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Guitar Tube Amp


by gmoon on June 8, 2008

Table of Contents
Guitar Tube Amp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Intro: Guitar Tube Amp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 1: Danger, Will Robinson, Danger! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 2: How did this project get started? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 3: The Tubes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

File Downloads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 4: Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 5: The Chassis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Step 6: The Power Supply . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

File Downloads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Step 7: The Heater Power Supply(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Step 8: The Preamp Stages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Step 9: The Preamp Schematic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Step 10: Controls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Step 11: Power Amp Stage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Step 12: Output Transformer, Part 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Step 13: Output Transformer, part 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Step 14: Wiring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Step 15: The Cabinet, Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Step 16: The Cabinet, Dowel Joints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Step 17: The Cabinet, Outer Covering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Step 18: The Cabinet, more construction details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Step 19: Links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Step 20: OH, Man...I wish I had... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
Step 21: Finding parts for a build (transformers, etc.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Step 22: The End??? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Step 23: Update, V0.2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
File Downloads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Step 24: Update, V0.3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Step 25: Local NFB Option, V0.4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Related Instructables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Intro: Guitar Tube Amp


Want to build your own tube amplifier for guitar? There are many options: build a kit, build from an existing schematic, or branch off like I did, and try something different.
Maybe, like me, you'll design and build from scratch...
Check out the last steps -- information's been added since this guide was first published.
Among the goals for this build:
--Build an amp with that MMM-good tube sound...
--Design it myself.
--Reuse salvaged and vintage components whenever possible, and save good stuff from the landfill.
--Make something unusual (6DG6GT's in a parallel single-ended configuration qualifies as unusual...as does the tone control....)
A whole lot of tweaking later, I've got an amp that pleases me. A small, but surprisingly LOUD amp that outputs something in the neighborhood of 8 watts (see the
Power Amp Stage step for more info.) And the combination of 12AX7 and 6DG6GT tubes, though unusual, works quite well...
Oh, and this is a fairly hi-gain amp--i.e., it has a good amount of natural tube clipping and distortion, and a decently "dirty" sound. However, hi-gain and high volume are
not the same....this amp is loud for it's wattage, but it's not a Marshall stack. It remains a studio type amp, but it is louder than all those Valve Jrs. , Champs , Blackhearts
, etc. which are so popular today....
Clean signal, no F/X.
Settings: volume 50%, tone 60%, presence 30% :

Clean signal, no F/X


Settings near max :
(Some "ghosting" on the highs is a resonating glass-door china cabinet about 5 feet from the amp...)

In fact, there's a little too much gain ...


One thing's for sure...tackling such a project means many happy hours pouring over data sheets, studying schematics, checking output transformer specs, and tracking
down NOS tubes....
Noteworthy : there's a certain aspect to this build.... I wanted to retain the feel and budget of the radio-amateurs and home-builders of the past. You can easily spend in
excess of $1000 USD for a small tube amp kit alone (nothing but the best audiophile components.) There's an elitism about modern tube amps I tried to avoid (or maybe
I'm just cheap ;0)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. External speaker jack.
2. Screen supply switch
3. Negative feedback loop switch.
4. Back panels added, too.

Step 1: Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!


Here's the standard disclaimer:
This is dangerous, high voltage stuff . OK, it's not "High Voltage," technically, but it's high enough to kill you. The power supply in this projects kicks out 200V, which is
plenty, with startup spikes near 240V or more...
Don't believe it when they say "it's not the voltage, it's the amperage that kills you"--because it's both. Amps AND volts together dictate the danger level. If it were amps
alone, then even a AA battery can supply many times what's needed to stop a human heart. The volts do the "pushing," and overcome the natural resistance of your skin.
And there's plenty of current available to harm you in any tube audio amp...
Remember:
--Always drain the power supply filter caps before touching the circuitry.
--Always unplug the mains cord before working.
--Double-check (with a VOM) to be sure the filter caps are drained.
--DON'T mess with this stuff unless you have a decent understanding of the dangers.
--DON'T mess with this if you believe you know EVERYTHING about high voltage, and think that makes you immune to electrical shocks.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. Groupie
2. Hi Voltage....

Step 2: How did this project get started?


First, I like the sound of the 50L6 power tube in my vintage Kay amp. Although weaker than many common types (6V6, 6L6, etc.), nearly 80% of the output of a 6V6 can
be achieved with a 50L6 (~4 watts for a 50L6 vs. 5 watts for a single-ended 6V6 tube.) And I have several spare 50L6's on hand... There's a long history of small practice
amps with these tubes, yet they are generally ignored today.
Secondly, this build has always intrigued me: Super SE 6V6 , a parallel single-ended (two output tubes together in parallel) 6V6 amp. Perhaps the same approach would
work with two 50L6's, probably wringing 7+ watts from the pair--that would be a true test of their suitablilty.... A parallel SE design would be a true Class A amp, too, with
all the of the richness and aural mystique of the class (and more punch than my Kay.)
Lucky Find
Thirdly, when gutting an old TV set I found a decent (and massive) power transformer appropriate for this build. A bit of explanation:
The 50L6 and it's variants (25L6, 12L6) are power pentodes with a maximum operating voltage of 200V. That's significantly lower voltage than most power tubes, which
run at 300+ volts. Consequently, the majority of power transformers supply 250V or greater. A medium-voltage power tranny is actually tougher to find than the highervoltage variety.
The TV transformer tested out with secondaries of ~140V and ~7V. AC voltage is RMS--essentially the average voltage for the wave form. Once it's rectified and filtered,
it's higher. Depending on the rectifier, the DC output voltage will approach the "peak voltage" of the waveform. Immediately, I rejected the use of a tube rectifier--what I
had on hand wouldn't be as efficient as a solid state rectifier. A 140V RMS transformer is nearly ideal. With luck, I could get very close to the 200V max using a SS bridge
rectifier!
So finding the transformer first was the real motivating force behind the build...
Next, I chose the preamp tube, a 12AX7. That was easy--they're the most common preamp tubes, and the majority of guitar amps include one or more. 12AX7 tubes
pack two triodes into a single tube--double the fun.
Enter the 6DG6GT as output tubes...
So I started planning how to supply the filament voltage for two 50V and one 12V (or 6V, the 12AX7 can be 6.3V filaments, also) tubes. A chance discussion with
instructable member Ohm led to the 6DG6GT. While I was aware of the other variants, I hadn't heard of this one. Bravo, Ohm!
Sure enough, the 6DG6GT specs were identical to the 50L6, except for the 6.3V filaments. Now I could plan on three tubes that would run with 6V heaters, and the TV
transformer included a 6.3V secondary...Well, I just HAD to build this! And I couldn't find any builds of this type (6DG6GT in parallel SE) on the web, at all. It couldn't be
the first, but it looks pretty rare for guitar amps, anyway...

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. The source of the transformer and choke, an old GE TV.

Image Notes
1. The magic transformer...a scavenged find.
2. Feel free to donate any old power transformers! :D

Step 3: The Tubes


Availability
If we still wanted 50L6 tubes, they are fairly plentiful--lots of radios used these tubes. Same with 12AX7' s, they're still being manufactured today and are plentiful
(although not cheap.) I already had three for my Ampeg...
But choosing the 6DG6GT for a power tube was truly a pleasant surprise. The tube was standard in many TV sets, and they're cheap and easy to find. I bought 4 from
ebay, at a cost of only $3.50 each! (shipping included!) Contrast that with 6V6's--good ones run $20+ per tube, minimum...
And availability is always a concern. No point in building an amp if you can't buy any replacement tubes.
The 6DG6GT tubes are RCA NOS. The 12AX7 is a NOS Raytheon, which I "borrowed" from my Ampeg Gemini II amp (it needs work, anyway--a future project.)
Heater Voltage and Current Requirements
The big concern with all 50L6 variants is the large amount of current required for the tube filaments. A bit of background: most (US) tube names begin with the voltage
requirements for the heaters:
Tube name : filament voltage
50L6 : 50V
35L6 : 35V
25L6 : 25V
12AX7 : 12V (they have a split filament, and also run @ 6V)
6V6GT : 6V
6DG6GT : 6V
(Pardon the weird formatting--Instructables yanked the ability to use PRE tags, and screwed up the conversion when they did so. I've tried to fix it the best I
can...)
But if the 6DG6GT is to have the same electrical characteristics as the 50L6, the heaters must perform in a nearly identical fashion. The filament wire itself must be
designed to compensate -- using more current, at the lower voltage:
Volts X Amps == Power consumption
50L6 : 50V * .15A = 7.5 watts
6DG6GT : 6.3V * 1.2A = 7.56 watts
Obviously, the heater power requirements are practically identical; of course that follows since the electrical characteristics of the tube also match. But 2.4 amps (two
1.2A tubes, and not counting the preamp tube) is a fairly high amount of heater current @ 6V for a small amp... (the total heater current is 2.7A @ 6.3V)
Datasheets for 12AX7, 6DG6GT:

File Downloads

12AX7.pdf ((551x700) 291 KB)


[NOTE: When saving, if you see .tmp as the file ext, rename it to '12AX7.pdf']

6DG6GT.pdf ((598x780) 603 KB)

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

[NOTE: When saving, if you see .tmp as the file ext, rename it to '6DG6GT.pdf']

Step 4: Components
Choice of components are alway contentious for tube amp builders. Some insist that one part or another is integral to the process. Hmmm. Although there maybe some
truth, there's lots of bunk, too.
Capacitors, Non-Electrolytic
Many swear by expensive polyester or polypropylene non-electrolytic caps. "Orange Drop" is one common type. I used mylar caps. Here's a secret: mylar caps are
polyester, mylar is just a proprietary name.
All non-electrolytic caps should be rated for 600V, since they are usually in the signal path. Small cathode bypass caps can have a lower voltage rating, however.
Capacitors, Electrolytic
Most caps 1uF or greater are electrolytic capacitors. They are a must for the power supply filter caps, and are also often used for cathode bypass caps.
These come in two general flavors: polarized and non-polarized. For this project, the only non-polarized electrolytic used were for the preamp cathode bypass caps.
Cathode bypass caps should be rated for twice the bias voltage. 50V rating is more than enough...
There's a "can" type multi cap photo, just for reference. New multi-caps can be found, but they are expensive, and can be hard to replace. These are an option, and are
very common in older amps...
Resistors
Again, some will argue the merits of carbon comp vs. metal foil resistors, etc. If you're a believer, knock yourself out ;-). Normal off-the-shelf resistors work just fine.
Ratings:
Resistor application and ratings
Power tube cathode bias : 5 to 10 watts
Power supply current-dropping : 2 to 5 watts
The remainder : 1/2 watt
(Sorry for any formatting issues. PRE tags have been removed for non-pro members.)

Image Notes
1. Electrolytic (polarized) capacitor.
Image Notes
1. Mylar Capacitor, example

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. The 'can.' After the recap job, it's still there, but for 'looks' only.
2. The multi-capacitor specs...

Step 5: The Chassis


The chassis was originally a flat sheet of steel, which I reclaimed from a defunct VCR. Check out that snazzy "high voltage" symbol stamped into the metal...
The steel was trimmed to size with a Dremel fitted with a cutting wheel. The sheet was then held in between the clamping sides of a "Workbench," and bent downward to
a 90 degree angle, with a heavy steel carpenters square. This lent a decently uniform bend to the sheet, and there were few imperfections.
Most of the bend was done by hand (and body weight.) The bend was finished and the angle sharpened by pounding the top of the forming carpenters square (layed atop
the sheet steel) with a rubber mallet.
Afterwards the formed chassis was cut to width, also with the Dremel.
Cutting the chassis holes
The large rectangular cutout for the transformer was made with a nibbling tool. They are very handy tools. The power tube socket holes (1in.) were too large for any bit,
and were also "nibbled," and then filed down to reduce any sharp burrs or edges.
The rest of the holes were made with a stepped bit. This is a fantastic drill bit!!!! A single bit can drill holes from 1/4 to 3/4 in., and FAST, too! The $15 spent here was well
worth it...
A pilot hole is needed for the stepped bit, so don't throw out the normal bits. They do made a smaller stepped bit, which I plan to get soon--then only the smallest pilot
hole would be necessary.
Many pro and serious amateur builders use a die punch. A decent set runs $75 or more.
NOTE : When passing wiring in / out of the chassis, always protect the wires. Use rubber grommets in the holes to prevent any fraying or shorting.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. Oops. Forgot to photograph the steel sheet before bending...

Image Notes
1. Zot!

Image Notes
1. Trim off excess...

Image Notes
1. Nibbler tool works here...

Image Notes
1. Stepped drill bits ROCK!

Image Notes
1. The mighty nibbler tool.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Image Notes
1. Too big for the stepped bit, nibbled and filed.
2. Rubber grommets.
Image Notes
1. Best damned invention for drilling large holes in metal, the stepped drill bit.

Step 6: The Power Supply


Traditional tube amp power supplies are old school--relatively high voltage, with big "iron," and generally not regulated. Typically, they supply a range of voltages for
different purposes--a current source for the output transformer, voltages for the preamp tube plates, and sometimes (in this case) a separate voltage for the pentode
screens.
Unlike regulated supplies, the different supply voltages are created with current-limiting resistors. These are often called "voltage-dropping resistors," but their operation
depends on the current draw of each stage.
Designing a power supply
The first step is choosing the right power transformer (see the "How did this project get started?" section.) To pick the right transformer, look at the data sheets for the
power tubes.
The 6DG6GT tubes have a max plate voltage of 200V. Theoretically, an AC RMS voltage is ~0.7 of the peak voltage, and the peak is approx 1.414 * the RMS. In practice
it's lower--the transformer is under load, there are losses in the caps, etc. So something less than 1.4 is more realistic. (Gotta dig that crazy square root of 2...that 1.414
number pops up in so many places!)
I'm not certain about the availability of PTs with secondaries in the 125-150V range. But maybe the 6DG6GT can handle somewhat more than 200V. Another alternative
is to use a "choke input" power supply--that's connecting the choke FIRST, before any filtering cap. A choke input should drop the secondary voltage to 0.9 of the RMS
(vs the 1.414 for a standard filter), so a 225V RMS AC secondary yields 202.5 VDC, also excellent.
My "recycled" transformer was ~140V (142) RMS AC, which, when rectified, (in an ideal world) becomes 200.788 peak (VDC)--perfect! (in practice--rectified, filtered and
loaded, it's about 190V, still excellent.)
The solid-state rectifying bridge was chosen over a tube rectifier to retain as much of that voltage as possible. That's OK--the much vaunted "sag" effect of tube amps
doesn't apply to single-ended, Class A amps. They draw the same amount of current whether there's an input signal or not... Also, the PT doesn't have a centertap, so
unless I used two tube rectifiers (or went with a half-wave design), solid-state was the best solution.
These voltages were needed by the circuitry:
B.1 : 190V -- Max voltage for the power tube plates/output transformers
B.2 : 180V -- A tap for the preamp tubes (Added during build)
B.3 : 120V -- Screen voltage for the 6DG6GT power tubes (between 115-125V, depending on the data sheet)
I did the initial design using an excellent (free) design tool: Duncan Amps PSUD2 Designer
The final result varied quite a bit from the simulation in PSU designer, however. That could be related to the unknown current-suppling potential of the TV transformer--but
I'm beginning to suspect that the 6DG6GT screens draw much less current than noted noted on the data sheets...
A Redesign Partway Through the Project...
The design evolved. Initially the first filter stage was an RC (Resistance-Capacitance) filter, but that changed quickly. To get a clean signal, I'd need to insert something
like a 50 ohm, 20 watt resistor. But when I saw the amount of current wasted, I balked, and changed to an LC (Inductance-Capacitance) filter design.
Also a significant change--there was no B.2 supply at all, originally. I had planned that the preamp would run from the lower screen voltage (120V.) For the 12AX7, that's
a pretty low operating voltage. So the preamp supply was added.
The Inductor for the LC Filter
It helped that the gutted TV also included a (mighty big) inductor. It's an unknown value (inductors are measured in Henries), but it was matched with the TV power
trannie, so I was sure it would work--and it did. And honestly, an LC filter does a much more efficient job of smoothing out the supply ripples in a single stage than an RC
filter does.
Incidentally, it was the addition of the the LC filter (pi filter) that prompted me to add the standby switch--the initial inductance spike exceeds the 200V max of the
6DG6GT's, by a fair amount. But during the testing phase the switch wasn't wired. There have been no negative consequences and I'm not sure the standby will be wired
in. It's kind of silly, really--NOS tubes were often run at 150% of their rated voltage, so a short spike at startup wouldn't amount to much...

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Also changed--originally, the preamp plate supply was slated to run on the same voltage as the screens. But it made sense to run the preamp at a higher voltage. So an
additional RC stage (B.2) was added:
Preamp Supply
Preamp supply (B.2): As noted, this section was inserted AFTER the first version was built. I started with a 220 ohm resistor for the RC filter, but settled on a 1K value for
a smoother supply. 1K didn't drop the voltage much at all (which had become obvious before when building the screen supply.) It would be nice to run the preamp tube
directly off the B.1 supply, but preamps need something less noisy...
Screen Supply
Screen supply (B.3): Originally the second section of a two section PSU; in real operation it didn't match the Duncan PSUD2 software very closely. The simulator
estimated the resistor for the last RC filter at 2.7K - 3.3K. But during the build the screen voltage was much too high--over 170V. with substitution, the eventual 15k value
was chosen, which placed the screens at a nice 120V. A 20K resistor would probably work just as well... Surprisingly, the amp still functioned (poorly) with the initial high
screen voltages, and the tubes weren't damaged. Vacuum tubes are amazingly forgiving of abuse...
Misc
The PS voltage-dropping resistors are all 5 watt, although a 3 watt type would have been fine for the B.3 section (15k.)
Regarding capacitance values, perhaps four 100uf caps are overkill, but they do the job. 100uF would be too high for a tube rectifier, but isn't a problem with the SS
bridge.
No "bleed resistor" has been installed. One quirk of this amp--the PS caps seem to drain through (cathodes to screens) the 6DG6GT tubes, possibly due to the very hot
filaments. They keep the tube internals warm enough after power-down that the tube keeps functioning for a second or two. I don't know this for sure, but when I was
experimenting with "triode mode" for the power tubes (screens not connected to main B.3), the caps were NOT draining.
Regardless, ALWAYS check the filter caps before touching the internals.
Like the whole build, the power supply's appearance is a bit inelegant, but it was modified several times during the project... Eventually it should be disassembled and
reassembled in a sensible fashion.
I've included a PDF on toroid transformer construction, for the adventurous...

Image Notes
1. The mystery choke...5H is probably about right...
2. Not wired, yet.
3. The cap values are overkill. Smaller values, especially for the B.2 and B.3 taps
would be fine.
4. The magic transformer. Unfortunately the filament tap isn't a separate winding.
5. The solid-state rectifier
Image Notes
1. B.3, Screen supply
2. B.2, 180V for the preamps
3. B.1, plate.
4. The reclaimed choke.

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Image Notes
1. The nicely laid-out power supply, from the rectifier on. It's BEFORE the changes
(grrrr.) It's not quite so elegant now...
2. The TV choke.
3. The bridge rectifier.

File Downloads

Winding Toroids.pdf ((576x782) 305 KB)


[NOTE: When saving, if you see .tmp as the file ext, rename it to 'Winding Toroids.pdf']

Step 7: The Heater Power Supply(s)


Unfortunately, the filament secondary for my power transformer isn't a separate winding, and doesn't have a center tap. Maybe I could disassemble the trannie and see if
the coils could be separated...but it's a "potted" transformer (dipped in resin), and I didn't want to ruin it.
The trannie also powered about 12 tubes, and the filament voltage is ~7v, and doesn't drop enough under load to get near 6.3V (load isn't big enough.) In fact, one
12AX7 "went nuclear" and burned out (~$25 "down the tubes".)
Placing two large diodes in parallel but opposite directions in an AC supply limits the voltage by the voltage-drop amount (.5 to .7V), just the same as one diode in a DC
supply. That dropped the filament voltage right to 6.3V, and the tubes were happy.
The two-diode trick works only for AC--current flows through one diode at a time, dropping that half of the waveform by the diode's voltage drop amount. One diode would
do the trick for DC.
Plan B
However, they weren't quiet. You really need separate windings to setup a false center tap, which can be used to quiet the heaters.
After trying various solutions, I decided to light just the power tubes with the main transformer, and use a cheap "wallwart" for the 12AX7 preamp. Now the preamp has
it's own, "dedicated," DC supply This was very quiet, indeed. The wallwart was already on hand.
A ground reference (false center tap) was provided by bridging the 6V by a pair of 180 ohm resistors, tied to the chassis ground. It does make a difference.
For some power transformers, the required 2.7A @ 6.3V is a little much. Many are rated for 2.5A max. Of course, an extra 200 MA might be fine, depending on the
transformer. But a separate DC supply for the preamp isn't a bad option.
OK, this is a little, ehem, unconventional, perhaps even ghetto. But it works well.

Image Notes

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1. Dropping the ~7V to just over 6V...


2. 2.4 Amp supply for the power tube filaments.

Image Notes
1. False center tap to reduce hum.
2. 0.3 amp supply for the preamp tube.
3. Yeah, it's a bit ghetto...
4. 117V AC, tapped after the main power switch and fuse.

Image Notes
1. 6V from the wallwart.
2. False center-tap, to silence hum.
3. 12AX7 preamp tube socket

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Step 8: The Preamp Stages


It might look like the preamp circuit was lifted directly from an existing design--excluding the tone control (see the next section.) But I really did design it from scratch. If it
sounds good, it will likely be similar to other designs, of course. There's nothing new under the sun for (simple) 12AX7 preamps.
This is a standard two-stage preamp. In theory, more stages equals a thicker, smoother type of distortion--without the "hard" breakup common to transistor circuits. Two
stages is generally considered minimum for a "modern" preamp (some older amps had a single pentode preamp stage.) Of course, that's one advantage of the 12AX7-it's two triodes in a single tube.
It was modified, too, during building. As I raised the coupling cap values (from .01 to .02), the amount of gain, "fatness" and distortion increased dramatically. Most of the
modifications since have involved REDUCING gain from the original design. I had very high gain settings initially, as the preamp tube was running with a lower voltage
than most production amps. However, the extra gain was unnecessary.
In fact, I might still reduce some of the gain for the preamp stage...But the sound is pretty edgy for a small amp.
One starting point for preamp design is the data sheets. Most include a helpful chart (see first image.) With this chart alone, a very workable triode stage can be
constructed.
Some important concepts/components:
--The Plate Resistor (Rp )
Vacuum tubes are controlled by voltage, but amplify current. To make them output a voltage change, we must add a plate resistor. Good old "Ohms Law": I*R=E (Current
* Resistance = Voltage.) So a larger value plate resistor increases the amplification (you can verify this on the chart.)
The value of the plate resistor also has a profound effect on the amount of 2nd order harmonic distortion the amp produces. A tube amplifier has an inherent peak-topeak asymmetry, which can be lessened or increased by varying the slope of the "loadline." In preamp stages, the plate resistor determines the loadline slope.
2nd order harmonic distortion is a positive--and is considered one of the characteristics of a good guitar tube amp.
--The Cathode bias resistor (Rk )
All tubes require the grid (signal input) to be negative in respect to the cathode. A negative charged grid repels electrons, so no current flows. The simplest way to
achieve this "negative bias" is to raise the cathode voltage sightly--that's the job of the cathode-bias resistor. Raising the cathode bias (increasing the resistance, or "cold
bias") makes the grid more negative.
Together, these two resistors largely determine the gain (there are other considerations, also.) There are "sweet spots" for each, and poorly chosen, either the plate load
or the bias resistors can result in some nasty (bad nasty) effects.
Rules of thumb
More gain: increase Plate Resistor
Less gain: decrease Plate Resistor
More harmonic content (2f): lower plate resistor
Less harmonic content (2f): higher plate resistor
The effect the Cathode Bias Resistor has on gain is a little more subtle. There's a maximum gain sweet spot for bias, which may or may not be the desired sound. Both
raising and lowering the bias will cause clipping, but in different ways. Some clipping is often a good thing in the context of guitar amps.
As a general rule, a higher (cooler) bias voltage results in a harsher distortion. The amplified signal is clipping hard against the "rails" (the supply voltage.) But a hotter ,
lower bias can still clip. At this bias level, some clipping occurs (allegedly) due to "grid current limiting," which is somewhat softer. However, there's usually a range
between high and low bias extremes that results in the most "natural" amplified guitar sound.
Although the rational for multi-stage preamps usually is that they create smoother distortion by only gently clipping in each stage, clearly another fundamental reason is
that using lower plate resistors (lower gain) greatly increases the percentage of 2nd order distortion. More stages compensates for any gain losses.
More components
--Cathode Bypass Capacitor
This has a real effect on the overall output of the stage, and increasing capacitance will tend to boost the bass response.
--Coupling capacitors (and the grid-leak resistors following which constitute an RC filter.)
Labeled C and Rs , on the table below, together they have a huge effect on the frequency response of each stage.
The grid-leak resistors (in a cathode bias amp) are usually in the range of 220K - 470K. Oddly enough, the best-sounding value for the first stage was 120K. Surprising,
since lower resistance here attenuates the signal somewhat. The specific frequency response overshadowed any signal loss. The second stage grid-leak resistor is a
more typical 220K.

Image Notes

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1. Examples from the datasheet.


2. Cathode bypass capacitor (not labeled for some reason.)
3. Coupling and bias feed RC filter.
4. Plate resistor
5. Cathode Bias resistor

Image Notes
1. Two. Two. Two tubes in one.
2. Triode #1
3. Triode #2

Image Notes
1. Standard triode schematic, 1/2 of a 12AX7. This type of visualization is also
used with the dual triode tubes.

Step 9: The Preamp Schematic


I intended to include a section here on using loadlines to design a preamp stage. I think I'll hold off, and keep it general.
There first preamp stage uses very typical guitar-amp values for the plate resistor and cathode resistor. Much of the tone is formed here.
The second preamp stage is "goosed" quite a bit. More conservative values might still be inserted here. This amp will feedback at some settings, and squeezes a fairly
aggressive tone from only two preamp stages. Since it's controllable, I'm OK with that, for now.
For both preamp stages, smaller cathode bypass caps will shape the tone in a brighter direction.
One, or both of the coupling caps could be changed to 0.01 (vs. 0.02) for more treble.
--On repeated playing, this amp is a little "bottom heavy"; yet it never gets muddy. It just doesn't have stinging highs, except from distortion. It's more a Marshall-ish rather
than a Fender-ish sound (actually, it's really more Supro-ish or Magnatone-ish than Marshall...)
But note the input section. This is pretty typical wiring to create a input variation with only three resistors. The bottom input, which is a ground reference followed by a grid
stopper resistor, has a more "bassy" sound. The top input jack uses the 56K resistor together with the other two to form a voltage divider, attenuating the signal. This is a
a standard Fender-style "pad" input scheme. The divider input looses some "omph," but seems to retain a bit more high-end.
I rather prefer the Fender tone. At some time in the future, I might change the coupling and a couple of the bypass caps to enhance it....
Or I might just leave it alone--jangly, harsh, high-treble amps are a dime-a-dozen. Might be fun to keep it as-is.
Other Possible Mods

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--Rather than change any values on the the second preamp stage, a negative feedback loop could be added. This would tone down the "ballsy-ness" a bit.
Negative feedback could also be adjustable. A second "presence" control, if you will...
(NOTE: I tried it, but the amp became "farty", so I ripped out the NFB loop right away.)

Image Notes
1. Cathode bypass cap and cathode bias resistor, stage 2
2. Plate resistor, stage 2
3. Plate resistor, stage 1
4. Cathode bypass cap and cathode bias resistor, stage 1
5. Power stage above
6. Tone and volume above, in the middle of the preamp.
7. Input pad
8. Volume

Step 10: Controls


The Tone / Volume Control
This is one of the odd parts of the build. Instead of a more conventional tone circuit, I chose to modify the "Big Muff" filter schematic instead. Why? For one thing, there's
very little insertion loss with this tone circuit.
OK--it's a little "experimental," but that's good, right?
I tried using the Duncanamps "Tone Stack Calc" designer, but it's useful as a starting point only. Simulations which yield nearly identical frequency responses sound
VERY different when actually implemented. Lots of substituting caps, etc. was done before I was happy with it. And the "presence" pot was added after the simulation,
since "Tone Stack Calc" doesn't let you change the circuit (just component values.)
Download the Tone Stack Calculator here...
Conventional design would have replaced the caps with smaller values. I didn't feel the tone had quite the body as with these values. To be honest, there really isn't much
treble, even with the tone control at max... but it's big fat tone , and kinda fun...
The 1M volume control mirrors a 1M fixed resistor in the "Big Muff" filter. There's probably some interaction with the tone settings.
The "Presence" Control
The circuit is essentially a "notch" filter. I've set this up so that the notch is adjustable. The "presence" pot controls the depth of the notch, from maximum cut to almost a
flat response.
Since a large notch attenuates the signal, the maximum volume and punch comes from the flat setting. That's what I'm calling "max presence." When the "presence"
knob is turned down all the way, the volume is quite attenuated--because a large chunk of the sound was sliced from the middle! So there can be quite a bit of interaction
with the volume control.
The 50K POT is a little large for this one. Substitute a 20K or 25K and it might be an improvement.
HMMmmmm
If there's one part of this build worth replacing, it's probably the tone control. Other (more conventional) types would probably make the build sound more like a typical
Fender (and reduce some of the thick tones.)
There's far too much interaction between the controls, too. But they do work, and decent tones can be found, with a bit of messing about.

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Image Notes
1. The presence control
2. The tone control
3. Volume control
4. Second Cap, modified.
5. First cap--this and the second tone cap were modified from the values returned by the TSC program. They were simply substituted until I liked the result...

Step 11: Power Amp Stage


The simplest tube amp type is Class A, single-ended. Without going into too much detail, Class A amps are considered to be the richest, warmest sounding type of audio
amplifier. By their very nature, they tend to emphasize even-order harmonics, one reason why they sound so good.
"Single-ended" means to drive the output transformer from one side only--contrasted with a "Push-Pull" configuration, in which power tubes are driving the transformer
from both ends (with current flowing from a center tap.) Push-pull is more efficient, but is more complex--the audio signal supplied to one tube must have a twin
"mirrored," or inverted signal for the other tube. Hence the "push-pull" name. That requires a "phase inverter" stage, a necessary complication.
And there are limitations to Class A. It's a bit harder to get max volume from a "classic Class A" design (single-ended, cathode bias, etc.) than a Class AB or Class B
amp, however.
One way to increase volume, but keep the simple single-ended topology is to add a second tube in parallel with the first. Again, this isn't as loud as a two-tube PP setup,
but it's simpler. It's also easier to keep a single-ended amp in "Class A territory."
Historically, there are some commercial amps which used the parallel SE configuration--the Gibson GA9, and the "Gibsonette," to name two. These, plus the Angela link
(see: How did this project get started?) were inspirational.
Note that the plates are simply connected together at the output transformer primary. It's that easy.
Grid stopper resistors were added, simply because they are on the Angela project, and the old Gibson schematics, too. Although the Gibson plans usually had only one (I
wonder if some additional asymmetry results?) Is the source of oscillation interaction between the two power tubes, so only one grid stopper is needed?
There's more cathode bypass capacitance that I normally care for. I wanted a pretty fat sound. I certainly got what I wished for.
Note the cathode bypass cap switch. An attractive alternative: change the hard-wired caps from 40uF and 15uF to 10uF for each. Then switch in an extra 15uF on both
with a DPST switch.
The cathode-bias resistors MUST be rated for 5 watts.
Biasing
This is a standard cathode-biased Class A setup. My biasing voltage is slightly less ("hot" bias) than is noted on the datasheets. Here it's a 150 ohm bias resistor.

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The datasheets recommend 180 ohm for 200V, although one datasheet used 160 ohms. We'll stick with 150 ohm for now. There's no sign of red plating or any other
problems. If it lessens the life of the power tubes considerably, I'll change it to 180 ohms...
Load Resistance Based on the Datasheet
Power tubes have a characteristic called "load resistance," which specifies a recommended output transformer impedance. The load resistance is listed on the datasheet:
Voltage of 6DG6GT : load resistance
110V : 2000 (ohms)
200V : 4000
(Again, sorry for the lost formatting.)
With B.1 voltage close to 190V, a load resistance around 3666 ohms is recommended. However, this value is for one tube.
Load resistance for two tubes is half the value of one, or about 1833 ohms. This is the theoretical value of the primary impedance for our output transformer.
Note: this is a guesstimate, based on the datasheet. In the next step, we'll actually find the load resistance mathematically...
Maximum Power Output
(The load resistances discussed here are for one tube--since this project uses two, then 1/2 these values are equivalent within the circuit. )
I originally estimated the power output from the datasheets as approx 7+ watts. But the example values in the datasheets are for polite amplifiers, where accurate sound
fidelity is more important than volume. But guitar amps need distortion, so we push this one pretty hard.
So lets look at the load resistance vs. power output chart. The red line represents our load resistance, somewhere near 3500 ohms (remember, for two tubes, that's 1700
ohms.) Where the red line crosses the Po curve is our power output.
For a "driven" amp, the max output is close to 4.4 watts. In fact, any load resistance values between 2600 and 6000 ohms exceed 4 watts per tube. These values depend
on a high p-p signal, a decent bias and a plate voltage of 200v.
We're at 190V, so it'll be slightly less than the chart. We don't really know the p-to-p output of the preamp stage, but the preamp is definitely hi-gain. And we are running
the power stage with a "hot" bias....
We'll never know for sure unless it's bench-tested, but I suspect this amp is running above 4 watts per tube, over 8 watts total. It's safe to say this is an 8 watt amp.

Image Notes
1. From the 'Gibsonette' schematic--parallel SE output stage.
2. Only one grid-stopper resistor, between the two output tube grids on the
'Gibsonette.'

Image Notes
1. Grid stopper resistors.
2. Switch on back of chassis.
3. Cathode bias resistors, 5 watt.
4. Cathode bypass caps could be reduced...
5. Output transformer.
6. Weber 4 ohm speaker
7. The connection that makes this "parallel SE."

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Image Notes
1. Load resistance at 110 and 200V.

Image Notes
1. 4.4 watts per tube, or 8+ watts for two tubes.
2. 6DG6GT datasheets say: all 50L6 curves apply.
3. 4 watts output line.

Image Notes
1. Why I used the 50L6 load resistance vs. power output chart--The 6DG6GT
datasheets don't have that chart, but ALL 50L6 charts apply...

Step 12: Output Transformer, Part 1


Figuring Load Resistance Mathematically (WARNING: Math Content)
We have an educated guess, using the datasheet (see the previous step):
1833 ohm for two tubes.
The alternative way is to use the formula for output impedance:
Zout = Va/(Pa/Va)
Va = Anode voltage (185V)
Pa = Maximum plate dissipation (10 watts -- from the datasheet)
Load resistance for one tube:
3422.5 = 185 / (10 / 185)
Or half that value, 1711 ohms for two tubes .
For 190V (we're somewhere between 185 and 190):

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3610 = 190 / (10 / 190)


Or, 1805 ohms for two tubes .
Whether we use 1833, 1711, or 1805 doesn't matter. Tube characteristics probably vary by AT LEAST that much, any of the three figures is fine.
OK, first--I bought an 8 inch Weber 4 ohm speaker for the amp (although I wish I'd gotten at 10 instead.)
Important when choosing an output transformer: The speaker's impedance has a definite impact on the output transformer's impedance. As you can see from the chart
below, twice the speaker impedance (4 ohms to 8 ohms, for instance) will also double the input impedance for any transformer. As mentioned in the last step, the target
primary impedance of the output transformer is 1711 ohms.
In fact, output transformers by themselves don't have a set impedance, but instead possess a turns ratio (10:1, 20:1, etc.) Rather, the impedance of the speaker(s) is
reflected backwards from the secondary to the primary. It's that reflected impedance that actually forms the primary impedance.
This isn't an ideal value when searching for off-the-shelf guitar output transformers--they tend to be higher impedance. It's reasonable, however, and there are options.
Bigger, higher-wattage amps will use "iron" with lower input impedance, but they are generally PP transformers.
Some OT options for this project:
1) --Hammond single-ended output transformers (125SE Series)
These are great transformer for SE amps, but don't have an official "spec'ed" input inpedance below 2500 ohms. But they have multi-tap output coils, and they could be
wired for an appropriate value. For instance, connecting a 2500 ohm primary OT with an 8 ohm secondary to a 4 ohm speaker (halving the load) also halves the primary
impedance--to 1250 ohms. Now, 1250 ohms is a little low for two tubes (but probably not for three ;-)...time to plan V2 of this project!)
Also, the transformers would be out-of-spec; a larger-wattage transformer would probably made it a safe choice. Still...
2) --Edcor GXSE Series
Edcor makes some great guitar amp transformers, many of which would be excellent for this project!
These are a nearly perfect match to our requirements:
GXSE10-4-1.7K (10W 1,700 4 ohms)
GXSE15-4-1.7K (15W 1,700 4 ohms)
3) --Hammond "universal" SE/PP output transformers (125 Series)
Although touted as having both SE and PP capabilities, perhaps not the best choice. Single-ended and Push-Pull transformers have other differences beside wire--the
cores are different. This prevents SE transformers in Class A amps (which are always drawing current) from reaching saturation.
The Hammond universals have multiple output taps, so they have many different input impedances. And they come pretty close to our target value:
-----(Due to the fact that many formatting features at Instructables have been revoked for non-pro members, this text-based chart has been removed. It was
unreadable.
Refer to the Hammond chart in the images below.)
-----For a 4 ohm speaker, either 2100 or 1500 ohms are close to the target of 1711 ohms.
The 125 series is supposed to be usable in both SE and PP configurations. But in reality, they couldn't possibly do both well. I expect it's the single-ended performance
that suffers, since it's so easy to saturate an output trannie in SE mode. So, they aren't the best choice, but they are a choice...
EDIT : Hammond no longer claims these are usable as SE transformers, and are now marketed as push-pull only...

Image Notes
1. Edcor GXSE...so new, they aren't in the catalog yet...but the website has them.

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Image Notes
1. Hammond 125 universal series.

Image Notes
1. Hammond 125SE (single ended only ) series.
2. Note that there's no rated impedance less than 2500 ohms...

Step 13: Output Transformer, part 2


Ok, so I already had a Hammond 125C, which is an 8 watt, "universal" OT.
Much of the testing with this amp was done with the Hammond. But it's not ideal--it's better used in the push-pull configuration, especially this close to it's rating. Singleended transformers generally reach core saturation quicker than PP OTs--SE (Class A) amps draw current throughout the operating cycle. That has a reactive effect on
the inductor. consequently, SE and PP output transformers are designed slightly differently (so the validity of a "universal" OT is in the eye, er, ear of the beholder...)
Technically , the 125C is big enough, since this amp is approximately 8 watts....but in practice this was not so...
(Is this really less than 8 watts? Ignoring the "typical" example on the datasheet, the charts indicate that a single 6DG6GT can produce upto 4.4 watts..this is
probably an 8 watt amp...)
Some general notes about the Hammond 125C :
--I tried both 1500 and 2100 ohm primaries. The lower impedance was definitely more musical, bluesy and overall the better tone. But the 2100 primary gave the amp a
more gravelly, overdriven sound. Some might prefer it.
--At both hookups, the Hammond OT was definitely getting warm. Not really hot, but I didn't play power chords for three hours straight, either. Probably too small for the
amp, especially as a SE OT.
--Since the transformer was right at it's limit, the core (over) saturation gave it a very "Cream" sounding distortion...unfortunately, chords and comping leads pushed it
over the edge, and there was no definition, just muddy, nasty distortion.
So I sprung for the Edcor GXSE15-4-1.7K, with a 1700 ohm primary . This thing is MASSIVE compared to the Hammond; easily 3 or 4 times as heavy. The 10 watt
version probably would have worked as well, but many people are putting Hammond 15 watters in "Champ" projects, and those are only 5 watts (vs. 7 or 8 for this one.)
Plus, as noted on the previous page, 1700 ohms is an almost exact match to the theoretical output impedance of two 6DG6GT tubes at our supply voltage (yay!)
The Edcor has specified inputs for the B+ and Plate, as well as Screen (Not sure "screen" would work with the 6DG6GT's, but I already had the screen voltage tap on the
power supply.) And there was a discernible tonal difference between the two secondary / speaker wiring options (swapping the order of the speaker wires.)
Also, the GXSE15-4-1.7K is too large to mount on the chassis, OR the speaker! But it fits fine in the cabinet. Doesn't seem to cause any noise issues.
The difference between the two transformers is marked! The amp now handles chords and multi-note leads just fine. Single notes are fat; the overall tone is warm and
full. The Edcor was right choice....
The Edcor GXSE15-4-1.7K lists for $30 USD, and shipping was $9. The 10-watt version (GXSE10-4-1.7K) costs $10 less... Either price is very reasonable, for such
excellent output transformers. Find them at Edcor Class X Guitar Single-Ended Audio Output Transformers ...
Sept. 2008
Note: I've been using this amp almost daily for 4 months. The chassis gets a little hot. The power transformer gets a little hot....the Edcor output transformer is always as
cool as cucumber. This is an excellent OT!

Image Notes

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Image Notes
1. The Edcor is massive compared to the Hammond...

1. The Edcor mounted on the cabinet.


2. Extra Cathode bypass capacitance switch--see the power amp section.
3. The Weber 4 ohm speaker

Step 14: Wiring


Wiring
I used point-to-point wiring for the project.
Oh, yeah. So many components were removed and substituted during the testing phase, this became a real mess. The tone control itself changed several times. Even
the power supply was substantially altered.
And it's certainly not robust enough to handle much gigging...
I probably wouldn't do p-to-p again. Turret board looks like the next step.
I'm not including a layout for this project, just the schematic. Why? Because I wouldn't build it like this a second time....
Although for all my complaining, the amp is very quiet (noise-wise)...
Heater Wires
If the filaments are AC (directly from the PT), then the wires should be twisted together to reduce noise. Don't bother for DC powered heaters.

Image Notes
1. Point-to-point wiring.
2. Yellow wires are power tube filament twisted-pair wires.
3. DC filament wiring for preamp tube.

Image Notes
1. Vintage NOS phenolic socket...maybe a new ceramic is preferable (but I've got
about 30 of these...)
2. New ceramic sockets.
3. Tube locations suck. They should all be in-line against the back of the chassis...

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Step 15: The Cabinet, Construction


Most of the plywood for the cabinet was "reclaimed" lumber, scavenged locally. I've collected pieces for a while, mostly to use as boat building stations (forms.) I've got a
nice selection in varying thicknesses.
The body of cabinet is 1/2 in. plywood, the front is 3/8 in.
All the edges were beveled by hand, so the vinyl covering would conform easier.

Image Notes
1. Tools of the trade...

Image Notes
1. Scavenged lumber.

Image Notes
1. Bevel edges with a hand plane.

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Image Notes
1. Sides cut.

Image Notes
1. Test fit sides and bottom.
2. Temporary brace.
3. Bar clamps

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Image Notes
1. Cutting the chassis supports by hand (it's quicker than using power tools...if you
know what you're doing.)

Image Notes
1. Checking the squareness of the cut. Pretty close to a right angle...for an
eyeball.

Image Notes
1. The chassis supports planed smooth and square.

Step 16: The Cabinet, Dowel Joints


The chassis supports and cross-brace were attached with a dowel joint.
There might be easier ways to do it, but it's a nicely-hidden joint. It also prevents difficulties when installing the vinyl covering. It can be done before or after the covering
is applied.
How dowel joints work
-- Use a drill bit collar to set the hole depth.
-- The "dowel centers" mark the exact position to drill on the other piece of wood. Push the centers into the hole.
-- Align the second piece and tap with a mallet. The centers mark the mirrored drilling location.
-- Drill the second set of holes.
-- Glue and clamp.
Repeat this routine for the cross brace.

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Image Notes
1. Dowel centers placed in the holes.

Image Notes
1. Bit and collar.
2. Dowel centers.

Image Notes
1. Marked for drilling.
2. Roughed up for gluing.

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Image Notes
1. Ready for dowels and assembly.

Image Notes
1. Clamp tightly.
Image Notes
1. PVA glue.

Image Notes
1. Cross brace. Assembled and clamped with bar clamp.
2. Chassis support.
3. Chassis support, dried overnight.

Step 17: The Cabinet, Outer Covering


The cabinet was skinned with a roll of black vinyl that's been laying around here forever. Contact cement is the best adhesive for this application.
Apply the cement to both the wood and the back of the covering material. Let dry according to directions. 20 minutes worked well for me.
Carefully place the two pieces together. Work from the center outward, pushing any air bubbles out with a brayer.
Cutting and gluing the corners
Here's a quick tutorial on the corners (there may be other types, but this technique worked OK.)
-- Glue the front of the piece, wrapping the vinyl over the edges and around the back. Be careful to avoid any gathers, etc. To form the corner, first remove the excess by
making two cuts.
-- Cut the excess overlap, outward toward the back of the edge (cut #1.)
-- Continue removing the excess by cutting inward to the back of the edge (cut #2.) A square of excess is now removed.
-- Create the edge flap by cutting parallel (cut #3) to the previous cut, along the front of the edge.
-- An optional fourth cut trims a little excess off the outer "back flap" by cutting at a shallow angle.
-- Apply the contact cement.

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-- Fold the edge flap inward.


-- Fold the outer back flap over the edge flap, to the inside of the panel.

Image Notes
1. Contact cement.
Image Notes
1. Large roll of vinyl.

Image Notes
1. A brayer.

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Image Notes
1. Draw the covering over the edge and on to the back.

Image Notes
1. First stage done, cover applied.

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Image Notes
1. Corner, cut #1

Image Notes
1. After cuts 1 and 2.

Image Notes
1. Corner, cut #2

Image Notes
1. Corner, cut #3.

Image Notes
1. Corner, optional angled cut #4.
2. The edge flap. Glue, then wrap this flap inward first.
3. The back flap. Wrap this flap second, over the first.

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Image Notes
1. Corner, finished.
2. Staples are optional.

Image Notes
1. Cover finished, corners included.

Step 18: The Cabinet, more construction details


Front Panel Dress and Top
The panel dress and top were cut after the rest of the case was assembled and the chassis was fitted. They were then covered with vinyl.
The front panel dress is 1/4 in. plywood.
Front Face / Speaker Baffle
The front was cut from 3/8 in. plywood with a sabre saw. It was traced on a piece of butcher paper, in case the cabinet wasn't quite square. It wasn't traced directly, so
that one edge could more accurately be aligned with the "factory edge" of the plywood. The front is large enough to accommodate a 10 in. speaker, if desired.
A small "beam blocker" circle was left in the center, to block the harsh treble that usually projects at a narrow angle straight from the speaker.
Eight holes were drilled and countersunk for the mounting screws. The screws fit very snugly, but were also PVA glued in place.
Grill Cloth
The grill cloth is undyed burlap; a nice open weave that's very transparent to sound waves.
It was simply wrapped over the front and stapled in the back, carefully. It's easy to keep it tight and straight. No glue was used.
Attaching the Baffle Panel
A bottom cleat, made from a section of 1x2, was added to the cabinet.
The front baffle panel was screwed to the cleat at the bottom, and to the chassis supports at the top. Finishing washer dress up the screws.

Image Notes
1. Front panel dress.
2. The top.
3. Chickenhead goodness.
4. The wall-o-clamps.
5. Poor little Hammond OT, before retirement.

Image Notes

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1. Top and panel dress after covering.

Image Notes
1. The speaker baffle traced before cutting.

Image Notes
1. Speaker cutout.

Image Notes
1. 4 holes were drilled for the sabre saw blade.

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Image Notes
1. Countersink bit on a hand drill.
2. Countersunk hole, one of eight.

Image Notes
1. Closeup of the countersinking.
Image Notes
1. Mounting screws glued in place.

Image Notes
1. The back of the speaker baffle.

Image Notes
1. Test-fitting speaker baffle.

Image Notes
1. Speaker mounted and the baffle test-fitted.
Image Notes
1. Test the speaker mounts.

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Image Notes
1. Burlap drawn and stapled; no glue.

Image Notes
1. Cleat for the front baffle.

Image Notes
1. Screws and finishing washers.

Image Notes
1. Baffle with grill cloth finished.

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Step 19: Links


The Valve Wizard
GREAT stuff, especially the "Triode Gain Stage" PDF.
http://www.freewebs.com/valvewizard/index.html
Tales From The Tone Lounge-- Mods and Odds!
Really good practical info on modding preamp sections.
http://tone-lizard.com/Mods_and_Odds.htm
The Definitive database of tube datasheets
http://tubes.mkdw.net/index.html
Parts
Ebay.com, of course, is a good source.

Step 20: OH, Man...I wish I had...


No project is without lessons learned. In this case, I wish I had:
--Used a heaver, possibly stock, metal chassis.
--Substituted a 10 inch speaker.
--Used a turret board, instead of point-to-point. The more I modified the project, the more a tangled web it became. After this project, layout for turret board makes perfect
sense--tubes on the back, controls on the front and the component board between....
So, additionally, the chassis layout sucks, too. Initially my main concern was to keep the preamp tube far away from the power transformer. But the lead-dress is awful.
The "star-ground" is in the wrong place, too.
It must be said: despite the "rat's nest," the amp is quiet.
--The filament tap is not separated from the HV secondary. Too bad I didn't just use a separate 3A 6.3v transformer for the filaments, and added the 6-7V from the main
transformer to the HV tap (about 149V, vs 142V.) After all, I had to add the wallwart for the preamp anyway....
--Used tube sockets with some sort of retaining clips--the chassis is upside-down. It hasn't been a problem yet, but eventually... All new ceramic sockets might be better,
too.
Oh, and I did add a negative feedback loop. Although it did lessen the punch and (audio) feedback, and tone down the bass, it added a bit of "fartyness," too. That flabby,
farty tone was present whether the nfb was switched in or not.
So I ripped it out right away.
Sometimes this is just a solder-joint issue, sometimes it's a bad cap. But it might be a routing problem, which at this point is beyond fixing without a complete rebuild.

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Image Notes
1. Nothing to brag about here...yes, I need to rewire it. Although I'll probably just
start over with a new chassis and a better layout.
Image Notes
1. Vintage NOS phenolic socket...maybe a new ceramic is preferable (but I've
got about 30 of these...)
2. New ceramic sockets.
3. Tube locations suck. They should all be in-line against the back of the
chassis...

Step 21: Finding parts for a build (transformers, etc.)


The "Iron"
If anyone replicates this build, it's unlikely they'll find a 142V transformer. So how to replace that part?
-- One solution is a 230V primary (euro mains), 300-0-300V secondary trannie. If you're in the US, connect the primary to standard US 117V mains, and you've got a 1500-150V secondary--perfect! However, any filament taps will be halved, so a separate 6V transformer is needed.
-- Try a "universal" isolation transformer--one that has 117 and 230 primaries, and a 117 secondary. Wire that backwards, and tap 230 volts. Then use a "choke input
filter"; the choke is first inline after the rectifier, not a cap. that should drop the voltage to less than 210V (vs. 322V for a rectified 230 RMS.) No filament taps, so same as
above...
-- Hammond makes an excellent power transformer:
263CX 116VA, sec. 180-0-180, DC ma 250, Fil. #1(rectifier) 5.0v @ 3a ct.
It's 180V, but with a tube rectifier like a 5U4 instead of the SS bridge, the output voltage should be very near 200V. It has a 5V source for the rectifier--a separate 6V
filament transformer would be needed...
-- For the PS inductor, Any 4 to 10 Henry inductor will do, but should be rated for at least 120mA @ 250V. New, 4 to 10 Henry inductors are easy to find. The power
supply could be redesigned with an initial RC filter, replacing the LC filter (that would be a cheaper option, too.) But that wouldn't be as efficient as the LC setup, and also
change the load on the power transformer. Not only would the PT need to be large enough to handle it, it might necessitate changing the resistance values in the power
supply also.
NOTE:
Under NO circumstances should an autotransformer be used in place of a standard power transformers. Autotransformers are often used in international voltage
converters--i.e., to use U.S. appliances with European wall voltages.
Autotransformers are not isolated, and would constitute a serious hazard in guitar amps.
--A separate 6.3V, 3 amp transformer for the filaments (heaters) will be necessary unless you get lucky and find a trannie with secondaries of 150V and 6V. Again, large
current draw for the heaters--2.7 amps @ 6.3V.
-- The Edcor OT is pretty much perfect. Used output transformers are trickier to find, however, due to the lower load resistance of these tubes. It's pretty easy to find OTs
for 6V6's, 6L6's, etc., but not for the 50L6 family--except for low-wattage, single tube radios, etc. But that iron is usually less than 5 watts, and not useful for this build.
Tubes
-- Not an issue, NOS tubes are plentiful.

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Image Notes
1. Somewhat difficult to find transformer--at least new.
2. NOS tubes--easy to find.

Image Notes
1. Look to the source--obsolete electronics. Save something good from the landfill.

Step 22: The End???


More parallel 6DG6GT SE designs (or parallel PP) are churning away in my head. A three tube, 11 or 12 watt amp would be quite impressive. Or two parallel stages of
two tubes each-- a "twin parallel" design.
And can the 6DG6GT be run higher than 200V, squeezing-out more wattage? The max spec for the 6V6 is 250V, yet they are commonly pushed to 350v, 400V and
beyond. NOS tubes are notorious for absorbing punishment, and they keep on ticking...
So why is this class of tubes (6DG6GT, 50L6, etc.) ignored by amp builders today?
--They are a somewhat underpowered compared to classic power tubes (hence this "parallel" design.)
--They were commonly used in AC/DC "radio tube" amps, which many of today's builders don't respect.
--50 volts for the heaters is tough to achieve. In the old amps, all the tube were wired in series, and the wall "mains" were used directly. This is unacceptable, today.
Actually, these tubes were originally designed to run the heaters directly off the mains...(although not the 6DG6DT variant.)
--Many modern builders aren't aware of the lower filament voltage variants (I, for instance, didn't know about the 6.3V version...)

Image Notes
1. Pilot, on/off, standby
2. Presence, tone, volume
3. inputs 1 and 2

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Step 23: Update, V0.2


Here's the entire schematic (V0.2), with a few changes...
-- The whole schematic is now a single graphic.
-- One of the power amp cathode bypass resistors has been reduced from 50uf to 20uF. Even less capacitance is an option...
The Screen Supply Switch
An additional source for the 6DG6GT screens has been added: the Edcor output transformer has a 40% screen tap. Now this is switchable, between the old PS B.3 tap,
and the transformer tap.
A bit of research confirms that a pentode screen operating from a OT tap is running in ultra-linear mode . Although I see no evidence to support the claim "...a maximum
power output equal or even greater than the strict pentode operation of the tube... "
In fact, it's definitely a softer, mellower, "woodier" sound (with some volume attenuation.) By alternating between the old and new schemes, the switch acts, in a way, like
a simple boost.
Of course, using the screen tap on the OT shifts the current draw for the screens from B.3 to B.1....more current draw on B.1 reduces the voltage available on the B.2 for
the preamp. This may also explain the volume drop.
Alternative Power Supply
The PDF below includes an alternative power supply which uses off-the-shelf (Hammond) transformers in place of my own "scrounged" inductors. It utilizes a tube
rectifier instead of the SS bridge--which is why the higher voltage (180V) PT works.
I haven't built it, so a little experimentation is called for....(in fact, read the pdf carefully, some modifications are suggested.)
External Cab
I've been using the amp a lot lately with a 2x12 cab. There's a lot more headroom with the larger speakers / cabinet combination.
It's definitely bassier and louder, too. I still switch to the internal speaker when I want to drive the amp to the edge of instability (feedback, etc.), but it's a more vintage
sound with the cab.

Image Notes
1. Reduced to 20uF. Anything from 5uF to 50uF is reasonable.
2. New switchable screen supply.

File Downloads

Power Source for 8W Parallel 6DG6GT Amp.pdf ((612x792) 57 KB)


[NOTE: When saving, if you see .tmp as the file ext, rename it to 'Power Source for 8W Parallel 6DG6GT Amp.pdf']

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Step 24: Update, V0.3


Sept, 2008
I continue to refine the amp. It's been several months since the initial build, and it's still going strong. Any concerns I had-- for instance the power tube cathode bias being
too "hot"-- are gone... Here are the next round of changes (see the new schematic):
(***there's another change I won't be adding to the schematic yet...we'll see if I like it first..***)
1) Added a screen-grid stopper resistor to the ultra-linear tap of the output transformer. It's there to prevent too much current from frying the screen.
It's added only in series with the tap, not with the main screen supply. The main supply already has the current dropping resistors in the power supply.
If anything, it's addition has brightened and added gain to that option of the screen supply (there are two options available.)
2) Removed the extra cathode bypass cap on the second power tube. It just didn't make a large difference.
It's still not a bad idea--only have a double pole switch add / remove capacitance from both 6DG6GT's at the same time. That would make a noticeable difference. Maybe
start with two 10uF, and switch in another pair of 30uF caps....
3) Added an external speaker jack. I've been experimenting with two cabs.
-- a 2X12 cab with two old CTS organ speakers (with the "whizzer cones.") It's an old bass cab.
-- a 4x12 cab with two Eminence speakers (and the other two holes empty.)
It's pretty freaking amazing how loud this amp is with a 2x12 cab. I literally can't hear myself shouting...
Of the two cabs, the Eminence speakers have a harder, more aggressive sound. Which you would expect. What I didn't expect is how much I like the old CTS speakers-especially when the amp isn't cranked. It's hard to describe--but a very full, vintage sound that loves single-coil pickups....

Image Notes
1. Screen-grid stopper
2. External speaker jack
3. Extra bypass cap (switchable) removed.

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Image Notes
1. External speaker jack.
2. Screen supply switch
3. Negative feedback loop switch.
4. Back panels added, too.

Image Notes
1. The jack is mounted in a recessed draw pull.

Image Notes
1. Old Peavey bass cab, with the front removed for the photo. Too bad it's like 100
lbs...

Image Notes
1. The Whizzer Cone

Step 25: Local NFB Option, V0.4


Late Sept., 2008
While reading about the weird additions to the Fender Bassman (Ver AB165), I noticed a comment about a local N egative F eedB ack loop on one of the gain stages. In
theory, this should add some compression to the amp. NFB will also extend the frequency response of the amp.
NOTE: Just so we're clear:
Negative Feedback results in less of the high frequency feedback squeal usually associated with guitar amps (that's "positive feedback.") Negative is good, in this case.
So I tried it on the second preamp stage. I really like it! Of course, a NFB (negative feedback) loop will subtract a bit of gain from the amp--hence it's "optional" nature.
For a bit of a twist, I ran the feedback signal back through the tone stack. Note that the "presence" control still works with the NFB, but has less effect on the sound.
Any value from 100K to 680K will probably yield results...pick one that suits you. Rule-of-thumb: the lower the resistance in the loop, the more feedback and the more
signal loss. So lower values like100K will have more effect on the tone, but make the amp quieter and less overdriven. it's certain possible to have a switching option,
also.
NOTE: I did add a switch for the NFB loop , and it works great. Switched in, the sound is definitely sweet and lush. Switched out, the punchy, raw sound returns.
The cab back photo shows the switch, along side the screen supply switch. The switch has now been reassigned for different uses--twice. Maybe a relay / footpedal
setup in the future?

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Image Notes
1. Larger resistance values means less feedback, so less effect...

Image Notes
1. External speaker jack.
2. Screen supply switch
3. Negative feedback loop switch.
4. Back panels added, too.

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Comments
view all 293 comments

50 comments Add Comment

cnludwig says:

Feb 27, 2011. 5:59 PM REPLY

Cool project. I like how you used otherwise unwanted parts (power tubes and transformer) and created a design around it.

gmoon says:

Feb 28, 2011. 6:00 AM REPLY

:-)

eridan says:

Dec 18, 2010. 12:08 AM REPLY

Very interesting. Thanx a lot!

smartrobot says:

Dec 3, 2010. 5:20 PM REPLY


This person had a bunch of boxes on the curb it said free so I took a look, and one of the boxes was full of vacuum tubes. some of them are not labeled so
how can I find out what they are?

gmoon says:

Dec 4, 2010. 6:08 AM REPLY


Almost all tubes are marked in some way. Sometimes the labeling is hard to see, but try looking at different angles and varying light conditions.
Be careful when cleaning tubes; you can rub off the markings...

smartrobot says:

Dec 5, 2010. 2:25 PM REPLY

I googled the tubes that had letters on them it looks like they came out of a old tv so it does not matter.

katatonicdean says:

Dec 2, 2010. 4:29 PM REPLY

Alright, thanks for all your help!

gmoon says:

Dec 3, 2010. 12:42 PM REPLY


Antec--that was the company that makes a 150V toroidal transformer with filament windings too, at a reasonable price. It's the AN-1T150 model.
Find their stuff here . I've never used it, but that's the closest I've seen to the transformer I used, and it's not very expensive.

katatonicdean says:

Dec 2, 2010. 1:28 AM REPLY


Hey,
First off, I was just wondering if this can be converted into a bass amp with an added bass knob.
Secondly, do you know of a place that I can get a similar choke, power transformer, and output transformer?
And thirdly, what pins were used for the tubes? It would be really helpful to know. (I notices that you used the 12ax7 twice, but on the power supply you only
had one of the filament pins powered?)
Thanks for all your help!

gmoon says:

Dec 2, 2010. 12:55 PM REPLY


Converting to a bass amp? Probably by using somewhat lower value coupling capacitors. Where this amp uses 0.02 uF caps, you could go with 0.033 or
0.047 uF coupling caps.
That would be more "bassy". If you need a separate bass knob, then use a different tone stack in place of the existing one. This website will be helpful.
Edcor makes the output transformer. You can find similar voltage power transformers, but that's a bit harder. I had a nice link to a 150V toroidal PT, but I
lost it when my computer died. If I find it I'll post it later. Chokes are easier, Hammond makes those.
You'll have to look up the pin outs yourself, they are on the datasheet I linked (and you can find these online)--in fact, if you've never built a tube amp
before, I'd recommend you do a lot more research. You'll figure it out...
The 12ax7 is listed twice, but it's a dual triode, so two triodes are enclosed in the same tube. Hence, only one filament is needed (note: 12ax7s can be
wired as either 12.6V or 6.3V filaments).

katatonicdean says:
Oh, and can i use a higher ohm speaker. I was thinking an 8 ohm or 16 ohm speaker. What would I need to do?

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Dec 2, 2010. 1:48 AM REPLY

gmoon says:

Dec 2, 2010. 12:42 PM REPLY

Choose an output transformer with whatever impedance you need.


I.E., if you have a 16 ohm cabinet, get a transformer with a 16 ohm output impedance. I'm sure Edcor makes this trannie in both 8 and 16 ohm versions.
Some OTs have multiple coil taps. You'd need to special order that from Edcor...

ski4jesus says:

Oct 9, 2010. 4:49 PM REPLY

DUDE. that is sooo sweet haha hey btw, i have that sammmeee guitar haha great job!

reinovator says:

Aug 10, 2010. 8:57 PM REPLY

Thank you for keeping PURE amplification Alive.This is a keeper!! Thank you.

rode says:

Aug 8, 2010. 4:58 PM REPLY

Very well explained - maybe too well, as those with no experience might be tempted. Nice job overall though - very thorough.
There are a lot of comments about this amp, so I may have missed it ... Using the 7V tap off the main HT winding is a VERY BAD idea, because you can
very easily exceed the maximum heater/cathode voltage (which will cause catastrophic failure), and at the very minimum you get hum if there is any leakage.
Just upgrade the wallwart used for the 12AX7 so it can handle all the heaters. All the circuitry operates at hazardous voltages (including the output valve
heaters !!!). This is a potential killer - please amend the circuit to use the small auxiliary heater transformer for all valves - both for safety and to protect the
heater-cathode insulation.
The position of the standby switch means that as you switch it off, a HUGE voltage spike is generated in the choke because you've just interrupted the
current flow. The spike can (and has) damaged the insulation in the choke.
This can be fixed by using diodes (you'll have to work out where they go, it's too hard to describe in a short message).
Single-ended Class-A output stages always have asymmetrical distortion which many guitarists dislike. A disconnected speaker will usually cause the
demise of the output transformer (same mechanism as interrupting the current through the filter choke).
Hope this is helpful.

gmoon says:

Aug 8, 2010. 7:48 PM REPLY

Thanks for your comments...


The filament winding is indeed bad for hum, but not much of an issue with the power tubes.
I'm not too concerned about safety. The PT is fully isolated and the chassis grounded to earth. Any catastrophic short between the PT secondaries
should just fry the heaters (and / or blow a fuse). Bad for the tubes, but not much of a safety issue. A separate filament transformer would indeed be a
better solution from the hum perspective, though.
The standby switch was never added to the circuit (and indeed is overkill in a smaller amp), but I agree with your assessment.
(much of this amp has been largely redesigned / rebuilt in the last two years; maybe someday I'll post an updated schematic...)
Single-ended Class-A output stages always have asymmetrical distortion which many guitarists dislike. A disconnected speaker will usually cause the
demise of the output transformer (same mechanism as interrupting the current through the filter choke).
Not sure why you added this. I don't disagree (actually I do disagree about Class-A, at least compared to other topologies), but the dangers of running a
tube amp without a load are well known...

rode says:

Aug 8, 2010. 10:31 PM REPLY


gmoon,
If you measure the peak and peak+DC between 6DG6GT cathode and heater, you'll find that it is either right at the very limit of the allowable
maximum, or may exceed it. This is generally not recommended & that's what I was concerned about.
The safety issue was mentioned because people expect the heater supply to be "safe" low voltage. Your arrangement causes peak voltages of over
200V on the heater supply.
A properly designed push-pull valve amp will have almost perfectly symmetrical clipping. It's not the Class-A part, but the fact that it's single-ended.
Symmetrical clipping is almost impossible other than within a very narrow range.
There are countless ways to make a valve amp safe (well, safe-ish) with no load, but single-ended output stages are close to impossible to protect.
I rarely make comments on the Instructibles site, but this is an area that I know very well indeed, having designed and worked with valve amps for
over 40 years. Just trying to help ;-)
Cheers, Rod
(see http://sound.westhost.com/valves/ for the info I have available).

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gmoon says:

Aug 9, 2010. 6:39 AM REPLY

Great stuff on your link, Rod....

gmoon says:

Aug 9, 2010. 6:19 AM REPLY


Rod, why would there be 200V on the heaters? I'm not using the 50L6 tubes (seriously--I'd like to know if that's the case.) Also, you're aware that
two Si diodes have been place in series with the AC heater voltage to drop it below 7V? It's mentioned in the text...
We can argue about the different "sound" of tube amp topologies ad infinitum, but it's preference , not textbook math or science, You have yours,
I have mine. I enjoy both Class A SE (pushed to clipping beyond it's technical Class A definition), AND I enjoy push-pull AB amps too.
For guitar amps, of course. Not for all audio. And I hardly invented the Class A SE guitar amp...
I still don't know why we're discussing "no load" for this amp. It has a load ;-) Do we want to start a separate theory discussion? That would be
OK...
Thanks for the link!

rode says:

Aug 12, 2010. 12:19 AM REPLY


gmoon,
The peak 200V is on the heaters because of the bridge rectifier. I won't try to explain it in a post - but you can measure it with an oscilloscope
(10:1 probes are mandatory), or it can be simulated.
Once one side of the output of a bridge rectifier is earthed, the AC winding cannot possibly remain at 0V. The diodes only change the voltage
to the heaters, not their voltage with respect to chassis.
Preference (and getting the sound you want) is indeed the dominant force with any guitar amp, but I've heard countless musicians complain
about "thin and reedy" sound when their amp becomes asymmetrical for whatever reason, and I just thought I'd mention it.
Cheers, Rod

gmoon says:

Aug 12, 2010. 5:35 AM REPLY

I will measure it, Rod.


Are we talking about an "elevated" voltage in relation to the chassis ground? Because it's possible that I placed the filament winding at the
top of the transformer in the graphic simply to make drawing it easier.
Although when I think about it that's irrelevant; windings at either end would have to approach peak V...

REA says:

Aug 8, 2010. 9:05 PM REPLY

isnt it the amps (lol pun!) that kill you, not the voltage?

zack247 says:

Aug 8, 2010. 8:36 PM REPLY

i think i have a tube like the one on the far left in step 22. never knew how to use it...

mwseniff says:

Aug 8, 2010. 1:57 PM REPLY


Make sure you fix that Ampeg Gemini II (especially if it has the 15" Jensen Concertone Alnico speaker). I have one and it is my favorite of all my tube amps
and probably my all time favorite amp. Gorgeous reverb and great sounding tremolo as well as accordion inputs, These amps have a truly golden sound
using 7591 output tubes which are available again from factories in Russia, 7591'a were actually a hifi tube used by Fisher Radio and other fine
manufacturers back in the 60's probably the sweetest sounding audio output tube ever made. These also used 7199 driver tubes which are also being made
again and the new ones sound quite good. I have been a tube repair tech since I started in the electronic business in 1970 and I have repaired and played
guitar thru nearly every mass produced guitar amp made before 2000 so I know what I am talking about here. Good project and you did a pretty fine job for a
first time build. I usually build amps on old chassis that I scavenge from old tube organs and old tube PA amps. You can also find old industrial chassis
sometimes that work well. I have a set of chassis from the subsystems of a vacuum tube based electron microscope that was made in Germany that will
make some very pretty amps, they are all finished in a beautiful gray enamel paint with chrome trim, many were made to slide in as modules to a large rack
cabinet. I also have a big stash of 25L6's that I intend to use as output tubes for a guitar amp. I planned on using 5 in parallel with an isolation transformer for
the filament supply. If I string the filaments in series 5 of them will need 125 VAC which should work perfect. Thanks for the great instructable.

gmoon says:

Aug 8, 2010. 7:57 PM REPLY

Great comment!
The Gemini II is largely refurbished! Unfortunately, when I bought the amp years ago (in 1978) the original speaker was missing. I've got an old Hepner
alnico speaker installed, but I'm looking for a better replacement...
But I'm also playing a rebuilt Kalamazoo "Bass 30" as a guitar amp, and that also uses 7591 output tubes, and I love it!

Earthscum says:

Aug 8, 2010. 8:20 AM REPLY


The cathode bypass cap isn't labeled because you choose it to decide at what frequency you want it to boost. The cathode cap and resistor form a high pass
circuit, dropping all frequencies above a certain point to ground, causing the amplifier to boost those frequencies. Here's a site with good explanations:
http://www.freewebs.com/valvewizard/ This page in particular shows the response of different bypass caps:
http://www.freewebs.com/valvewizard2/OtherStuff.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

gmoon says:

Aug 8, 2010. 7:18 PM REPLY

Thanks for your comment. The "valve wizard" site is already listed on the "links" page.
However, my comment isn't about the missing bypass cap value, rather the fact that it isn't identified as a cathode bypass cap in the datasheet graphic.

jack002 says:

Aug 8, 2010. 2:39 PM REPLY

I was wondering, do your volume knobs go up to 11?

ElJefeUno says:

Nov 30, 2008. 6:55 PM REPLY


Anything above 40 volts is generally considered "high voltage", as it's enough volatage to break down your skin's inherent insulation and allow current to flow
across your heart high enough to kill you. I've built tube amps, and I recommend to anyone aspiring to build on that they use extreme caution while working
with them. Discharge all caps before working on it (as stated above), and take great care when using a multimeter to troubleshoot. I personally use "gator
clamps" when checking high voltages, so that I can do it hands off and not risk my life.

dickweed101us says:

Aug 8, 2010. 12:06 PM REPLY


I KNOW THIS IS OLD BUT, This is from Wikipedia The International Electrotechnical Commission and its national counterparts (IET, IEEE, VDE, etc.)
define high voltage circuits as those with more than 1000 V for alternating current and at least 1500 V for direct current, and distinguish it from low
voltage (501000 V AC or 1201500 V DC) and extra low voltage (<50 V AC or <120 V DC) circuits. I just dont like when someone goes saying
something that they dont know anything about...

sonofkikkoman says:

Apr 13, 2009. 4:33 PM REPLY

but there is a big difference in 40vac and 40vdc

gmoon says:

Nov 30, 2008. 8:47 PM REPLY

Thanks, good comment.

UnseenBucket says:

May 9, 2010. 12:43 PM REPLY


Hey, awesome guide! do you know of any smaller scale projects? thing is, im only 15 and our school has a bad science department so all this is a little
confusing to me, and i wanna be an amp design engineer when im older so i thought experience now wouldnt do any harm, so yeah, is there any other
projects i could do to get me start that you know of?

gmoon says:

May 9, 2010. 5:52 PM REPLY

Thanks! Search for "valvecaster"--it's a low-voltage preamp, and a great intro to tubes.
You'd need a working amplifier to plug it into, of course...

mattzerah says:

Jun 26, 2008. 4:20 PM REPLY


Yes, you are correct in saying that its a combination of amps and volts, but when it comes down to it, its the amps that actually determine if you die or not.
The reason a AA battery doesn't kill you is your body provides enough resistance to bring the amps down to a safe level. There are also cases (with car
ignition) where thousands of volts may not kill you. Thats because the amps that are produced by the ignition are not enough (although its border line, dont
try that at home, people have died from car ignitions, but some people havn't). The reason home voltage kills you is it runs at 10A (well, in australia it does)
and the amount of resistance that your body provides to that just is not enough to bring it to safe levels. I'll stop rambling now and read the rest of the story :)
Great project!

gmoon says:

Jun 26, 2008. 6:44 PM REPLY

Lets just say it's a different way of saying "be careful."


The reason a AA battery doesn't kill you is your body provides enough resistance to bring the amps down to a safe level.
That's another way of making my point. For a fixed resistance, increasing the voltage drives more amps. Take any 6V motor, and measure the current
draw. Now increase the voltage outside it's operating range, say to 12V. The amperage increases and the motor burns out.
Yes, the amps killed the motor. But it was the extra voltage that drove those amps through the motor coils. So you really need to think about the whole
Ohms Law equation, not just amps and not just resistance...
(Plus the transconductance of human skin is not linear--skin shows less resistance as voltage rises, not a linear change dictated by "Ohms Law," but an
actual reduction in resistance , which implies that voltage is quite important, too.)

smeezekitty says:

Apr 22, 2010. 9:18 PM REPLY

FYI most 6 volt motors work on 12 volts ;)

gmoon says:
None that I've bricked...

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Apr 23, 2010. 5:18 AM REPLY

manumanu764 says:

Apr 5, 2010. 4:18 PM REPLY

no pcb at all right?

gmoon says:

Apr 6, 2010. 5:30 AM REPLY

Yep, just point-to-point wiring.


Except for the power supply, which I built on a breadboard. I used the breadboard so I could elevate the PS above the end bell of the power transformer,
which sticks through the chassis. But terminal strips would work just as well as the breadboard.

Iceberg59 says:

Mar 3, 2010. 7:24 AM REPLY


I just came into posession of an early '60s-era Magnavox console stereo of the type that was almost universal in suburban households back then. It works
perfectly now -- even the tuner and turntable. The power amp has 4 6V6 tubes (2 per channel). I haven't looked very closely at the preamp yet but I rather
imagine it's got 12AX7s in there. It has the typical three tone controls, with the single oddity that the power switches through the treble control pot (which
wouldn't be too difficult to fix). My question: Do I have something here that could be converted into a viable guitar amp?
'Berg

gmoon says:

Mar 3, 2010. 1:04 PM REPLY

Very probably yes.


You've got a pair of 6V6 push-pull power amps, each with a dedicated phase inverter (push-pull requires both a non-inverted and an inverted signal
input.) 6V6 PP amps were usually in the 10-12 watt range (that's pretty darn loud with a decent speaker.)
The question is whether or not there's a functional preamp stage--sometimes the radio / phonographs had their own preamp sections, which fed into the
power amp. Regardless, a preamp stage can be added easily.
You could wire it as a stereo amp, too.
And yeah, for some reason a lot of older amps had the on/off switch on the tone knob. You can certainly move that.
The power transformer would have to be re-wired to for a three-prong cord--it's unsafe to use a guitar amp unless it has a correct ground reference.
Read my instructable on isolation transformers , which has some pertinent information (99.9% sure you won't need the iso transformer, but you will need
to add the grounded cord.)

Iceberg59 says:

Mar 3, 2010. 2:31 PM REPLY


Oh it's got an apparently functioning preamp, too. The tubes fire up and appear to be rock stable. It's on an entirely separate chassis from the power
amps'. There are a number (I don't remember how many at the moment) of 12AX7-looking tubes on it and on -- if memory properly serves -- yet
another chassis. I don't think the tuner has its own on-board preamp; the phonograph obviously does and they are discrete components. What's
really nice is that there's a still-legible schematic of the thing glued to the inside of the bottom of the cabinet right next to the preamp chassis, which
should be helpful but it won't have specifications like recommended plate voltages and proper biasing. Then again, I'd suspect (assuming I get this
project off the ground) that rebiasing would be desirable considering that stereo component manufacturers don't much care to have their amps
breaking out with a case of distortion.
It's been a long time since I messed with this particular stuff; by the time I got to college (M.E./E.E. at Kansas State) in the late '70s we got the theroy
of tube operation but concentrated almost exlusively on solid-state design and fabrication. Even earlier, 8th grade science fair I think, my buddy and I
built a tube amp for a portable record player from scratch, so it's not like I'm a complete ignoramus, but I know my limitations. I need to dig through
the library and see if I can find some of my old reference material.
When I get home tonight I'm going to have a closer look at it and get a better idea what I've got with respect to the preamp and transformer, and
maybe get a few pictures. Gotcha on the grounding issue too, but thanks for the reminder.
'Berg

gmoon says:

Mar 3, 2010. 8:06 PM REPLY


Oh, wow, an EE--you should be teaching me. Now I know I don't have to explain things like phase inverters and push-pull...
I were you, I'd be facing a dilemma--modify the existing stages for guitar, or strip the amp (transformers are gold) and build a more "classic" 6V6
amp, like a Fender 5E3.
You've got the background to do it either way--building a stereo guitar amp would be really cool; but maybe not so practical (ideally you'd want
two speaker cabinets, but that's bulky, etc.) Having that schematic will certainly make your life easier.
An early 60's amp has the advantage of NOT being made for audiophiles. I pulled a similar mono power amp from a console, and it's supersimple.
The power tubes are probably just cathode biased, and might not even need biasing. And I'm pretty sure any amp that's older than 20 yrs should
probably have the filter caps replaced. Certainly some component values can (and should) be changed to make it more guitar-y, especially in the
preamp stage.
Have you seen Schematic Heaven ? It's a great resource, and you can compare the current schematic to other amps you like...

Iceberg59 says:

Mar 4, 2010. 11:20 AM REPLY


gmoon, I'm not now nor have I ever been a practicing E.E.; I did the coursework because I had some extra time on my hands and thought it'd
be a useful dual for a projected career path that didn't -- alas -- pan out. Hence the rust on my sparky-foo.
Thanks for the link to SH; THAT took a little time out of my day ;)
I've been considering which way I'd like to go with this thing, stereo or mono first, or whether or not it'd be worth it to use one channel for

http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

clean and the other for more, erm, exotic stuff. I'm going to have to think that one through a bit more. One of my other avocations is
woodworking, so building the cabs and head case would be no serious chore; I have numerous resources for free plans, including several
Instructables, and sources for salvage components that I don't already have on hand as well. I can even round up or scrounge old chassis
and control plates or fabricate them if need be -- a brother with an ironworker is a useful asset. And I'm not too concerned with portability
because I wouldn't be dumb enough to use a homebuilt for playing out at least until I'd had several hundred hours' worth of proofing on the
thing beforehand.
I didn't get a chance to look at the unit last night and won't now until the weekend. Hope you don't mind me picking your brain once I've got a
better idea of what I have here.
'Berg

gmoon says:

Mar 5, 2010. 6:34 AM REPLY

Don't mind at all. And I like the "scrounger" mentality...


Frankly (if it were me), I'd probably do a complete rebuild as a mono--partly because two separate chassis seems less reliable, and partly
because two-channel amps generally do their "magic" in the preamp section anyway.
And the existing transformer in the power amp would have plenty of filament amperage for the preamp sections, eliminating the need for
the second transformer on a separate chassis. That is, if one of the stereo channels were removed--and assuming the preamp has a
separate transformer (which is likely.)
You'd have a left-over output transformer for a second project, too. NOT that a stereo amp isn't a cool idea, mind you.
And just to be sure you're up on this--tube output sections HAVE to be connected to a load (even if it's just a dummy load), or the output
transformer will fry. So you couldn't just run one-half of a stereo power amp without taking proper precautions...

therocksock says:

Feb 20, 2010. 8:04 AM REPLY

would two 6L6GC tubes work?

therocksock says:

Feb 20, 2010. 8:09 AM REPLY

nevermind

gmoon says:

Feb 20, 2010. 8:42 AM REPLY

OK.
(You should look at simple push-pull amps like the Fender Super 5D4 instead, if you want to use 6L6 tubes. A push-pull output transformer for a pair
of 6L6's will be cheaper than a single-ended transformer for a pair...)

therocksock says:
ok thanks

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http://www.instructables.com/id/Guitar-Tube-Amp/

Feb 20, 2010. 1:00 PM REPLY

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