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DIY Valve Amp Kits

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[quote name='VTypeV4' timestamp='1425861023' post='2711667']
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:
[/quote]

That's quite a list! For my needs I'd be quite happy with <100 watts with just three big knobs and a bright switch on the front. A post power amp DI out would be cool, but I'd lean towards keeping that outboard for the soundguy acceptance factor (as a rule they seem happier dealing with a DI box than taking a line out from the back of an unknown amp).

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[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1425893648' post='2711783']
That's quite a list! For my needs I'd be quite happy with <100 watts with just three big knobs and a bright switch on the front. A post power amp DI out would be cool, but I'd lean towards keeping that outboard for the soundguy acceptance factor (as a rule they seem happier dealing with a DI box than taking a line out from the back of an unknown amp).
[/quote]

Thats why it'll never happen! Ha! :D That MJW build on another thread would be the sort of thing I'd be into albeit way beyond me!

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[quote name='VTypeV4' timestamp='1425861023' post='2711667']
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..
[/quote]

Most of the more complex stuff would take away from the point of a valve amp. Sure a DI output would be useful, but then you might as well just use any of the small valve-based preamps around instead of carting in 25Kg of 100W+ head, because without the output valves it will sound just the same. Lots of outboard compressors etc too. However the SS rectifier would be pretty much a given, and nice & easy to implement. Realistically you'd be looking at an amp containing 6 valves: 4 output, 1 pre-amp and 1 phase inverter - certainly not a complex build.

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[quote name='Ancient Mariner' timestamp='1425932268' post='2712500']
Most of the more complex stuff would take away from the point of a valve amp. Sure a DI output would be useful, but then you might as well just use any of the small valve-based preamps around instead of carting in 25Kg of 100W+ head, because without the output valves it will sound just the same. Lots of outboard compressors etc too. However the SS rectifier would be pretty much a given, and nice & easy to implement. Realistically you'd be looking at an amp containing 6 valves: 4 output, 1 pre-amp and 1 phase inverter - certainly not a complex build.
[/quote]
I'd like to keep mine simple so I'd plump for the single-ended design that looks straight-forward enough - one preamp and one poweramp valve. I'm not quite sure I understand the topography of the above amp - what does the phase inverter do? (OK, that might sound a bit silly as I guess it's self-explanatory, but I'd still like to know ;) )

Edited by Bottle

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I did the torres thunder bass. Great amp, pretty much a bassman. The pre section is identical to the mesa bass 400 minus the graphic. Good fun to build though it does need a few skills and the best bit is it sounds great. Well worth getting a copy of inside tube amps by Dan Torres, probably the best £30 I've spent on knowledge. Good explanations and nice easy to understand drawings and charts. I think they offer a 200 watt version now as well as the 120watt.

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[quote name='Bottle' timestamp='1425934037' post='2712545']
I'd like to keep mine simple so I'd plump for the single-ended design that looks straight-forward enough - one preamp and one poweramp valve. I'm quite sure I understand the topography of the above amp - what does the phase inverter do? (OK, that might sound a bit silly as I guess it's self-explanatory, but I'd still like to know ;) )
[/quote]

Single ended is only really viable up to around 30 watts and even then you're pushing your luck as the output transformers get really heavy and expensive.

Push-pull (also known as PP) works a bit like 2 guys cutting a log with a big saw, and is much more efficient. You're aware of the idea of the output signal being in a wave format with voltage swing above and below zero? 2 output valves are used, with the first driving the output when it's on one side of zero and the second driving when the voltage swings to the other side. These have to operate in 'opposite' directions, 180 degrees out, and the phase inverter is the stage that splits the signal, inverting the wave form for one of the valves. Output transformers for PP are much smaller and lighter (and cheaper).

PP sounds a bit different from SE, and all things being equal (which they never are) SE sounds a bit fatter and squashier, getting a little mushy when driven, while PP sounds a bit thinner & crisper, going crunchy when driven. I did build a SE amp with a single 6550 for guitar, and it was quite dark-sounding & loudish, probably putting out around 18-22 watts through a Hammond 125ESE (rated conservatively at 15W).

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[quote name='Subthumper' timestamp='1425934295' post='2712554']
I did the torres thunder bass. Great amp, pretty much a bassman. The pre section is identical to the mesa bass 400 minus the graphic. Good fun to build though it does need a few skills and the best bit is it sounds great. Well worth getting a copy of inside tube amps by Dan Torres, probably the best £30 I've spent on knowledge. Good explanations and nice easy to understand drawings and charts. I think they offer a 200 watt version now as well as the 120watt.
[/quote]
I'd like the bassman clone. I think that'd sound awesome.

Just did a quick search on Amazon and the book is unavailable at the moment - all the second-hand copies are £50-ish and up

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[quote name='Bottle' timestamp='1425937954' post='2712608']

I'd like the bassman clone. I think that'd sound awesome.

Just did a quick search on Amazon and the book is unavailable at the moment - all the second-hand copies are £50-ish and up

Try contacting Vyse amps ,that's who do all the Torres amp kits.
[/quote]

Edited by Subthumper

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[quote name='Ancient Mariner' timestamp='1425932268' post='2712500']
Most of the more complex stuff would take away from the point of a valve amp. Sure a DI output would be useful, but then you might as well just use any of the small valve-based preamps around instead of carting in 25Kg of 100W+ head, because without the output valves it will sound just the same. Lots of outboard compressors etc too. However the SS rectifier would be pretty much a given, and nice & easy to implement. Realistically you'd be looking at an amp containing 6 valves: 4 output, 1 pre-amp and 1 phase inverter - certainly not a complex build.
[/quote]

To be fair, I love my V-Type Trace Elliot and most of the stages (except for the over-drive interestingly) in that are valve hence it having 7x ECC83s. I like the fact its a 'one stop shop' with the exception of a parametric (taken care of by the NE-1) for every situation. It's a shame they never did a stand-alone pre-amp of the MK2 V-Type amps.

Now that would be very useful actually, copying and building that front end with that glorious squashy compressor! :D

Once again, ambition and talent are not currently in proportion with each other.. :blink:

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

I've used ampmaker in the past for parts to make several small (Marshall 18w-ish) PP amps - the parts (and particularly the transformers) are good quality and well priced.

Personally I'd caution against doing a big-power build initially, there's danger inside all tube amps, but a 100w+ monster is seriously intimidating and dangerous, even for experienced builders.

Re books, I've got the Torres book, and it's OK but not great IMO - if you have any technical background or electronics experience, you might prefer the first volume of the Kevin O'Connor TUT series:

http://www.londonpower.com/ultimate-tone-books

More technical still is the Radiotron designers handbook, which is available free online, along with loads of other vintage tube tomes, e.g:

http://tubebooks.org/technical_books_online.htm

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I have both copies of 'Valve Amplifiers' by Morgan Jones.. A great read, very in depth and an excellent sense of humour too. :D

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[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]

I've been looking at their schematic and layout for this on their forum, and their concept of a B15n with uprated transformers to handle KT88s seems like a great idea, as a sort of middle ground between smaller studio amps and huge high-powered beasts. It would be interesting to find out what the measured output is with KT88s - they estimate around 60 watts in fixed bias.
I appreciate it when companies like Trinity put their documentation online, as I find poring over this sort of thing educational.

Edited by Beer of the Bass

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[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1426076718' post='2714051']
I've been looking at their schematic and layout for this on their forum, and their concept of a B15n with uprated transformers to handle KT88s seems like a great idea, as a sort of middle ground between smaller studio amps and huge high-powered beasts. It would be interesting to find out what the measured output is with KT88s - they estimate around 60 watts in fixed bias.
I appreciate it when companies like Trinity put their documentation online, as I find poring over this sort of thing educational.
[/quote]

Hmmm... The Trinity Trip Top chassis-only kit is $1600. Add shipping from Canada and import duty, plus a cab, and you might be better spending your money on an actual B15. And that's if they do UK-voltage mains transformers (must admit I haven't checked).

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[quote name='JapanAxe' timestamp='1426078565' post='2714092']
Hmmm... The Trinity Trip Top chassis-only kit is $1600. Add shipping from Canada and import duty, plus a cab, and you might be better spending your money on an actual B15. And that's if they do UK-voltage mains transformers (must admit I haven't checked).
[/quote]

Yes the kit doesn't look like great value once imported to the UK, I was more appreciating the design.

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[quote name='JapanAxe' timestamp='1426078565' post='2714092']
Hmmm... The Trinity Trip Top chassis-only kit is $1600.
[/quote]

Huh? The link I posted says $670, plus $30 for a 50 HZ transformer core for those who might prefer that. Yes, there is a 234 volt primary. Is that link duff though?

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I think the $1600 is for a built chassis. If you click on the "kit info" link it shows $670.

Price to ship to the UK is the question...

Edited by Bigwan

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[quote name='Bigwan' timestamp='1426089502' post='2714250']
I think the $1600 is for a built chassis. If you click on the "kit info" link it shows $670.

Price to ship to the UK is the question...
[/quote]

It's got to be at least $100 given the weight of the transformers, which would make the landed price over £600 in the UK after vat/tax etc.

Given the amount of excellent info on the forum (schematic/layout etc) you could quite easily order comparable parts from UK suppliers for around half that.

If I were going to build one (I'm quite tempted actually..) I'd probably select the comparable Hammond transformers, e.g those rated for the output tubes I wanted to use, then order a hammond enclosure and other bits from one or more UK suppliers:

http://www.londonpower.com/hammond/matching.htm

http://www.bluebellaudio.com/

Ok, Hammond isn't Heyboer, but IME they are easily good enough.

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[quote name='Passinwind' timestamp='1426079223' post='2714109']
Huh? The link I posted says $670, plus $30 for a 50 HZ transformer core for those who might prefer that. Yes, there is a 234 volt primary. Is that link duff though?
[/quote]
[quote name='Bigwan' timestamp='1426089502' post='2714250']
I think the $1600 is for a built chassis. If you click on the "kit info" link it shows $670.

Price to ship to the UK is the question...
[/quote]

My bad!

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[quote name='Subthumper' timestamp='1425944706' post='2712727']
It's £32 + p&p from Wyse.
[/quote]
I'll look into that. Than;s for the info. For the moment I'm going to get the WN55 'time-saver' kit - probably toward the end of the month once the credit card's been paid off!

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[quote name='6v6' timestamp='1426094671' post='2714345']

Given the amount of excellent info on the forum (schematic/layout etc) you could quite easily order comparable parts from UK suppliers for around half that.

If I were going to build one (I'm quite tempted actually..) I'd probably select the comparable Hammond transformers, e.g those rated for the output tubes I wanted to use, then order a hammond enclosure and other bits from one or more UK suppliers:

http://www.londonpower.com/hammond/matching.htm

http://www.bluebellaudio.com/

Ok, Hammond isn't Heyboer, but IME they are easily good enough.
[/quote]

Actually I spent a few minutes yesterday starting to price parts on tube-town.net for Kevin O'Connor's "improved" Portaflex build from his TUT3 book - quite a bit simpler than the Trinity version with SS rectification, single channel, cathode bias 6L6 power section only. Got interrupted, but it was getting on for €300 for Hammond trannies, valves and chassis before adding any other components or hardware. I'd say all told you'd be nearer €450 (£320ish at today's exchange rate) by the time you'd be done, but with the added faf of machining a bare chassis, having a faceplate made to your own design, etc. I know, personally, I haven't the time or inclination for that end of things any more, so £600 for a full kit of parts and ending up with a superior amp would be worth the extra for me.

Having said that, I probably have enough bits and pieces knocking around and enough know-how to make myself something like this instead: http://arkhamsound.com/octling.html

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[quote name='Bigwan' timestamp='1426105235' post='2714547']
Actually I spent a few minutes yesterday starting to price parts on tube-town.net for Kevin O'Connor's "improved" Portaflex build from his TUT3 book - quite a bit simpler than the Trinity version with SS rectification, single channel, cathode bias 6L6 power section only. Got interrupted, but it was getting on for €300 for Hammond trannies, valves and chassis before adding any other components or hardware. I'd say all told you'd be nearer €450 (£320ish at today's exchange rate) by the time you'd be done, but with the added faf of machining a bare chassis, having a faceplate made to your own design, etc. I know, personally, I haven't the time or inclination for that end of things any more, so £600 for a full kit of parts and ending up with a superior amp would be worth the extra for me.

Having said that, I probably have enough bits and pieces knocking around and enough know-how to make myself something like this instead: [url="http://arkhamsound.com/octling.html"]http://arkhamsound.com/octling.html[/url]
[/quote]

Fair enough - my builds are always on a budget, and/or substuting parts I already have (or am recycling) so I probably don't place quite the same value on the convenience of a kit.

Good luck whatever you end up going for! :)

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It's hard to keep costs from rocketing on DIY builds, admittedly! I built a guitar combo a couple of years ago which was based on a Fender Princeton Reverb. The total cost was less than buying the Fender reissue, but there are a few similar powered valve combos which I could have picked up for the same amount or less.
I've been thinking about building a smallish valve bass amp along loosely B15-esque lines once I've got my current house move sorted out (funds allowing), so I've been looking around at transformer options. These guys have a range of transformers made by Danbury in England which are well priced, though the range isn't huge. [url="http://livinginthepast-audioweb.co.uk/index.php?p=messages&sw=none"]http://livinginthepast-audioweb.co.uk/index.php?p=messages&sw=none[/url]
The toroidal mains transformers from TubeTown in Germany look like good value and would help keep the weight down too. [url="http://www.tube-town.net/ttstore/index.php?cat=545&sort=3&MODsid=3h1dg232ltdautadajuah9e8k5&sort=7"]http://www.tube-town.net/ttstore/index.php?cat=545&sort=3&MODsid=3h1dg232ltdautadajuah9e8k5&sort=7[/url]

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[quote name='Beer of the Bass' timestamp='1426109649' post='2714619']
These guys have a range of transformers made by Danbury in England which are well priced, though the range isn't huge. [url="http://livinginthepast-audioweb.co.uk/index.php?p=messages&sw=none"]http://livinginthepa...essages&sw=none[/url]
[/quote]

Thanks for the link - AFAIK Danbury make the transformers for ampmaker, and IME they are good stuff (I've done about six builds with them, all sounded great). The 100w ones do look more expensive than Hammond but I guess it's nice to support UK manufacturers when possible.

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The Danbury stuff is great quality. Must get a closer look at their website.

I have a Burman valve pre/power amp setup gathering cobwebs in the garage at the minute so a b15-style preamp to run off the Burman PowerPak (possible with a few added bells and like bright, deep and shift switching) is probably the best way forward for me at the minute. Been a few years since I built anything of note...

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