amp when you’re done.
     
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  7. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm too lazy to do any thinking or anything, :) but is it possible a leaky cap is putting DC on that pot?
     
  8. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    I suppose it's possible, but honestly it's very minor at this point.

    I'm planning to do a few mods, so I might just swap out the pots when I have it opened up. I plan to add an impedance switch, a NFB pot, a mid shift switch, a mid pot and maybe a dwell control. Maybe spring break.
     
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