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Should I take on the hassle of building a Tweed Deluxe from a kit?

skunizzi

Member
Messages
1,101
Hi Guys,

So I've been contemplating building my own tweed deluxe from a kit. There are a few companies offing these kits and i've seen a pretty nice sounding one on Youtube from Mojotone.
My questions is has anyone here tried this DIY kit build? Is it worth the hassle? My guess is that the resale value on these are not going to be very good in the long run. Maybe it would be better to spend the full price on a Fender Reissue? At least I can sell it and not loose too much money on it if I don't bond with it down the road.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this?

Thanks
 

Fatboy666

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,754
if you're doing it to save money, don't. It won't be cheaper.

If you wanna have the experience of building with your own two hands, that's a fine 1st build choice. Lots of info, kits, and parts available.

Resale? There's none - why would I pay for your build? I don't know your experience.
 

skunizzi

Member
Messages
1,101
I do enjoy building my own stuff. I've built a few pedals from kits and such, but building an amp and not knowing if it will sound the way you want it to can be like jumping down a rabbit hole. I know people who spend endless hours tweaking the build afterwards instead of playing it...
 

MrMilkman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
212
I am a neophyte builder who just completed his second amp build, so I'm not too far removed from where you are.

With that said, and not knowing what your background is in terms of electronics knowledge or anything else, I'd absolutely give it a go under the following conditions:

1) Read up on amp building first, especially if you haven't built anything electronic before. Dave Hunter's Guitar Amplifier Handbook was my starting point, and helped me when I was working through my first build (a 5F1 champ, also a Mojotone kit). Understanding why things do what they do in a circuit, and which of those things can hurt or kill you if you don't treat them properly, is crucial. I spent a month just reading stuff and becoming familiar with the very basics like Ohms law, how to use a multimeter, the difference between a capacitor and a resistor, etc. before I even bought the kit. Trust me, you will need that knowledge both during the build phase and the (inevitable) troubleshooting phase.

2) Make sure you have the right tools and you know how to use them, especially a good soldering iron. Practice soldering if you haven't done much of it before. Know what a good vs bad solder joint looks like.

3) Go slowly and triple check everything you do against the SCHEMATIC as well as the layout diagram. This was some good advice I received from a builder friend of mine, and it's solid.

4) Be content knowing you will have a hand built piece of gear with very little resale value. If you manage to resell a kit build it will be for less than you have in it from a financial standpoint, say nothing of the value of your time. And that's ok! Building an amp is really fun and at the end you have something you built by yourself that makes cool noises. That's your payoff. But don't go into this expecting to sell, because you're going to be disappointed.

If none of this sounds appealing then definitely buy a Fender reissue and enjoy it--no shame in that game at all. Otherwise, get yourself some knowledge, tools, and components, and make some hot solder action happen.
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,661
I do enjoy building my own stuff. I've built a few pedals from kits and such, but building an amp and not knowing if it will sound the way you want it to can be like jumping down a rabbit hole. I know people who spend endless hours tweaking the build afterwards instead of playing it...
There's the rub. You have to know when enough is enough. Once you learn the ins and outs of what effects what, it's an easy rabbit hole to jump into swamping parts left and right.
It's also addictive which is why I have 3 marshalls of essentially the same spec. One's generally apart for tweaking, but i'm getting better at 'calling it good' once I tried every iteration and know what works for me.

I'd suggest mission amps kit if you're going kit, his documentation is great.
 

calfzilla

Cynical Hack
Messages
3,865
Hi Guys,

So I've been contemplating building my own tweed deluxe from a kit. There are a few companies offing these kits and i've seen a pretty nice sounding one on Youtube from Mojotone.
My questions is has anyone here tried this DIY kit build? Is it worth the hassle? My guess is that the resale value on these are not going to be very good in the long run. Maybe it would be better to spend the full price on a Fender Reissue? At least I can sell it and not loose too much money on it if I don't bond with it down the road.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this?

Thanks
I would second Big Mike on Mission, or possible Marsh or someone else. I was chatting with my amp tech at his shop one day, talking about the loose bottom end on a Swart I had, and I wondered if that was just tweed in nature since I had heard that was a thing with 5E3s. He, of course, had a kit build right there, busted out his guitar and played around for about 5 minutes. It sounded fantastic. He couldn't remember which company's kit it was (he mentioned it might have been Mojotone), but he didn't think it had enough grounding when he started. When he had finished, it had a lot of hum and a few other things he didn't like, so he went back in, tweaked it, and had his finished product.

Of course, that kit he had may have been "true" (hum and a loose bottom were the thing back then) while some kits might be "corrected" for some more modern amenities. You would also have to take into account that a true reproduction would be wanting less voltage than what's currently coming out of your wall, versus a "corrected" schematic which might take that into account. Just a lot of stuff to research.
 

thosk

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,964
I do enjoy building my own stuff. I've built a few pedals from kits and such, but building an amp and not knowing if it will sound the way you want it to can be like jumping down a rabbit hole. I know people who spend endless hours tweaking the build afterwards instead of playing it...
Just about any stock 5E3 kit should sound pretty much like a stock 5E3. If you want a 5E3 that doesn't sound like a 5E3, well, then ...yes, tweaking will be necessary. On the bright side, its usually a matter of changing a couple cap values..no big deal. Re the Mojo kit, I have one and its a great kit(ditch the Sovtek "5Y3", if they're still using them..they run the voltages about 25v higher then a "real" one). However, IIRC, Marsh sells the Mojo kit under his name and it comes with good instructions, if you need them. I believe its also a bit cheaper than the Mojo.
 

swiveltung

Senior Member
Messages
14,485
I posted a week ago about an already built 5E3 head for sale on the Weber Buy and Sell. $400, like new, just built. May need some final tweeking in the circuit... not sure. I know nothing about it, not mine.
 

GrungeMan

Member
Messages
6,643
I do enjoy building my own stuff. I've built a few pedals from kits and such, but building an amp and not knowing if it will sound the way you want it to can be like jumping down a rabbit hole. I know people who spend endless hours tweaking the build afterwards instead of playing it...
If you know what a 5E3 sounds like and built to the instructions that is what you should be getting as an end result.
 

Joe Boy

Member
Messages
1,982
Well, prioritize your final outcome. Pride of accomplishment and skill gained for your next build?
Maybe your just trying to save some money, I don't know?
Commitment and stay the course.
I say yes, go for it.
Good luck.
 

TD_Madden

KotWF
Messages
2,558
Also recommend Mission; I've built two of his Tweedies and one of his Supers. Uses excellent components, very good documentation, and of course lots of online support.
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,661
I would second Big Mike on Mission, or possible Marsh or someone else. I was chatting with my amp tech at his shop one day, talking about the loose bottom end on a Swart I had, and I wondered if that was just tweed in nature since I had heard that was a thing with 5E3s. He, of course, had a kit build right there, busted out his guitar and played around for about 5 minutes. It sounded fantastic. He couldn't remember which company's kit it was (he mentioned it might have been Mojotone), but he didn't think it had enough grounding when he started. When he had finished, it had a lot of hum and a few other things he didn't like, so he went back in, tweaked it, and had his finished product.

Of course, that kit he had may have been "true" (hum and a loose bottom were the thing back then) while some kits might be "corrected" for some more modern amenities. You would also have to take into account that a true reproduction would be wanting less voltage than what's currently coming out of your wall, versus a "corrected" schematic which might take that into account. Just a lot of stuff to research.
Bruce corrects for proper voltage at current wall standards. That's the biggest deal with 5e3's IMO.
If you use stock Mojo..you're running high in most cases.
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,661
Just about any stock 5E3 kit should sound pretty much like a stock 5E3. If you want a 5E3 that doesn't sound like a 5E3, well, then ...yes, tweaking will be necessary. On the bright side, its usually a matter of changing a couple cap values..no big deal. Re the Mojo kit, I have one and its a great kit(ditch the Sovtek "5Y3", if they're still using them..they run the voltages about 25v higher then a "real" one). However, IIRC, Marsh sells the Mojo kit under his name and it comes with good instructions, if you need them. I believe its also a bit cheaper than the Mojo.
Depends. I did a 5e3 not knowing what they really sounded like. Tweaked a couple times, realized it wasn't my bag and sold it.
My marshall builds were dead nuts 1987 50 watt. I went back and forth between era and lead/bass specs to find what really worked for me. Once you realize that and leave well enough alone, it was very rewarding, and I pretty much only play self built amps now.
 

Don A

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,393
If you consider building a amp from a kit a hassle don't bother! Imho
Exactly. Build an amp because you want to have fun. Yes, you can save money building your own, but it's not worth it if you don't enjoy the process.
 

calfzilla

Cynical Hack
Messages
3,865
Exactly. Build an amp because you want to have fun. Yes, you can save money building your own, but it's not worth it if you don't enjoy the process.
You never really save money, unless you count your time as free. And if you factor in how much you lose if you sell... definitely no savings! I think Allen Amps is the best way to see this. Only $200 difference between his kits and his amps. I would rather pay him $200 to save myself who knows how long.
 

Bobbyoso

Member
Messages
473
Actually, you can save quite a bit, if you actually keep the amp. Allen amps are an outlier; they are harder to build than a 5e3, yet the cost differential of built vs. kit is small.

I built a Mission kit in 2003, have used it ~150 nights/year since. Sounds *just* like a well-maintained '59. Paid ~$650, including a Weber 12A125a. Since I knew what I was going for, never thought about selling it. A "built" one, depending upon media hype, fairy dust, self-proclaimed legendary builder expertise/status, and other non-considerations, are quite a bit higher to 5x as much.

Now yeah, if you buy a new Fender or Vicky or SS, and you don't like it, you're going to lose $$$, just like if you buy a new BMW 5-series and decide to trade it in on a Chevy Silverado. And you'll lose again when you trade the Silverado in on a sedan.

All else being equal, the only thing that matters is--do you WANT the amp, or do you THINK you want the amp?

There's another thread where some guy is a week or so into an (expensive boutique) amp purchase, the speakers aren't even broken in yet, and he wants to change out the speakers! Using the car analogy again, you will also lose $$$ if you buy a new 5-series, and before you understand the engineering and interactions behind gear ratios, torque, handling, etc., you slap a set of 19 in. wheels on there (having now paid for eight wheels). And chances are that your performance will suffer, usually significantly.

So, a 5e3 is what it is. Despite people trying to monetize a 60-year-old design, if you do it to spec, and your parts are within tolerance, it will perform like a 5e3. Question is--does it do what *you* like? And is what *you* like likely to change radically in the near future?

If it does what you like, and is likely to for quite awhile, buy it. Either built or as a kit, since you are not going to flip/modify it within 90 days. The kit will be cheaper, it's not difficult, and you may learn something.

If you *think* you want a 5e3, and two months later you figure out a 2204 is what you want, and you sell your 5e3 to fund it, you're gonna lose money. Just like any other time you buy new retail, and then Craigslist it.

Measure twice, cut once. Or in this case, research twice, purchase once.

All that said, I'll put my Mission kit up against any 5e3 clone or original. It works for me, and was a good investment for me. YMMV.
 

calfzilla

Cynical Hack
Messages
3,865
Actually, you can save quite a bit, if you actually keep the amp. Allen amps are an outlier; they are harder to build than a 5e3, yet the cost differential of built vs. kit is small.

I built a Mission kit in 2003, have used it ~150 nights/year since. Sounds *just* like a well-maintained '59. Paid ~$650, including a Weber 12A125a. Since I knew what I was going for, never thought about selling it. A "built" one, depending upon media hype, fairy dust, self-proclaimed legendary builder expertise/status, and other non-considerations, are quite a bit higher to 5x as much.

Now yeah, if you buy a new Fender or Vicky or SS, and you don't like it, you're going to lose $$$, just like if you buy a new BMW 5-series and decide to trade it in on a Chevy Silverado. And you'll lose again when you trade the Silverado in on a sedan.

All else being equal, the only thing that matters is--do you WANT the amp, or do you THINK you want the amp?

There's another thread where some guy is a week or so into an (expensive boutique) amp purchase, the speakers aren't even broken in yet, and he wants to change out the speakers! Using the car analogy again, you will also lose $$$ if you buy a new 5-series, and before you understand the engineering and interactions behind gear ratios, torque, handling, etc., you slap a set of 19 in. wheels on there (having now paid for eight wheels). And chances are that your performance will suffer, usually significantly.

So, a 5e3 is what it is. Despite people trying to monetize a 60-year-old design, if you do it to spec, and your parts are within tolerance, it will perform like a 5e3. Question is--does it do what *you* like? And is what *you* like likely to change radically in the near future?

If it does what you like, and is likely to for quite awhile, buy it. Either built or as a kit, since you are not going to flip/modify it within 90 days. The kit will be cheaper, it's not difficult, and you may learn something.

If you *think* you want a 5e3, and two months later you figure out a 2204 is what you want, and you sell your 5e3 to fund it, you're gonna lose money. Just like any other time you buy new retail, and then Craigslist it.

Measure twice, cut once. Or in this case, research twice, purchase once.

All that said, I'll put my Mission kit up against any 5e3 clone or original. It works for me, and was a good investment for me. YMMV.
Mission charges $300 to complete the kit, which is actually more labor than Allen charges for, say, the Chihuahua. So, if you count time as free, sure, you save a bit. Otherwise... As others have stated, you shouldn't build an amp to try a sound. Build an amp because it is something you like to do. Unless you source all the raw materials yourself and do all the fabrication, the cost savings versus time spent gets to be a thin line. Especially when you could get a 5E3 lunchbox head from Lil Dawg for just a bit more than the Mission kit.
 

Bobbyoso

Member
Messages
473
Well, I wanted the experience, so I felt it was worth my time, which in reality was about 5-6 hours. Plus, I put the $$ where I thought it would do the most good (speaker, trannies, caps, cabinet), so I got (for me) the best 5e3 for my investment. And while I've been fortunate enough to have a decent income, $300 for the 5-6 hours it took me to build a 5e3 is $50-60/hr., so not terrible money. Tax-free. To learn something, and build exactly what I wanted.

Personally, I find playing cover tunes for ~$15/hr. minus gas, travel time, and equipment depreciation to be a far greater waste. So everyone does what they feel holds value.

But I do agree that it is more cost-effective to buy a Lil Dawg than an SS P2P; it was, however, less cost-effective for me than a Mission kit. My real point was the most cost-ineffective behavior is buying new, retail, high-dollar boutiques without knowing what you want, and then flipping or modding them. Lil Dawg, Mission, Richter, or whomever's.
 






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