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Thread: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

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    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    I want to build one of those amp kits that come with chassis and that you handwire yourself.

    Problem is: these are all placed in the "family tree of amps", all routed to some early Fender or Marshall design and I just don't understand all the lingo.

    I already have a JMP 50W Marshall, so I would like to have something for clean, Fenderish. I always had a thing for the 4x10 models (although I would probably build a head and buy a cab).

    Any recommendations where to start learning?

    Any idea what kits are good?

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    John Mayer's Mankini ImmortalSix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    I have heard a great deal of praise for the Ceriatone amp kits. Forum bro marinblues and doveman have them, I believe, maybe shoot them a PM, or ask on TGP about them.

    They've got 8 American amp kits

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    John Mayer's Mankini ImmortalSix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Weber kits also get very solid reviews from what I've seen online. I don't own one, or any kit amps, so this is just web-wheelin.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Fresh_Start's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Dave Allen offers high quality kits and I hear that his support is excellent: http://www.allenamps.com/index.php Several of his amps are updated versions of Blackface Fender classics. Great transformers too - and that makes a big difference in the end result IMHO.

    Chip
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    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Thanks guys.

    Where do I find a "code table" that explains which buzzword these new names on the builder's site indicate. Aka how do I find out which Fender/Marshall/Vox amp a certain kits models?

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    Electron Herder glassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Quote Originally Posted by uOpt View Post
    Thanks guys.

    Where do I find a "code table" that explains which buzzword these new names on the builder's site indicate. Aka how do I find out which Fender/Marshall/Vox amp a certain kits models?
    I believe the Weber kits come right out and tell you what they are modeled after. Thier kits seem to be exact reproductions of popular models.

    Jerry

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    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Can't see it.

    I also miss the basic "amp family tree" in the first place. I guess I'll be in for some googleing.

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    Electron Herder glassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Yeah, it isn't as straight forward as I aasumed. Weber's "6A40" kit is a Blackface Super Reverb clone in head or combo form while the "6G16" seems about the same with the exception of a Brown/Blonde tone stack and a Brown/Blonde era trem (no reverb).

    Tons of options...maybe too many.

    What are you looking for specifically...maybe the forum could be more helpful approaching it from that angle.
    Last edited by glassman; 08-04-2009 at 10:36 AM.

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    LoveMachineologist jeremy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    i would go with a bf super reverb type head. 40w and beautiful clean tones at 4 on the volume which depending on your speaker choices should keep up with your 50w marshall

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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Quote Originally Posted by glassman View Post
    Yeah, it isn't as straight forward as I aasumed. Weber's "6A40" kit is a Blackface Super Reverb clone in head or combo form while the "6G16" seems about the same with the exception of a Brown/Blonde tone stack and a Brown/Blonde era trem (no reverb).

    Tons of options...maybe too many.

    What are you looking for specifically...maybe the forum could be more helpful approaching it from that angle.
    Maybe there's a book that lists the classic amp types, just the basic schematics?

    It has been a long time since I went through many amps in a shop.

    What I like is bright but not harsh, rather silky highs. An even sound with no particular EQ bumps. A complex sound that has things happening as opposed to hi-fi sounds. I have always been drawn to 4x10 amps for cleans although I have no recollection which models specifically I tested other than "it was a Fender".

    Keep in mind I feed them with pretty bright guitars so the important part is that the amp makes the treble silky, it doesn't have to come up with the treble on it's own.

    I prefer some compression so that full chords don't get too jumpy. When I played actively the only clean amp I had access to was a JC120, and I can't really use that without a compressor pedal. The tube amps will of course be naturally better but between tube schematics than even things out and more dynamic amps I probably pick the former.

    I'll do some hands-on testing but a first orientation would be good.

    On and I liked the original Super Champ. Still biting my ass for not getting it when I traded in my LPC and got two guitars when I could have gotten the Blazer and the Champ . I'd probably still play that combo today instead of trolling for amp kits

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    Electron Herder glassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Quote Originally Posted by uOpt View Post
    Maybe there's a book that lists the classic amp types, just the basic schematics?

    It has been a long time since I went through many amps in a shop.

    What I like is bright but not harsh, rather silky highs. An even sound with no particular EQ bumps. A complex sound that has things happening as opposed to hi-fi sounds. I have always been drawn to 4x10 amps for cleans although I have no recollection which models specifically I tested other than "it was a Fender".

    Keep in mind I feed them with pretty bright guitars so the important part is that the amp makes the treble silky, it doesn't have to come up with the treble on it's own.

    I prefer some compression so that full chords don't get too jumpy. When I played actively the only clean amp I had access to was a JC120, and I can't really use that without a compressor pedal. The tube amps will of course be naturally better but between tube schematics than even things out and more dynamic amps I probably pick the former.

    I'll do some hands-on testing but a first orientation would be good.

    On and I liked the original Super Champ. Still biting my ass for not getting it when I traded in my LPC and got two guitars when I could have gotten the Blazer and the Champ . I'd probably still play that combo today instead of trolling for amp kits
    Any of Aspen Pittman's books have those schematics as well as Gerald Weber's "A Desktop Guide to Hip Vintage Guitar Amps" The latter goes into some pretty detailed descriptions of tone.

    It sounds as though a Super Reverb may be just the ticket for you, as Jeremy suggested. You may need to still run a compressor in front of it as they can be a very dynamic amp...it depends on how much compression you are looking for. The top end can be made to be silky as you are wanting with either tube selection (less effective) or a few internal mods (more effective)...easy to do since you are building it.

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    Something Cool uOpt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Good.

    I really appreciate your help.

    Last question: do you guys think that a combo is noticeably different? With pickups I strongly believe that the "shaking" in the loose mount does a lot to the sound. If you told me that the speakers rattling the amp's cage do an audible thing I wouldn't be surprised.

    On the other hand, I probably want to buy speakers from other sources and I might want to experiment with cabinet details.

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    Electron Herder glassman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Quote Originally Posted by uOpt View Post
    Good.

    I really appreciate your help.

    Last question: do you guys think that a combo is noticeably different? With pickups I strongly believe that the "shaking" in the loose mount does a lot to the sound. If you told me that the speakers rattling the amp's cage do an audible thing I wouldn't be surprised.

    On the other hand, I probably want to buy speakers from other sources and I might want to experiment with cabinet details.
    To a limited degree...maybe. A microphonic tube will be aggravated by a combo before it will in a head. The main difference I see is the difference between open and closed back enclosures. I think a head with a separate, convertable cab will prove to be the most flexible option for you.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Fresh_Start's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Since you asked for Fenderish in your original post, the Fender Amp Field Guide may be useful. It includes schematics, controls, tubes, etc. SchematicHeaven.com has all kinds of schematics.

    Dave Allen's Old Flame is based on a Super Reverb and availabe as a head or a combo. (look at the "topology" section of the description to find the starting point for his amps) No, I don't work there - just have heard consistently good things about the kits and really like his transformers.

    Ceriatone also has a good reputation, especially for Marshall kits. Their only Fender clones are from the Tweed era (1950s) - great tone but not "clean".

    The AMAGE forum is a great resource. The Hoffman Amps forum is really good but not for beginners. AX84.com has complete amp designs with schematics, layouts, a great forum and you can buy kits from the sponsor Doberman Music Products. There are also some really good basic articles in there if you poke around. The Valve Wizard site is really cool if a bit technical for starters.

    I've got to tell you that starting with something simple like a Tweed Champ (5E1), Tweed Princeton (5F2-A), Tweed Deluxe (5E3), or a single-ended amp from AX84 would be a whole lot better learning experience than jumping in the deep end with a Super Reverb type build. I've just finished the initial testing and am starting to tweak a Super Reverb clone - it's my fourth build (if you don't count re-building the first 5F2-A a couple of times). If you're going with a build that complex, I'd encourage you to go with a kit that has GREAT support.

    Hope this helps. Please don't think I'm trying to discourage you. It's a great kick to start making music out of an amp which you built yourself.

    Chip

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker James Rock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    THe Ceritone kits are kinda easy to figure out most of them are tweed amps but there is also a blackface deluxe i think.
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    If you're after amp schematics and stumbled upon THIS the other day.
    It's a valve sporker... it sporks valves

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    John Mayer's Mankini ImmortalSix's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Quote Originally Posted by James Rock View Post
    THe Ceritone kits are kinda easy to figure out most of them are tweed amps but there is also a blackface deluxe i think.


    See attached, copied from Ceriatone's website.

    They have 19 Marshall clones, 8 Fender Clones, 7 Dumble clones, 3 Trainwreck clones, 3 Matchless clones, and several of their own designs.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ceriatone.jpg  

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    Super Toneologist MojoMonster's Avatar
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    I second Fresh_Start's suggestion of starting small and working up.
    A couple of years ago I built the Princeton-influenced Class A amp David Hunter designed in the back of his book, The Guitar Amp Handbook.
    I'm moderately skilled with a soldering iron and it was a lot of fun.
    Very simple circuit and an excellent little amp.

    I also vote for the convertible 212 cabinet approach. Very flexible.

    If you're just looking for a bedroom/studio amp with Fenderish cleans and not something you can rely on night-in and night-out gigging, then almost any of the kits people have listed will do the job. (I'm not saying you *can't* rely on a hand-built for this, but more that, IMO, that kind of reliability depends on component quality, amp building knowledge and skill.)
    Ceriatone seems to hit the sweet spot between value and cost, IMO.

    Hoffman is a great resource. I got my turrets and board from there.
    You might also want to look into ZoSo caps. Very nice.
    Most everything else came from Weber, IIRC.

    The main thing to remember is to use quality parts for the transformers and caps.

    That all said, I'd definitely recommend the David Hunter book and that Fender Amp Field Guide site.

    Have fun.
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    I'd suggest you do a little reading up ... I've read a lot of amp books, but I'd recommend Dave Hunter's as one that has a very good analysis of circuits, and what makes amps tick.

    I also agree that a Champ or tweed Deluxe is a better starting point, and they are both great sounding amps, which you can enjoy while your planning your next build.
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    Default Re: Boutique amps, kits and amp families

    Try Celtic Amplifiers

    Scott Fritzpatrick makes several guitar amps.
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