Recommendations for book on amp building/repair?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Zoso, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. Zoso

    Zoso Member

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    I'd like to get started tinkering with amps, but the only thing I know about it is that I don't know anything. I don't want to be dumb and just start messing around with things I don't understand that can kill me, so I'd like a good book to read that explains the basics. Something that is easy to approach on the scholastic side and also filled with practical information that can be put to direct use.

    Any recommendations? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. xtian

    xtian Member

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    A great book to start with is The Guitar Amp Handbook by Dave Hunter. He starts from scratch and works his way through a basic amp, explaining all the basic concepts. Book includes lots of gut shots of famous amps, and concludes with an example build that you can do yourself.

    I've seen Gerald Weber's book, and it has some interesting stuff, but also a lot of errors.

    Merlin Blencowe's Designing Tube Preamps for Guitar and Bass is a bible for intermediate to advanced builders and, is genius.
     
  3. xtian

    xtian Member

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  4. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    I remember seeing the Jack Darr book at my Lafayette store in the early 70's. It was the only resource at the time.

    http://www.eserviceinfo.com/index.php?what=search2&searchstring=Electric+Guitar+amp+handbook%2C+Jack+Darr

    Like a lot of people, I bought some of the Kevin O'Connor books. They're useful, but there's too much beating around the bush. I should probably buy Merlin's book, but it seems like a ton of it is up on his website anyway.

    Adam at Satellite amps sometimes holds a seminar where you build a tweed champ in a day. Problematically, many don't want a tweed champ. I think Bruce Egnater or one of the other guys with a German name, has a session where you build one of his custom designs.

    If you have an amp in mind that you would like to build, there's probably a website dedicated to that effort. If you have an older amp you would like to modify, whether it's tonal or just replacing a two prong with a three prong AC cord, you'll learn a lot that way. There are more complete lists than I will give you, but you need:

    decent soldering equipment with a focus on de-soldering (soldapult solder sucker, wick, tweezers)
    shrink wrap and a heat gun -- I have a hobby heat gun that is much easier to deal with than industrial versions
    some ingenuity (rubber bands and clothes pins can sometimes keep you from burning wires and yourself)
    a decent Digital Volt Meter (DVM)
    patience...everyone gets a good zap from time to time
    understanding of safety concerns -- for example, you don't work on a live amp in the garage in your bare feet
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  5. Avatar Tech

    Avatar Tech Member

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    I particularly like Merlin's preamp book. He does a good job of presenting information from the perspective of a guitar player, and he explains why certain things that would would be detrimental to a hifi amp are acceptable, or even preferred in guitar amps.

    Colin
     
  6. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    you can't really, honestly understand "guitar amps" unless / until you understand how tube amplification occurs.

    "Valve Amplifiers" by Morgan Jones will get you want you need to know. From there, you can enjoy some of the other books already mentioned.

    IMO, Jones is the "front door"...
     
  7. donfrantz

    donfrantz Yo! You stealin’ all the cool. Supporting Member

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  8. Diablo1

    Diablo1 Member

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    Yep, as others have posted. Jack Darr's book + Merlin's Valve Wizard book. I found a copy of Jack Darr's book as a pdf for free online. Aiken's website and R.G. Keen have excellent info too. If you absorb and understand just this info, you will have some serious skills.
     
  9. Mr BC

    Mr BC Member

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    Here's some things I found helpful. This one goes through a 5F1 schematic piece by piece and references the schematic diagram and talks about tube tech:
    http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=13729&start=15

    Lookup "Uncle Doug" on YT. He has a lot of good videos, and a series of "how tube amps work." Essentially along the same lines as the thread I linked. I found that before Uncle Doug put up his current vids.

    Start poking around the Music Electronics forum. As a beginner, a lot of those threads will likely be too advanced, but they sent me to good ole' Google, which is how I found the Valve Wizard and the Jack Darr info.

    The DIY amp section of TDPRI has good technical discussions too. Of course this section of TGP is really good too...
     
  10. Avatar Tech

    Avatar Tech Member

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    Ax84.com is also an invaluable resource that I don't think has been mentioned yet. Merlin Blencowe is an active member there, and they also have a theory article that goes with one of their beginner builds. The nice thing is that it's free, and for a beginner, websites like ax84.com and Valve Wizard present the information in a way that is easier to understand than a lot of expensive books. Ampbooks.com has a lot of free information. You can google "briggs amplifiers" and find a free book, and also google "designing v-t amplifiers" for another free pdf book. PM me if you can't find them on your own and I can email them to you if interested.

    Colin
     
  11. VaughnC

    VaughnC Supporting Member

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    Understanding basic electronics, the math behind it, and practical lab application is the key to understanding anything electronic. Jumping into amplifiers is like putting the cart before the horse. It takes 2 years for a degree in electronics for a reason. And, without owning a DMM, signal generator, and oscilloscope and understanding how to use them, just looking at the wiring & parts inside of an amp won't tell you much. Yup, some amp books are ok at basic amp principles but, if you plan on getting down to component level and understanding the circuits, IMO there are no shortcuts. If, for example, you have an amp that has no output, you have to know where to start, and you'd need proper test equipment to tell you what's going on. Then there's the lethal voltages involved. In electronics school, you couldn't touch high voltage circuits until you proved competence with low voltage circuits. I always suggest novices starting with something like a 9v powered pedal where a mistake won't kill you. Good luck and be careful!
     
  12. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    ^^^

    Pretty much says it all....
     
  13. zenas

    zenas Member

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    I learned from books, (not book) shocking the **** out of myself and 25 years of just doing it.

    My first book was the only one you could find in the early '90s Aspen Pittman's The Tube Amp Book. Pretty much worthless if you don't know a resister from a capacitor and I didn't ! After that I found Dan Torres's book which sort'a explained some basics like schematics but also his ideas about how to devalue vintage amp. ( Want to loose 1,000 bucks on a blackface? Put his rebuild kit in it.)
    Then I found Gerald Webers's first and second book helpful and worth having.

    At some point I started reading old books from when tubes were in everything and I still do.

    The ocilliscope? I'm buying one this year no clue how to run one but I've been fixing amps this long without one so I figured it was time.
    I fix amps for two guys who are EEs own them when they get stumped so I know it's just another tool and not magic.

    Boils down to this. If you want to learn you can but no one book or tool will do it for you.
     
  14. wyatt

    wyatt Member

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    There are certainly more comprehensive sources out there, but this book is enough to even the least experienced beginner up and running on an oscilloscope and working your way through audio devices.

    http://www.amazon.com/How-Diagnose-Fix-Everything-Electronic/dp/0071744223
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  15. xtian

    xtian Member

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    That looks good, wyatt. I'll pick up a copy.
     

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