Silver Supporting Member
Who provides the best step by step instructions for a simple amp like a Champ or Deluxe?
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.
"...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.
Ok thats 2 votes Allen.
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.
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.Weber layouts are very easy to see
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.Some Allen kits have detailed instructions and some are "bare bones" with just a layout and schematic.
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 ;-)