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previous: Joe Fuzz Yeah, you may have a point. -- 4/13/2000 9:24 PM View Thread

Re: Amp kits

4/17/2000 9:59 PM
Re: Amp kits
I think that this is a really tough issue because of the state of the instrument amp market. Most amps you can get under $1K at Guitar Center or whatnot are not very well built or designed from a performance or maintenance standpoint. They work, though, and they sound okay, and if you're only playing in the basement or garage they tend to survive fairly well. If these amps are acceptable to the user, there is no reason to look for anything else.  
If a musician has sonic needs outside of the normal production models, he'll usually have an older amp modified. This is one he or she already owns, typically a handwired (CBS) Fender or a JCM-800 or earlier Marshall. These amps are readily available, durable, generally reliable, and are pretty easy to modify. A musician who just wants a good sounding amp that'll last with a little TLC will also tend to go this route.  
Boutique amps are for those with enough idle cash that they don't say ouch paying for them or tone freak pro players who *need* the best to be happy. All sorts of design philosophies exist in this segment. Almost anything at least twenty people in the world would want is probably available at least as a custom option. Design or component purity tend to be at least up to expectations on these. They cost largely in labor and the lack of economy of scale, but they can still be profitable to the manufacturer because they are recognizably superior to run of the mill amps in some respect.  
Building from scratch or from kits is a small segment of the amp market. Most people cannot be bothered to learn about the electronics or hunt down NOS tubes or the right value capacitors. There is no economy of scale at work, and you can only save money if you think that McDonalds would offer great money for your skills. Some people enjoy the hobby or find it therepeautic, however, *this isn't the way to go to save money*. If you pull good money with you day job, a Victoria or Dr. Z is more of a bargain. The only reasons to do this, other than fun, are if you are a tweaker and need to fine tune your amp to you guitar or playing style, or if your dream amp simply isn't available, or if you need something you know how to fix yourself if you have a tube fail in Outer Mongolia.  
The Allen kits are not that badly priced for having quality parts and no real mass market. I think they are a good deal, if that is what you want to build. I wouldn't trust Torres kits, just because his knowledge is so demonstrably shakey I wouldn't trust anything with his name on it. There are many folks selling parts, and many resources who will tell you what you need to assemble a given amp. But if you aren't building a tweedish circuit or an Allen kit, there isn't much out there. Hopefully between Obsolete Electronics and Weber VST there might be an almost complete set of parts for a Plexi Marshall copy, but it's all pretty much the traditional designs. Just remembered: you can get transformers wound specially for the AX-84 project.  
Not at all good news, but that pretty much is the only way I can answer your question. The real question for someone who wants to build a different amp might be whether there is a book out for designing amps from scratch. I haven't seen it and I want to. I can distill information from all the other books, but I still want some guiding principles. I'm not able to just flip through the Radiotron Designer's Handbook 4 and design an amp on the spot.  
I'll shut up now and play my guitar  

Joe Fuzz jp,Thanks for the e... -- 4/19/2000 8:59 PM