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 help get you going in the right direction. However, ensure you actually want to construct your own:
You should be fairly handy around electronics already, and conscious of the dangers inherent in high voltage tube electronics and the precautions to take when working on tube amps
You shouldn’t possess the expectation that you simply helps you to save money… unless your time and effort may be worth nothing at everything you can probably do better investing in a completed amplifier, even from your 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 having the license to further 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 occurred to me this chassis and most of the components was quite ideal for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and that i wanted to hear the difference in tone between real tubes as well as the tube modeling inside my Roland Cube amp… After studying some really good tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon an idea and:
* I fought with the old transformers (insulation embracing dust once you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (working with the previous radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement from the major components to get a tube guitar amplifier)
* Found out that true point-to-point wiring isn’t your best option for experimenting
* I couldn’t find a non-microphonic old-stock pentode tube
* The tone sucked… with hindsight In my opinion it absolutely was as a result of underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never return to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a whole lot nevertheless it didn’t answer my fundamental questions about tube-tone because I didn’t end up getting an iconic amplifier as being a reference after 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 a vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving several pennies from time to time on components isn’t satisfying when you end up investing a lot of time building the project and facets of the end result look cheap (e.g. a plastic alternative to a ‘proper’ metal construction Speaker Cable or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)
I’ve grown somewhat leary of un-branded chinese transformers that may not have even been hi-pot tested let alone certified by way of a safety agency; and who knows what laminations, etc. are used in the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t the best choice for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and very frustrating to work alongside
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great when you plug it in to a proper speaker & cabinet combination
Your First DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
Using the above experiences under consideration it is time and energy to summarize some considerations for the first project:
* Simple project however, not under-featured… something that might be satisfying and playable
* Physically large for quick access, simplified assembly and room to change
* Well documented, well supported… possibly not with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but rather by way of a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* A total kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components
* Good quality parts with the possibility 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 else you get bored.
* Standard sized chassis for convenient sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 218ia available from the kit supplier, or even a desire, determination and ability to build (and finish) your personal cabinetry
* Using the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
You ought to search out an established supplier of tube-amp kits, and choose a model that fits both your taste in tone along with a satisfying set of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!