Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Bottle

DIY Valve Amp Kits

Recommended Posts

Hi guys

I'm thinking about a couple of DIY projects and came across this [url="http://www.ampmaker.com/store/home.php"]site[/url] whilst Googling - they're based in a vilage just a stones' throw from me. It doesn't look like they sell bass amps but I'm tempted by one of the simpler (and smaller) guitar builds, maybe the WF5S 4W kit or the N5X 5W one.

Anyone had any experience of the maker? Or DIY kits in general?

Cheers,


Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've ordered parts from them but not the kits. However, the kits look like fairly classic designs, use good quality parts and seem well laid out, so I'd be confident about going for one.

Edited by Beer of the Bass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very tempting. The sticking point with me is the lack of woodwork skills to build the cab!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='JapanAxe' timestamp='1425673990' post='2709711']
Very tempting. The sticking point with me is the lack of woodwork skills to build the cab!
[/quote]
Well, my Dad is quite handy with a woodsaw and router, so I think there's a fair division of labour to be had. Plus he's looking for projects to occupy himself with after his retirement :) spending the kids' inheritance and all that ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I built their PP18 kit last year. I was a first time builder and found it all very easy, and the amp is fantastic. Thoroughly recommended. It's a shame they don't do a bass amp. I'm thinking of doing another, probably the little 5 watt one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 'box of matches' kit looks a very handy thing to have, shame it's only rated for 30w tho..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Barry's amp kits are an excellent way to get into valve amp building!

The first amp I built was the SE-5a kit which was the forerunner to the N5X 5W and is a cracking little amp B)

The instructions are very clear with good photo's and if you follow them to the letter you should be fine. If you should run into any problems you can always contact Barry himself for advice.

What I would say is, if you haven't already got one, lay your hands on a good multimeter and wherever possible check EVERY component before assembling to ensure you have the right part in the right place.

Making a headbox isn't too tricky and doesn't need to complex at all :)

[b][u]Oh, and read the safety blurb and then read it again, big voltages floating around in these things - even the small ones![/u][/b]

Edited by Pentode

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Pentode' timestamp='1425708956' post='2709906']
I think Barry's amp kits are an excellent way to get into valve amp building!

The first amp I built was the SE-5a kit which was the forerunner to the N5X 5W and is a cracking little amp B)

The instructions are very clear with good photo's and if you follow them to the letter you should be fine. If you should run into any problems you can always contact Barry himself for advice.

What I would say is, if you haven't already got one, lay your hands on a good multimeter and wherever possible check EVERY component before assembling to ensure you have the right part in the right place.

Making a headbox isn't too tricky and doesn't need to complex at all :)

[b][u]Oh, and read the safety blurb and then read it again, big voltages floating around in these things - even the small ones![/u][/b]
[/quote]
Points all noted!

We've got a well-equipped workshop and electronics bench at work, so I have access to all the tools I'd need and there's several DMMs and a scope etc.

Since this is my first valve build I might start with the N5X or the WF55

I've got a copy of the SoundCheck CD which has lots of lovely sine tones, spot freq's and pink noise tracks and I could get someone to record a clean DI'd guitar track without too much hassle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll add to the praise for ampmaker. I built the WF-55 the Christmas before last and it's a great sounding little amp. I found Barry to be extremely helpful when I emailed him about some of the possible modifications you can do, such as adding tone control, boost switches etc. I also bought the VVR kit, which means you can get some great driven tones at lower volume. Geetard tendencies coming out...

I'm guessing from your comment about have equipment at work that you know what you're doing, but even so I'll echo the words of caution about the high voltages inside the chassis. In fact I found the power supply capacitors do discharge quite quickly in this amp, but you can never be too careful.

If you were to go with that kit and add VVR as I did then I'd suggest building it completely stock first, so that you know it's working before you start doing any modifications.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Gottastopbuyinggear' timestamp='1425735160' post='2710172']
I'll add to the praise for ampmaker. I built the WF-55 the Christmas before last and it's a great sounding little amp. I found Barry to be extremely helpful when I emailed him about some of the possible modifications you can do, such as adding tone control, boost switches etc. I also bought the VVR kit, which means you can get some great driven tones at lower volume. Geetard tendencies coming out...

I'm guessing from your comment about have equipment at work that you know what you're doing, but even so I'll echo the words of caution about the high voltages inside the chassis. In fact I found the power supply capacitors do discharge quite quickly in this amp, but you can never be too careful.

If you were to go with that kit and add VVR as I did then I'd suggest building it completely stock first, so that you know it's working before you start doing any modifications.
[/quote]
That sounds like a plan :)

I always err on the side of caution, particularly when delving into relatively unknown territory. Whilst I have many years of experience when dealing with high voltage (mains and 3ph, high power RF) I must say up until now I'd treated valve amps as a bit of a black art and not something for idle tinkering. But that may all change if I get my teeth into something as straight-forward as the WF55 or N5X.

I like the idea of the VVR circuit and will defintely try that down the road once I've gained some experience with building the simpler kits. I think if I get the WF55 kit, all I'd mod would be the passive tone stack and that looks like a simple addition.

Cheers,
Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Pentode' timestamp='1425708956' post='2709906']
Making a headbox isn't too tricky and doesn't need to complex at all :)
[/quote]
I would think that a straight headbox wouldn't be beyond me and my Dad. I've skinned up a couple of rough-n-ready designs in SolidWorks so once I have the dimensions and mounting points of the chassis, I can get some proper drawings done etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Bottle' timestamp='1425668350' post='2709629']
Anyone had any experience of the maker? Or DIY kits in general?

[/quote]

Have not bought one of the kits from that site but have got lots of bits from there (for a clone of a Fender bass amp). Barry's designs are well proven solid designs and he's a great bloke to deal with. The hard part is building cases for the amp, mine is stil unhoused after a year! I have many years experience of soldering, but this was my first 'lead-free' project and there were a few dry joints.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='pfretrock' timestamp='1425739495' post='2710230']
Have not bought one of the kits from that site but have got lots of bits from there (for a clone of a Fender bass amp). Barry's designs are well proven solid designs and he's a great bloke to deal with. The hard part is building cases for the amp, mine is stil unhoused after a year! I have many years experience of soldering, but this was my first 'lead-free' project and there were a few dry joints.
[/quote]

I've avoided going lead-free so far - I got a big roll of 60/40 from eBay which should last me for a couple of years at least.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1425740652' post='2710236']
I've avoided going lead-free so far - I got a big roll of 60/40 from eBay which should last me for a couple of years at least.
[/quote]
Yes I also have this but only 0.5mm diameter 60/40. The solder turret tags take quite a bit of solder so I used a bigger gauge lead free. Lead free also wrecks iron bits quite quickly. (old Weller temp controlled 50 watt iron )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a promising looking one based on the B-15: http://www.trinityamps.com/Product_Kits_Triptop.htm

Maybe you can get your guy interested in doing something similar?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Passinwind' timestamp='1425745239' post='2710299']
Here's a promising looking one based on the B-15: [url="http://www.trinityamps.com/Product_Kits_Triptop.htm"]http://www.trinityam...its_Triptop.htm[/url]

Maybe you can get your guy interested in doing something similar?
[/quote]

A bit expensive? Kit Price does not include tubes. Perhaps there is extra mojo in the transformers :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='pfretrock' timestamp='1425749990' post='2710364']
A bit expensive? Kit Price does not include tubes. Perhaps there is extra mojo in the transformers :)
[/quote]

[i]Buy once, cry once.[/i]

But that high ticket was partially why I suggested pitching the general idea to someone more local to you guys, and maybe more in tune with the market there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='pfretrock' timestamp='1425739495' post='2710230']
I have many years experience of soldering, but this was my first 'lead-free' project and there were a few dry joints.
[/quote]
When we went tlead-free about 10 years ago we had to replace all of our iron tips. It does need a lot more heat into the joint to make a good connection, but we have to go RoHS on everything electronic now.

I've kept some 60/40 solder in my toolbox, but I've run out of the flux paste. I still think the leaded solder flows much better than the Cu/Sn alloys nowadays

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another vote for Barry here - when I was building regularly he supplied most of the parts, and was always really helpful.

Trinity amps were also good, but are US based. Both Barry and one of the guys from Trinity used to be regulars on 18watt.com

Edited by Ancient Mariner

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='Passinwind' timestamp='1425750344' post='2710375']
[i]Buy once, cry once.[/i]

But that high ticket was partially why I suggested pitching the general idea to someone more local to you guys, and maybe more in tune with the market there.
[/quote]

Maybe get Barry onto the case....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A ~50w kit (a bit like the above) with two EL34 / 6L6 / 6550 would be excellent and borderline useable for bass guitar. It'd probably be an advanced kit with the added complexity of grid bias, the risk of bigger voltages and the possibility of a more advanced pre-amp section too..

I like the idea of the little kits but they'd be of little use to me except for maybe the 36w variation..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

[quote name='VTypeV4' timestamp='1425774417' post='2710640']
A ~50w kit (a bit like the above) with two EL34 / 6L6 / 6550 would be excellent and borderline useable for bass guitar. It'd probably be an advanced kit with the added complexity of grid bias, the risk of bigger voltages and the possibility of a more advanced pre-amp section too..

I like the idea of the little kits but they'd be of little use to me except for maybe the 36w variation..
[/quote]
That does sound a bit beyond me at the moment. I tend to split my signal anyway, so all the heavy lifting bass-wise is being done by a crossover and 500W PA amp. All I really need the guitar amp for is low volume valve-y goodness where I can send a high-passed signal to it and add guitar effects pedals to the chain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's interesting that Trinity went for two channels, valve rectification and switchable cathode/fixed bias on their kit. Versatility is good, but a single channel B15-esque amp without the extra options wouldn't be a lot more complex to build than one of the 18 watter kits and might shave down the cost a little, especially if they went for SS rectification. If it could fit on a slightly smaller chassis too, that would be a bonus. I wouldn't be too worried about the low wattage, as I found that when I was using a 100 watter I never got it out of the clean zone.
Actually, this is starting to describe something I'd like to build for myself some time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd love to build my own one day... :rolleyes:

100 - 200w Class A/B output stage (4 x KT88)
SS rectifier
User adjustable bias
4 and 8 ohm operation
All valve pre-stages ( a number of ECC81 and 83)
Passive EQ (Fender style)
Input gain and Master volume
FX loop
Compressor w / threshold + ratio
Balanced DI out
Muteable output stage with no-load-safe studio operation

It'll never happen but the V4 has most of the above. :lol:

I understand the theory (mostly) but have zero experience at a build level. I've changed caps, resistors, fuses and valves but thats as far as I've got sadly. If they break and things aren't apparently black it gets more in depth, I send the amp to a pro..

Edited by VTypeV4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...