where to get a tube amp kit


Senior Member
so i want to put together a tube amp.......first thing where would i buy one and secound is will have some sorta instructions and finnaly will it be challenging to put i toghether being that i have never done anythinhg with amps
I, too have wanted to do this, but I have yet to do it and so cannot answer the difficulty question with first hand info. I have spent a lot of time looking at these websites, one of which was recomended to me by others here when I was looking for a replacement cabinet for an old head of mine, but, man they have a lot of other info including a "builders checklist"...That would be the first one.  The second I just sort of found, but their kits look kick ass!  Here Ya go



I can say that I have a feeling that I am setting myselfr up for a big headache with all of this, but the reward might just be worth it!
Start very slow and very simple. Tube amps carry lethal internal voltages. Lethal, as in dead.
Go here www.ax84.com
The beginner project has been on my list for about 6 months now, got the chassis and half the parts sitting in my closet.
sundin4prez said:
my sill level is nil.......i have never worked on a amp but i have worked on guitars and bASses before

In order of importance...

Before you even look at the back of a tube amp, learn how to discharge the filter capacitors. The single most important skill you will need. Latching on to a fully charged cap can ruin your whole day. There's a reason electric chairs were DC, it's a whole different experience from getting hit with AC. Working on tube amps will make you lose your fear of wall sockets.

Keep it simple. This...


is as simple as it gets. If that scares you, you're out of luck.

It's not essential, but a current limiter is real nice to have. If you mis-wire something, it just might keep you from torching a transformer, which is where the money is. If you live in the US and decide to get serious about this, I can let you borrow mine.


just by loking at the diagram i think i might be able to handle the first diagram but the others down the page is just a big fuzz of a picture to me....... so ,  where would i be able to buy a kit that includes everything and it has instructions telling me what to do...
folks -

Just get some parts and do it.


and void Torres like the plague.  He's the Ed Roman of ampdom.
"Can I have your Warmoth builds after you electrocute yourself?"

Jack you had me ROFL!!!! :toothy12:

seriously: id enroll in some basic electronics classes at the very leist before atempting this. you could get the kit, put it all together via a pretty diagram, and then scatch your head for years about why it dosnt make a peep....and never learn a thing about how or why amps work.

A book to get - even though I malign him - is the Torres book on tube amps (soft cover, out of print, but on eBay).  Torres goes into some basics of design that are very friendly and easy to understand.  The math is easy.  Not because he makes it such, but because it is.  The harder math he's laid out in tables.  From that perspective, its a good book, one that will allow you to "cheat" and take educated guesses.

As an example - you just cant get real tweed Champ transformers, or chokes, except from a select few custom transformer folks.  So what to do when you dont want to spend triple the money?  You punt.  Dan Torres' book gives you the know how on how to punt.  You can go to a surplus dealer - literally - and grab great stuff for not much $$ and come up with some really wild amps.  In the case of the Champs I built - some had Hammond transformers, some some vintage Fender iron, the ones with chokes had a Fender and a Hammond choke etc etc.  You can get the smarts to get the right parts in there - all from that book.  VERY readable too.  Having said all that - Dan Torres is still the Ed Roman of ampdom.  Rumor is he pulled the book because he was tired of folks learning what he put in it - then passing along to others.  Go figure.

Another REALLY good book is the one from Dave Funk.  Dave has a book that goes through Fender (and some Marshall) amp designs in the preamp and power amp sections.  Reverb, tremolo, all the stuff, plus practical stuff like grounding.  He also debunks many of the gospel according to other "gurus".  An example of this is - why you cannot have a cathode biased class A/B amp.  Yes he explains amp classes and their workings in a very readable form.

The "Tonnes of Tone" book is good too, based on the feedback I got when I sold it online.  Sadly, I didn't get time to get into it, or think to save myself a copy.

Avoid the anything from blowhard Gerald Weber.  He has no clue.  His books are full of inaccurate "gospel".  Just forget him.  As Dave Funk says, maybe he should spend more time cracking the electronics 101 books instead of showing off at the local bar every Friday and Saturday night.

And then there is the Jack Darr book.  Long long long out of print.  If anyone wants a copy - contact me privately, I have it in scanned form (many large PDF files).  I suppose I could put it on CD for moderate amounts of Drambuie (or other such nice things).  Jacks book is a little dated - but a must read if you want to service amps of any sort... tube or solid state.  He goes into things on a basic, then more advanced level.... mostly readable, but a little dated on the solid state stuff (but it all still applies).
Very interesting thread.

I wanted to build the 5E3 kit from Ted Weber, but that looked too hard for a novice.

Might attempt a Champ at some point.

So CB whats your opinion of the Ted Weber kits? These seem to be quite popular.
I'd not give you two cents for on of his chassis.  Let me repeat that - I'd not give you two cents for one of his chassis.

My old acquaintance Doug Hoffman quit selling them.  They have terrible welds, and basically.. fall apart.  The only thing you can do, and that I have done, is to get one, then drill and rivet the end caps.

His transformers are made for him, and frankly, there are better transformers out there.  None of the kits has a decent transformer.  Why?  Because good transformers are very expensive, and "kits" need to be inexpensive in order to sell.

Teds a smart guy.  Has online charisma.  In person you'll see a somewhat different persona.  The company is in fact "his son's" and his son is .... less than energetic to get things correct.  There was a huge huge hullabaloo from Weber and Company over people documenting all the bad experiences they had with his company - such as my never having gotten one speaker shipped to me that was packaged correctly - arriving with bent frames and torn cones.  You dont take a 12 inch speaker and just toss it into a 14 inch square box and send it on its merry way.  I've heard things have improved a bit in that regard.  The problem with the chassis has to do with his platers.  The pickling they use prior to plating - with copper then nickel, then chrome - gets under the tabs of the endcaps, where it is not able to get out, and it finally eats through what was a marginal weld to begin with.  Brother Vic knows I went around and around trying to get chassis replaced - took me from Sept to Febuary a few years ago.  The bad thing - not all come pre-eaten out.  Some will fail during building (when you mount transformers and weight is applied or stress is applied when tightening them).  Some will fail after you mount them in the cabinet.  Best to just rework them first.....

Speak of rework - his cabinets.  I've got THREE 5e3 cabinets from him.  I said to Ted, these are not right.  The sizes are wrong.  He pitched a total fit.  I mean he got MAD at me (his customer and dealer at the time).  That was pretty much the final straw for me with Weber and Co.  It cost me more to rework his stuff than to buy good stuff to begin with.  The cabinets were made "correct" to outside sizes but... behold.... he used materials that were too thick.  He used for instance 5/8 baffles and 1/2 inch rear panels, and 5/8 side front wall material too.  The combined stacking of over-thick parts made the INSIDE of the cabinet about 3/8 too small to get anything in there.  I had to make new baffles, and rework the rear panels in order to get anything to fit. 

I've personally had more bad experiences with them than a person should have.

My advice - get a Mojo cabinet and chassis.  Go over to www.tubesandmore.com and get the parts you need.  The chassis comes with board.  If Mojo is not listing chassis - go over to www.ampwares.com and get one from him - same price.  The transformers - personally the chassis are made to accept the Fender blackface power transformers - get one from www.tubesandmore.com.  For the output transformer, you can use that vendor, get a Hammond or a Fender knockoff (cheap), or you can get an exact reproduction of the Triad from Mercury, expensive, but the output transformer is the heart of amp tone.  Think of it as the pickup.  The output transformer has THAT much effect on tone.

For parts - go with the Fender style CTS pots.  Either orange drop or mallory capacitors, and sprague atom electrolytic caps.  You can use cornell silver mica cap for bright on the volume pot.  Sockets - just get something that fits the transformer - ceramic and gold is nice, but not really needed.  Phenolic and tin work as good.  Use carling brand switches.  Use switchcraft jacks.  Use a Fender type pilot light made by chicago miniature lamp co.  Fuse holder by anyone... those round push and twist ones are what you want.  They have power cords online too, but if you need one... email me, as I have a lifetime supply of them here (leftovers).

Am I down on Weber.  Yes, but with cause.

My Deluxe adventures...

I still want you to mention me in your will for your Warmoth builds, just in case, but if you have 0 experience I'd recommend starting out with something relatively simple like the 5 watters you can find @ ax84.com or something along those lines....
ildar said:
Start very slow and very simple. Tube amps carry lethal internal voltages. Lethal, as in dead.
Go here www.ax84.com
The beginner project has been on my list for about 6 months now, got the chassis and half the parts sitting in my closet.

Like I said.
Working on guitar electronics is risk-free, the most damage you can do is a few bucks for a new pot and some more wire.
I have a good amount of experience with building stompbox circuits on perf, but those are usually 9 volts. The most damage there is a buck or so for new components...$10 at most for hard-to-find Ge transistors.
The most damage you can do with mistakes in a tube amp build? DEATH.
That's serious, go to ax84.com and carefully read the high voltage cautions.
I've heard many a good thing about amp kits from these guys.  Not a novice project though.  If I ever order one up, I'll let my tech put it together.  Would love to get a JTM45 kit.