Just finished my TubeDepot Tweed Deluxe kit build this morning. I LOVE it. Absolutely the sweetest sounding amp I have ever played. Great, great tone, just the right volume for my music room and recording, sounds great with both single coils and humbuckers, and has absolutely no hum or hiss with either. Exactly the sound and tone I have always wanted. My best guitar buddy just stopped by and played it, and left with a grin almost as wide as mine. I am taking a minute to send you this note, and then I am going right back to discovering what all is in there, sounds-wise.
This was my first big project. The kit was complete, and arrived very well packed the day after I ordered it, the directions complete and easy to follow. I built it “stock”, with the exception of using a JJ 5751 I stole out of my “vintagized” Pro Jr (which is now for sale... good little amp, but I know I will never plug it in again now with the Deluxe around...) in preamp 1, and three coats of clear satin MinWax poly. I didn’t want to change the color to orange, just a little protection for the tweed. Very impressed with the quality of the electronic parts, hardware, transformers, cabinet, the chassis, and especially ( and a little surprised, as I was considering a P12 or Cannabis Rex...) your choice of speaker.
Thanks for a great kit, and giving me the opportunity to play such a sweet sounding amp on my budget.
As always, customer service, and everyone I have talked to or corresponded with at TubeDepot was also top notch.
Finished for now. Started when I got some parts from a friend -Marshall 18 Watt Faceplates and a set of West 15 Watt Transformers. Got the rest of the parts from you and used your set and circuit.
Couple of mods:
1 - Used the EF86 mod, but added a rotary tone switch instead of the standard tone control. (like the EF86 circuit in a Matchless) Now I have both types of "english" sound.
2 - Added a Master Volume but stuck it in the 2nd speaker jack hole to preserve the 4 inputs. Works great and doesn't appear to affect the sound.
3 - moved the tremolo switch jack (the faceplates had both fuses on back) to where Marshall put it on their 18W re-issue, used shielded cable.
4 - added a choke and an octal based rectifier.
What a great project. As I've written before, your manual makes this the closest to an old-type Heathkit out there. Almost foolproof, follow the steps and it worked first time.
What is really nice is how quiet it is - if you follow your examples and directions. Just compair to how much information MOJO gives.
With everything all the way up - no noise from the tremolo channel and only some hiss (to be expected) from the EF86 - can't hear it at normal settings.
With some careful wiring and use of shielded cable, no RF noise on the inputs and no "thumping" by the tremolo channel when not being used.
You can't buy a better sounding amp for anything less than double the cost, and it is by far the easiest kit to work on. I have a set of Duncan Vintage Blues in my Es335 and if you want a classic sound - PAF's driving a vintage Marshall circuit, it doesn't get much better.
In fact, the Only noise I get that I can't get rid of is a "thump" when I turn the tremolo off. Surprising sound from a "small" amp, especially driving a pair of 12" speakers.
I've written about the tremolo off "thump" before and after some research and test I think in the end it was something the original circuit always had the potential to do. I suspect that with more modern tubes and components, it just is "touchy." With the change in capacitors and resistors used in your circuit, it just might be dependent on tubes and cables more than before. I suspect this is because Marshall hooked the switch to the first section of the oscillator and not the second so there is no capacitor to block any DC from the grid switching to ground. If you look at the Wilson "Dominator" circuit (rumored to be the inspiration for the 18Watt), or the VOX AC15, both of those amps have the tremolo switching circuit on the 2nd stage of the oscillator so that there was at least one capacitor on the grid circuit to block any DC. I know it is heresy but I think Marshall got it wrong.
Originally the footswitch was hardwired to the circuit and there are several long "threads' about the capacitance of the cable actually being part of the circuit, in fact the Marshall 18W re-issue has a capacitor wired to the switch jack that is added to the circuit when there is no cable attached. I'm not sure that using the Marshall circuit would work if the switch was added after C7. Since high value resistors (5Meg) are often used in capacitor switching, I'm going to wire one across the foot switch to see if that stops the "thump" when the tremolo is turned off. If it does, I'll wire it across the jack and it will work with either the footswitch or the control switch.
I completed the 5E3 Deluxe build and I wanted to let you know I'm very happy with it.
I really took my time and tried to do the best build that I could. The cabinet got a couple
of coats of shellac to give it an old school vibe. I changed C1 and C2 to .022uf to cut a little
low frequency response, I knew that I would be playing some humbucker guitars through it
and wanted them to sound good at higher gains...they do!
The amp really takes pedals well, right now I'm running a compressor and a tube screamer in and
I'm really getting great crunch out of my Les Paul, I'm looking for an analog delay pedal to add
that should be tasty.Of course I have the inputs jumped, the interaction
between the tone control and the jumped volume controls is very cool.
Well I could go on and on, the build went well, I called with one question and you came to the phone
and answered it for me, great customer service. I'll be looking to Tube Depot for my next build.
How about an analog delay kit?
What an awesome amp and a great project. I'm a little bummed it's finished...guess that means I'll just have to do another one. Between the printed instructions and video tutorials (including the "How to Solder" video), the amp went together without any major hiccups. Thanks for your help troubleshooting the few (self-inflicted) minor bugs I had to work through. The amp sounds great...and looks great. If anyone is on the fence about getting one...just do it...you'll be glad you did.
Hello Rob ...well you asked for it so here I am with the Deluxe. I enjoy playing as you might of guessed ...The Deluxe is by far the star of the show. I will be in touch soon for my next build, thinking real hard on the Classic British JTM45+ combo always wanted a JTM but around these parts they are too pricey and usually are in need of a cap job...so why not build a new one! Thanks again...
The kit is finished! Everything was OK, and it sound awesome! I include some photos of the Deluxe, and with the Champ I made from you months ago.
I had a little trouble with hum issues (more than desirable), but I realize that was the red cable that goes behind the PCB, only move away from OT cables and it fixed. The amp is very silence right now.
So, I'm going to play again this amazing amp. Thanks again Brian!
Just wanted to show off my new tubes I got from you. This is the k-16ls kit from S-5. I modded it with the twin tube rectifiers because if you build a tube amp you might as well go all tube. The amp is dead quiet now unlike the ss diode chip that came with it and the sound is eeeeeexcellent!
Dear Sir or Madam, I just wanted to let you know I received my Model 16LS Stereo AMP kit on Friday July 29. I assembled it that night and it works great! See the photo. The assembly took 5 hours to complete. It is 100% operational. Thank you! I will be ordering more from you in the future!
Here are some finished product photos of my amp. All in all I think it's a very good first try. The technical support and custumer service has been first rate. I like the way you make the kit instructions available on line. Reading them plus your assembly video gave me the confidence to try this. I probably never would have otherwise. Providing everything in the kit was also a factor. lYou seem to go very far out of your way to make sure beginners like me know what they are getting themselves into and are successful with their projects. I have already recommended you and your website to a friend.
Man everyday that I use this amp I find better ways to use it. I built the amp its own box so that I can use it as a head that I can plug into a speaker cabinet. When it is plugged into a cabinet it can stretch out and really show me what its capable of.
I built the box out of a Brazilian Mahogany, I didn't want a vinyl covered box.
I am a die-hard Les Paul player, but I do own a pieced together Stratocaster that I had put together out of a Mid 80's body with late 70's Pickups and other hardware. I like my strat but now that I have this amp it really lets that guitar show its tone and it still sounds great with my Les Paul.
I took some pictures of the finished amp, for you to see.
Thanks for making this kit so easy to build, but with quality parts and at a good price.
The Tube Depot Tweed Deluxe kit was the first tube amp I have built. I have been building FX pedals for a couple of years now, but I was always intimidated by the potential risks of dealing with high voltages present in tube amps. The Tube Depot kit and its incredible instructions really helped to alleviate some of those fears by walking the builder through the process step by step. The instructions were incredibly well written and easy to follow. There were a couple of occasions when I had additional questions that the instructions did not cover so I just sent an email to Rob H. and had my answer extremely quickly. I finished the build over the course of a long weekend and was beyond impressed with the results. It is a fantastic sounding amp at both bedroom and stage volumes. I've never owned a tube amp that was able to handle all of my dirt pedals so well which makes it ideal for an apartment dweller. On the few occasions I've had to actually crank it up I was blown away...the 6V6 breakup is sublime to my ears.
To make a long story short, the rest of my amps are now going to be listed on Craigslist :)
-Jeff F. | Greenville, SC - USA
Hi Rob - This amp really went together quickly although I did want to take my time and enjoy the experience. Its been many years since I've done close-in work with a soldering iron. It was lots of fun and I'm kinda sorry it's all finished. Four coats of spray shellac I put on the cabinet helps protect the finish. The Tweed Deluxe by Fender is still holding its value around here going for near the $2000 mark or more for the 're-release' and up to $3200 for older models.
Replacing v1 with a 12AY7 indeed really cleans up the sound. It is great experimenting with the variations between bright and normal channels and different gain guitar pickups, not to mention the variety in pre-amp tubes. I used "quick tabs" on the speaker cable to allow rapid experimentation with different speakers, too.
I replaced v1 with the JJ standard 12AX7 and quickly recorded a shuffle using a Strat into the Normal Channel; one single coil Cobalt and a humbucker in the bridge with slight drive and delay. Next I'm going to try the long plate JJ in both v1 and v2. I believe the Russian military tubes in the output section - 5881WXT - (they're about the size of a small blimp), can handle the higher gain pre-amp signal.
Very impressive how much the amp rejects 60Hz hum while using single coil PU's and overdrive. Far more quiet than any Fender that I can recall. I would recommend this amp to anyone over any of the amps in the Fender Hot Rod series, exceptional tone and seems to be a reliable workhorse.
Now if I can only find time to get out and show it off to some folks! It's not easy to find time to play now that the economy is coming back. You can bet I'll make some time now.
Thanks again for such a great kit and the tips!!
-Skip B. | San Francisco, CA - USA
I finished assembling the kit tweed deluxe, have been almost 30 hours. When I went to make the first on his advice, I thought, I have several problems, but I was amazed ... the amplifier and does not have noise, so I plugged the guitar and that's where it came my surprise, it sounds like angels.
It was a good buy (and buy the first time outside Spain).
-Jorge S. | Huelva - Spain
I really enjoyed building my Tweed Deluxe 5E3 amplifier... This endeavor was my first electronics project and I am completely satisfied with my final product. The build process was surprisingly straight forward, thanks to the comprehensive assembly manual and the informative YouTube videos. Whenever the assembly instructions were unclear, all it took was a quick phone call to the folks at TubeDepot to get things straightened out. I highly recommend this amplifier kit to anyone who has always wanted their own vintage tube-powered amplifier!
-Todd F. | Chicago, IL - USA
I must say that after playing it, it is one of the best sounding amps I have ever heard. My main amp for years now has been the Fender CyberTwin, but this Champ certainly fills any void. Congratulations.!!!
-John P. | Wilbraham, MA - USA
Awesome amp! The well written manual explained everything perfectly. The amp went together quickly with no problems and the finished amp sounds incredible. I'm ready for the next kit.
-Mitch B. | Memphis, TN - USA
just finished the kit... what a great little monster of tone!!!! This is my first tube amp full built and I don't know that much about electronics but fortunately everything went right at the first time.
Very clear and well explained step by step manual
again I tell you how positively impressed I am with the result. I'm wondering if is this addictive!?
But most important thing I built it myself!!!!!
Ok, you made a really simple and well explained step by step instruction file and that helped me a lot, and your kind support of course, I don't know mutch about electronics.
-Marco M. | Rome - Italy
I am a first time amp builder, and I couldn’t be happier with how this project turned out. The instructions were clear and easy to follow. I learned more about tube amps in the few days I worked on this project than I had in twenty years of playing prior. Most importantly, the amp sounds fantastic with a warm, rich tone only a tweed amp can offer.
-Joe M. | Owensboro, KY - USA
This kit was just plain fun to build! In the end I`d say I`ve learned a bit from building the L16 mono amp and the PL stereo preamp!
If you`re looking into building a pure tube amp this is it! I`m using my L16 amp as a guitar amp with a tiny vintage General Electric preamp as first gain stage. I wired the preamp point to point. Also great customer service from the TubeDepot team. Thanks guys!
-Frank B. | Bergen, Hordaland - Norway
My K12M kit was built with some modifications, and was given a beautiful chassis of wood.
The electronics were modified. I removed the global feedback and the input pots. The input pots were replaced with 2k fixed resistors (opamp preamps will handle
this just fine) and the output pentode long tail pair resistors were replaced with LM317 current sources. The low input resistance was necessary to keep the amp from oscillating, which it also did with the factory wiring with the pots set to maximum. The result was a drop in distortion from over 1% to 0.23% just below the clipping point of 5W, and no oscillation.
A small DC fan was also added to keep the transformers cool; the fan was set to a lower voltage than specified to keep the noise below the audibility threshold at a distance. The line connection
to the power supply is thermostatically controlled with a passive reed switch-like device in case the fan fails.
The chassis was made of solid mahogany (recycled from a commercial dumpster), so the wood grain can be seen over every edge. The transformers were covered with wood also. The cover is made of bloodwood on top (which is slotted for
ventilation), figured redwood on the sides, and manzanita root burl on the edges. I collected the manzanita myself from the wild. The chassis is worth far more than the electronics! Tubes are a work of art, so the wood is right in line.
-Ken R. | California - USA
Here are some pictures of my k12m Stereo Tube Amplifier Kit. I made the base from dark smoke 1/4" plexiglass, the top and bottom were made from 1/16" brushed aluminum stock and the protection posts are polished brass spacers (image 1). Later I made some modifications to solve 2 problems (image 2). Problem #1 was the heat radiated to the top plate by the tubes made the inside of the case hot!, also the transformers were being overheated, as well as the bottom of my turntable's glass shelf.
I raised the top panel 3/16" with rubber grommets at the 4 mounting screws, I also punched four 1/2" holes on the bottom plate in order to create a convection cooling system (the heat raising from the top plate draws cool air from the bottom through the the holes on the bottom plate) to keep the PC boards and the components inside the case Cool. I also added a right angle heat deflection plate between the transformers an the tubes, the vertical backplate has a plate of copper spaced from the aluminum by two 1/4" spacers, this modification also fix problem #2, (shielded the tubes from the electromagnetic field of the transformers inducing 60 Hz hum).
The amp performs very good with my home made tube phono preamp and my Project turntable. I am glad that someone created this affordable tube amp kit that works as good or better than other tube amps costing 10 to 20 times more $$$$$.
-Carlos O. | Montebello, CA - USA
My DIY-K12m Stereo Tube Amplifier has been in continuous use for 12 hours a day since I built it 3 years ago. I wanted a vintage style amp to complement my mid-century decor, so I custom designed my box and featured the tubes. It was a real pleasure working on it, and simple to put together. The amp is a great conversation piece and sounds great!
-Fred G. | Capistrano Beach, CA - USA
This is one of the kits I built. So far 3 unit where built in this fashion, and have orders for 2 more. This unit has all the updates, Solen caps and dc filament, small choke in the power-supply, sub woofer output. Owners of thousand dollar units are the ones that are placing orders for this amp, after hearing the sound knocked them off their feet.
-Steve V. | Miami, FL - USA
For maximum performance and longevity, vacuum tubes should always be stored and transported in a safe and secure fashion. The TubeCube and the TubeCube Pro provide a customizable shock-resistant environment for your tubes and helps prevent them from becoming microphonic or damaged.
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