Design And Build Your Own Tube Guitar Amp

By Kurt Prange

Why Tubes?

If you’re not an electric guitar player or if you’re just starting out, you might ask why anyone would build anything with tubes. Aren’t vacuum tubes an obsolete technology? Well, yes and no. While tubes are no longer the technology of choice in the computer industry, they are very much alive and well when it comes to modern high-end guitar amplification. It is because of the electric guitar amp that vacuum tubes are still being manufactured today. Visit your local guitar store and take a peek at the rear side of the amps, you’ll most likely see a variety of glass tubes projecting from the amp chassis.

Guitar amps with tubes are currently front and center in the high-end market because many guitar players find their sound characteristics to be superior to solid-state amps (i.e. amps with transistors as the main active electronic devices). Modern mass produced tube amps use printed circuit boards to connect components, but at the extreme high-end there are “boutique” amp builders who hand wire connections from point-to-point and select high quality components. Point-to-point wiring is how vintage guitar amps from the 1950’s and 60’s were wired and it’s a technique that allows for easy maintenance and circuit modification.

DIY and the Boutique Amp Builder

Boutique amp builders are individuals or small companies who build a relatively small number of amps each year with an emphasis on quality and attention to detail. Boutique amps are usually priced in the thousands of dollars, because they require a lot more time and skill to produce. The builders will often customize circuit designs to satisfy the different tastes and styles of individual guitarists. Most boutique amp builders at one time started out as electronics hobbyists who thought it would be fun to modify or build their own tube amp. The internet continues to make it easier to find books and parts to help you build your own boutique quality guitar amp.

Suggestions for a First Build

The quickest way to get acquainted with the parts and standard layout techniques used in tube amp building is to build an amp kit. Most kits come with a pre-punched chassis, parts and instructions to assist you in building it.

If you’re interested in more of a challenge than building a kit, classic tube amp schematics are easy to find on-line and their patents are likely to be long since expired. Find a Fender schematic and its related layout drawing and start making a parts list. Most of the boutique amps being made today are cloned vintage Fender and Marshall amps or at least heavily influenced by their circuits. There are also many books on the subject of tube amp circuit theory, design and building that you can read to help make your first build of boutique quality.

Circuit Schematic Resource Links

http://www.schematicheaven.com

http://www.fender.com/support/amplifier_schematics.php

http://www.freeinfosociety.com/electronics/schempage.php

http://www.schematics.ca

http://www.drtube.com/guitamp.htm

Kurt Prange (BSEE) is the Sales Engineer for Amplified Parts in Tempe, AZ. Kurt began playing guitar at the age of nine in Kalamazoo, MI. He is a guitar DIY’er and tube amp designer who enjoys helping other musicians along in the endless pursuit of tone.

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Back in the sixties I built my own valve amps, using circuits scrounged from school friends in the know. I still have my original amp, using a pair of 807 output valves, unobtainable today. It still works but the power transformer would get so hot that the wax melted out of it!

Thanks to your article I am thinking of getting back into amp-building. Thanks for the information!

Jeff

vacuum tube for Shuguang and NGG

Dear Sir:

Glad to hear from you!

We are the direct agent of Shuguang and NGG vacuum tube manufacturers,we can supply the different types of tubes,including 12AX7,6L6,EL34,KT66,KT88,300B,2A3 etc.

Shuguang is the biggest electron tube factory and brand in Asia, it has long history and the quality is very good,the price is also competitive.The NGG brand use the same technical as Shuguang,the designer of Ngg at present was the main designer in Shuguang before.We can supply both the 2 brands and good service for you.We're surely that our products will satisfy you.

If you have any enquiry or would like to have a try,pls do not hesitate to contact me.We sincerely hope to establish long business relationship with you!

Best regards!
Linda

guitar amp components

Dear Purchasing Manager,

I'm writing this email in the hope of establishing a business relationship with you.

Our company, K&D Industrial, manufactures/sells tube/guitar amplifiers and components.

We have received good praise from all over the world for the high quality and low prices of our products

Sincerely hope you would care to be interested in our products. Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries.

Enclosed pls find the PDF document for your reference,

KD-EL84 is USD122/set for 10sets and KD-6F3 is USD119/set for 20sets.

Best regards,

Summer

K&D Industrial
Web: www.kdindustrial.com
http://kdindustrial.en.alibaba.com
TEL: +86-755-2885250
FAX: +86-755-28579850
E-mail/(msn) : summer@kdindustrial.com
Skype: kdindus.mei
Office Adress: No.28 GangBei Road GangBei Village LongGang Shenzhen China

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