Circle 'Round the Sun

Do It Yourself Tube Amplifiers

Weber 5C5 Pro

This is the first Weber kit that I have completed. I chose this kit because it was simple, nearly as simple as a 5E3, but different. I liked the potential of the 6SL7 input stage and the cathode biased 6L6 outputs.

Ted Weber kits come with a schematic, a layout, and a web based community support forum. No real instructions, no formal support. The forum works great sometimes, not so great other times, so you better have a pretty good idea what you are doing before you launch into one of these kits. The benefit though is the best price around.

This kit went together well for me. It worked on power up after I sorted through some bad tubes, and the sound is pure vintage 50's. The 15" speaker is smooth and really sings. The old-fashioned Tweed circuit alsways has a little crunch, and supplies everything from jazz approved swing to cut-throught-the-band rock. I will probably do some more work later to replace some critical connectins with shielded wire and reduce the hum.

Weber Pro Construction

Standard tweed style techniques required here. Be warned that Ted's kits never ship with enough wire, so stock up. Also, my experience is that although all the components are serviceable, the switches, jacks, and knobs can be easily upgraded to make for a better feeling amp.

Kit Pieces


Preamp Layout

Marsh Amplification Tweed Deluxe

Mike Marsh puts together a package of high quality components, supports his customers until the amp is complete, and does it all at a good price. He uses Mojo transformers, orange drop capacitors, and Weber Signature Series Alnico speakers. The tubes that came with the kit were two JJ 12AX7s, two ElectroHarmonix 6V6s (Sovtek), and a Sovtek 5Y3.

The design is classic mid-fifties Fender 5E3; I even used the original schematic and layout. These amps are as simple as can be. They have two channels, each with their own volume control. One channel (“bright”) has a high frequency bypass around the volume control, and hence has more high end content than the other channel (“normal”). Each channel has two input jacks, one of which attenuates the signal. The input jacks are connected in parallel, so if you plug into one jack, the signal is available as an output on the other jack. You can use this feature to connect to both channels simultaneously (“jumpered channels”).

I had never heard one of theses amps before, so when I powered up my kit and plugged in I was stunned! Although these guys are usually rated at 15W, it is much bigger sounding and louder than I expected. Side by side, it is louder than my already loud 22W Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue, and it hangs with my 40W ’65 Bandmaster with two 12’s.

The normal channel is fat and smooth, and is currently my favorite with a Strat. The bright channel is snappy, clear, and jangly, and also sounds pretty darn good for my Strats. The tone control yields a wide range of sounds for both channels. Jumpering the channels gives up a whole new range of tone. The output of the two channels add together so more gain is on tap, and the two channels volumes can be adjusted for the just the right combination a smooth and bite. This baby has fantastic tone and if you have never played a good 5E3 before, you really owe it to yourself to try one. Here are some clips of me playing.

I think the great tone of Mike’s incarnation of the 5E3 Deluxe is due to his component selection, particularly the Ted Weber Signature alnico speaker.

Marsh Construction

Building a Tweed style amp isn’t just about soldering components to a board. To me, the challenges were mechanical: drilling holes in the chassis for the ground connection, and working in the very confined space of the chassis. Mike’s instructions, although brief, give good advice in these areas, and others, such as grounding technique and construction sequence. After working through this kit, I feel that I am up to the task of completing more complicated designs.

Board Under Construction        Chassis Under Construction

Chassis from below       Chassis from above


Allen Amps Accomplice

David Allen makes beautiful amps and also sells kits of some of his models. His design ideal is the Blackface era Fender amps, so all of his amps are based on Brown and Blackface designs with significant enhancements to add versatility, tone range, and combinations of features that Leo never made, but would certainly approve of.

When you purchase one of his amps on kit form, the instructions and support are truly exemplary. The detail and precision of his construction tips, instructions, and schematics are unparalleled. If you have never built an amp before, these kits a re a great way to start.

I built an Allen Accomplice, which is loosely based on the Deluxe Reverb, but with only one channel, an added bright switch, mid control, a “raw” control (which adds a bit of tweed or Marshall feel), a reverb tone control, and a master volume. There is no tremolo. The master volume is a post phase inverter type, not found on any major brand amp that I know of, and is really transparent.

My finished product is a totally professional quality amp, no thanks to my skills, but due only to David Allen’s perfectionism in assembling the components and writing the instructions.

Allen Construction

These kits are so well put together, that basically you just need to follow the instructions and you will have a fantastic and professional amp. One of the nice things about the Blackface style cabinets and chassis is that you have a lot of room to work.

Kit Parts       Board

Inside      Chassis


Other Links

Ted Weber - best source of vintage style speakers, plus a fantastic selection of reasonably priced amp kits.
Mojo Musical Supply - great source of all kinds of tubes, cabinets, parts, and complete kits.
ampage - great discussion site covering all kids of musical electronics, but especially good for amps and effects.
Mouser - general purpose electronic supply catering to real OEM customers, but also serving hobbyists and home users.

Looping Standards


© Copyright 2003-2007 K. Khalsa. All rights reserved.

Last updated: January 30, 2007