building your own amp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Atef, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. is it possible, if you have the skills, and the schematics?

    My birthday is closing, and my parents haven't got any idea what to buy for me, and knowing that my father has some good skills with electronics(studied it for a year or two) I'm curious if it is possible to build a tube amp from scratch based on schematics, AND if it would save on costs.

    I know cabbuilding won't save you a lot of dough. But let's say I decided to use schematics for a marshall tube bass amp that they don't build anymore. How much would it cost me, of course just the tubes would set me back a bit, but the rest, what would be a good estimate?(we have all the tools needed already, so just components..?)

    And is it legal to copy the schematics and build your own amp based on these?

    if anyone could chime in on these issues..?
  2. utopia_imminent


    Jun 19, 2004
    i guess finding the parts are the hardest. and, if i were you, i would rather remake one of the lengendary Ampeg amps. sweet tone.
  3. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Searching and sourcing the parts would be tough. Try a kit, there are some out there.
  4. fretlessrock

    fretlessrock Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    If you can follow a schematic, excercise safe procedures around high voltages, solder, do the assembly and fabrication... then you shouldn't have too much of a problem with a bass amp. You could look at places like Mojotone or Torres

    There aren't too many sources for this kind of stuff but you can find chassis, pots, tubes and sockets, transformers, etc,, from a lot of sources. When you get into building something like a SVT or an Orange, then you will be looking at something like $1000 and up in parts alone. I know it sounds like an exaggeration but when you start pricing those big transformers, tubes, and tone stack components it starts to add up fast.

    You could build a preamp for a lot less money if you were looking for something like that.

    And as long as you aren't selling a copyrighted design you are in no trouble with the patent police.
  5. Lots of people buid their own guitar amps. It's certainly possible to build your own high-powered bass amp, but not cost-effective IMHO.

    The two biggest expenditures will be the power and output transformers. Probably around $300 each for something that'll handle six or eight 6550's. Then let's see... a steel chassis...that's close to $100 there. Potentiometers and knobs, they're not cheap either, for good ones. And unless you build point-to-point, how about making your own PC board? (Possible, but a few more dollars for parts). Then of course tube sockets and tubes, and high-voltage electrolytic'll probably have at least $75 in electrolytics by the time you're done.

    Want it to look decent? You'll need to have some sort of nameplate on the front, gotta label each of the controls somehow. There's companies that'll make you a custom-made faceplate for about $50 or $75.

    So by the time it's all said and done, just the parts will cost you $1000 or more. Is the time you spend on this amp "free"??

    Then there's the fun part of trying to debug it--even experienced amp builders encounter problems with hum or oscillation. (Don't want to blow up your high-dollar output transformer!!)

    I'd definately recommend building a small preamp or a small guitar tube amp, it's a great learning experience. But IMHO it won't save any money trying to build a big bass amp.

    Now, once you build three or four small tube amps, maybe you might want to build your own big amp, just for the pride factor of building your own "boutique amp"....
  6. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    If you have the skills you don't necessarily need a schematic for someone else's designs, but odds are you'd have plenty kicking around by the time you've developed those skills. :cool:

    Take a look around Ampage( for plenty of DIY info and see how your skill level stacks up. You almost certainly won't save any money unless you have a big parts stash to begin with, but don't let that stop you from diving in if you're so inclined.

    Another good source for chassis, cabs, etc., is London Power in Canada sells some kit stuff for small bass amps, IIRC. BTW, Torres is pretty controversial in the amp tech community, but draw your own conclusions after thorough research.

    Nashvillebill's estimate is in the ballpark, but a 100 watter would run a good bit less. I think that would still be around a grand (plus time) if you get a nice cab and heavy duty chassis. That's in the US, no idea what parts cost in Europe. Consider buying an old Fender Bassman and tweaking it to your liking. That's an easy amp to work on, relatively speaking, and you'll learn a lot. Or if you can find a Fender Super Twin, put it out of its misery and make it into a keWl bass amp.

    Best of luck, and stay safe.