If you have decided to take the plunge and build your own guitar tube amp, please permit me to share my early projects/mistakes with you to assist get you going within the right direction. However, be sure you genuinely wish to build your own:
You ought to be fairly handy around electronics already, and mindful of the risks inherent in high voltage tube electronics and also the precautions to consider when working on tube amps
You shouldn’t possess the expectation that you helps you to save money… unless your time and energy will be worth nothing at all you can probably do better purchasing a completed amplifier, even from your Cayin A88t Mk2, 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 achieving the license to advance modify/tweak/voice your creation perfectly… so let’s get started:
Stumbling Through My first Few Projects – My first project started being an AM radio, it had struck me this chassis and the majority of the components was quite ideal for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and I wanted to hear the main difference in tone between real tubes and also 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 (working with the existing radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement in the major components for any 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 I believe it absolutely was as a result of underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never return to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a whole lot nevertheless it didn’t answer my fundamental questions about tube-tone because I didn’t end up having an iconic amplifier as being a reference after the project
* I spent some frustrating evenings redesigning and reworking my first effort and after that 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 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 outcome look cheap (e.g. a plastic alternative to a ‘proper’ metal construction Audiophile Cables or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)
I’ve grown a little leary of un-branded chinese transformers that may not have even been hi-pot tested let alone certified by way of a safety agency; and that knows what laminations, etc. are employed inside the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t the best choice for adding additional functionality for the stock circuit and extremely frustrating to do business with
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great when you plug it right into a proper speaker & cabinet combination
The First DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
Using the above experiences in mind it is time and energy to summarize some considerations for the first project:
* Simple project however, not under-featured… something that might be satisfying and playable
* Physically large for easy access, simplified assembly and room to change
* Well documented, well supported… possibly not with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but instead by way of a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.
* An entire kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components
* High quality parts using the potential to upgrade them if desired… but moderation rules… you may want excellent value over extravagant components to reduce your downside if your project doesn’t appear phczif or you get bored.
* Standard sized chassis for convenient sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic available from the kit supplier, or perhaps a desire, determination and capability to build (and finish) your own cabinetry
* With the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
You ought to look for an established supplier of tube-amp kits, and choose a model that meets both your taste in tone along with a satisfying set of features for the first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!