In case you 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 help get you going within the right direction. However, be sure you actually want to develop your own:
You need to be fairly handy around electronics already, and aware of the hazards built into high voltage tube electronics and also the precautions to consider when working on tube amps
You shouldn’t possess the expectation that you simply can save money… unless your time and energy may be worth nothing at all you are able probably do better investing in a completed amplifier, even through the Cayin Audio, 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 having the license to help modify/tweak/voice your creation to perfection… so let’s begin:
Stumbling Through My first couple of Projects – My first project started as being an AM radio, it had occurred to me this chassis and the majority of the components was quite appropriate for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and I wanted to hear the real difference in tone between real tubes as well as the tube modeling within my Roland Cube amp… After studying good quality tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon a strategy and:
* I fought using the old transformers (insulation embracing dust whenever you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (working with the previous radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement of the major components to get a tube guitar amplifier)
* Learned that true point-to-point wiring isn’t the best choice for experimenting
* I couldn’t find a non-microphonic old-stock pentode tube
* The tone sucked… with hindsight I think it absolutely was due to the underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never return to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a lot however it didn’t answer my fundamental questions regarding tube-tone because I didn’t end up having an iconic amplifier as a reference at the conclusion 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 purchased a kit that promised a clone of any vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving a few pennies occasionally on components isn’t satisfying when you find yourself investing a lot of time building the project and elements 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 a bit leary of un-branded chinese transformers that might not have even been hi-pot tested not to mention certified with a safety agency; and that knows what laminations, etc. are utilized within the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t your best option for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and extremely 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
Your First DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
Using the above experiences in your mind it is actually 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 quick access, simplified assembly and room to modify
* Well documented, well supported… possibly not with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but rather by a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* A total 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 minimize your downside if your project doesn’t emerge phczif or else you get bored.
* Standard sized chassis for easy sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 508ia offered by the kit supplier, or a desire, determination and ability to build (and finish) your very own cabinetry
* Using the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
You ought to search out a reputable supplier of tube-amp kits, and select a model that fits both your taste in tone as well as a satisfying set of features for the first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!