I am REALLY interested in learning how to build amps.I dont have much electrical experiance.Should i take a class at a local tech school on the subject of wiring/electrical first in the dark on the subject.
taking a class would teach you alot about wiring
but from my experience they dont really focus much on tube amps snce they are not as popular as they used to be
just saying
but what the class will teach you is how the electronics work and how to read schematics and what it means, and once you can do that you can find schematics to a lot of amps online and go from there
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electronics for dummies, isa good book that i got just to get the basics down. when you get into more detail and get int to tube amps and the like, go for all of these

*Designing Tube Preamps for Guitar and Bass - Merlin Blencowe. Published by Merlin Blencowe, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9561545-0-7. This is an excellent book, packed with concise, factual information on tube (valve) preamp designs, complete with all mathematical formulas for design. This book is destined to be a classic, and sort of reminds me of a Radiotron Designer's Handbook for guitar. Highly recommended. If you can only afford one book, make it this one.

*Designing Power Supplies for Tube Amplifiers - Merlin Blencowe. Published by Merlin Blencowe, 2010. ISBN 978-0956154514. I haven't seen this book yet, but based on the quality of the first Blencowe book, I reocmmend it sight unseen!

*Guitar Amplifier Preamps - Richard Kuehnel. Published by Pentode Press, 2009. ISBN 9780976982227. This is another excellent book. It deals with guitar amplifier preamp designs from an engineering standpoint, and contains derivations of formulas for all phases of preamp design. If you want to know the math behind the circuit design, this book is it. It is not just math, however, it also is filled with practical information. Highly recommended.

there are a lot of good tech articles on aiken amplification's website
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a class at a tech school is a good idea when starting out. but you have to find the right class. a basics of electronics course is going to be a lot more useful than a basics of house wiring class. if you have no idea what components are or how to read a simple schematic, by all means take a class. there are lots of books for beginners out there, such as the aforementioned electronics for dummies. if you are completely starting out, a decent class might be better, because you cant really ask a book questions. once you get some basics down, books and online forums for your questions are a great way to build on your knowledge.
If you don't want to take a class or can't you can always google everything, thats what I did when I started out, I found a chart of schematic symbols then I looked up what the parts looked like and what they did, granted it took me like 6-8 months before I actually knew what I was doing beyond don't screw with loaded capacitors (found that out when I was 12 ).
It just comes down to what you want to do, some people will say learn the safety then just learn by doing others will say learn the theory and everything behind amps, they'll both get you to where you want to go but the theory is probably better.
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It depends on how you think, if you are good with numbers and don't mind doing calculations, theory is a great way to go. You'll want to invest in a breadboard to test out ideas as well, you can even make a vacuum tube breadboard. There are a ton of paths to get you down the road, the best way is to google whatever it is that is catching your eye at the time. Merlin's book on preamps is fantastic for the beginner and between that and his site you could design a basic amp including an effects loop. There are also the TUT series by Kevin O'Connor and Mr. Kuehnal's books as well. Another thing, which is a little less obvious to most people these days, look at the works cited of the books you read, they tend to be a great way to expand on the things covered in other books.

http://www.tubebooks.org/technical_books_online.htm That is a great resource, combined with all of the cheap used books stores, goodwillbooks.com, alibris.com, amazon.com, and many others, you can get paper copies if you prefer. Radiotrons 3rd edition or 4th edition will be good after you have learned some, and Graphical Constructions for Vacuum Tube circuits after you have learned a good bit. Note, Graphical Constructions is rather math intensive to understand some of the concepts, so unless you know the basics of calculus, I recommend not picking it up unless you want a challenge.

You may want to purchase a tube substitution book for ideas to try different tubes, as well as trying different brands for different tones.


Those are just some of the many sites. There is also the Amp Building Resource Thread, which is pretty nice to learn the basics as well. If you don't know how to read schematics, that should be the first thing you learn. Don't forget to check the Hub/Essential Links sticky for more threads that might relate to what you're interested in.

Edit: This is one of the last vacuum tube oriented books that I want to add to my collection, from the table of contents it looks rather complete compared to most, that sticker price makes me cringe though. If you are interested in the actual construction, Morgan Jones' book, Constructing Vacuum Tube Amplifiers was full of some neat ideas on the actual building of the amplifier itself.
Last edited by blandguitar at Aug 14, 2011,