In case you have decided to take the plunge and build your own guitar tube amp, please allow me to share my early projects/mistakes with you to help get you going in the right direction. However, ensure you really want to construct your own:
You ought to be fairly handy around electronics already, and aware of the dangers inherent in high voltage tube electronics and the precautions to consider when concentrating on tube amps
You shouldn’t hold the expectation which you helps you to save money… unless your time may be worth nothing at all you are able probably do better investing in a completed amplifier, even from your Cayin A88t Mk2, but certainly on the open market as used
All said, though, there is lots of satisfaction in completing and playing an amplifier you built yourself and having the license to advance modify/tweak/voice your creation perfectly… so let’s get started:
Stumbling Through My initial few Projects – My first project started as being an AM radio, it had struck 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 desired to hear the main difference in tone between real tubes and the tube modeling within my Roland Cube amp… After studying some good tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon a strategy and:
* I fought with all the old transformers (insulation switching to dust whenever you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (dealing with the existing radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement from the major components for a tube guitar amplifier)
* Learned 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 due to the underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never return to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a lot but it didn’t answer my fundamental questions about tube-tone because I didn’t end up getting an iconic amplifier as a reference after the project
* I spent some frustrating evenings redesigning and reworking my first effort and then for my second major project I broke down and got a new kit that promised a clone of a vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving a few pennies here and there on components isn’t satisfying when you end up investing considerable time building the project and aspects of the result look cheap (e.g. a plastic alternative to a ‘proper’ metal construction XLR Cable or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)
I’ve grown a little leary of un-branded chinese transformers that might not have even been hi-pot tested let alone certified by a safety agency; and who knows what laminations, etc. are utilized inside the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t the best option for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and extremely frustrating to work with
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great whenever you plug it into a proper speaker & cabinet combination
The First DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
With all the above experiences in your mind it really is time and energy to summarize some things to consider for the very first project:
* Simple project although not under-featured… something that might be satisfying and playable
* Physically large for quick access, simplified assembly and room to modify
* Well documented, well supported… possibly not with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but instead with a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* An entire kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components
* Top quality parts with the potential to upgrade them if desired… but moderation rules… you may want good value over extravagant components to reduce your downside in case your project doesn’t emerge phczif or you lose interest.
* Standard sized chassis for convenient sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 219ia provided by the kit supplier, or even a desire, determination and ability to build (and finish) your own cabinetry
* Using the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
I recommend you look for a reputable supplier of tube-amp kits, and pick a model that suits both your taste in tone as well as a satisfying list of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!