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Old 8th June 2011, 12:08 AM   #1
bst is offline bst  United States
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Default Need recommendations for DIY small guitar amp

I'm not a musician, but have several long-time friends who are. I'd like to build some small (<5 watt) practice amps to give as gifts. I've looked at many sites recently, but the more designs I see, the more I realize how little I know.

I've built and restored more than a few hi-fi amplifiers, but know nothing about guitar amps. I have no idea what 'crunch' or 'chime' refer to, nor what makes an amplifier 'bluesy' as opposed to 'metal'. All I know is that I have a basement workshop filled with parts, and the desire to build some really nice little amps that will be appreciated by guys who've played guitar for four decades.

I've looked at some of the projects on AX84, as well as numerous variations of Fender Champs and Princetons. I'm intrigued with Boozhound Labs' BHL-15. My goal is a little self-contained amp and speaker package in a small portable cabinet, which can be used in a residence without irritating the neighbors.

If any of you can recommend a simple all-tube design which fits this description, I'd appreciate your insights -- especially if you're a fifty-something serious amateur player, who still gets the urge to play some classic licks from John Mayall to Eric Clapton, or Duane Allman to Buddy Guy, at one o'clock in the morning.
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Old 8th June 2011, 12:32 AM   #2
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Crunch is how much distortion the sound has.

A guitar outputs a fairly mundane sine wave and doesnt sound good so musicians quickly found out that valve amps overdriven gave a much richer sound.

Before I could afford a valve amp I used a "soft limiter" that gave a similar distortion to a valve.

Nothing beats the sound of a valve amp being overdriven.
Murton-Pike Systems PCBCAD51 pcb design software.
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Old 8th June 2011, 07:14 AM   #3
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Default AX84

My first - and only - guitar amp project was an AX84 P1 (look it up under Classic Projects). It was meant for a classic/blues guitarist friend of mine. The guy plays mostly clean, with a mild crunch. He LOVES the sound.

Following his advise, I used a Jensen C12R speaker. Small speakers sound "tinny" he said. The result is a lively, chimey sound with "depth". Really sweet. Want some crunch? Up the volume a bit. I ended up replacing the pre valve with a 12AT7, cause the break up was a little too early for him. He LOVES the sound. Also with this thing you really hear differences when replacing valves. Sovtek=early dirt, ugly sound, Telefunken=too trebly, Ei,RFT=well balanced tone, Chinese=guano.

Generally, you need a decent box and a good 12' speaker, and you have a very sweet sounding thing that makes nice music. A cheap speaker will compromise the sound and in the end it won't be worth your effort. So, maybe it's not a cheap gift. It's a well thought out amp with its own special sound.
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Old 8th June 2011, 10:34 AM   #4
Doz is offline Doz  United Kingdom
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Try this one...

Single 6V6 Guitar Amplifier Project
"To err is human.. to make a real balls-up requires a computer"
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Old 8th June 2011, 12:37 PM   #5
Cassiel is offline Cassiel  Libya
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The Bluesman guitar amp

Bobs tube type guitar amp page
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Old 9th June 2011, 12:58 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Cassiel View Post
Oooh that looks sweeeeet.... I wonder how it would work with a GU50...
must.... resist....
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Old 9th June 2011, 01:16 PM   #7
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I recently built a 5F1 copy and bought the transformers here:

Transformers for Tube Amps

Very reasonably priced and they sound just fine.
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Old 9th June 2011, 04:58 PM   #8
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This at least fits the not annoying the neighbors criteria:
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Old 10th June 2011, 02:14 AM   #9
Cassiel is offline Cassiel  Libya
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Your neighbors may be happy but you won't. I'd rather play unplugged than hear my guitar through that speaker. The presence of that lovely Gibson adds insult to injury - she deserves better. The volume knob at 3 is OK for a Champ-like amp; you will be happy and the neighbors won't bang on the walls or call the police. I like pocket-sized amps though but only if they are cute: : Electronic Projects : Class A Subminiature Amp &bull; View topic - "Superfly" - submini tube version of Doug H's Firefly

People like to play these with 4X12 cabs. Oh the irony. Oh the contrast.
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Old 10th June 2011, 02:34 AM   #10
tinitus is offline tinitus  Europe
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simple tube pre with a chip amp ?
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