Thoughts on Weber Amp Kits

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by jpervin, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    Anybody here have one of the amp kits from www.webervst.com?

    I've heard that the parts they use in these kits (aside from the Mojo cabinets) are made in China, and that they aren't the best as far as quality. I'm especially wondering about the transformers.

    Any opinions and/or experience with the Weber kits?
    Are they a great bang-for-the-buck or....?
     
  2. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    The transformers are great but there are a few parts that are sub-standard.The jacks,the tubes are not good.The rest of the kit is fine.The cabinets are great and so are the speakers.
    You get Zero instructions and only get support through the Forums.You had better be able to build amps,or you may be stuck with something you can't put together yourself.Some of his layouts have been modified,some good and some not so good and you may have problems.Overall,for the price,you can't lose.
     
  3. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I ordered a JM45 kit last March, and have just gotten around to getting it wired up (I'm not doing the work on this kit, as it's a demo amp for shows).

    In all honesty, it's a pretty serviceable kit.

    You do need to have some previous skills or access to someone who has built or done amp tech work for the best results. The amp tech I hired had only two issues with the kit parts.. the jacks weren't the highest quality (for my needs), and somehow I got the wrong impedance selector in my kit (I got one for another amp by mistake, Weber is sending me out a replacement for free, too).

    Past that, apparently the only other things that needed to be addressed are installing slightly beefier chassis mounting bolts (again, this is nitpicking, OK?). The supplied ones are 8/32 and the guy wiring the kit for me drilled out the chassis for 10/32 screws & nylock nuts. According to the amp builder I hired to get this done, that's all of the bad news. So, with four beefier screws, 6 Switchcraft or Cliff jacks, you're in business.

    The upgrades & modifications I'm having done to this JM 45 kit are as follows:
    1) Mullard preamp & phase inverter tubes (perhaps Amperex Bugle Boys or Telefunkens depending on how they sound).
    2) Siemens EL34 NOS matched output tubes
    3) PPIMV / Post Phase Inverter Master Volume mod
    4) Mercury Magnetics Axiom Output Transformer O50-PLM with 6K primary. According to Paul @ MM, this particular OT has about 5 watts less output, but a much creamier overdrive and has more even harmonics resulting in a richer overall tone. He couldn't recommend this one enough, so I went for it. He said it was the ultimate Plexi tone.

    Here's a pic of the wired chassis (almost complete). I'll post the completed chassis, head, and everything when it's all done this weekend. Warning: large picture at this link!
    http://southbayampworks.com/jm45pics/jm45chassiswired.jpg
     
  4. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    Since I already have a cabinet and a Weber speaker, I was either gonna go with the complete Weber chassis kit, or buy everything ala-carte (IE: chassis from Weber, transformers from MM or Heyboer, jacks from Switchcraft, tubes from JJ, etc.). I've got lots of photos showing 5E3 chassis wiring so the lack of instructions won't be a problem.
     
  5. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    That chassis looks great! I'd be interested in knowing how that MM OT sounds. You stayed with the stock PT, I assume?
     
  6. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes, I kept the power tranny and the choke that Weber supplied. Don't get me wrong, the output tranny supplied with the kit looked well made, and all that, but I always strive for the best possible tone of any amp that I use, and I felt that investment in the Mercury tranny was warranted, same goes for the other parts, tubes, etc. I swapped out.

    I grew up on Marshall tones, owned several over the years, and it's still a great sound, so that's why I invested in the extra upgrades to make sure this one sounded it's best without paying $4000 for an original Plexi that would still require some maintenance, etc.
     
  7. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    Let us know how it sounds...thinking about building one myself...nice wiring too...
     
  8. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Wow...I'm really glad jpervin started this thread. This came at just the right time, I am seriously jones'ing for a Bassman RI LTD, but this alternative is way less expensive, not to mention I think it would be a lot of fun.

    I have experience with electronics, a 2 year ASEE degree, and have done breadboarding, and my own projects, but never anything of this scale (more repair, and more on computer related things), so I hope I would be able to make the kits no problem with layout and schematic.

    And the Weber parts (from my experience doing a few mods on amps, etc, finding the parts is hellish, so I will gladly pay to have it all bagged and ready from one place..I can still upgrade input jacks and any parts I see that I may want better).


    Couple of things...

    Anyone here do the bassman kit, and if so does it sound as good as the Fender RI LTD?

    Anyone here know, do they have any versions of the kits for european power (240Vac?)?
     
  9. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Stompbox, they do have a EU (220/240 volt European) version of their power tranny's. If you go through their chassis kits, or amp kits, or look through their transformer listing, you'll see them. I know because I ordered another chassis/tranny/plexi panel kit yesterday and I tried to order the EU version of the power tranny by accident! LOL

    Check carefully and I think you'll see that power tranny is available, although they put several kits together that can use that same tranny.
     
  10. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Thanks, at the same time I posted here, I sent an email asking, and Ted Weber gave me the answers too!

    But, still interested in hearing how they compare (of course...dependant on the builder doing it right) with the Fender Bassman RI LTD. Also, maybe I didn't spend enough time at the site, I'll recheck, but I didn't see watts ratings for the amps. Is the 5F6A the same watts (what is it 40 watts RMS?) as the bassman?
     
  11. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    I think that the kits that are like the old models (5F6A, for example) assume you know the wattage you're building based on the kit design. Others like the 5A40 kit, tell you that it's a 40 watt amp. Beats me on old Fender designs, that's for sure...

    Some of them are listed, some aren't, but there's always email to find out!
     
  12. mbratch

    mbratch Member

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    I've been trying to think about the most economical way of building a good quality 5e3. From what I can tell, from the chassis perspecive, there aren't a lot of savings to be had buying each component separately versus buying a chassis kit from, say, Mission Amps. Is the cabinet the place to save the most? A nice cabinet runs $200 to $300. If I could build the cabinet myself, would I save at least, say, $100 (after buying a little pine lumber, some tweed material, some lacquer, and assuming I have the right tools otherwise)? If so, how difficult is it to do the tweed covering?

    I'd like to know others' experiences with this. I think this is in line with the thread. If it looks like I'm hijacking it to a different intent, then I apologize and retract my questions. :)
     
  13. jpervin

    jpervin Member

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    I think your cabinet question is certainly in line with this thread.
    To answer your question, if you have the lumber, tools and space (along with the knowhow) to make a cabinet and tweed it, it would certainly save you some $$$. Or, you could do like I did and go on Ebay and look for a cabinet. I found a very nice pine cabinet from the guy who made Bluesboy amps, which were actually Champ clones as far as the circuitry, but the cabinet was slightly larger than a Deluxe size cab. I paid $99 plus shipping. All I have to do to it is rout out the top for the chassis cutout and enlarge the speaker opening in the baffle board from 10" to 12". Here's some pics...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There's also a cabinet maker who has an Ebay store, and his cabinet seem to be quite nice and very reasonably priced. Here's the link...
    http://stores.ebay.com/SS-Cabs_W0QQssPageNameZstrkQ3amefsQ3amesstQQtZkm
     
  14. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    mbratch, to be honest, I've done the whole argument where you make the decision of "buying a cab finished", "bare" or "build it yourself"...

    Two things determine this for me.

    A) What's your time worth to do it yourself, assuming you have the tools and skills. If you make "X" amount of money, use this as a guide. My cab guy says it takes him about five hours to properly finger joint, glue, cut the wood, brace, cleat and drill the holes for the baffle board, back panels and holes for a combo chassis. I pay him $125 per cabinet, $25 per hour (probably high, but he's local and I don't pay shipping fees, either), if I supply the wood. 9 ply 1/2" baltic birch is what I use for baffles and back panels. A 5 x 5 foot piece is around $22, the pine for the cab is 3/4" #2 (minimal knots), and that's about $15 per cab (2x12 combo size), so there's $165 into the cab alone without it being covered. Covering a cab properly, and I mean making it look professional, if you're experienced, is about a 5-8 hour job, too (new wood, no stripping, or any filling nonsense). Factor that amount times your "X" dollar per hour time you're worth.

    Assuming you think you're time is worth $20 per hour, then you'll spend roughly $200-$260 worth of your time, plus the covering materials, which can then run into just $50 to $150 depending on handles, castors, cloth, piping, tolex, screws, nuts, T nuts and other factors. Total it all up and come up with your personal $$ amount it's all worth. For me, it's right around $400 for a 2x12 cab with proper Marshall tolex, cloth, etc. What you want may vary on the cost a bit, but there's not a big difference in wood or tolex cost from a 1x12 to a 2x12, and a 4x12 only adds on another $30 or so for the larger coverings needed, plus metal handles.

    B) What's a finished cab going to cost compared to you doing it yourself. Figure that out, and compare, then make up your mind.

    There might be other factors like "I did this!" if you want the personal pride enjoyment, and the show off factor, or "I saved "X" amount of $$$ doing this myself!" but you're the only one who knows that.

    I've covered about 30 or 40 cabs now, and I've gotten it down pretty well, but it's still a painstaking effort, and I like them all to look "tits", too, so I probably take a bit more time than necessary to achieve that.

    Go over the A & B things above, and you can determine if you want to do this yourself.

    I've done tutorials on tweed/cloth/etc. here if you want to try it, so do a search or email me and I'll send you the links if you want to have a go at doing it yourself.
     
  15. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    On top of that, you have to factor in as objective an assesment of your own skills and abilities as possible. Because you could spend all that money and if you are like me (woodworking skills about like a smart 12 year old) you might end up with not only something ugly but unusable.

    On the other hand, I am a wiz with electronics...so the kit is perfect (since I don't have the pateience, and the cost is huge here anyway for shipping...buying a part here, a part there, spec'ing the parts, knowing what dimensions for certain items ) I know the kit part is for me.

    Also the pictures on the Weber site look pretty sharp (the cabinets I mean).

    But that is also a good point, getting a real cabinetmaker/woodworker to do the cab is an option.
     
  16. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    I recently built a 6M18TMB 1-12 kit. I am VERY happy with the Weber kit.

    I replaced the jacks (with Cliff jacks) the switches (with Carling's) and the pilot light with a Fender-style unit. I also wired up the rectifier for use with 6CA4 (9-pin tube recto) The power tranny supports bot 6.3v and 5v recifiers. I also added a switchcraft jack for the speaker.

    I used some carbon film resistors and Mallory 150 caps, just "because". These kits are a great value

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. RL in Fla

    RL in Fla Member

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    Dead-on for time and wood (on the East coast too) , and you forgot tolex/tweed/corners/etc & grillcloth $$ , Jim .

    I wish I made 25 an hour , I shoot for 15 and pray ... a lot .
     
  18. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Beautiful job Russ! That is one nice looking amp.

    Also wondering...did you mean you modded so it was switchable between 6.3v and 5 v for the filament supply?

    It looks great. Now...the million dollar question, how does it sound?
    I'm not familiar with the designation, is it a clone of another type of mass produced amp, and if so, how does it compare?

    I'm seriously considering the 5F6A (which...I get confused on these damned "model names", I believe is the same as the original '59 Bassman) and though I think the kit building will really be fun (I love that kinda stuff) I also want to end up with a Bassman amp.
     
  19. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    I wired it up for only a 6.3v rectifier. The PT does have a 5v tap on hand, but I did not use it.

    It sounds like a Marshall 18 watter! It has that "Marshall Crunch" at sane volumes. They are a bit of sa 1 trick pony, but it's a trick I like a lot. Think AC/DC riffs!
     
  20. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    Ok, the 6M45 kit is all done, and minor issues ironed out and fixed.
    Chassis wiring pics (large pic, so be ready to wait!)
    http://southbayampworks.com/jm45pics/6m45chassiswired.jpg
    Cab front:
    [​IMG]
    Cab rear:
    [​IMG]
    Tube shot:
    [​IMG]

    Currently I have this setup with the following:
    Siemens EL 34 tubes $75
    JJ GZ34 rectifier tube $15
    Amperex Bugle Boy 12AX7/ECC83 in V1 $45
    Mullard 12AX7/ECC83 in V2 $25
    GT 12AX7M in V3 $22
    Mercury Magnetics OT $225

    Switchcraft jacks, various capacitor changes, dual ganged 1 meg pot for the PPIMV mod, 4/8/16 ohm switch, two speaker output jacks, standard Weber supplied (Tubegarden) cabinet.

    Tone report: Loud & clean, with a lot of big hairy balls. I attribute this to the fresh build, the MM OT, and the old stock tubes used.

    Gig volumes: Master volume on 1/2 way (mine is in the back).
    At this setting, you can roll off your volume on your guitar to get back to clean, or roll it up for crunch (Les Paul with WCR Darkbursts). Unlike alot of JTM 45 or Plexi amps where you have to run the treble almost off with the bass & mids dimed, this one seems to like it's bass around 2-4 with the mids & treble around 6-8, presence around 7-9, Hi Treble ch: 8 Normal ch: 6 This will yield a bunch of classic rock tones, blues, etc.

    Bedroom volume (able to talk loudly over): Master on 2 (about 1/6th turn from 0)
    Presence: 8 Treble: 8 Middle: 9 Bass: 6 Hi Treble ch: 8 Normal ch: 6

    Much more available OD at bedroom volumes at these settings, but I'm still experimenting with tubes & settings, too.

    Total parts cost: $857 which included the following:
    6M 45 kit $475
    Mercury Magnetics OT $225
    Tubes: $182

    Optional upgrades: $40
    Dual ganged 1 meg pot for PPIMV
    Substituted caps/jacks
    Large rubber feet

    Total cost as shown: $897 (not including labor)
    Labor cost: $550 (Billy Yates, Venice Amp Company)

    Sounds pretty killer so far, but I'll post again when I've really put the amp through it's paces and through a number of cabs & speakers.
     

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