In case you have decided to take the plunge and build your own guitar tube amp, please let me share my early projects/mistakes with you to help get you going in the right direction. But first, make sure to actually want to develop your own:
You need to be fairly handy around electronics already, and conscious of the risks inherent in high voltage tube electronics and also the precautions to adopt when focusing on tube amps
You shouldn’t hold the expectation which you helps you to save money… unless your time and energy may be worth nothing at everything you can probably do better investing in a completed amplifier, even through the Cayin Tube Amp, but certainly on the open market as used
All said, though, there is a lot of satisfaction in completing and playing an amplifier you built yourself and having the license to further modify/tweak/voice your creation to perfection… so let’s get going:
Stumbling Through My initial few Projects – My first project started being an AM radio, it had occurred to me that the chassis and the majority of the components was quite appropriate for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and I wanted to hear the difference in tone between real tubes and also the tube modeling within my Roland Cube amp… After studying good quality tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon a plan and:
* I fought with all the old transformers (insulation turning to dust when you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (utilizing the previous radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement of the major components for a tube guitar amplifier)
* Found out that true point-to-point wiring isn’t your best option for experimenting
* I couldn’t look for a non-microphonic old-stock pentode tube
* The tone sucked… with hindsight In my opinion it absolutely was because of the underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never go back to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a lot nevertheless it didn’t answer my fundamental questions about tube-tone because I didn’t end up getting an iconic amplifier being a reference at the conclusion of the project
* I spent some frustrating evenings redesigning and reworking my first effort and then for my second major project I broke down and bought a kit that promised a clone of a vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving several pennies here and there on components isn’t satisfying when you end up investing lots of time building the project and facets of the outcome look cheap (e.g. a plastic alternative to a ‘proper’ metal construction Speaker Cable or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)
I’ve grown a bit leary of un-branded chinese transformers that may not have even been hi-pot tested let alone certified by a safety agency; and who knows what laminations, etc. are employed in the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t the best option for adding additional functionality for the stock circuit and very frustrating to work with
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great whenever you plug it in to a proper speaker & cabinet combination
The Initial DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
Using the above experiences under consideration it really is time and energy to summarize some things to consider for the initial project:
* Simple project however, not under-featured… something that might be satisfying and playable
* Physically large for convenient access, simplified assembly and room to change
* Well documented, well supported… not always with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but rather with a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* An entire kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components
* Good quality parts with the possibility to upgrade them if desired… but moderation rules… you may want value over extravagant components to reduce your downside in case your project doesn’t appear phczif or perhaps you get bored.
* Standard sized chassis for easy sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic available from the kit supplier, or even a desire, determination and capability to build (and complete) your very own cabinetry
* With the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
I suggest you look for an established supplier of tube-amp kits, and pick a model that fits both your taste in tone and a satisfying group of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!