View Full Version : opinions on Tino Zottola's books?

06-06-2008, 12:18 AM
Thinking of picking up either these or one of O'Connor's books (TUT #3).


06-06-2008, 12:05 PM
I have Tino's books.They are ok for a beginner,but as you progess you actually want to know what's going on in an amp.Tino's books just tell you wire by wire how to put together a variety of amps.He also uses his own layouts,some of which are point to point with no tag boards.
Kevin O'connors' books are based on his designs too.Very smart man but eccentric and opinionated.You can learn a lot,but lots is redundant.
However,the O'connor books are better than Tino's if you want some theory.Neither will get you far on the road to building amps like Fender's or Marshall's.O'connor says all Marshall transformers are crap,which is crap in itself.Tino does not provide a complete layout diagram for building the amps,just a schematic and a step-by-step guide for doing it his way.they all work,but can't pass for the models they copy.
However,his method of building blackface Champs is superior sounding than a true fender one is.(I've done both).
His use of his own point to point wiring is confusing.I far prefer eylet or turret boards.

06-06-2008, 12:43 PM
They are both worthwhile and have lots of good info in them. Tino's are easier to read and not as esoteric as Kevin's. Some are big followers of Kevin's power scaling methods and others aren't, the same for some of the overdrive schemes and tone stacks, but both authors know what's what and have useful info.

06-06-2008, 03:09 PM
Well, dang! I was hoping to hear, "yes, they are amazing!" LOL

Ultimately, I want to learn enough to construct amps without having to be told every little detail without understanding why... I also don't want to get a degree in electronics.

What would be cool would be a book that showed how to build the different major areas (power, preamp, etc.) incrementally... with how to test each piece standalone prior to proceeding to the next... and that showed variations with explanations as to what motivated the variation, how the different caps, resistors, etc. affected the sound.

I'm guessing this doesn't exist, but am all ears if it does... meanwhile I'm reading lots of material trying to learn all this stuff the hard way. So far, I've taken the Egnater class (cool amp, btw) and begun plowing through Dave Hunter's book, NEETS, AX84's starting doc.

It's fun, just slow and I'm itching to build something... but not build something just to have it... I want to understand the how and why...

06-06-2008, 11:51 PM
It's fun, just slow and I'm itching to build something... but not build something just to have it... I want to understand the how and why...

Ah and therein lies the quandary. Start with something small like this:


Play around with it try different things, then another. It really helps to
have a few mentors to guide you. That is difficult to find.

I'm not sure you can ever fully understand the hows and the whys
until you actually start building and playing through them.

06-08-2008, 07:09 PM
In my opinion, Tino's books are for a repairman, which is fine.
O'Connor's books cover general amp theory and function,
but also show his original circuits and suggest ideas for your
original circuits. However, he leaves out a lot of parts values in
his examples: he goes off on a lot of verbose tangents: and he is a fierce
Canadian nationalist, and praises Canadian amp designers and parts
manufacturers (such as Hammond), and constantly criticizes everyone
else, such as Mesa, Fender, Peavey, Marshall and others.
But I say read everything you can. There's not that much out there.
If you want a good amp kit with good instructions for each step,
get a kit from David Allen.

Richard Guy
06-07-2010, 10:27 AM
Hello TheAmpNerd,

Thanks for the kind mention

06-07-2010, 11:24 AM
For me... learning to quickly trouble shoot and/or do the basic services on an amp was important. Then, being able to build and amp from a set of instructions or a kit was next. Neither of those required much in the way of theory or math... but both of those things would have helped.

Most every book I have read, I have gone back to several times. There is stuff that I had to know in order for lots of what I read to really make sense. Time/journeymanship... or trade school, or an engineering degree would be a huge help. But that's just not going to happen. Not sure there is a perfect book... and at least for me, I go back again and again to nearly everything I've read.

06-07-2010, 07:35 PM
I have no problem recommending Tino's books. More the servicing books than the amp construction but even those have nuggets of interest. The servicing book IS for repairmen but are we all that sometimes? Right up there with Jack Darrs book imho.

06-07-2010, 07:49 PM
One thing you could try to do is find a group of guys in your local area that work on amps and share projects. Most communities have got to have at least something like that going on. If anything, frequent some radio swap meets and there will surely be people there looking for amp stuff. Find them.

I got started when I fell in with a group that salvaged non-working tube organs for guitar amp parts. A lot of them are engineers by trade and when you combine that with just literal truckloads of vintage parts to chose from, that's a pretty good start.

These are the guys that got me started. I'm still a beginner but know enough to realize how fortunate I have been to locate a great support network.

The Vacuum Tube Collective. (http://www.vacuumtubecollective.com/index.html)

06-08-2010, 02:34 AM
I ended up buying some of the TUT amp books. I've long since built the amp, sold it and bought the AxeFx. Anyone want to buy some TUT books? ;)

06-08-2010, 05:31 AM
I ended up buying some of the TUT amp books. I've long since built the amp, sold it and bought the AxeFx. Anyone want to buy some TUT books? ;)

I need 2, 4 and 6.

06-08-2010, 08:35 AM
Soldersucker and Old Tele Man turned me onto Jack Darr's book a while back. Very good reading.


06-09-2010, 01:07 PM
I need 2, 4 and 6.

Sorry, I have "The Ultimate Tone", "The Ultimate Tone 3" and "Tonnes of Tone".