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Old 06-01-2009, 02:50 PM   #1
DLrocket89
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Amp Building Tutorial - Small Single Ended amp from a kit

EDIT: The build really starts here (page 5): http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...68&page=5&pp=20 and ends on the next page.


Okay, here's the amp building thread that I promised in the thread here: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1135281

Basically, what I'm going to do is walk through the construction of a small, 5-7 watt single ended amp, in kit form. Some day I may make a tutorial for an amp from scratch. We'll see.

Disclaimer: Yes, working on amps is dangerous. You can be shocked. I will point out as many areas as I can where danger lurks, but I cannot get them all, so please use common sense. And if you don't have common sense, do a bunch of google reading before you get involved...I know google is a poor substitute for common sense, but it's better than nothing. Really...what it boils down to is, when you're working on stuff, take your time, think before you move you hand or place the probe or whatever. And, I cannot and will not be held liable for any injury you get by working on amps. I'm just some guy who likes working on this stuff, am not officially licensed or trained, and have made this stuff up as I go (in short, I'm not an expert).

Background on myself: I'm a metallurgical engineer, working full time for an aerospace firm, 24 years old. I've been building amps for 5 years, seriously for about 2 years. I'm married, with a baby on the way, due Jan 10th. I'm also trying to get a Master's Degree online through USC in Materials Science (Metallurgy). And I do 2-4 amp repairs a week. So, if posts are irregular/don't come too often, that's why.

My wife rides horses a fair bit, so I'm frequently out at a horse stable in the evenings...I will probably be posting/answering questions from my cell phone, so if some times I appear to spell correctly and whatnot and other times it's horrible, it's not because I'm an intermittent alcoholic, it's because my phone is hard to type with.


My intentions on this is that I build this thing, posting every little detail of what to do/whatever/etc (nice and specific, huh? ). Ask questions as I go, I will do my best to answer them all. Please please please check out other FAQs and stuff first, to keep questions on topic, pertinent, and "fresh". Once it's done, I'm going to compile everything into a word/PDF document, along w/ the Q&As for each section, and post that as the "final tutorial".

As the title says, I'm going to build a smaller 5-7 watt single ended amp from a kit, as this is the typical starting amp. After this whole mess is done with, I'll do something similar with a 20 watt PP amp that's a bit more complex.

So, yeah...here we go...
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Old 06-01-2009, 02:54 PM   #2
inkandlead
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I'd like to begin the questioning...
What is a single ended amp?
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:01 PM   #3
DLrocket89
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Originally Posted by inkandlead
I'd like to begin the questioning...
What is a single ended amp?


In a nutshell, it's a the simplest of all poweramps. Usually just 1 tube, no phase inverter. Think Fender Champ, Epi Valve Jr, etc.

It's quite inefficient, so it works well for low wattage, not so much for high wattage.

I'll get into this more during construction. Also going to post links to some other places...
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:09 PM   #4
DLrocket89
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Okay, places to get amp kits:

http://www.ceriatone.com/index.htm
http://www.allenamps.com/kits.php
https://taweber.powweb.com/store/kits.htm
http://shop.dobermanamps.com (which is an offshoot of AX84.com)
http://www.chappellamps.com/ (amps also on AX84.com)

I'm sure there are others, post them if you know them, I'll add them to the list.

I'm partial to the last two on the list. AX84.com (doberman amps) is where I got my start, and the forum there is great, and the kits are great. For this tutorial, I'll actually be building one of their Single Ended Lead amps. The bottom one is a good friend of mine...his two amps are a bit more complex, I'll be building one of his for the 2nd tutorial.

The other three are clones of amps, for the most part. That isn't my cup of tea, but there they are if it is your cup of tea (and that's cool, to each his own).

It looks like Ceriatone amps having already finished boards and stuff...to me, this would take away some of the satisfaction. But like I said, whatever.

One thing I will note, I will be working with a prepunched chassis (already has all the holes in it) because I HATE drilling holes in sheet metal.
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:14 PM   #5
DLrocket89
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Places for information/books to read:

General good series of books: http://www.londonpower.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=3

I don't agree with a bunch of what KO'C writes, but the books are good for learning the basics, so have at them.

If you want a good "here's how everything works", here's my favorite site, one I refer to often: http://www.freewebs.co.uk/valvewizard/index.html <--- Merlin just wrote a book...I haven't seen it yet, but people who've read the advance copies say it's great.

I'll get other stuff up here too, if people have suggestions, let me know.
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Old 06-01-2009, 03:35 PM   #6
DLrocket89
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Tools you'll need:

-Wirecutters (most wire strippers have wire cutters..)
-Wirestripper : http://www.radioshack.com/product/i...oductId=2062787 the time and frustration that that thing saves make it worth it's weight in gold
-soldering iron (recommend one 25-40 watts)
-solder (I recommend 60:40 or 63:37 tin: lead solder, rosin core)
-your brain and some patience
-chopsticks (serious...at least one, preferably two)
-a good multimeter capable of going to 500 Volts DC

Extra parts you'll need:

(depending on kit) - wire (18-22 gauge, I'll have notes about voltage rating...suffice it to say, the stuff at radio shack probably won't work).
-heat shrink tubing (available at hardware store)
-a hot glue gun is optional, but a nice thing to have around.


As always, this list will be growing/changing/etc, and if you see anything missing, let me know.
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:11 PM   #7
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*Stickied for me*
I know next to nothing on this topic, and this looks like the perfect place to start learning it.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:44 PM   #8
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This is going to be amazing. A friend of mine and I are already saving to buy kits now!
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:55 PM   #9
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Stickied. This is brilliant mate.
So this single ended amp, it's basically just going to have a volume knob and that's it?
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:08 PM   #10
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sweet.
stickied


I thought the SEL kit from ax84 was 20W...

are you just pairing the lead preamp with their single ended 5W poweramp?
or.. ?
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:10 PM   #11
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Old 06-01-2009, 07:49 PM   #12
DLrocket89
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james4

I thought the SEL kit from ax84 was 20W...

are you just pairing the lead preamp with their single ended 5W poweramp?
or.. ?



Sorry for the confusion. Yes, the SEL is supposed to be about 20 watts, when it's driven by a KT88. I'm using a KT77, which develops less wattage.

OK, quick lesson here. I had mentioned single ended amps are inefficient. The general rule is that the average power of the amp will never be more than 50% of what the tube is rated for (called "max power dissipation"). A KT88 is usually 35-40watts, a KT77 is usually about 25 watts. So, on a good day, a SE KT88 amp will be about 18-20 watts, a KT77 will be more like 10-12 watts. In actualyity, it's a bit less, so I call it 7 watts. IT could be 8 1/2, could be 11, whatever.

Datasheets for tubes are your friends. I usually use JJ tubes, so I get stuff from their website: http://www.jj-electronic.com/index....id=17&Itemid=11

There's another website that's get for tube data, that's this: http://frank.pocnet.net/ I work with a lot of oddball tubes and haven't yet found one that wasn't in that collection.


EDIT: and I picked the KT77 owing to it's sweet tone, which I call a mix between a 6L6 and an EL34...check the tubes sticky for more description there. It's my favorite tube.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:01 PM   #13
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So, I had a request to contribute donations to me for making this thread. I will take it as some of the cost is out of pocket for me, but I'm not going to hold this thread hostage to donations or anything. This has always (and will always) be a free endeavor, because I like seeing people build amps. If you'd like to contribute, paypal it to my email account.

To be clear, I'm not asking for or soliciting donations. This will be the last you hear of it.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:01 PM   #14
DLrocket89
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Originally Posted by idontgrillonwed
This is going to be amazing. A friend of mine and I are already saving to buy kits now!


Sweet! That's what I like to hear!
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:11 PM   #15
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I'll be watching this attentively.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:22 PM   #16
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Are the places you linked us to to buy kits reliable? Have you actually ordered from them? I'm over protective of my money.
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Old 06-01-2009, 08:56 PM   #17
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Are the places you linked us to to buy kits reliable? Have you actually ordered from them? I'm over protective of my money.


Yes all of those websites are reliable. Ax84 is the best to get a starter amp kit.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:07 PM   #18
DLrocket89
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Originally Posted by XgamerGt04
Yes all of those websites are reliable. Ax84 is the best to get a starter amp kit.


concur 100%. AX84.com has a great forum for discussing things too, and they have a nice "theory" document for explaining stuff.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DLrocket89
Places for information/books to read:

General good series of books: http://www.londonpower.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=3

I don't agree with a bunch of what KO'C writes, but the books are good for learning the basics, so have at them.

If you want a good "here's how everything works", here's my favorite site, one I refer to often: http://www.freewebs.co.uk/valvewizard/index.html <--- Merlin just wrote a book...I haven't seen it yet, but people who've read the advance copies say it's great.

I'll get other stuff up here too, if people have suggestions, let me know.
same here. he seems to be the "authority" on power-scaling, though.

a couple of other guys with some free info available on the web:

Max Robinson. Has a site called "Fun With Tubes "
Mostly targeted at old radios but all the basic audio stuff translates just fine to guitar amps.
Lots of info on the different flavours of PI's, too.

Randall Aiken. He's a boutique amp builder and has plenty of good tech info you can learn from, whether you're newbie or advanced. Click Tech Info on his site

There are rare few things he has written that I don't agree with wholeheartedly.
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Old 06-01-2009, 09:49 PM   #20
DLrocket89
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Originally Posted by SomeoneYouKnew
same here. he seems to be the "authority" on power-scaling, though.

a couple of other guys with some free info available on the web:

Max Robinson. Has a site called "Fun With Tubes "
Mostly targeted at old radios but all the basic audio stuff translates just fine to guitar amps.
Lots of info on the different flavours of PI's, too.

Randall Aiken. He's a boutique amp builder and has plenty of good tech info you can learn from, whether you're newbie or advanced. Click Tech Info on his site

There are rare few things he has written that I don't agree with wholeheartedly.


I don't even agree that he's the power scaling authority... Easier ways to do it, that's for sure.
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