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Old 18th July 2012, 05:43 AM   #1
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Default Building combo amp for stage piano

Hi all!
I've been playing jazz piano for 12 years and just bought a new stage piano, and now I need an amp for it. I'd like to build my own partly as a personal project and as an experience to learn from, but partly because I want a quality, tweakable combo amp for less than the standard commercial price.
This would be my first time building an amp, so I'm not looking for something hard. But it does need to be able to produce good sound across the full piano range. I'd like to have EQ controls built in, and minimum 2 line ins. So the first question arises: is this reasonably possible? I do have a knack for building and designing things, so I'm not overly worried about delving into a new field. Other questions I have are:
Parts - what drivers etc. are appropriate, how much do they cost? (I'm trying to keep my total cost at around or below $400 CDN)
How much time do you think it would take to order parts? I live on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, so there's not a lot of places I can readily get them except by ordering.
How much time do you think it would take to build? I've got decent woodworking skills and electronics experience, if it makes any difference.
Mainly, I'm just looking for advice on what's the best option for a portable amp (I'll probably put wheels on it, but I don't want it to weigh more than 50 lbs) and what tips you have for building the thing. Feel free to ask any questions if my response might help!

Thanks a lot!
-Matthew
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Old 23rd July 2012, 02:12 AM   #2
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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I doubt you can build anything cheaper than Behringer, since they purchase materials in vast quantities factory-direct. You would be buying parts from multiple sources in the US and Canada, so the shipping costs will be significant. If Behringer isn't acceptable, be patriotic and get something made by Yorkville. Long & McQuade should have ex-rental amps to sell.
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Old 23rd July 2012, 04:11 AM   #3
KP11520 is offline KP11520  United States
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What's the primary goal?

DIY satisfaction or incredible sound?

If sound......

I just went through this helping my friend. Nord Stage EX and a Casio something that does quite a bit. He's used from Roland KC550s down to cheap Phonic's and nothing really had him say, this is like the real thing.

He had a small budget and Native Instruments Komplete 7 sitting in a box. He also had a Tascam US-122 Audio Interface in the box as well.

So first we found a decent laptop on ebay and maxed it out with memory, HD's, drivers and loaded the Komplete 7. The grand pianos need something more than most Keyboard amps bring.

So he found a pair of Community PA speakers, A QSC amp (300WPC), better Tascam AI with decent preamps, Rolled our own cables and everything goes through the Tascam US-1800 into the QSC and then the PA Speakers. He has both channels of both keyboards piped into the Tascam as well as the MIDI from the Nord into the Tascam and the Laptop connected to the Tascam as well, with the NI Komplete 7.

I guarantee you've never heard a Keyboard rig that sounded so good and so full.

The Komplete 7 has Kontakt with many Virtual Instruments with Bosendorfers and NY Concert pianos and B-3s and Farfisas and Strings and so on as well as the Nord and Casio.

So you need a quality, line level Mixer/Preamp with enough channels for your keyboard(s), a PA Amp, 2 PA Speakers and then the corresponding cables. If you go used and take your time to cherry pick the right deals, you can do it for $400 to $500. If you go MIDI with Virtual Instruments as well, the AI, Laptop and software will obviously add to the cost. Put the amp and mixer with a power conditioner in a rack/case with wheels and front and rear removable panels for touring when you can add a few $$$. Used on CL all the time.

The best part is no matter how loud the drummer, bassist and/or the guitarists get, you can squash them . LOL

Just an idea to consider although I understand your wanting to do your own thing. I mean this is DIYAudio.com.

Best of luck to you, whatever you pursue and hopefully you can demo it on YouTube for us when completed!

Regards//Keith
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Last edited by KP11520; 23rd July 2012 at 04:39 AM.
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Old 25th July 2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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KP11520 - Thanks for the post, that's probably more than I'm looking for but it's great info anyway!
I found this preamp for sale in my city
Art Pro DPS II 2 channel tube preamp Esquimalt & View Royal, Victoria
Do you think it would work if I built my own cabinet and then simply mounted this on top of it? I've got a great Roland RD-700GX, which has phenomenal sounds and an equalizer built into it, and it's got both jack outputs and balanced mic-style outputs on the back, so I'm not thinking I'll need a computer/mixer. In terms of cabinets, I'm looking at building a Bill Fitzmaurice Jack 110 - looks to be a good, portable cab that'd be easy enough to build.
Thoughts again?
Thanks guys!
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Old 29th July 2012, 09:15 PM   #5
KP11520 is offline KP11520  United States
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I never heard any of Bill's cabinets so I have no idea. Although, I'd love to.

You left out something important, an Amp. Is that what you want to build?

That preamp is only a preamp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MBAnderson View Post
KP11520 - Thanks for the post, that's probably more than I'm looking for but it's great info anyway!
I found this preamp for sale in my city
Art Pro DPS II 2 channel tube preamp Esquimalt & View Royal, Victoria
Do you think it would work if I built my own cabinet and then simply mounted this on top of it? I've got a great Roland RD-700GX, which has phenomenal sounds and an equalizer built into it, and it's got both jack outputs and balanced mic-style outputs on the back, so I'm not thinking I'll need a computer/mixer. In terms of cabinets, I'm looking at building a Bill Fitzmaurice Jack 110 - looks to be a good, portable cab that'd be easy enough to build.
Thoughts again?
Thanks guys!
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