how much do you need to know to build an amp?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by -kk-, Nov 30, 2004.

  1. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    Ive been toying with this idea forever (well, last 2-3 years). read up on it extensively, and generally speak I'm very keen on all things guitar related.

    My stumbling block is that I have zero electronics experience/knowledge, other than what I have learned from my recent readings. I can read schematic well, but am still worried about things like dealing with trannys etc. I'm TOTALLY clueless when it comes to trannies especially, and am a little unclear about the different biasing methos etc, let alone building a power section.

    Are these things that one can pick up as you go along? or do I really need to know my stuff before diving into it? Essentially, the best way to learn about something is to try it out, except that in this case, ignorance can potentially be fatal :(

    any advice?

    kelvin
     
  2. saros141

    saros141 Guest

    There are some excellent articles HERE
     
  3. Wakarusa

    Wakarusa Member

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    To build an amp you need a good set of plans (schematic, layout, parts list), good soldering skills, some notion of proper lead dress and instruction in electrical safety. In order of priority, put the safety course at the top of the list.



    To design an amp takes (choose one):
    a) a healthy budget, patience, lots of experimentation, and a fire extinguisher
    b) a friend who knows how and is willing to share
    c) lots and lots of reading and, preferably, some experience building/fixing 'em. Some math skills help too.
     
  4. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    thanks for the response guys.

    Saros, great site, I'll have a read through the articles when i have more time.

    Todd, plans I have, soldering skills is getting better, but I'm lacking in "some notion of proper lead dress and instruction in electrical safety".

    2 outta 3 aint bad right?

    how do you actually learn proper lead dress? do i open up amps and have a look inside? see whats good/bad? I dont know of anyone nearby that can show me the ropes.

    I dont think I'm up for designing yet, just simply building a clone is daunting enough.

    kelvin
     
  5. Wakarusa

    Wakarusa Member

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    For lead dress there's lots of reading available. Same goes for good grounding practices. I'm sure there's all sorts of stuff in the AX84 forum. Check out Randall Aiken's excellent tech articles as well.

    After reading take note of amps that are described as well wired, "clean" etc. in the various forums. Don't need to crack one open -- most ads on e-bay have a picture of the guts. There are quite a few around here too.

    Although there's a magpie-like draw to pretty power/ground busses all nicely tie-wrapped through the center of the amp, don't ignore how the wires run from the circuit board to the tube sockets. Learn which pins on a tube socket are plates, grids, cathodes, and heaters and notice which wires are allowed to cross others, where shielded coax is used, etc. Basically, look for how the rules you've read are applied in practice.

    Above all, notice that everything is kept as short as possible. Biggest pitfall I usually see with amateur builds/mods is falling to the temptation to leave leads long so they're easier to work with.
     
  6. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    yeah, think I'm gonna need to spend some time reading more stuff before getting my hands dirty.

    Ive been browsing the aiken stuff for awhile now, have also been reading posts in the weber and ax84 sites. I'm wondering if making simple effects to start off with will help?

    It's the high voltage part that I'm petrified about... so effects will be a more gentle intro i guess...

    thanks Todd... btw, is there a meaning behind "wakarusa" the word?

    kelvin
     
  7. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    Sounds like you know more than I did when I built my first amp back in............well,I'm an old guy.You've got some good advice here and soldering skills are a must.
    I think the best way to learn isto jump in and do it.How about a simple kit to start with?Lots of people here to help you along and you can email me anytime with questions.
     
  8. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    thanks TZO, i feel the same way too. only way to really learn is to do it.

    and thanks for the offer of (future) advice. I'll be posting here for help a lot more when I get started I imagine.

    Anyway, was messing about yesterday looking at schematics, and will prob get started on a MXR dist+ or ts-type circuit, with some mods. Prob the best way to start for me at this point, less investment as well, and not as deadly!

    kelvin
     
  9. I was mulling over building an amp! However, money came into it, and it would have taken much longer than i hoped! I think i may attempt to build a pedal or 2! Need good schematics though!
     
  10. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    you should try a mxr dist+ / dod 250... there are tons of schematics on this on the net, and you can add your own mods if you wanna get creative as well.

    kelvin
     
  11. Wakarusa

    Wakarusa Member

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    It's the high voltage part that I'm petrified about... so effects will be a more gentle intro i guess...


    When "petrified" becomes "respect" everything ought to go more smoothly. Once you get comfortable with an amp's layout and know where the high voltage is and isn't things get easier too.


    thanks Todd... btw, is there a meaning behind "wakarusa" the word?


    Wakarusa is the name of the town here. Rumor has it that it is derived from the language of whatever indigenous tribe was forced from the land a couple hundred years ago and means "knee deep in mud". So much for glamorous local lore.
     
  12. -kk-

    -kk- Member

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    I'm with you on that one!!

    thanks for the encouragement all, i'll be planning for a project soon.

    kelvin
     
  13. cnardone

    cnardone Member

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    Go to AX84.com. try the simple amp. It sounds great and you will learn alot. It is only a couple of hundred bucks to get started. Wakarusa is right about respect to. Fear leads to mistakes. And really, as long as you are careful, you really should not burn yourself. If you are hankering to do it, do it. It is not scary at all. After you are done with that amp, you will be so juiced that you want to jump right into a BluesBreaker or Wreck CLone. I am having the toughest time getting rid of my oscillations. It is great fun. Oh Get a good multimeter.

    cmn
     
  14. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    I HIGHLY recommend building a kit first. Even people with extensive education and experience in electronics can have difficulties building amps (or ANYTHING) from scratch.

    Witness my 25 years experience in the corporate electronics/engineering world. Some of the best designers (with or without the most education) are virtually clueless when it comes to building anything and worse yet at troubleshooting their own designs.
     

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