Have you learned much from amp kits?

Geek USA

I am interested in building an amp kit, but many of them cost as much as buying a prebuilt amp. The main reason I am curious about amp kits is for learning circuitry rather than the fun of putting it together. I am wondering if putting amps together has really taught you fellas how the amplifiers work and what the components do, or if they were more like just putting things together according to directions, and not really getting an understanding of the amps circuitry? Would I get better knowledge through the many 'explanation of tube amps' books out there, or through putting together a kit? I'm not really interested in putting together a 'model' if I'm going to be following instructions and not learning, if that makes any sense.


Silver Supporting Member
The most important thing I learned from putting together a couple of Allens and one Weber kit was to pop the first beer AFTER you turn off the iron for the day. Cuts down drastically on troubleshooting.

Seriously, it's alot closer to "more like just putting things together according to directions, and not really getting an understanding of the amps circuitry".

I did learn some practical stuffand I think it was worthwhile.And like you mentioned...it was loads of fun.


Most of the stuff you learn from building the amp is mechanical...why you assemble the amp in a particular order? What parts are difficult to work with? Etc. You can assemble an entire amp without gaining any knowledge what-so-ever about throw the circuit itself works. Even in the good ol' days, these were built on an assembly line by people who were excellent builders but may not have known a damn thing about how to design or repair them.

Ultimately, that's the difference between the schematic and layout...the schematic is the road map the shows exactly how the signal is routed, the layout is just there for mechanical assembly, it often leaves out "common" information that is assumed.

As for the circuit, it really helps to know what parts do what so you can mod. A great beginners book that highlights many components is....

ATL Strat

I learned a bunch from my kit builds. Troubleshooting, tweaking and repairing amps is where you will learn a lot as well. I did a 5E3 kit, a Dumble Bluesmaster kit and a Marshall kit. After that and after reading everything I could on the subject of tube amps, I built this one from scratch (my own layout, sourcing, drilling etc). I don't think it is too bad for an English major. Please excuse the excessive reverb on the clip. Best advice I can give is to go to Ceriatone or Weber and study the layouts until you understand what's going on.



What wyatt said.
Though building D'lites and doing mod/repairs on simple tube circuits has helped me to get a rough idea of how components and placement can affect tone and feel.
Plus, tweaking your amp's circuit is less expensive than getting a whole new one.


i built a Mojo kit and learned nothing except the technical skills (soldering, wire planning etc). i think the real knowledge would come form researching and experimenting with mods, as mentioned above. that would teach you what certain parts of the circuit do. and there must be some books about tube amp basics - i bet that would be even more useful.

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