For those who have decided to take the plunge and build your own guitar tube amp, please allow me to share my early projects/mistakes with you to assist get you going within the right direction. But first, make sure to genuinely wish to build your own:
You should be fairly handy around electronics already, and conscious of the risks built into high voltage tube electronics and also the precautions to consider when focusing on tube amps
You shouldn’t have the expectation which you helps you to save money… unless your time is worth nothing at everything you can probably do better buying a completed amplifier, even through the Cayin A88t Mk2, but certainly on the open market as used
All said, though, there is lots of satisfaction in completing and playing an amplifier you built yourself and getting the license to help modify/tweak/voice your creation perfectly… so let’s begin:
Stumbling Through My first Few Projects – My first project started as being an AM radio, it had struck me that the chassis and the majority of the components was quite ideal for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and i also desired to hear the real difference in tone between real tubes as well as the tube modeling inside my Roland Cube amp… After studying good quality tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon an idea and:
* I fought using the old transformers (insulation switching to dust once you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (working with the old radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement of the major components to get a tube guitar amplifier)
* Discovered that true point-to-point wiring isn’t the best choice for experimenting
* I couldn’t locate a non-microphonic old-stock pentode tube
* The tone sucked… with hindsight In my opinion it had been as a result of underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never get back to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a lot but it didn’t answer my fundamental questions regarding tube-tone because I didn’t end up having an iconic amplifier being a reference at the end of the project
* I spent some frustrating evenings redesigning and reworking my first effort and after that for my second major project I broke down and bought a kit that promised a clone of the vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving several pennies from time to time on components isn’t satisfying when you wind up investing considerable time building the project and aspects of the outcome look cheap (e.g. a plastic alternative to a ‘proper’ metal construction Audiophile Cables or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)
I’ve grown somewhat leary of un-branded chinese transformers that might not have even been hi-pot tested much less certified by way of a safety agency; and who knows what laminations, etc. are employed inside the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t your best option for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and incredibly frustrating to do business with
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great when you plug it right into a proper speaker & cabinet combination
The First DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
With the above experiences in your mind it really is time and energy to summarize some considerations for the initial project:
* Simple project but not under-featured… something that might be satisfying and playable
* Physically large for easy access, simplified assembly and room to change
* Well documented, well supported… not always with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but alternatively by a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* A complete kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components
* Top quality parts with all the possible ways to upgrade them if desired… but moderation rules… you might want value over extravagant components to reduce your downside in case your project doesn’t appear phczif or perhaps you lose interest.
* Standard sized chassis for quick sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 218ia provided by the kit supplier, or a desire, determination and capability to build (and finish) your personal cabinetry
* With all the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
I suggest you search out an established supplier of tube-amp kits, and pick a model that fits both your taste in tone along with a satisfying set of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!