Recommend amp kits with step by step for dummies instructions

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,165
Who provides the best step by step instructions for a simple amp like a Champ or Deluxe?
 

Bandit127

Member
Messages
121
I just finished my first valve amp build. I used a pre assembled circuit board to reduce the number of opportunities for a simple cock up.

I built a 5E3 and I would not have done it without the schematic AND the layout. Plus the layout from Rob Robinette's site.

Prior to the build I have changed valves and biased a number of my own amps and friends amps.
Bought a second hand custom built 5E3 amp from ebay and serviced that, along with fixing a number of problems it had.
In between I liberally used Google and Youtube for instruction on safe working and examples of amp repair. I watched a lot of Uncle Doug and D-labs videos.

I wouldn't have been able to do the build without the the general (and increasing) experience I gained over the months and that experience meant that I didn't need "for dummies" type instructions.

If I was in your shoes I would buy a working kit build as cheap as possible from ebay and learn on that. Re-tube it. Make it quiet.Use it. Change it. And you would lose your "dummy" status and sharpen up your wiring, soldering, schematic reading and trouble shooting skills.

If you are set on going straight in with a kit the 5E3 Deluxe seems to be very popular (because it is relatively simple and good sounding) - so there is a lot of forum support, knowledge and answered questions on the internet for it.
 

Kurzman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,291
"...I am fairly certain there would be more to learn in the process than just following a layout."

There is, but not much. The first time I built one (an Allen V-18/Sweet Spot, esssentially a Princeton Reverb) I just followed the layout (no instructions). I had to ask about which wires needed to be twisted together but that's about it. A few tips on wiring the heaters helped also.

(I'm talking about just getting the amp up and running. You're right, you won't learn about the signal paths, etc. But you won't learn that with written instructions either.)

Slightly off topic, but I'd consider a black-face style amp before a tweed type. After I built the V-18, I built a tweed type hopped up Champ. The V-18, even with the reverb and tremolo was so much easier simply because there was more space in the chassis. The Tweed chassis' are very cramped making it more difficult for a first timer to assemble it neatly.

More unsolicited advice. Build something that you'll use. Resale on home builds is tough.
 
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3,031
While I've never built an amp, I am fairly certain there would be more to learn in the process than just following a layout.

Regardless of whether or not there are instructions what you will learn will come from actually "doing it".

Instructions are a good safety net but once you actually start building you will realize there are more than enough resources online (Uncle Doug^ is a good example). A Champ has a simple layout and if you have never read a schematic it will help you make the leap from reading a layout to reading a schematic.

IMO the real learning happens when you are troubleshooting.
 

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,165
"...I am fairly certain there would be more to learn in the process than just following a layout."

There is, but not much. The first time I built one (an Allen V-18/Sweet Spot, esssentially a Princeton Reverb) I just followed the layout (no instructions). I had to ask about which wires needed to be twisted together but that's about it. A few tips on wiring the heaters helped also.

(I'm talking about just getting the amp up and running. You're right, you won't learn about the signal paths, etc. But you won't learn that with written instructions either.)

Slightly off topic, but I'd consider a black-face style amp before a tweed type. After I built the V-18, I built a tweed type hopped up Champ. The V-18, even with the reverb and tremolo was so much easier simply because there was more space in the chassis. The Tweed chassis' are very cramped making it more difficult for a first timer to assemble it neatly.

More unsolicited advice. Build something that you'll use. Resale on home builds is tough.

I'd love to build an Allen kit, but I figured it would be way beyond my non-experience. I can solder and I've rewired my guitars, but never worked on an amp. I don't even know how to bias. I don't even know what bias means.
 

-CM-

Something Clever Here
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,179
Ok thats 2 votes Allen.

Here's a pic of my Allen Old Flame just unboxed. As you can see, there is a large color diagram, in addition to very detailed step-by-step instructions. I followed the instructions the first amp I did, but then just used the diagram for the others. (yes, others. Be forewarned that amp building is addictive.)

index.php


Here it is, finished.

index.php
 

Kurzman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,291
Some Allen kits have detailed instructions and some are "bare bones" with just a layout and schematic.

http://www.allenamps.com/kits.php

Pics like CM's completed chassis are invaluable to beginners.

It really is a lot of fun. You'll have to make an effort to stop soldering before you get fatigued. It really is easy to work too long on these things and make mistakes just from being tired. Also, don't pop beer #1 until you've finished working on the amp for the day ;-)
 

jthomas666

Member
Messages
1,065
I have been able to build 2 nice amps with only the schematic and layouts (one from Weber and one from Watts Tube Audio (www.turretboards.com) without too much difficulty. I had built pedals before and so the amps provided me a chance to learn quite a bit. The initial building is a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Every component has a place. (albeit an electrically energized and dangerous puzzle, but that is more of an issue with the debugging phase).

Count on needing to debug the amp and check the bias. You will need to do some of that regardless of who you buy the kit from.

The easiest kits are probably found at Tube Depot. They provide a circuit board, an instruction manual in a pdf file (I think), and they have videos on YouTube.

.

Regardless of whom you you source the kit or parts from, these manuals and videos are helpful in building. If you choose to modify the amp at some point, maybe to dial in the sound that you want, it may be harder with a circuit board amp because eyelet boards and turret boards are more forgiving, IMO.

All of that said, good luck in your addictive quest.
 
Last edited:

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,165
I have been able to build 2 nice amps with only the schematic and layouts (one from Weber and one from Watts Tube Audio (www.turretboards.com) without too much difficulty. I had built pedals before and so the amps provided me a chance to learn quite a bit. The initial building is a little like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Every component has a place. (albeit an electrically energized and dangerous puzzle, but that is more of an issue with the debugging phase0.

Count on needing to debug the amp and check the bias. You will need to do some of that regardless of who you buy the kit from.

The easiest kits are probably found at Tube Depot. They provide a circuit board, an instruction manual in a pdf file (I think), and they have videos on YouTube. (). Regardless who you you source the kit or parts from, these manuals and videos are helpful in building. If you choose to modify the amp at some point, maybe to dial in the sound that you want, it may be harder with a circuit board amp because eyelet boards and turret boards are more forgiving IMP.

All of that said, good luck in your addictive quest.



That was great! Thanks!
 
Messages
1
Weber layouts are very easy to see
Unfortunately everything else about them is terrible. Cheap components, bad quality pots and jacks, and absolutely terrible customer support. Expect missing/broken stuff and no help on their end. They're fine if you supply everything yourself minus the cab, chasis, and transformers, but at that point, you can probably source those things elsewhere and get better quality stuff. Otherwise avoid Weber amp kits like the plague. Allen is much better.
 

Jeff Gehring

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,668
I’d just like to say: Don’t buy somebody else’s completed kit! Nothing is worse than having to un-squirrel someone else’s malfunction before you can even start on the build.
 

Muttlyboy

Member
Messages
3,163
Tweed Champ is probably the easiest way to get started.

Least amount of parts means less potential problems...and it's a great sounding amp if you give it a nice speaker
 

twangbanger

Member
Messages
1,495
Some Allen kits have detailed instructions and some are "bare bones" with just a layout and schematic.

http://www.allenamps.com/kits.php

Pics like CM's completed chassis are invaluable to beginners.

It really is a lot of fun. You'll have to make an effort to stop soldering before you get fatigued. It really is easy to work too long on these things and make mistakes just from being tired. Also, don't pop beer #1 until you've finished working on the amp for the day ;-)
Another vote for Allen Amps. Built three and couldn't be happier. The Encore that I built had a very detailed building instruction manual. You might want to go with one of his simpler kits.
 




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