Line Magnetic 219ia – Just Released..

In case you have decided to take the plunge and build your own guitar tube amp, please allow me to share my early projects/mistakes with you to assist get you going within the right direction. But first, make sure to genuinely wish to develop your own:

You need to be fairly handy around electronics already, and conscious of the dangers inherent in high voltage tube electronics as well as the precautions to take when concentrating on tube amps

You shouldn’t hold the expectation that you simply helps you to save money… unless your time and energy is worth nothing at all you are able probably do better investing in a completed amplifier, even from your Cayin Audio, but certainly on the open market as used

All said, though, there is a lot of satisfaction in completing and playing an amplifier you built yourself and achieving the license to advance modify/tweak/voice your creation perfectly… so let’s get going:

Stumbling Through My first Few Projects – My first project started being an AM radio, it had struck me that the chassis and most of the components was quite ideal for an octal-tube-based Fender Champ-like single-ended amplifier and that i wanted to hear the real difference in tone between real tubes and also the tube modeling inside my Roland Cube amp… After studying some really good tube amp books (see resources) I settled upon a plan and:

* I fought with the old transformers (insulation turning to dust once you flexed the leads), used tube-sockets, noisy potentiometers and poor physical layout (working with the previous radio chassis didn’t provide optimum placement in the major components for a tube guitar amplifier)

* Found out that true point-to-point wiring isn’t your best option for experimenting

* I couldn’t find a non-microphonic old-stock pentode tube

* The tone sucked… with hindsight In my opinion it had been because of the underwhelming, un-branded, tiny output transformer, but I’ll probably never go back to check

* Bottom-line, I learned a great deal however it didn’t answer my fundamental questions on tube-tone because I didn’t end up with an iconic amplifier being a reference at the conclusion of the project

* I spent some frustrating evenings redesigning and reworking my first effort then for my second major project I broke down and purchased a kit that promised a clone of the vintage Champ amplifier.

Major findings included:

Saving a few pennies here and there on components isn’t satisfying when you find yourself investing lots of time building the project and facets of the outcome look cheap (e.g. a plastic replacement for a ‘proper’ metal construction Audiophile Cables or worse… sacrifice tone (e.g. cheap electrolytic capacitors)

I’ve grown a bit leary of un-branded chinese transformers that might not have even been hi-pot tested not to mention certified by a safety agency; and that knows what laminations, etc. are used in the audio transformer?

Tiny chassis and cabinets aren’t your best option for adding additional functionality towards the stock circuit and very frustrating to work with

8? speakers and small cabinets suck tone… this amplifier sounds great whenever you plug it in to a proper speaker & cabinet combination

The Initial DIY Guitar Tube Amp Project

Using the above experiences in mind it is time for you to summarize some considerations for the very first project:

* Simple project but not under-featured… something that will be satisfying and playable

* Physically large for easy access, simplified assembly and room to change

* Well documented, well supported… not necessarily with user’s manuals and step-by-step construction guides, but instead by a community with active forums, or extensive web documentation, etc.

* A complete kit of parts, no difficult sourcing of components

* Good quality parts with all the possibility to upgrade them if desired… but moderation rules… you might want value over extravagant components to lower your downside should your project doesn’t come out phczif or you lose interest.

* Standard sized chassis for easy sourcing of cabinets, or Line Magnetic 518ia offered by the kit supplier, or perhaps a desire, determination and capability to build (and finish) your own cabinetry

* With the above given due consideration my third time was the charm!

I suggest you search out a reputable supplier of tube-amp kits, and pick a model that meets both your taste in tone as well as a satisfying set of features for your first DIY Guitar Tube Amp!

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