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Old 3rd February 2004, 07:52 AM   #1
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: USA
Default Newbie/Guitar Amp BOOK recommendation

Hey! This forum is excellent! I'm so glad I found it.

I am looking to build a basic Fender Champ-like guitar amp.

I have a few annoying newbie questions, I'm sorry:

1.) Could anyone recommend a good GUITAR TUBE AMP BOOK? I've seen so many different ones available, and don't know which are good and which are crap.

2.) Are there any well-known, beginner-friendly guitar amp models I can't start looking at?

3.) What is the difference between Class-A, Class-AB, and push-pull amps? Are some easier than others? Which are used for the best guitar tone?

I appreciate all the help i can get!
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Old 4th February 2004, 06:28 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Boston, MA

1. Good guitar amp books:
The Ultimate Tone by Kevin O'Connor - This one covers a lot of ground, power supplies, preamps, power stages, there's a 91 page chapter on channel switching! This book assumes a fair amount of prior electronics knowledge. There are a few errors, and more than a few opinions (like all tube amp books) but still overall well worth the money.

Tonnes of Tone by Kevin O'Connor - This is a book of projects with more emphasis on construction techniques than circuit anaylsis. Very good. I've built 4 projects out of this book.

I also have The Ultimate Tone Volume II. This is a supplement to the first TUT book and it has a lot of cool stuff but is not really essential (IMHO). There is also a Volume III out now, but I don't have that one yet.

Inside Tube Amps by Dan Torres. This book is kind of chaotic. Hastily written, ugly graphics, and my copy is falling apart due to the cheap binding used by the publisher. Mr. Torres does not exactly have the greatest reputation either. That said, I would still recommend this book. It does cover a fair amount of ground without wallowing in heavy analysis. There's a bit of BS in there, like all books, but it does have a nice little Fender Champ project in the back and he walks you through the whole process. I built the champ years and still have the amp, though I later grafted on a Fender Princeton Reverb preamp.

The Tube Amp Book by Aspen Pitman. This is a very good collection of schematics of classic amps. Most of the Fender Schematics also include the Layout diagrams as well. Also has a very nice color photo section with some really cool amps. Get this book. It is considered a biblical text in the world of guitar amps. Ignore all the marketing nonsense promoting Groove Tubes.

A Desktop Reference of Hip Vintage Guitar Amps by Gerald Weber. If you don't get the Pitman book, get this one. Not quite as many schematics but still covers most Fenders that are worth mentioning. There are a few good articles and Gerald does seem to know a lot about old Jensen speakers. There's also the usual marketing drivel and a few downright embarassing untruths, but that's pretty much par for the course.

A couple of good coffee table books are Fender Amps, the First Fifty Years and The History of Marshall.

If you want a really good book on designing hi-fi tube circuits, check out Valve Amplifiers by Morgan Jones. Excellent. Very few errors and no marketing BS. Plenty of opinions, and very British, but thats cool, the Brits made tremendous contributions to tube (valve) technology.

2. Take a look at this site is all about building simple tube amps with lots of first-timers.

3. Class A : power tubes "on" all the time. They draw their full current even with no signal applied. All single ended audio amps are by definition class A. The classic class A guitar amp is if course the Fender Champ with one 6V6 pumping out maybe 5 or 6 watts. A typical push pull guitar amp uses a pair of output tubes with one tube "off" while the other one is "on", with some overlap. This is class AB and this is what most push-pull guitar amps are. This is way more efficient than class A.

Concerning what sounds best, it's hard to say. A 1965 Fender Twin Reverb and a new Mesa Triple Rectifier are both class AB but sound completly different and both are way too loud for me! I have a slight preference for the class AB amps mainly due to the higher power giving a tighter sound in a band situation, but then again I used my Champenstein for years jamming with my buddies in my rec room and it worked just fine.

Mike D.
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