Talk to me about Amp Kits

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Snake Hips
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Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by Snake Hips » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:24 pm

What have you built, why or why you should not get into making a kit. The hardest part. Cost vs pre-built amp. Any feedback would be great.

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mbene085
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by mbene085 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:30 pm

I started out on the AX84 web site around the turn of the millennium...

"Cost vs pre-built amp" should never be a consideration. If you want to do this, it should be because of an innate interest in understanding the workings of a tube amp, and for the challenge and experience of putting one together from start to finish.

The hardest part is troubleshooting when something goes wrong. And it will. Hopefully just something small, but you need to have a healthy, fearful respect for the guts of that amp, and remember to be the "one-handed electrician", because that approach can save your life.

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julius2790
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by julius2790 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 2:49 pm

My father and I hand wired a Princeton Reverb kit and it was a complete mess. He had a lot of experience soldering so we agreed to do it as fun project and it took a lot of work. I made a mess with my novice soldering. We ended up taking what we had (about 90% done) to a tech who finalized everything and it ended up sounding really good.

I don't know if I'd undertake another amp building project unless it was under the guidance of an experienced builder. But something like a Champ circuit would be easier and probably fun if you are patient.

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Snake Hips
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by Snake Hips » Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:45 am

I do want a deeper understanding of working with tubes. I guess my only real concern is getting something and never being able to make it work. I basically do troubleshooting for a living so maybe I won't get ahead of myself.

Long and Short looking at maybe doing a Princeton Reverb. If anyone has any suggestions for a kit that would help a lot. I would be looking for just the amp itself. I will build the cabinet (much more comfortable with wood builds).

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rumfoord
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by rumfoord » Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:15 am

It's not so uncommon (right?) for there to sometimes be amp building workshops / night classes where you pick a kit, have access to tools, and (most importantly) an amp guru nearby with experience. I would love to do that, but for me it's on the 'someday' list.

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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by CorporateDisguise » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:22 am

rumfoord wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:15 am
It's not so uncommon (right?) for there to sometimes be amp building workshops / night classes where you pick a kit, have access to tools, and (most importantly) an amp guru nearby with experience. I would love to do that, but for me it's on the 'someday' list.
The only amp building classes I've heard of are done by Bruce Egnater out in Detroit. So unless you live in
Detroit, you have to make a vacation out of it.

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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by rumfoord » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:30 pm

ooh, here's one in Ann Arbor to build a tube based headphone amp at a maker space. You could probably meet people and learn a bit to help you troubleshoot a bigger project.
https://maker-works.com/classes/build-y ... ier-class/

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julius2790
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by julius2790 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 1:39 pm

Snake Hips wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 3:45 am
I do want a deeper understanding of working with tubes. I guess my only real concern is getting something and never being able to make it work. I basically do troubleshooting for a living so maybe I won't get ahead of myself.

Long and Short looking at maybe doing a Princeton Reverb. If anyone has any suggestions for a kit that would help a lot. I would be looking for just the amp itself. I will build the cabinet (much more comfortable with wood builds).
I doubt you'd do any worse than we did with our project! You could totally do a build if you have an amp guru nearby to advise you.

I ordered the kit from Hoffman...
https://www.facebook.com/Hoffmanamps
http://el34world.com/index.html

Our original plan was to build a Princeton inside an old radio cabinet. Ended up being too difficult.

You can also get a kit from Mojo Tone. We ended up getting the amp cab from them and the build quality was really good...

http://www.mojotone.com/kits/BlackfaceA ... -Amp-Kit_2

Good luck!

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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by mbene085 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:47 pm

CorporateDisguise wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:22 am
rumfoord wrote:
Mon Jan 29, 2018 6:15 am
It's not so uncommon (right?) for there to sometimes be amp building workshops / night classes where you pick a kit, have access to tools, and (most importantly) an amp guru nearby with experience. I would love to do that, but for me it's on the 'someday' list.
The only amp building classes I've heard of are done by Bruce Egnater out in Detroit. So unless you live in
Detroit, you have to make a vacation out of it.
Can anyone truly call going to Detroit, "a vacation?"

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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by jthomas » Mon Jan 29, 2018 4:04 pm

You might go over to the Weber forum (http://tedwebers-famous-loudspeakers.va ... ities.com/) . Poke around and see how others (including me) learned to build our own amps. I started with a Weber Maggie kit (a very flexible take on the Fender tweed Harvard amp). Then I built a Supro 1024 clone from a Watts Tube Audio kit. Now I am slowly building an early 1960's Dearmond style amp from scratch (i.e., no kit).

The building of a Champ style amp is not so hard, no harder than building a complex model car kit. Best practices and the why of building something in a specific way is the lore that doesn't seem to be in one place anywhere. That is information picked up by doing and by asking questions. I started with Dave Hunter's book "The Guitar Amplifier Handbook." In that he gives general amplifier information and described his 2-stroke amp. The two-stroke is essentially the Maggie kit with a single power tube.

I wouldn't start with a Princeton kit. The Princeton is kind of complex. I got a high-power Princeton amp built from a kit awhile back for a good price that was not working. I fixed it, but it was more complex than one would think because of the tremolo and reverb circuits. As one of the earlier poster mentioned, the building is the easy part. It's the debugging and voicing the amp that is the real art of of building an amp.
Last edited by jthomas on Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by wproffitt » Mon Jan 29, 2018 7:16 pm

Snake Hips,
I built my first amp last summer. I don't think it will be my my last, either! I'll echo the statements presented in other responses and add a couple of my own:
1) This will not be cheaper than buying an amp. In the case of my build, the amp that inspired me (the 5e9 Tremolux) was last built in the configuration that I wanted in 1956. A nice example of one of those would set you back about 4 grand. To have a boutique builder do a clone of it would cost a little more than half of that. Did I build it for a fraction of those numbers? Yes. Was it cheaper than most of the used amps at my local music store? No.
I did buy premium components and a NICE cabinet. I also learned a heck of a lot along the way. It was a great experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.
2) Start with a book, such as the Dave Hunter book mentioned above. It's not a technical manual per se, but does a good job at walking you through how amps work in general by giving you a look at the signal paths of many famous designs. I'm curious about the "Two Stroke" project in the back and would consider it for a second build.
3) A nice kit seems like the way to go if a kit maker happens to have a model that you're into. Nobody makes a 5e9 kit, so I had a guy who specializes in assembling small parts for tweed builds (Boot Hill) put together a 5e9 small parts "kit" for me and took care of the cabinet, transformers, tubes, and speaker on my own. I've heard good things about Mission and Mojotone kits. These can be ordered with everything you need to build the amp and that could be a real time-saver. I ordered quite a few parts from Mojotone along the way and the service was great.
4) The PR would probably be tough unless you had a kit with step-by-step directions. Still, I did a 5e9 with NO directions and it works great. I'm thrilled with it, as a matter of fact! As others have said, however, expect for there to be some trouble along the way. The Valve Wizard website is a great resource. There are those on this website who are very generous with their time in this regard. Read some build threads and you'll see that people really do reach out to help when you have questions. I never would have finished mine without the help of experts living all over the world!
5) Be safe! I managed to to get through my build without so much as a tiny shock, but that 's probably because I was terrified of what might happen and followed safety precautions when tinkering!
6) Take your time! I'm a teacher, so was able to sink many man-hours into this without distraction. I don't know what the constraints on your spare time are like, but this could take some time to put together, so be aware of that.
7) Have fun!

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Snake Hips
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Re: Talk to me about Amp Kits

Post by Snake Hips » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:50 pm

Thanks everyone I am still considering going down this path......

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