i want to build stuff , but i'm kind of scared

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and i lack a few bits of essential knowledge. stuff like buying and hooking up input/output transformers is intimidating. wiring jacks was confusing last time i tried it. i want to build a poweramp, man. maybe a passive preamp to go along with it. actually, i have this roland rq 200. it has six preamps. can i use that?
Then when it's time to get started in power amps, you should read some books on it, like Randy Slone's High Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual and Douglas Self's Audio Power Amplifier Design Handbook . These books don't really cover the basics, though. They go into more detail about amplifier design.
Good of you to join us Travis.
Let me add my two cents. First of all you sure understand exactly what you want. Do you want to be like a HPotter or HarryHaller on this forum or maybe jump in and then jump out by building a kit whether amp, preamp, or speakers.
To build equipment like HPotter or HarryHaller it will take years of training and money. But if you started with a complete or semi-complete kit things are much easier. Cause theirs really nothing like it when you putting a project togehter and you turn it on for the first time and it works. This will give you a feeling of sucess and you maybe will try a project a little more complex. Go to to the ASKA site and read Hugh design ideas or the ESP site or something a lot more complex (I think) Douglas Self or more simple (I think) The One and Only, Nelson Pass web site. Designers like it when you read their ideas and like it even more when you buy something of theirs.
Since Hugh and Nelson Pass cruise this forum all the time, I am should you could get exact instructions on how to accomplish your goals what ever they may be. Plus audioxpress can supply you will almost all Nelson Pass PCBs. And I love stuffing PCBs with silk screen cause I can jam to music and don't have to think too much only about getting the right part in the right hole and properly installed.
I'm going to get super electronic-smart. I'm already in the first EE class at the local community college. The first thing I need to build is a poweramp for my drum machine or computer. Wait, the first thing I need to do is wire my guitar back together because I unsoldered everthing without taking any notes on how it was setup before. I glued a bunch of foil to the inside. I need to go to radio shack to buy a new pot for the volume. I'm going to use that 'better volume control' i on the esp site that everyone here has been linking too. i was thinking a slider would be cooler to use than a rotating pot. I'm not putting the tone pot back on. I can't find a schematic for the big humbucker i put in the bridge position a while ago. it has like 5 wires coming out of it, but only the red one makes music come out, so i'm kind of reluctant to solder it back to the toggle switch without understanding it perfectly exactly. all this guitar stuff is off topic, isn't it? what's a good way to ground the inside of my guitar? i was thinking i'll just screw a screw in somewhere covenient and connect all the black wires to it.
Well don't forget to live. Cause you might end up like me, 45 years old, single, and living alone, have worked boring low tech electronics jobs for many years but making good money at it and spending it all on audio.
But maybe you could persuade some of your friends to join you in some DIY projects so high end audio can grow even more.
One of my friends brought a portable MP3 player and I won't let him in my house with it.
Hi Travis,

About your guitar wiring, checkout this website, there is quite a bit of info on wiring and shielding body cavities there that may interest you.


Don't worry about not taking notes, there are lots of websites with wiring diagrams for just about every commercially produced guitar out there. If you need a particular guitar wiring diagram, just do a google search on it.

I have wired/shielded numerous bass guitars in the last few years for a friend of mine who makes custom basses. My favorite shielding material is a dimpled copper RFI shielding tape made by 3M. The glue on this tape is conductive so you don't have to worry about maintaining an electrical connection from one piece to another (just overlap them). Since it's copper, you can easily solder a ground wire to it. Normally this stuff is pretty expensive ($30 a roll), by I lucked into a few cases cheap at an employee surplus gear auction.

You can use the aluminum metal tape from the Home Centers, but be aware the glue is not conductive and overlapping the tape doesn't make a solid connection. What I found works best with this tape is to use a center punch and make a series of dimples in the metal tape in the overlap areas. That makes a good mechanical and electrical connection between the different pieces of tape. Note: It is virtually impossible to solder a wire to the aluminum tape.

Comments about your educational ambitions. You will learn many useful facts and concepts in school about electronics, but you will learn very little about how actual commercially produced products are designed. The idea in schools is to give you the analytical skills to help you learn on the job. Unless you are very lucky, almost none of what you learn will be directed at audio gear.

To give you an example I am a BSEE and there was very little in my formal training that covered the fundemental design principles embodied in the typical solid state amp. We didn't even study the long tailed pair input topography (which is the most commonly used input design in op-amps). Needless to say things like Miller capacitance was never even mentioned. It is interesting now ready op-amp spec sheet that show the internal schematic of the op-amp. Since started studying audio design on my own (at places like this website), I now understand more about what is going on inside the op-amps.

I don't say these things to suggest you not go to school. Going to school for electronics is an extremely good idea that will help you get a meaningfull career in electronics. Just don't go in thinking that when you graduate you will be prepared to sit down and design a high power audio amp or any other complicated piece of equipment. The specific learning only really starts once you get out of school.

P.S. I strongly suggest you enroll in your schools co-op program. This is a great way to get real work experiance in your future field (along with some cash to help pay for school). Having some real world experiance can help you get more out of your classes. I know that my employer (along with many others) prefer to hire engineering students with co-op experiance over those with none.

Phil Ouellette
Senior Engineer
Mettler-Toledo, Inc.
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