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Ampage Area Sooner or later you gotta plug into something. Discuss amps and related items here.

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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default I built me an Amp!

After building a bunch of great sounding BYOC pedals, I decided to tackle the Champlifier. Here's the starting pile from the BYOC website:



I like the turret board, but those turrets take a while to heat up with my iron due to the iron's small chisel point. I like it better than trying to jam six leads into a single eyelet though. Here's the included board:



Here are a couple of midway shots:





The instructions are fantastic. Only once was I frustrated - the last step had me soldering in a spot that was very hard to get to, but I persevered and overcame.

As others have noted, if you want to learn amp theory, this kit won't teach you that. This kit is like building a Lego set - if you follow instructions well, and know how to use the proper tools, you'll get the desired results. Just as building a Lego house won't teach you how to be an architect, this kit won't teach you to be an amp designer. For example, unless you know something about electronics (and trust me, I am no EE!), you'd never stop to think that an exposed wire or solder blob from the turret board might short out on the exposed chassis.

That doesn't mean that the kit is unsafe IMO. There are many warnings about voltage and electrocution at the proper points in the directions. I just think that an insulation layer was a better idea.

That said, I recommend that anyone who wonders why boutique amps cost so much money should build an amp kit. I love doing this stuff, and I have a fair amount of experience with a soldering iron. Still, this build took me the better part of a weekend to complete. Sure, I'm anal and like all the wires to be the right length and the labels on the components to show, but isn't that the kind of work we'd expect from a boutique builder? Sure, with more builds, my speed would increase, but I learned that hand-wiring an amp is a time consuming process. If I charged my normal consulting rate to build this amp, the end result, including components, would cost over $2,000! Cut that in half and it's still a boatload of money for a Champ.

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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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One of the things I don't like about the kit is that the back of the turret board is uninsulated from the chassis. I'd read this online while researching the kit, so I ordered a blank insulating card from Mojotone to use as a barrier, similar to the way my Bassman is built. I had to trim it to fit, and drill holes for the mounting screws, but it worked perfectly:




One other note - I ordered a different colored jewel for the lamp from Mojotone, but the threads don't match. I did not expect that, and I'm not sure why it's the case, but there you go.

Here's the final gut shot:




And here's the amp being tested on my non-conductive, flame-retardent garage floor.

Why isn't it in the cabinet? Because Mojotone still hasn't shipped my cabinet a month after I ordered it. They tell me it should ship this week, but I just couldn't wait to test it. Even open, on the floor, it sounds great! No sparks, no smoke - just great tone. I can't wait to hear it in a nice lacquered pine cab!

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Old February 26th, 2012, 10:45 PM   #3 (permalink)
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That's incredible GADify!! I would like to build one in the future. Looks like something you can take real pride in the fact when you play it you know you built it. I'm gonna bookmark this page. Thanks for the post.
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Old February 26th, 2012, 11:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JLoud View Post
That's incredible GADify!! I would like to build one in the future. Looks like something you can take real pride in the fact when you play it you know you built it. I'm gonna bookmark this page. Thanks for the post.
Thanks! I can't wait for the lacquered cab to come in! I'll definitely follow up with pics of that.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 02:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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GADify Hi, nice work.
You're right with your Lego thesis, I have no experience with elektronic and I've got build a Champ.
It was great fun and I'm working on my second.

Have you seen my Twin-Champ ?

http://www.gretsch-talk.com/forum/am...amp-210-a.html
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Old February 27th, 2012, 02:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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GADify Hi, nice work.
You're right with your Lego thesis, I have no experience with elektronic and I've got build a Champ.
It was great fun and I'm working on my second.

Have you seen my Twin-Champ ?

http://www.gretsch-talk.com/forum/am...amp-210-a.html
Whoa! Nice cab!
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Old February 27th, 2012, 03:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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And sounds amazing!
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Old February 27th, 2012, 03:20 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Nice work.

**Warning: Amp building is addictive**.

I modified a Ceriatone 5F1 kit into a Tweed Princeton with switchable tone stach and a boost switch. heres a pic of the cab

http://www.gretsch-talk.com/forum/am...princeton.html
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Old February 27th, 2012, 05:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey, nice work GAD! Sweet.
I'm collecting stuff now to build an amp too. Really looking forward to that.

BTW, did you check if all turrets are soldered properly? There seems to be some air in the one containing the two 68k resistors; you may want to double-check that one. (on the right of this pic).

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Old February 27th, 2012, 08:21 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Very cool! Don't forget to post photos of it in the new cabinet.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 11:17 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hey, nice work GAD! Sweet.
I'm collecting stuff now to build an amp too. Really looking forward to that.

BTW, did you check if all turrets are soldered properly? There seems to be some air in the one containing the two 68k resistors; you may want to double-check that one. (on the right of this pic).

Thanks - and I sure did. Many of the turrets get soldered from the bottom, including that one. Still, I hate that it looks different, so now that you pointed it out, I'll probably go back and fill it for that reason alone.

Thanks for the heads up!
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Old February 27th, 2012, 05:51 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Oh, OK. If it's sildered well from the bottom, there's no need to redo the work. The electrons aren't choosy.

Just wanted to have you check that point.
On the other Gretsch forum someone built a champ circuit, but forgot to solder three turrets. This led to all kinds of weirdness in his circuit.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 06:55 PM   #13 (permalink)
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So cool! Where can I get a kit?
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Old February 27th, 2012, 07:51 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
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So cool! Where can I get a kit?
Right here:

http://www.buildyourownclone.com/ampkitindex.html
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Old February 28th, 2012, 09:14 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Oh, OK. If it's sildered well from the bottom, there's no need to redo the work. The electrons aren't choosy.

Just wanted to have you check that point.
On the other Gretsch forum someone built a champ circuit, but forgot to solder three turrets. This led to all kinds of weirdness in his circuit.
No worries - I'd rather know now than chase ghosts later, so thanks for the head's up.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 06:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Finally got the cabinet and got it all put together. I scored a vintage looking badge on Ebay that says "Champ" in Fender-like script. Mounted it all, put the badge on, and started rocking.

It's a little dark sounding in the enclosure, but I hear that's normal. It's a GREAT sounding amp though. Even overdriven I'm impressed at how good it sounds.

I grew up around Fender black and silverface amps, and never dug them. When I got my '63 Bassman, I was blown away by the tone. This one makes me want a Tweed Deluxe. I'll definitely have to build that next!

The Mojotone cabinet is fabulous. Not a flaw on it. Worth every penny.

Here are some pics of the completed build:










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Old March 9th, 2012, 06:32 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Looks awesome, man. Congrats!
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Old March 9th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #18 (permalink)
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That's fabulous. I am fascinated at the idea that you can build your own vintage-spec amp. Ummm... what are the chances we can hear it?
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Old March 9th, 2012, 07:37 PM   #19 (permalink)
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That's fabulous. I am fascinated at the idea that you can build your own vintage-spec amp. Ummm... what are the chances we can hear it?
LOL - I'm getting asked that a lot.

I'll see what I can do.
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Old March 9th, 2012, 07:56 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTurner
That's fabulous. I am fascinated at the idea that you can build your own vintage-spec amp. Ummm... what are the chances we can hear it?
+1 on hearing it please

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