The Great Void
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Amp Building

I have always been interested in electronics. I read about the subject enough that I knew what the basic eletronic components were and what they did but I never pursued doing anything more with the information than a little home wiring and cable soldering. I decided I was finally going to do some electronics projects. At first I thought I would make a guitar effect pedal but then I decided I wanted to build my own amplifier. I'll admit thats ambitious but it's been going well although rather slow. Here I will document the process. I am fortunate in that I have a friend, Dave, who is an expert in electronics and is helping me every step of the way. I have also received some good advice from friends at work related to the electronics and the cabinet.

For my first project I decided to build an amp based off a classic Fender design, the 5e3 Tweed Deluxe. I am using a common modification changing it's power output from 15 watts @ 8 ohms to 30 watts @ 4 ohms for driving two 12" 8 ohm speakers, a Celestion Greenback and the other a more modern voiced JBL.

Here are the schematics and layout. 



(click on an image to enlarge)

I started by simply soldering the components to the turret board.

Then I soldered the leads to the turret board and attached the transformers and other parts to the chasis.


Then I decided to start on the speaker cabinet. I considered different joints; butt end, box, dovetail, and decided on box joint. I had never done one before but after doing a little homework I felt I could make a box joint jig and get a good result. Here is the jig and my first test cut with it and a Dado blade.



Now to work on the actual cabinet. I chose to make it out of pine so it wouldn't be too expensive if I messed it up. I consider this my prototype and may build one out of more expensive wood later. The baffle board is plywood. I used the Dado blade to slot the cabinet for the baffle board. This worked out really well. The part I worried about most was the speaker holes. For this I made a simple jig for my router out of a piece of plywood. It worked perfectly.    

Here is the full stack.


I had a little difficulty staining it. First I used Honey Oak which was a horrible bright yellow color. Then I went over it with Golden Oak which was a better color. It didn't really come out as even as I hoped it would and I will need to spend some time trying to get a good result.


I made some progress on the electronics. It's nearly done. Now I have to figure out how to bias it!



I tried fixing the stain job but the more I did the worse it got, and darker too. It's done and it's functional but it doesn't look quite as good as I had hoped.

Finally Finished!!!!

At least the electronics, and it sounds amazing! A second round of kudos to my friend Dave who helped me do some trouble shooting and who cleverly thought up a mod to make the amp extra quiet. Honestly I couldn't have done this project without him.

I still have work to do on the head cab as far as devising a way to mount the amp in it. I will probably redo it as it turned out lousy anyway. The speaker cab sounds tremendous. It is over sized but I think that adds to the sound quality and projection.



Here is a cheesy video demo. The audio is a pretty good representation.