My 1st Amp Build - BYOC Champ - Got the Cab!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by GAD, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    After building a bunch of great sounding BYOC pedals, I decided to tackle the Champlifier. Here's the link to the kit: http://www.buildyourownclone.com/ampkitindex.html

    Here is the link to the instructions: http://www.buildyourownclone.com/champinstructions.html

    This is what you get in the kit:

    [​IMG]

    I like the turret board, but those turrets take a while to heat up with my iron due to the iron's small chisel point. I like it better than trying to jam six leads into a single eyelet though. Here's the included board:

    [​IMG]

    Here are a couple of midway shots:

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    The instructions are fantastic. Only once was I frustrated - the last step had me soldering in a spot that was very hard to get to, but I persevered and overcame.

    As others have noted, if you want to learn amp theory, this kit won't teach you that. This kit is like building a Lego set - if you follow instructions well, and know how to use the proper tools, you'll get the desired results. Just as building a Lego house won't teach you how to be an architect, this kit won't teach you to be an amp designer. For example, unless you know something about electronics (and trust me, I am no EE!), you'd never stop to think that an exposed wire or solder blob from the turret board might short out on the exposed chassis.

    That doesn't mean that the kit is unsafe IMO. There are many warnings about voltage and electrocution at the proper points in the directions. I just think that an insulation layer was a better idea.

    That said, I recommend that anyone who wonders why boutique amps cost so much money should build an amp kit. I love doing this stuff, and I have a fair amount of experience with a soldering iron. Still, this build took me the better part of a weekend to complete. Sure, I'm anal and like all the wires to be the right length and the labels on the components to show, but isn't that the kind of work we'd expect from a boutique builder? Sure, with more builds, my speed would increase, but I learned that hand-wiring an amp is a time consuming process. If I charged my normal consulting rate to build this amp, the end result, including components, would cost over $2,000! Cut that in half and it's still a boatload of money for a Champ.

    One of the things I don't like about the kit is that the back of the turret board is uninsulated from the chassis. I'd read this online while researching the kit, so I ordered a blank insulating card from Mojotone to use as a barrier, similar to the way my Bassman is built. I had to trim it to fit, and drill holes for the mounting screws, but it worked perfectly:

    [​IMG]


    One other note - I ordered a different colored jewel for the lamp from Mojotone, but the threads don't match. I did not expect that, and I'm not sure why it's the case, but there you go.

    Here's the final gut shot:

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    And here's the amp being tested on my non-conductive, flame-retardent garage floor. :)

    Why isn't it in the cabinet? Because Mojotone still hasn't shipped my cabinet a month after I ordered it. They tell me it should ship this week, but I just couldn't wait to test it. Even open, on the floor, it sounds great! No sparks, no smoke - just great tone. I can't wait to hear it in a nice lacquered pine cab!

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
  2. grizdeluxe

    grizdeluxe Member

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    Nicely done. I'm ruined after building my 18 watter. I dont want to buy any mfgrs. amps anymore after hearing the results.
     
  3. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks! What did you build? I think I'm going to do a Mission 5E3 next. I'm on the list for when he gets them back in stock.
     
  4. Sleepyhouse1422

    Sleepyhouse1422 Member

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    I'm currently taking electronics classes in school and plan on building a kit in the next few months. I've been reading as much as I can and bought a couple books about amps. Thanks for the post.
     
  5. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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    Nice, it looks beautiful! I've been feeling quite tempted to try my hand at an amp. I've done a few pedals and almost memorized the Fuzz Face schematic, and I've loved the learning process. I feel like it has made me a much smarter buyer.

    I'm a bit leery to try an amp for the safety concerns. I realize that there is no voltage in an amp that has never been plugged in, but I still have lingering safety concerns. I'll have to keep doing research to make sure I know what I'm doing before I start.

    I also know that these types of projects tend to be rabbit holes. I'll say I'm going to start with a champ and before you know it I'll be looking to build a 5E3, an 18w, a 18w, etc...

    Any tips on where you can 'buy' more free time? ;)
     
  6. guitarcapo

    guitarcapo Senior Member

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    One I built a while back.

    Here's what different power tubes will do withe a bigger transformer.

     
  7. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    As you said, until you plug it in, it's got a near zero potential to kill you. :)

    Treat it with respect. Follow the instructions, and heed hints like putting one hand behind your back while testing a live amp, etc.

    In my experience, guys like you who are so worried about getting shocked usually don't get shocked. It's the guys who have been doing it for decades who slip. Same with flying, shooting, SCUBA diving, etc.

    Build yourself a cap-discharge tool if you decide to work on amps - it will go a long way to helping make an amp safe - even after it's unplugged. Also, if you don't know how to use a multimeter, don't build an amp.

    I'd say in order to be safe, you'd need:

    Know how to use a multimeter safely.

    Know what the different electrical components are, what they do, and how they can be dangerous.

    If you follow the instructions, the amp will work. If you can't make clean solder joints, you can run into trouble, so make sure your soldering skills are up to snuff.

    Like I said, I am no EE. That's why I love these old, simple amps. They're easy to understand, easy to build, and sound like heaven.
     
  8. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Very cool!

    I actually built mine with the 4-Ohm tap so that I could hook it up to my '63 bassman cab. :)

    Aside from that, I built it without any mods. I wanted it to be as close to a real tweed champ as possible. I thought about a bigger speaker, but figured that people loved those old champs for a reason.
     
  9. EricPeterson

    EricPeterson Member

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    Great Work! I may have to check one of these out.
     
  10. guitarcapo

    guitarcapo Senior Member

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    I sold that Champ I posted but I have another one that I've modded like crazy. I love it now and won't touch it further. Better overdrive and cleans than it was stock.
     
  11. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Nice.

    You know, it's funny. I never liked Fender amps. I gre up playing in the 70s and 80s, and all the Fender amps I encountered were either silverface Twins or Princetons. To me, Fenders were either an icepick to the ear, or just too freaking loud with not enough gain.

    It wasn't until the past five years or so that I discovered Brownface Fenders, and then Tweeds. Now I own a '63 Bassman and this little champ, and I can tell you, I'm gonna build me a 5E3!

    I still love my saturated 80s tones, but I have an Axe-FX for that.
     
  12. grizdeluxe

    grizdeluxe Member

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    18 watt Triode Electronics TMB head. http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=1033267


    I spoke with our singer about my build and he wants me to build him a 5e3. I think I'm going to make two. One for him and one for me. Ive heard nothing but good from Bruce at Mission. He's high on my list of who I want to buy from.
     
  13. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Very cool! After working the past two days on my Champ, that thing looks HUGE!
     
  14. eddy999

    eddy999 Member

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    Great job! That's a nice looking little build. It's hard to keep the build neat in those little chassis, but you've done a great job of it. So what are you going to build next?
     
  15. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks!

    Yeah, some of the final solders in that tight chassis were maddening!

    I think my next build will be a Mission 5E3.
     
  16. scottywompas

    scottywompas Member

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    Nicely done. I too have done lots of pedals but am still a little concerned about the high voltage stuff. That and I don't have a proper workspace for this kind of stuff. Someday though. Very cool indeed.

    Scott
     
  17. RupertB

    RupertB Supporting Member

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    Congratulations on a great-looking first build.

    They're terrific little amps; fun to play & perfect for a lot of the small-room gigs I play these days.

    Good luck on the 5E3 build (and the next one & the one after that :stir ).
     
  18. levous

    levous Member

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    Thanks for sharing! I'm reading "The Guitar Amplifier Handbook" - Dave Hunter
    It's an excellent, approachable reference on how each component works with a ton of insight. I expect to build my first once I'm finished. Thanks for revealing the time it took. I was curious.

    Beautiful build! I believe your attention to detail is critical for a boutique result. Researching tone has got me hooked, big time, on that next level of tweaking.
    r
     
  19. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Thanks all.

    I cannot wait for the cab to get here. This beautiful little thing is sitting in a box on my desk, and that's just wrong.
     
  20. GAD

    GAD Wubbalubbadubdub Silver Supporting Member

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    Finally got the cabinet and got it all put together. I scored a vintage looking badge on Ebay that says "Champ" in Fender-like script. Mounted it all, put the badge on, and started rocking.

    It's a little dark sounding in the enclosure, but I hear that's normal. It's a GREAT sounding amp though. Even overdriven I'm impressed at how good it sounds.

    I grew up around Fender black and silverface amps, and never dug them. When I got my '63 Bassman, I was blown away by the tone. This one makes me want a Tweed Deluxe. I'll definitely have to build that next!

    The Mojotone cabinet is fabulous. Not a flaw on it. Worth every penny.

    Here are some pics of the completed build:

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