The last few years have seen a great resurgence of all things DIY among musicians, including a burgeoning interest in building and maintaining their own sound systems and amplifiers. With more people then ever looking to make their own amps, there is a wealth of information available online. However, as a relatively niche interest, useful information is still disparate and invariably spread across many different sources and articles. Here is a look at just a few of the integral things to consider when building your own guitar amp.
There are numerous solutions for making an amplifier depending on your skill level, available budget and free time, among other factors. You can buy an amp kit containing all of the components and plans you’ll need, build an amp based off of an existing schematic, or design and build one entirely from scratch.
Each approach has its own advantages and drawbacks, depending on the time and knowledge required and the price of components. Nevertheless, there is a great degree of flexibility among the different solutions. For example, even if you opt for a kit, there are both solid state and vacuum tube options available from numerous sites and suppliers. If you want to build an amp based on an existing model, sites such as Electrical Fun are full of numerous links to amp schematics.
DIY amp kits vary greatly in price depending on their size and components. If you already have a strong working knowledge and are building an amp from scratch, the only real limitation is your budget. If you’re looking to compare the efficiency and value of different available components, such as laminate transformers versus toroidal transformers from various manufacturers such as Siga Transformers and others, there are numerous online forums full of subjective user experiences from similar enthusiasts to help you gain a better understanding.
As this article highlights, safety is critical during such an undertaking, and underestimating the risks can lead to serious injury or death. This advice goes double for tube amplifiers, which typically output a far greater voltage than their solid-state counterparts.
Always make sure everything is unplugged from the mains power before doing anything to the amp, and always remember to discharge the voltage filter caps when using tube setups.