In case 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 in the right direction. However, ensure you genuinely wish to build your own:
You should be fairly handy around electronics already, and aware of the hazards inherent in high voltage tube electronics and the precautions to take when focusing on tube amps
You shouldn’t possess the expectation which you will save money… unless your time and effort may be worth nothing at all you can probably do better buying a completed amplifier, even from the Cayin A100t, 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 achieving 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 being an AM radio, it had struck me that the chassis and the majority of the components was quite suitable for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and that i wished to hear the real 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 an idea and:
* I fought using the old transformers (insulation switching to dust when you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (utilizing the old radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement from 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 I think it had been because of the underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never go back to check
* Bottom-line, I learned a great deal however it didn’t answer my fundamental questions on tube-tone because I didn’t end up getting an iconic amplifier as 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 got a new kit that promised a clone of any vintage Champ amplifier.
Major findings included:
Saving a couple of pennies occasionally on components isn’t satisfying when you wind up investing considerable time building the project and elements of the result 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 might not have even been hi-pot tested let alone certified with a safety agency; and you never know what laminations, etc. are utilized in the audio transformer?
Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t the best option for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and incredibly frustrating to work with
8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great once you plug it right into a proper speaker & cabinet combination
The Initial DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project
With the above experiences under consideration it is time and energy to summarize some considerations for the very 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 modify
* Well documented, well supported… not necessarily with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but rather 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 good value over extravagant components to reduce your downside should your project doesn’t emerge phczif or else you get bored.
* Standard sized chassis for easy sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 218ia available from the kit supplier, or even a desire, determination and capability to build (and finish) your own cabinetry
* With the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!
I recommend you search out an established supplier of tube-amp kits, and pick a model that fits both your taste in tone as well as a satisfying group of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!