Why not build a kit amp, save $$$ and get high quality?

Case24

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I have been reading some posts lately from guys looking at amp X vs ampY. They've got $500 to $700 to spend on a new amp. Then you'll get a response from someone who had one and it died, or they had to change the speaker, or the tubes or whatever to get a better tone...and then they don't like it and try to sell it or trade it in and they can only get half their money back.

My question is, why not build from a high quality kit, save some money and get the most incredible tone youu have ever heard?

I just finished a 5E3 Deluxe kit from Trinity Amps. This thing was easy to build (my first build, ever), balls of fun and will last a lifetime. I got the tone caps, filter caps, tubes and speaker that I wanted, built my own cab (and saved a bundle and learned something about my own abilities) and people look at you like you're a genious or something. If they only knew how easy it is.

All told, here is what it cost me:

5E3 kit (no tubes): $370
5 Sozo tone caps: $ 10
3 Sprague Atoms: $ 30
Weber 12A125A: $ 95 (got it on sale)
1 yard of tweed: $ 30
Wood: $ 18
Cabinet hardware: $ 56
Tubes: $13 (1 12AY7, I already had the other tubes)

Total: $622 + about $100 for various shipments.

Quite close to many folks targeted budget.

So, if you have a budget of about $700 and want to learn something about tube amps, why not build your own? I guarantee it will outlast anything mass produced. :)
 

Paragon

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True that. I am working on 3 amps from conversions. I believe the knowledge gained is worth the little money spent. I am reusing chassis and tubes so hopefully they won't get too expensive. All will be heads and I will make a single cabinet to hook them up.

I do see how a kit would be nice as I could have had it built already instead of figuring out the components especially when I have 3 going at the same time.. but imagine the money saved.

I'm going with 150s for the caps and going to stuff the can caps with electrolytics to save money. Should end up with 3 amps for less than your 1.. hopefully.
 

eddy999

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Building your own amp gives a great amount of satisfaction and excellent results (if you do a good job that is!) and building from a kit is a great way to get into amp building.

However - I don't think it's for everyone. There are lots of things that can go wrong technically, not to mention the safety aspects. Lots of people won't necessarily want to commit the time (or have the time to commit) to do a good job and read up on how not to get themselves killed! :)
 

arkamps

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Building your own amp gives a great amount of satisfaction and excellent results (if you do a good job that is!) and building from a kit is a great way to get into amp building.

However - I don't think it's for everyone. There are lots of things that can go wrong technically, not to mention the safety aspects. Lots of people won't necessarily want to commit the time (or have the time to commit) to do a good job and read up on how not to get themselves killed! :)

Tru Dat!!!!
 

Jakeislove

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Time is money, too. Even if someone is reasonably skilled at soldering and assembly they really haven't saved much money after taking a week or two assembling an amp. Amp makers probably don't clear very much after sourcing parts and assembly time.

I could totally see someone with a passion for building amps doing it but not simply to save money. If it's just about money there are plenty of good sounding, reliable amps in the $500 - $700 range OP mentioned. True, they may not all be perfectly suited to the typical bedroom player's needs.

Heck!! I don't even know if there's money in selling people kits. Especially since everyone would be lamenting how part X should cost whatever it does on Ebay.:)
 

Paragon

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When it is your spare time and you are not taking away from your work and building for yourself, then it is in fact free.. only when you could be working for a paycheck instead of building the amp then I would consider my time money. If I was to build for someone else, then that is a different story.
 

onioner

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Yah, I love the idea of building my own amps, and one of these days, when I can make the time, I'm gonna, but I gotta say, building an amp as a way to save money seems sort of silly. It aint that big of a dollar difference, and it's gonna take a whole ton of time, and it's not the sort of thing you wanna screw up. Cheers to all the folks who do it and all, but it aint for everyone, and there are certainly better ways to save a few hundred bucks.
 

Cygnus X1

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Great points all.
It isn't for everyone, but at the same time some people could benefit
from more than just saving a little money.
The education is worth the journey.
 

arkamps

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Great points all.
It isn't for everyone, but at the same time some people could benefit
from more than just saving a little money.
The education is worth the journey.

I think many people could benefit from building at least one simple kit amp, they could have a better grasp on what happens to your tone before reaching the speaker and have the bragging rights and or pride of having built your very own (and hopefully working) amplifier.

That is where quite a few builders got the bug before starting their own professional "hobby";)
 

pat 58

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i definitely want to build my own amp, also. i just need to decide on which one. right now i'm reading the book "the guitar amp handbook" i got for Xmas. good book, and i want to finish the book before deciding on anything. i know i will learn a lot.

i like to weld, and built my own woodsplitter. i didn't know anything about hydraulics, but i did when i was finished!
 

axslinger

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Most of the kits that I have looked at are extremely pricey, considering you're building the damned thing yourself. I've seen some 18 watt kits over a grand. That's just plain ridiculous. Show me a kit that comes in at $575 or less and sounds as good as a Tweaker and has the flexibility.

Kits are great if you're doing it as a project. But, in my opinion, if you're doing it to save money and expect to end up with a "vintage" or "boutique" amp, I just don't see it. Many of the kits don't include a cabinet (Weber kits), tubes, transformers, etc. By the time you get a complete amp. the price is as high or even higher than just buying an amp...

Just my 2 cents. I've looked at it from a savings stand point and I just don't see it.
 

LPV

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You did good case. My total after tax and shipping was 850.

I can only add that it's a great experience. But probably not for everyone.
 

Case24

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I guess I'm comparing it to buying a finished 5E3 from Victoria (~$1800) or Clark or some of the other known "boutique" brands vs what it cost me out of pocket. As someone said, my time was free. Also, compared to a Hot Rod Deluxe, etc., I think the tone is far better as is the quality. Besides, it's fun and a great learning experience. I know it's not for everyone, I was just putting this out for discussion. I know I've wasted far more money chasing tone from mass market makers only to be disapointed, but the driving force behind this build was not an attempt to save money.

Edit: Ya, LPV, I didn't include tax as it depends where you live. You can add another 13% here in tax gouging Ontario.
 

Cygnus X1

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The savings comes in having parts on hand, and closely sourcing parts.

True, nickles and dimes.

The good kits can be expensive, but as long as they are supplied with quality parts
then you end up with a hand built amp that shouldn't be compared to mass produced PCB type amps.
Compare them with equivalent boutique builds, and it is comparatively cheap.

Case, we posted nearly at the same time.
We both made the same point!

:D
 

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