Where did you learn electronics? (Amps)

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by Fretting out, Feb 7, 2020.

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  1. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    ive never posted in the amp section before so I don’t know if this is in the right spot (kind of relates to amps)

    Where did you guys learn how to service your amps and learn about electronics in general (resistors,capacitors, how to look at a circuit board and be able to tell what it going on etc.)

    Over the last few years I’ve been wanting to learn about these things and wondered where to start I guess a book would be good

    Did someone with the knowledge pass it down to you?
    Did you learn it through school (high school/college)
    Did you learn yourself through books?

    What would you recommend to get started book or resource wise
     
  2. trobbins

    trobbins TDPRI Member

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    You're lucky if you really have an interest, as the internet provides a huge variety of resources.

    I'd suggest googling for key words like electronics beginner tutorial, and keep looking for descriptions and pictures that you can appreciate, and read as many as possible, and keep searching for key words that you see but don't quite understand as for sure others have been in the same position as you, and keep reading. There are vintage books and course notes on line that go to valves (http://www.tubebooks.org/technical_books_online.htm) - yes some may get technical and expect you have a reasonable science education, but many are introductory. And there are many forums with repair and practical examples, and projects. And it really helps if you have a cheap old amp and can afford a cheap multimeter, and read up on safety practises before you leap in, although working on vintage pedals that use leaded parts is pretty safe, as well as guitar controls. Kits with good descriptions is also a way to go. Just take the practical side slow if you have amp voltages around, and don't work on or near mains ac wiring or parts, and best to ask around and find a new friend who has experience.
    Imho, it's best not to repair until you have a good awareness.
     
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  3. tarheelbob

    tarheelbob Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    A little from my Dad - I had to watch over his shoulder putting together old Heathkit DIY projects. He was red/green colorblind (!!!).
    A little from Engineering school - though I was Mechanical, I learned enough to not kill myself....yet.
    A LOT from working on, and restoring, old British sports cars - Lucas, Prince of Darkness!


    As trobbins said, the internet is an AMAZING resource for stuff like this.

    - Bob
     
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  4. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Tele-Afflicted

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    Originally, Aspen Pittman and Gerald Weber's books. I think I also had a copy of Tom Mitchell's book. Also Chris Hurley at AX84, and Doug Hoffman. It all started with my dad and I working on a 1966 Bassman in the mid '90s, and later an AX84 P1 we never finished.

    A very good contemporary book is Merlin's Designing Tube Preamps for Guitar and Bass.
     
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  5. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    Uncle Doug on YouTube.
    Great great videos.
     
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  6. lost sailor

    lost sailor TDPRI Member

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    There is a free course the Navy made available called NEETS which starts out with the basics and continues to probably farther than you want/need to get.....Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series - I used it to retrain myself and pass the Amateur Radio Extra Class License - it tells you the hows and why of theory. It has 24 modules but you can't take the tests and submit them. They can be found here:

    https://www.fcctests.com/neets/neets.htm
     
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  7. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    Or there's the School of Hard Shocks.
     
  8. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I began working in my uncles TV & Radio repair shop when I was about thirteen, but never really had much interest unless it was something of mine being worked on.
    I did remember a lot and it helped me in a lot of other areas.
    Then several years ago I was asked to finish assembling a friends 5F1 kit that he had started and gave up on.
    That kind of sparked an interest assembling more amps which I did until mt eye sight failed me a few years back.
     
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  9. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    It was the "pink curlers and bobby pins" era back when I used to crawl around in diapers. With bobby pins all over the floor it was inevitable I'd shove one in an outlet.

    That was when sex was safe and motorcycles were dangerous. Jon and Lee had an apartment on the sixth floor of a high rise. Still in diapers, I was playing on the windowsill of an open window. My old man called to my mother who was a few rooms away,

    "Marie! The kid is going to fall out the window!"

    That's my old man for you.

    First thing I took apart was an old kerosene stove a few years later.

    Must have been a year after that I pissed on an electric fence. Not gonna do that again.

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:


    I'm thinkin' of gettin' an Air BnB rental, hopefully an off- season beach house. Get a select crew together for an Amp Camp.
     
  10. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I had a cousin, grandfather and uncle who were either directly or sort of interested in professional/hobby electronics. I started building Radio Shack red-box kits (remember those) when I was about 7. Local library had a bunch of back issues of Popular Electronics. I read all of them. At that point it was all paint by numbers to me because I really didn't get the theory although I could use a scope and a voltmeter. I took electronics in high school but I think I already knew most of what was taught in the first year class.

    I built a stereo amp kit from SWTPC that cooked upon power up and it really bugged me as I couldn't debug it. I went off and got a EE degree. We skipped over the tube section of the textbook (which had been written in 1965). I got a reasonably good feel for transistor amp design but come career time, got more into microprocessor stuff. So I still find tubes to be somewhat of a mystery.
     
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  11. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Tele-Afflicted

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    Your posts always read like In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash, or as most people know it, the Christmas Story. "I am sitting next to the most fantastic creation in the Feminine department known to Western man." lol
     
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  12. trber

    trber Tele-Meister

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    Fretting out, I'll jump in since I am more like you...I want to learn but don't know much.

    I am a novice who started with interest and a project in mind. I wanted to mod a Blues Junior I have and didn't know jack about electronics. So, I started researching, Internet is a great resource, as has been mentioned. Through that process, I came across great channels on YouTube, Uncle Doug, mentioned, but also D-Labs, The Guitologist, and any other channel that had info I needed. Then, I just started checking out videos that had info I thought I'd want up the road for projects I wanted to do.

    Eventually, I bought a Silverface Champ for a decent price on Craigslist and started recapping that. Again, videos, websites, even the tech support person at the source for my replacement parts for the amp...all a source of knowledge and learning.

    That project turned into another purchase/repair project, a Musicmaster amp from Craig's also. My point, I learned the little I know from a project dictating what needed to be done. That came after learning the basics of soldering, SAFELY working inside an amp, and a bit of need to get the project done.

    Eventually, I decided I wanted to build an amp and bought a kit. I learned a metric **** ton from that. Mainly, that trouble-shooting is an art, and the guys from this forum got me out of the ditch on that project. So, let me say, hang out here, read the posts, and absorb what you can. Most of what I read here is far over my head in terms of technical details, but with each read, I learn a bit more and my knowledge builds on itself and things make a bit more sense.

    Many have mentioned books. That's likely great advice and I should take it, but I struggle with time to sit down and read cover to cover, so I fill in when and how I can. If you have the time, maybe a book is a great way to get the info you seek.

    This forum is amazing for many reasons, but I think you stumbled upon another great resource here.

    Best in you quest to learn about amps...I sure have enjoyed the process.
     
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  13. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    I saw him recone an old speaker and make a darmond style liquid tremolo on YouTube he kind of got me started wanting to figure out what’s going on
     
  14. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    I mostly learned from reading forums (here, TGP, MEF, el34world) which led me out to Merlin, Keen, and Aiken.

    But there was a great thread here recently that discussed all sorts of books and other resources.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/suggested-reading.1002729/#post-9578337
     
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  15. 6stringcowboy

    6stringcowboy Tele-Afflicted

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    Started in high school and I was the last class at the tech school i went to get taught tube theory.
     
  16. cnlbb

    cnlbb Tele-Afflicted

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    Been using this website lately to figure out a bit more. I'm far from an expert and able to judge the quality of the material, but to me it's clear and put into well planned lessons.

    https://brilliant.org/electricity-and-magnetism/

    edit: they want you to pay for premium (which if you're interested cool), but I've been happy with the non-paying version.
     
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  17. Vibrolux59

    Vibrolux59 Tele-Meister

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    All of the above with one exception: only city kids pee on electric fences. ;)

    In the early/mid '60s Carvin sold pickups and parts, I scanned their catalogs, Allied radio, Dyanco, Heathkit, etc...compulsively.
    High School Electronics
    Buddy/neighbor who was a ham radio nerd
    Webber, Torres, and Pittman's books
    Uncle Doug's videos
    Reading threads on many forums (mostly Weber Kit, Hoffman, Lone Wolf, & here)
    Trial and error, first time I changed a fuse holder I burned a small hole through my thumbnail and entertained friends dancing around the room. Learned later about better ways of discharging caps.
    Skip Simmons told me once a few years ago that I know just enough to be a PIA, still true.
    Still learning lots every day from those who share here.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
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  18. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm headed to a weekly advances in science education seminar after I finish my coffee, and I guess my mind is already there.

    Looking in the back of an amp for the first time, messing with the tubes, doing a repair, building an amp from a kit -- these are all experiences that can be very valuable in a lot of ways.

    But it's not really learning unless it changes you in a way where you've got a little more knowledge and some self-efficacy.

    Finding a strong source of help (like this forum), being willing to share your problem openly, these are important life skills people deserve credit for learning. But you sometimes see a help thread that indicates the repairer/builder figures if they can get enough others' attention, they will fix everything. You can see people start with a pile of parts from a kit, end with a functioning amp, and appear to not once have thought about current. Because the layout they are working from lists voltages instead. Not a problem in itself, but if one gets to their second, third, ... major repair or build and this is still the case, then a real opportunity to learn was missed at some point.

    Read schematics, even if you are just skimming them like you'd skim a brochure. Ask questions of yourself! Like "What really are the differences between Fender and Marshall?" Use Ohm's Law at every opportunity. If you've never thought "what even is this 100k plate load resistor?" that's a great place to start. Read the tube data sheets for every tube in a given amp. There's like a whole electronics class packed into a few pages each for a Champ's 12AX7, 6V6GT, 5Y3GT. Uncle Doug's lectures on basics from early in his Youtube channel if that format of passive, lecture-style learning works for you. It's probably finding a tool or an example in a case-by-case way for questions that are a little more advanced, like picking a cathode bypass cap, or tweaking EQ controls. Then one would seek out a particular calculator or a walk-through for those narrower questions.

    Thanks for sharing
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
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  19. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Meister

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    Most of my (limited) knowledge came from my Dad, he was either always fixing something or making something. He taught me to solder and test components and what each component did. At the time I wasn't really even that interested but that knowledge was always there in the back of my head somewhere.

    About 20 years ago I bought a boost pedal from a 'boutique' manufacturer and when I opened it up and saw the handful of small components I had a bit of a revelation, I knew that I could have made this for literally a few pence, I knew what the components were and roughly what was going on in the circuit.

    That lead me into picking up a soldering iron again and making a few fuzz pedals, repairing the electronics in friends guitars and all that stuff. I've done a few minor repairs on amps I've owned and replaced pots and things in friends amps. There's a lot about amps I'm not that familiar with though but it's something I'm always trying to learn more about. I'd really like to build a kit amp.

    Like everything though... time and money. :)
     
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  20. stormsedge

    stormsedge Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    Sparky's School of Shock and Ow.
     
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