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Which guitarist doesn’t dream of a well-preserved Fender amp from the early ’60s? These amplifiers are rightly considered the “holy grail” among guitar amplifiers. Unfortunately, only a few people are lucky enough to own such a treasure. Many manufacturers offer high-quality tube amplifiers, but newer models often lack the charm and feeling of the “old days.” It’s no wonder that more and more guitarists are considering assembling their own tube amp kit. The only catch: a DIY tube amp kit is not for beginners! Today, we’ll look at the challenges that come with a DIY amplifier kit. We’ll also reveal alternatives for those who don’t feel confident assembling it themselves.
Tube Amp kit – what is it exactly?
The idea of designing a tube amp according to one’s own preferences is not new. Many of today’s iconic amplifiers originated from such projects. However, when assembling the components, many principles must be considered. The selection of electronics and the interaction of components quickly lead to DIY dead ends.
To make life easier for ambitious tinkerers and facilitate their entry into amp construction, TAD has developed popular tube amp kits. These kits replicate and reinterpret iconic ampmodels from major names in the business, such as Fender and Marshall, down to the smallest detail. The TAD tube amp kits offer a modern redesign of these classics, and the kit composition is highly individual, ranging from the amp alone to a complete combo with a speaker, amplifier cabinet, and stylish Tolex covering.
Assembly of a tube amp kit – what is needed?
To build a sonorous valve amp from the assembled component kits, musically inclined hobbyists need more than just tools and experience in handling tubes; they also need patience and tranquility. Here are the key aspects for building an amplifier kit:
Let’s start with the obvious: building an amp kit requires high-quality and sometimes specialized tools. Our list includes the essential tools, and depending on the project, additional equipment may be necessary:
- Wrenches and screwdrivers in various sizes (including precision tools!)
- Pliers and wire strippers
- A soldering iron/soldering station, including a “third hand” and necessary accessories
- Electronic measuring devices/testers
- Small parts, tape, etc., as needed
Assembling a valve amp from an amplifier kit requires space. The accessory parts must be neatly sorted, and the work environment should be as dust-free and dry as possible – otherwise, the project could fail from the start.
We recommend blocking off the work area for the duration of the project – especially in the semi-assembled state, the delicate technology is too unprotected, and fine connections or components can be damaged, making assembling and disassembling the workspace nonsensical.
Patience, Time, and Tranquility
A tube amplifier kit is a real challenge – guitar amplifiers consist of countless components, small connections, fiddly parts… If reading these lines already makes your fingers sweaty, you might want to reconsider attempting to build a tube amplifier kit. Even experienced electrical technicians require full concentration and dedication for a tube amplifier kit.
Musicians often fail to complete tube amplifiers in DIY projects. Building a valve amplifier kit entirely in the DIY process brings its fair share of setbacks. Constant adjustments are necessary, re-measuring, re-soldering, and rewiring. Our readers surely understand what we mean: In calmness, especially in amp construction, lies strength!
Blackface 40 reverb tube amp kit – a portrait
Over the years, TAD has developed a whole portfolio of kits for self-building tube amplifiers. Our kits include all the necessary components, tubes, cables, and switches. To fully grasp the extent of such an amplifier kit, let’s take a closer look at the Blackface 40 Reverb tube amp kit as an example.
Attention Stevie Ray Vaughan fans! With the legendary Fender 1×15 Vibroverb, which was only built for a short time, the Americans shaped the sound of the guitar legend and made a name for themselves with brilliant leads and soft, breathy passages. Due to the short production time, the original Fender guitar amplifiers are now hard to find. The kit from our range is closely based on the original and has been developed.
With a power of 40 watts, driven by 4x 7025 or 12AX7A/ECC83 tubes, 2x ECC81/12AT7 tubes, and 2x 6L6GC tubes with a GZ34 rectifier tube in the power amp, the Blackface 40 Reverb is a real powerhouse, mirroring the original down to the tube. But what exactly does the amplifier kit look like?
In the basic version, TAD provides the enthusiastic DIY guitarist with the pure kit, without a housing and without an appropriate speaker. In the K-BFVV-H version, a top cabinet is included. In the K-BFVV-210-SP version, everything is included in the package: kit, housing, speaker, and, of course, all accessories. All components in the tube amp kit are perfectly matched and come from TAD’s product range – including CTS pots, TAD Premium Selected tubes, cloth wire, and more! However, if all these components seem a bit challenging, there is another option: the pre-built guitar amplifiers based on the amplifier kit!
Pre-built Amps from the Shop – An Alternative for Musicians
The challenges and difficulties that can arise in a DIY amplifier project are undeniable. So that even less experienced tinkerers can enjoy the excellent Tube Amps from the tube amplifier self-build kits, TAD offers the tube amplifier kit as pre-built guitar amplifiers. Precision, expertise, and a wealth of experience go into building these amplifier kits. The result is guitar amplifiers that stand out from modern off-the-shelf amplifiers due to their authentic construction and hand-wired electronics.
The amplifiers that emerge from TAD kits distinguish themselves through their authentic construction and hand-wired electronics, clearly setting them apart from modern off-the-shelf amplifiers.
Jensen speakers, TAD Premium Selected tubes, and the high-quality (made in the USA) housing are offered at a fair price. So, for those who do not feel confident in building an amplifier kit themselves or lack the necessary tools and patience, the pre-built sets provide a genuine alternative!
Amplifier Kit or Pre-built Tube Amp – Conclusion
There are two ways to achieve the sound, charm, and feel of the original tube amps from the ’50s or ’60s:
- Acquire a functional, well-preserved original or get as close to the original as possible using the original blueprints!
- With a tube amplifier kit for self-assembly, assembling the right components is done quickly. The dream of a self-built guitar amplifier can come true. Building an amplifier kit completely on your own requires expertise, tools, and a lot of patience – if you don’t trust yourself to assemble such a kit but still want to own a guitar amplifier in the style of the old days, you can fulfill that dream with a pre-built amplifier kit from TAD.
Whether DIY or pre-built: Tube amplifiers from self-build kits make a wonderful impression and are perfect for all tube enthusiasts!
Man soldering in a professional environment: © Fractal Pictures – stock.adobe.com
1965 Fender Twin Reverb Blonde: By Paulus 2 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84833303