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Diy metal amp head Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 2 weeks ago
  #1
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Diy metal amp head

Anybody here experience with building amp heads?

What does it take to make something with a metal tone, like a Randall Satan head or similar?

I'ts a long term project indeed. Costly, complicated, sweaty, deadly, basically life in a nutshell. So, let's do it!

Not sure on any specs, and frankly simply just after what works.

It's a noisy or low tolerance project I guess, but let's blow up some electrical fuses, shall we? Dont forget safety goggles!
Old 2 weeks ago
  #2
How much electronics experience do you have?

What kind of test equipment?

Are you looking at a kit or a scratch build?
Old 2 weeks ago
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
How much electronics experience do you have?
Only electric guitar modding :p
Just got my hands on some e-books about amps though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
What kind of test equipment?
Second to none. For now only a multimeter, but working on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Are you looking at a kit or a scratch build?
Not sure on any kit as a good starting point yet, tone-wise. Originally the idea was scratch build, but, sure, I can slap a kit in the mix.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #4
Gear Maniac
Given the extremely high voltages within a valve amp, they will kill you if you don't know what you are doing.

If you do decide to build something like a Satan/5150/Rectifier, then keep it simple with 1 channel. Once you get into channel switching and all those other fancy things that amps like the Dual Rectifiers do then you're adding a lot of complicated electronics.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku View Post
Given the extremely high voltages within a valve amp, they will kill you if you don't know what you are doing.
Indeed, happy fun times yo. You probably already know this detail, and luckily, I know the general rule of thumb too, one hand only, the other in pocket.
Before I even start, Electrical safety equipment will be bought first, like insulated gloves, and such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku View Post
If you do decide to build something like a Satan/5150/Rectifier, then keep it simple with 1 channel. Once you get into channel switching and all those other fancy things that amps like the Dual Rectifiers do then you're adding a lot of complicated electronics.
Ah, yes, I've should have mentioned that, and yes basic 1 channel that do one job, metal tone.
''Meshuggah - Behind The Sun (2:22 mins and out)'' Killer tone.
On-off, gain, volume, presence (grith grind sweep?), 3b-Eq. FX Loop would be nice too though.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by VirusAndSpamBin View Post
Only electric guitar modding :p
Just got my hands on some e-books about amps though.



Second to none. For now only a multimeter, but working on it.



Not sure on any kit as a good starting point yet, tone-wise. Originally the idea was scratch build, but, sure, I can slap a kit in the mix.
Don't do it. You could easily kill yourself, you don't have the necessary knowledge or equipment and reading "some e-books" isn't a substitute.

A kit would be marginally safer and would not require the same level of investment in equipment, as all the circuit debugging should already have been done, butr I know of no high gain metal amp kits.

To do what you're proposing would require a full test bench (oscilloscope, signal generator , true RMS reading voltmeter, high power dummy load, Variac, and AC ammeter at a minimum) and the knowledge of how to use it.

Most kit amps are relatively simple builds. A high gain metal amp is an entirely different ball of wax - the physical layout alone can cause real problems that can be extremely difficult to diagnose. Having certain components in too close proximity or running a wire in the wrong place can cause parasitic oscillations that can be really difficult to diagnose, even with a scope*. If you forget to discharge the power supply caps (or don't do it correctly) you can easily take a 500 volt shock with the amp unplugged, and if the path of current crosses your heart (like if you have both hands touching the amp) you're dead. I have many years of experience and I've still taken shocks that have literally knocked me across the room unconscious by being just slightly careless.

Incidentally, you can't do precision soldering wearing gloves, insulated or not. I don't know of ANY techs who work wearing gloves. Even if it was practical physically it wouldn'y be safe because it would give you a sense of false security, as an tiny puncture, rip, or solder burn on the glove would compromise the integrity of the insulation.

Don't do it.


* - there are good reasons why companies like Fender supplied layout diagrams in addition to schematics. I remember one amp that was a copy of a Twin Reverb**, built to the exact AB763 schematic using genuine Fender parts that the owner of a music store I worked at asked me to look at. The amp was putting out around 40 watts instead of the expected 88 and sounded horrible. I put it on the scope and there were ultrasonic parasitic oscillations hanging all over the waveform, which was oddly distorted in a not nice way. I opened it up and found that although the builder had used all the right parts and followed the schematic he had not followed the stock layout. To fix the amp would have required stripping it down to the bare chassis, constructing a proper circuit board with the correct layout, and rebuilding from scratch - several days work at least. I gave the boss my estimate and he told me to put it back in the basement.

And that's a Fender Twin Reverb, which is a relatively simple, low gain amp. As you increase the gain of a circuit the more critical good layout becomes. Designers often spend as much time on the layout as on the basic circuit design.

** - the amp was an early (probably prototype) Plush. One would have assumed that the builder should have known enough to attempt to follow the Fender layout but he didn't. Since Plush later went into production on some sort of commercial level I assume that he eventually learned his lesson but I don't know, as that is the only Plush I've ever had to work on. But maybe he didn't, since the company didn't last long.

Last edited by John Eppstein; 2 weeks ago at 07:58 PM..
Old 2 weeks ago
  #7
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Yes I do it. Mark my words. The e-books is one of the substitutes, and yes, it is stupid, which makes it brilliant if it works.
I am way above my head on this, and this is a dedication that I will probably die of. And that's what I want to spend years on.
I will never be enough aware of how close I be to the graveyard, no matter how many safety precautions I take.
But building a metal tone with brutal mids needs sacrifices. This will be a hell to balance. Chicken out doesn't cut it.
If I die, just smile, at least a motherfu''er tried. Let me be naive, and please treat this single thread as an amp-design-thought-experiment without consequences.
So, where to begin, eh?
I guess the wall socket is the first step. 230 V - 50 Hz AC

Please join me on this stupidity.
Old 2 weeks ago
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by VirusAndSpamBin View Post
Yes I do it. Mark my words. The e-books is one of the substitutes, and yes, it is stupid, which makes it brilliant if it works.
I am way above my head on this, and this is a dedication that I will probably die of. And that's what I want to spend years on.
I will never be enough aware of how close I be to the graveyard, no matter how many safety precautions I take.
But building a metal tone with brutal mids needs sacrifices. This will be a hell to balance. Chicken out doesn't cut it.
If I die, just smile, at least a motherfu''er tried. Let me be naive, and please treat this single thread as an amp-design-thought-experiment without consequences.
So, where to begin, eh?
I guess the wall socket is the first step. 230 V - 50 Hz AC

Please join me on this stupidity.
Where to start?

Get a Champ kit. After you build that, get something a bit more complex and progress from there. For the kind of thing you want to end up with get a full set of test gear and learn to use it, else you'll be playing "pin the tail on the donkey" in a dark room with a bunch of furniture in the way that sneaky bastards keep moving around on you. After you've built several kits of increasing complexity you'll have some experience under your belt and you'll know how to use your gear. At that point I'd get a 50 or 100 watt Marshall kit and start working on mods - much easier than trying to do it from scratch.

Most of the current high gain amps were developed by modding existing amps over time.

It will take some time
. Don't be in a hurry. It'll take at least a couple of years to get to the point where you're ready to start getting creative and that's being optimistic.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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Yeah that's the spirit!

Yes, patience is important, just very enthusiastic. Little is going to happen for a while, other than theory and LTspice.
Far from in in tune with all the formulas and components, so I'm dissecting an old tiny ss amp too.

After digesting the posts, searching and all that, I guess my best approach is tool-ing up and gather components and go straight to circuit testing, then after (insert) time, consider kit with mods, or maybe just go complete Frankenstein. Who knows?

I'm really looking forward to play with breadboards. Always wanted, but never had a goal. Now I do.
Cranked circuits. Solid state & tube stuff. And trust me, the challenge is out of this world, cause I Just found out Meshuggah's tone is mostly digital. I like fiddling with objects, not text. Wish me luck!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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Can you make a Vlog and let us see how this project goes?

Old 1 week ago
  #11
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Interesting...
Maybe
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Check these guys out: British Amp Kits

If you have no experience building electronics I would start with a simple circuit that can be modded later. Mojo tone offers JCM 800 style amps
that while not totally "Metal" can be modded to get some very high gain tones and as far as tube heads are concerned the 2204-2203 circuit is pretty simple.
Learn it first before you attempt some multi gain stage channel switching nightmare as your first amp. best of luck in your pursuit!
Old 1 week ago
  #13
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Its a big leap from guitar electronics to an amp...not to say you can't or shouldn't but would probably think smaller and study existing designs before getting too serious into it. For my own curiosity though, I feel like there's quite a lot of work that's been done already in this field, and though it would be interesting to have something to call my own, the likelihood that after putting all that time and effort in...could I do it any better? Probably not. But maybe the quest is the intent, not the end result.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
SLO clone! DO IT!

I know a few people who've built high gain metal amps, including myself. It's fun, it's dangerous, it's ridiculous.

Here's an SLO kit I found: C3Amps - ONetics Transformers & Soldano Chassis - O Netics

*blah blah blah... learn how to do it safely, blah blah blah*

Don't get a Marshall kit, it's not what you want. That is unless you want far too much treble.

Last edited by jonnybrell; 1 week ago at 01:01 PM.. Reason: blah blah safety
Old 1 week ago
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VirusAndSpamBin View Post
Interesting...
Maybe
That is kinda funny but it is also instructive in that the very first section shows that even 1.0 volts can really get your attention if resistance is low enough to allow appreciable current flow.

Effectively 0.10 Amps across your heart will kill you at ANY voltage. The only caveat is that it is easier for higher voltages to overcome common resistance across your heart The safest technique isn't insulated gloves. It's knowledge honed by experience.

Get an OScope, Signal Generator and a Variac for starters and a proper soldering station and build something like a Champ kit first, as John suggested, and be sure to stand on an insulating pad.. Then get a Pink Noise generator and a Spectrum Analyzer because for Metal you really need to see frequency response and get a feel for how different curves sound.

If you're dedicated and ambitious you might actually begin to realize the path to your dream in a year or two. Attempting any shortcuts won't likely end well.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
Gear Head
Go to AX84.com

Look through the P1eX documents, especially the theory docs and the build guide. This is a fantastic place to start and a LOT of us amp builders started there.

There is a fantastic forum there that is manned by extremely knowledgeable and patient people to help you.

And yes, I agree you really really should start with some sort of kit. A champ would be great but so would one of the MOD kit DIY kits. Maybe start on a stomp-box kit or two from Aion Electronics to build your soldering and troubleshooting skills. Trinityamps.com is also a great source of kits for any level of builder.

Now about high-gain amps... they are very difficult to get right. If your lead dress (how carefully and where you run your wires) and layout are soooo critical in getting it to not squeal like a banshee. They are for experienced builders only -lots of entry-level builders have tried to start here and ended up giving up on the whole idea altogether out of frustration. So if you want to do this, build a couple lower-gain amps first. If you could find a Marshall 18-watt Lite IIb kit somewhere, that would also be a great place to start - very nice sounding AC/DC-ish crunch - put a boost in front and they can scream. Then move up to something else with more gain, maybe sourcing your own parts this time or a Trinity 18W kit or JTM 45 kit... or whatever strikes your fancy... maybe a more traditional Fender-type circuit to use as an excellent pedal-platform amp. Once you get some experience the sky is the limit.

Yes, you do need to be concerned about the high voltages... yes they can kill you... BUT if you are careful and follow some common-sense practices you will be fine. Read AND FOLLOW all the warnings... they are NOT "lawyer-speak" they are very real rules to follow so you do not have a massive heart failure episode due to electrocution. If you follow them you will be just fine.

I am curious, what books did you get? There are some good books out there and then there are some real turkeys too.
Old 1 week ago
  #18
Gear Head
Oh and about equipment, I built about a half-dozen amps successfully before I ever bought an oscilloscope or a signal generator, and now I only really use them if I am repairing an amp or trying out some experimental design.

You DO need a good multimeter and soldering station... don't skimp on those but don't spend $300 on one either. Any amp kit with good documentation will be realistic about what you REALLY need and what you don't.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by Riku View Post
Once you get into channel switching and all those other fancy things that amps like the Dual Rectifiers do then you're adding a lot of complicated electronics.
Well, I agree in principle that you should absolutely start with single channel amps, but channel switching between two channels certainly does not involve adding "a lot of complicated electronics." Relay circuits are pretty simple beasts and you can even buy very nice PCB's that you just populate and wire-up.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by dpsbb View Post
Oh and about equipment, I built about a half-dozen amps successfully before I ever bought an oscilloscope or a signal generator, and now I only really use them if I am repairing an amp or trying out some experimental design.

You DO need a good multimeter and soldering station... don't skimp on those but don't spend $300 on one either. Any amp kit with good documentation will be realistic about what you REALLY need and what you don't.
Oh, REALLY?

I guess if you're building a Fender Champ clone or a copy of an Epi Valve Jr from a kit you can probably get away without a scope if the kit comes with well written instructions, but for anything more complex or advanced you can't, at least without being really unbelievably, win the Kentucky Derby level lucky, ESPECIALLY if your project involves high gain circuitry - because you simply can't tune a high gain circuit properly without a scope and signal generator.

It's like trying to send a rocket to the moon without owning a telescope.

Don't buy cheap, crappy test gear. The amount of wasted time and energy it will cost you isn't worth it.

Quote:


Edit:
By the way, I have a funny thing to share with you guys.
Frequently having a lot of the original units on my bech for repairs, plus a lot of units that I've owned/sold, you can't even imagine how many times you get to find a wrong value component in some random spot of the circuit which makes the pedal act strange compared to a completely "normal" sounding one.
The most surprising one was when I got a unit which had a larger value resistor on the wet path which made the chorus almost unpresent.. can't even believe how that pedal passed Roland's quality check and how no player ever complained about it trying to understand why their pedal wasn't chorusing
<snork>

Yeah, there's a lot of guys who work on gear and screw it up without even understanding why.

What makes you think that it was Roland who put the wrong resistor in there? in around half a century of working on audio electronics I really can't think of any units that had wrong components installed by the factory.

Wrong components installed by some bozo working on his own or his friend's gear is a different story.

Quote:
I guess that when a vintage enthusiast buys an old piece of gear some of his criticism about it gets inevitably lost due to the "magic" feel of the object itself
No. When I encounter such a situation I generally (and correctly) assume that a previous owner was an idiot and ask for portion of my money back to cover the required work.
Old 1 week ago
  #21
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
Oh, REALLY?

I guess if you're building a Fender Champ clone or a copy of an Epi Valve Jr from a kit you can probably get away without a scope if the kit comes with well written instructions, but for anything more complex or advanced you can't, at least without being really unbelievably, win the Kentucky Derby level lucky, ESPECIALLY if your project involves high gain circuitry - because you simply can't tune a high gain circuit properly without a scope and signal generator.

It's like trying to send a rocket to the moon without owning a telescope.

Don't buy cheap, crappy test gear. The amount of wasted time and energy it will cost you isn't worth it.

Yes, REALLY. I'm sorry but you are WAY off base on this. A scope is a luxury. Unless you are doing your own designs, you don't need one. Even still, it may make life a little easier but an absolute necessity? No way. They are fun to have and a great tool for doing repairs but for building off someone else's design, you do not need one. I have not done a single build where a scope saved my a$$. Not a single one. Come to think of it, I have not done a single tube amp repair that I could not have done without one. Was I really that lucky? I don't know, I have a studio full of tube amps that have never been probed. Friends have some of my builds... never seen a scope. More than a few of my amps get gigged on a regular basis... never seen a trace of them on a scope.

As far a signal generator, if you have a smart phone you have all the signal generator you will ever need.
Old 1 week ago
  #22
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Hey, back again, after some alcohol, and life evaluation drunk, ended up 2 days in hospital, done exactly Watt talked about not to do. Sorry for having a bit of a Shocking humor. I couldn't Resist Wire some up, just to get some Charge out of you guys. Sometimes it's fun to induce some Spark. What do you call a Russian electrician? Switchitonanov. Okay I gonna Ohm myself down now. Please don't tell me to Buzz off. I keep my feet on the Ground from now on. Let's not Transfom the topic and just Cap it to this. I know I twisted some Knobs to Amp you up, but I'm not trying to blow up Fuses on you guys. Just Choke your Filters a little. I hope I didn't create too much distortion.


Anyway, jokes aside.


Thanks for all help guys. You advices is valued and noted.
There's not much to say for now, things are going slow at home atm, but things do take shape, just have to finish organize and build some stuff to get a little workspace first, and money, then things will start to happen.
Old 1 week ago
  #23
Gear Head
I would highly recommend this as a first amp kit...
Amp Kit - MOD(R) Kits, MOD102+ guitar amp | Antique Electronic Supply
There is a non-US power supply version as well. Looks like you may need that.

You can see the full assembly guide here.... (take note of the "Tools" section for what you actually need to have to build this kit
https://www.modkitsdiy.com/sites/mod...05.9.18%5D.pdf


This is a great intro to amp building... point-to-point wiring, very simple single-ended design, excellent documentation, quality components, great price (at least great here in the USA).

A couple of discussion forums where you can get GREAT build support/advice are AX84.com and EL34World.com. I frequent them both. GS is not really the best place to get the best level of help on this subject.

Don't get sidetracked by all the calls to buy fancy (expensive) equipment... you really don't need it to start and most hobbyist builders never ever get that far. You DO need a nice soldering station with adjustable temp and a halfway decent multimeter, and of course your basic close-cut wire cutters/screwdrivers/etc.

The important thing is to have fun! This is a challenging and rewarding hobby! Start simple and work your way up. Just be forwarned... you may find yourself HIGHLY ADDICTED to building amps!
Old 1 week ago
  #24
js1
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If you're truly interested in guitar amp design, I can't recommend this book more highly: https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Tub.../dp/0956154522

This is a proper science/math textbook covering the theory and component level design of guitar amps up to and including the driver stage. Unlike other tube references (like my well worn RCA Receiving Tube Guide), it covers how to design to get the kind of distortion you're looking for, layout of high gain amps, effects loops, etc...
Old 6 days ago
  #25
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by js1 View Post
If you're truly interested in guitar amp design, I can't recommend this book more highly: https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Tub.../dp/0956154522

This is a proper science/math textbook covering the theory and component level design of guitar amps up to and including the driver stage. Unlike other tube references (like my well worn RCA Receiving Tube Guide), it covers how to design to get the kind of distortion you're looking for, layout of high gain amps, effects loops, etc...
I'll 2nd that. Fantastic book. Mine is worn-out.

Merlin is also a regular contributor to the AX84.com forums and answers most questions about his book directly there.

His website is chock-full of fantastic info as well and fills-in the gaps that his book leaves out, namely tube power amps, among other cool tidbits, but most of the other stuff is covered more in-depth by the book.
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