Amp/pedal building Classes?

blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
so i love amps and pedals probably just like everyone else here. i have a little general knowledge like anyone would who had used them for years but i cant repair them myself much less make one new. and i'd love to be able to do that. but, other than just taking apart a valuable amp or pedal i have, is there a way to learn? is there a class on amp or pedal making online that is good? is it better to take some kind of intro to electronics at a community college? where would you guys start?
 

rumbletone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,758
My recommendation:

- Get a simple pedal kit and build it
- start reading about what the components do (resistors, capacitors, transistors, etc) and reading schematics - start with very simple circuits like a boost or fuzz face
- if/when you’re feeling ready for amps, which have lethal voltages inside and require safety precautions/knowledge to work on, take Bruce Egnater’s amp build seminar. It’s not online (yet!) but worth every penny. I, and others, have travelled from other countries/continents to take it. If you’re in the US, it’s a no-brainer.
 

blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
ok simple pedal kit sounds like a great idea. any particular one you (or anyone else) would recommend? do they come with instructions? do i need to buy like a soldering iron (or anything else) too?
 

PhxdB

Member
Messages
638
ok simple pedal kit sounds like a great idea. any particular one you (or anyone else) would recommend? do they come with instructions? do i need to buy like a soldering iron (or anything else) too?
Joe Gore covers all of this.

Not even kidding. It's the best resource for getting started and he also makes sure you understand what everything does.

 

Thedude99

Member
Messages
2,522
ok simple pedal kit sounds like a great idea. any particular one you (or anyone else) would recommend? do they come with instructions? do i need to buy like a soldering iron (or anything else) too?
BYOC kits are great and easy to build.

I built their sample project years ago and then built a tonebender. From there I built a couple more kits then had the knowledge to source my own parts and PCB’s a build whatever.

Amps I never touched, despite being interested in doing so. I was put off by the potentially lethal voltages.
 

blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
pedals seems like a great place to start. unfortunately, most of the links on the tonefiend site don't work. buying a kit altogether would seem perfect...do the byoc kits come with intstructions or videos or anything?
 

blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
that sounds awesome but i just had an organ transplant...long trips are not possible for me for awhile. i feel like i heard he's in illinois, right? i'd love to attend a class if anyone knows of one in the nashville area.
 

GenoBluzGtr

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,529
I took a foray into pedal building during the lockdowns. Kept it going for over a year, and only took a pause because I joined a new band and it's a VERY busy band. But I plan to return to it.

I used books (Wampler's, etc) and watched a ton of YT videos, then started out with BYOC kits and mod-kits for existing pedals. After those experiences, I escalated by ordering pre-made circuit boards from places like Aion, GuitarPCB.com, and PedalPCB.com. built quite a few, sold several to friends/acquaintances, and then migrated into doing my own circuits on Vero board and tag board. My Peak was when I sold one to Tom Delonge (Blink 182 / Angels and Airwaves) and he said he planned to use it during an A&A recording session. Felt great.

I will tell you that you'll need to invest in good tools. Adjustable temp soldering iron, clamps and hands-free devices, etc. Don't skimp. Trying to do this type of work with cheap tools is the quickest way to get discouraged and quit. Create a good workspace with plenty of room and quick access to your tools and components. Once you start building/designing your own circuits, reach out to people who are in the hobby and find out all the components you might need. Nothing is more deflating than having a kick-ass circuit going, and find out you have to wait 2 weeks to get a single resistor or capacitor that you forgot to order. it's happened to me more than once!

For inspiration, here are a few of my creations in short self-recorded demos: it is HIGHLY satisfying building them, then playing them.

"Governator" (a clone of a Marshall Guv'nor):

"Hyades" (no clone, but a 3-band EQ Overdrive with big range of gain):

"Belie'Verb" (forgot which circuit I used as a guide, but this is a great 'verb):

"Euphonious Rex" (Clone of the KoT - this is the best part of pedal building - What Wait List?):

"Shaken Not Stirred" Tremolo:

"Triple Threat" (in this one I combined 3 popular OD/Boost in a single 9Volt powered enclosure - Bluesbreak - Zendrive - SHO boost): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmA6hFXBjsE&t=68s


It DOES become addicting! Watch out, it's a whole new flavor of G.A.S.
 
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blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
hell yeah...thats what i'm talking about. can you recommend the things to get outside of a kit? like specific soldering iron etc? and do you recommend any particular kit to start?
 

jazzkritter

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
171
Contrary to what’s been said: Recognize that you’re just ‘stepping into’ the electronics field that many of us spent years in tech school, or military, or college learning theory then years out there putting time in grade. Ain’t no video, even Mr Egneter, that can put that in a needle and inoculate your brain.

Highly recommend you google the Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series. It’s a self study course of well over 20 modules and starts with excellent basics. (Yea, the radar sections don’t apply much for us, but it’s cool learning.). It even still covers vacuum tubes.

Remember these ‘how to’ videos are out there to be sold first, not provide you a “real” education.

Dig into the Navy course, you’ll find out on your own what tools and test equipment you need. And how to use them!

Enjoy!
jk
 

Tdog weber

Member
Messages
111
Pedal kits to learn how to solder. Amp kits once you can read a schematic and some troubleshooting. I started in 2008 w my 2xkt88 sunn clone, then built 10+ amps fully custom usually 2 channels of different preamps mashed together with different output tubes/designs. Remember most of the tube designs are 60+ years old yet all these booteekurs change a couple values and ooooh the tone stack is soooo much different and then sell it for $2k. I have an engineering degree so building was not a big challenge…troubleshooting and learning what changes you can make to get that sound was what takes time and reading…but I did without any classes or 10k hours using a scope…depends on how far you want to go with it.
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blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
yeah i went to school for music but i didnt learn jot one about actual electronics other than maybe just using them. i'd be happy to be able to just make clones to start...despite all the industry has accomplished for variety i still think the tones from the 50's-70s are unbeaten. except in pedal land i suppose.

also, tdog, those amps look effing beautiful. obviously, i cant tell how they sound but, inside and out, they look like works of art. congrats. thats just so cool that you can do that. and, yeah, i know i've got alot to learn and don't expect to set the world on fire anytime soon. i just want to play the game even on just the lowest most basic lvl and i assume it'll take time, work, and energy. but my goals aren't grandiose. make one pedal work. go from there. and thanks for all the comments; it's good to know that it can be done.
 
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GenoBluzGtr

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,529
hell yeah...thats what i'm talking about. can you recommend the things to get outside of a kit? like specific soldering iron etc? and do you recommend any particular kit to start?

I can only tell you things that I think really helped me get started...

- I got this soldering station. You don't need to spend this much, but I think this is a key item. Make sure you can control temp and have the ability to change out tips.

You'll also need this to clean up old solder joints or to desolder existing components when doing mods:

Get good solder and some solder wick, as well:



- Something to help you 'hold' items while soldering. I grabbed both of these.

https://www.amazon.com/FainWan-Adju...0&s=hi&sprefix=circuit+board,tools,74&sr=1-16


- Work Mat - I got this to a. protect my work surface and b. stop small items from bouncing away if dropped. works great. Simple solution, but one that works. https://www.amazon.com/Kaisi-Insula...pY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU&th=1

- As you start to accumulate components, you MUST keep them organized. This is key. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003P0XRH...g&sr=1-1-9e67e56a-6f64-441f-a281-df67fc737124

- Wire for wiring boards up inside the enclosures: https://www.amazon.com/22AWG-Silico...948039&s=hi&sprefix=wire+kits,tools,78&sr=1-5

Most, if not all, my components are ordered from Mouser, Tayra, or one of the other 2 or 3 places that have nearly everything you'll need. These places are NOT Amazon. Shipping takes time (Tayda is overseas), so expect a couple of weeks minimum for orders to arrive, regardless of how small.


You'll also need reference material....

https://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia...-1-spons&sp_csd=d2lkZ2V0TmFtZT1zcF9hdGY&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/How-Modify-G...mzn1.fos.08f69ac3-fd3d-4b88-bca2-8997e41410bb

As you get further into it, things like Enclosures, Knobs, switches, jack (dc AND 1/4"), etc will become something you'll need to stock up on. So many decisions... do you get bare metal and then paint the enclosures? do you buy pre-powder coat colors and just add a label? And on-and-on... I ended up getting a color laser printer and transfer paper to create my own colorful labels. It can be a HUGE rabbit hole. I also ended up buying shipping boxes to mail them, mailing labels, bubble wrap, etc. It can be quite an undertaking.
 

skhan007

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
10,948
Years ago, I went to a weekend amp building class and built an 18 watt Marshall 1974x clone. It was led by Gradyon of GDS amps and was an excellent learning experience. My 18 watt 2x12 combo is awesome. Not sure if he's still doing the weekend classes, but you can inquire:
 

blacksoultyler

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
347
I can only tell you things that I think really helped me get started...
hey player i can't thank you enough for the advice and the links. i ordered a couple things you linked already but i may need to wait til i've bought all my christmas presents before i can really buy everything i'll need...not the time of year for spending alot on myself.

i recently had a liver transplant so, besides just being happy to be alive, i'll have a few months where i should have a decent amount of free time away from playing live and any serious recording projects. so a deep dive into pedal building sounds just like a perfect thing at a perfect time for me. i'm looking forward to the rabbit hole. i really want to read that brian wampler book asap too. thanks for the heads up on that one. oh, and just for the record, that triple threat is a beast! what a cool pedal...three dream od's in one box? forget about it.

oh and if you think of anything else i'll need please post...the more i know in advance the more i can plan. i know i read somewhere that i'd need a multimeter...if you agree and know a good one pls lemme know. also, skhan, i sent an email to gds. i dont think i'll be traveling much in the next few months but, after i get some recovery and hopefully a couple pedals under my belt, amps are where i'd really like to get to one day. thanks.
 

gingerale

Member
Messages
84
Hey, I got seriously into building pedals during the pandemic when I had to isolate/go into lockdowns. I agree with what others (@GenoBluzGtr, @Tdog weber) have said, excellent advice.

I also think it’s crucial that you get some good equipment, so that your tools doesn’t cause frustration. Others have already covered everything but I found something called Weller Tip Activator that cleans oxidation off your soldering tip, which was super useful for me and surely prolonged the life of my solder iron tips.

You might want to start with some kits. BYOC sells one called “Confidence Booster” that is supposed to be a “start here” project to learn to solder, basically. BYOC also has pretty good instructions. https://buildyourownclone.com/products/confidence-booster I haven’t built that one but I have their Classic Overdrive https://buildyourownclone.com/collections/overdrive/products/classic-overdrive and for what it’s worth I later A/B-tested it against my TS Mini and they were almost indistinguishable from each other.

The other kit vendors I can recommend are Aion Fx who make very good kits with very good and detailed instructions https://aionfx.com I have built a couple of their kits with good results and same goes for Pedal Pcb https://www.pedalpcb.com

Another great resource is https://guitarpcb.com/community/topic/pedal-building-guides-mandatory-reading/ - download and read their Beginners Pedal Building Guide, Beginners Guide to Components and Crash course guide - loads of great info!

Then, there’s an entire sub-culture of veroboard sites where traced pedal designs (from for example https://www.freestompboxes.org) are translated to veroboard designs: https://tagboardeffects.blogspot.com/ and https://dirtboxlayouts.blogspot.com. Here you’re on the deep end, kind of. You have to figure out stuff on your own and put it together, while in a kit you get a PCB, parts and instructions. Vero-based designs are more error-prone (easier to botch up when building, that is) but easier to mod once you get to that level.

Have fun!
 

GenoBluzGtr

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
3,529
hey player i can't thank you enough for the advice and the links. i ordered a couple things you linked already but i may need to wait til i've bought all my christmas presents before i can really buy everything i'll need...not the time of year for spending alot on myself.

i recently had a liver transplant so, besides just being happy to be alive, i'll have a few months where i should have a decent amount of free time away from playing live and any serious recording projects. so a deep dive into pedal building sounds just like a perfect thing at a perfect time for me. i'm looking forward to the rabbit hole. i really want to read that brian wampler book asap too. thanks for the heads up on that one. oh, and just for the record, that triple threat is a beast! what a cool pedal...three dream od's in one box? forget about it.

oh and if you think of anything else i'll need please post...the more i know in advance the more i can plan. i know i read somewhere that i'd need a multimeter...if you agree and know a good one pls lemme know. also, skhan, i sent an email to gds. i dont think i'll be traveling much in the next few months but, after i get some recovery and hopefully a couple pedals under my belt, amps are where i'd really like to get to one day. thanks.

Any decent multimeter will work and yes, you should have one. There WILL be some troubleshooting when you first start, because MOST of us rush too much and miss some obscure step. Don't get discouraged, the troubleshooting itself is a HUGE confidence booster. I totally trashed my first couple of builds because I messed it up too much replacing components that I installed incorrectly. but figuring that out, was a BIG boost to my confidence down the road.

I use this one, But I'm seeing that it's not being sold anymore, but there are literally thousands out there. You really only need it to read resistance (ohms), AC and DC voltages, and rarely, current.

www.ryobitools.com

Professional Digital Multimeter - RYOBI Tools

Professional Digital Multimeter
www.ryobitools.com
www.ryobitools.com

One additional thing that helps is to get on several of the blogs/forums/etc related to this hobby. here are a few:

r/diypedals

r/diypedals: reddit's community for DIY Pedal Builders!
www.reddit.com
www.reddit.com

Index page

tracing pedals since 2007
www.freestompboxes.org
www.freestompboxes.org

guitarpcb.com

Forums - GuitarPCB

Forums Archive - GuitarPCB
guitarpcb.com
guitarpcb.com

Guitar FX Layouts

Collection of vero (stripboard) & tagboard layouts for 100s of popular guitar effects, with over 500 verified designs. DIY your own boutique effects!
tagboardeffects.blogspot.com
tagboardeffects.blogspot.com


Good luck and take your time. And ENJOY it! And best of luck in your recovery!!
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
19,112
so i love amps and pedals probably just like everyone else here. i have a little general knowledge like anyone would who had used them for years but i cant repair them myself much less make one new. and i'd love to be able to do that. but, other than just taking apart a valuable amp or pedal i have, is there a way to learn? is there a class on amp or pedal making online that is good? is it better to take some kind of intro to electronics at a community college? where would you guys start?
If you want to learn electronics, IMO you should attend formal classes to get a handle on it. I got an associate degree in electronics technology and it took 24 months, 5 days a week, and 8 hours a day of theory, applied math, and lab. With formal training you can ask questions and have access to proper test equipment to use while you learn. They might not be teaching tube theory these days but the basic electronic theory still applies and you can figure tubes out later once you get a handle on AC & DC theory.

Building kits and learning how to solder will take practice and is a different skill set than understanding electronics...but you need to know both to be able to dig in and build or repair a circuit. However, you should be able to look at a schematic diagram and understand the purpose of every componant shown before even touching the hardware.

The Navy NEETS is probably the best reading...but you can't ask an instructor questions and you likely won't have proper test equipment to learn how to use/apply it.

So I vote for formal training if you want to properly learn how electronics works.
 
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