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Building An Amp

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And what he means by that is:

1. Don't Try,

2. Don't Try,

And last of all, unless you have done an electricians course and you actually know what you are doing blueprints WILL NOT HELP YOU.

Do yourself a favour, go down to your local music shop and pick up a real nice set and put little stickers on it caus thats about as close as you should go to building one.

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So what you are saying Deja is that if you have never tried anything before don't try it???? Where would this forum be then??

Derek, I suggest going to the electronics forum in this section and doing a little reading first. Electronics Forum - Click Here

Also try a google search on bass or guitar cabinet building. You'll find several great sites out there. LoveKraft is one of our local cabinet guru's and once you read the electronics section you'l find he has many tips and some great advice for 1) finding the info 2) first timers and 3) good safety info for working on cabs and amps.

Good luck on your project and keep us updated.

Edited by bluespresence
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So what you are saying Deja is that if you have never tried anything before don't try it???? Where would this forum be then??

good answer..deciding to learn to repair tube amps is how i found this forum. lovekraft and all the others in the electronics section were patient, informative and encouraging.

derek..be prepaired to do a lot..and i mean a lot of reading. buy some books. read as many of the old posts on building as you can. google diy tube amps and cruise some other forums and sites. all the information is available to you if you're willing to do the work.

good luck.

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I need some blueprints or some kind of directions to guide me through the things that I do not know because I have never tried to build an amp on my own.

There are some resources online that are excellent. The Cooperative Tube Guitar Amp Project is one of them. Another is the 18 watt community.

Read up a lot first. Both sites have interactive forums but unless you do your homework first you won't get much out of them. You will spend at least as much on your first amp as you would buying a new one and even more in time so you have to really want it. I am starting to plan my first amp as well and I have found these sites to be wonderful sources of information.

Good luck!


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If you plan on going the vaccuum tube route, Kevin O'Connor's books (from London Power) are great references. You can get them from Antique Electronic Supply (http://www.tubesandmore.com) Tonnes Of Tone, The Ultimate Tone series, and Ready Set Go!; An Electronics Refrence for the Everyman are great references. The latter is especially helpful as a primer/refresher if you don't know much about electronics. Dan Torres' Inside Tube Amps - The Book On Tube Amps is also helpful. (Also available from A.E.S.) for solid state bass amps, I like some of G. Randy Sloan's poweramp designs (if I remember correctly, his books also have PCB layouts if you can know how to etch your own circuit-board coupled with one of the pre-amp designs you can find online (I believe the Acoustic 360 preamp is floating around online and I like the sound of that a lot.) Sloans books are a bit technical, however.

Be prepared to spend a lot of money on books if you want to get into building an amp. :D

Knowledge is going to be your best friend before you even start putting in an order or picking up a soldering iron. If you don't know anything about electronics, I would maybe take some introductory courses at a Community College or Tech School; (I don't know where you are located, but here we have those types of programs at our Community College, and a they are relatively cheap, and certainly worth it; you don't need to actually go to the college to take individual courses that interest you. They even have guitar classes!) Tell the administration people what sort of things you want to do/learn and they can help you take the course(s) that would help you.

The ARRL (American Relay Radio League) used to put out some really good electronics books for beginners, I assume they still do. Your local library probably has some, or equally good books. Unfortunetly, I find a lot of the basic books do a good job of teaching theory and tech., but not a great job of applying it - for the longest time I knew my electronics stuff, and I knew how to build things given a schematic, but connecting the two knowledge bases was a jump for me.

Even if you know how to solder (I'm assuming you do if you're here; those input jacks, volume pots and pickups don't hook themselves up!) you really need to know a different set of skills to build an amp - not only are you going to be working with circuits at line-level voltages; you may also very well be working with higher voltages, inside a tube amp. If you don't know what you're doing going in, you may very well injure or even kill yourself. Basic safety precautions and a bit of knowledge make this very easy to avoid, but it's also very easy to think you're prepared and do something wrong. It's also very easy to inadvertently damage expensive electronics parts in your build.

If you know your way around electronics, but aren't comfortable starting totally from scratch, there are several companies that sell tube amp kits; Torres Engineering (http://www.torresengineering.com/) is the first that comes to mind. There are several more, but I can't think of anyone offhand who sells bass amp kits specifically. And while you can go the kit route, or purchase a schematic, pre-made board to populate with parts, and/or board layout, when doing an electronic project, it's much better to have some idea of how the finished product is supposed to work - this makes the build, as well as the inevitable trouble shooting much easier.

I think building an amp is a great goal, but if you haven't done this sort of thing before, I think it's best to work up to it - start by building an effects pedal or a little radio kit or something, work up to a mini-amp, a practice amp; get your feet wet before moving up to a relatively high-powered, full featured amp. This of course depends on how much you know; just like jumping in on your first guitar build might be easy if you have a background in woodworking, but I wouldn't suggest a guitar as the first woodworking project for someone who's never held a powertool.

In the end I think hand-built amps are great, just like handbuilt guitars, they can be exactly what you want, and I think you should push towards that goal if it's what you want, just be prepared.

Also, know that the cost of any amp you build is likely to be more than most amps you can buy outside of the most expensive ones. Unless you plan on building several and can get better, bulk pricing on parts. And you'll likely need access to a fair amount of metal working equipment to build a good chassis.

Cheapest, semi-diy way to do this, and probably what I would be doing if I was building a bass combo amp: Buy a rackmount poweramp that's relatively transparent. Build your own nice pre-amp, based around a circuit you like the sound of. Probably, I'd also construct this in a rackmount-type case. Then dig out the table saw and make a nice speaker cab of the type you want with an integrated rackmount on it to mount the electronics parts. My band already had a bass head, and built our speaker cab in a similar fashion, to make a combo amp. It actually looks really nice, everything wrapped up in one nice package.

Sorry if this rambled a lot. I haven't had my coffee yet.

I just see David's post before mine while I was typing and rambling - those are both great links.

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A 4-10 combo bass amp really isn't very practical. To get good bass response out of 10s, you're going to need a fairly large cabinet with a tuned port - add in the weight of an amp and a power supply, and you've got a combo that takes two men to move, kinda pointless. :D

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