Tube Amplifiers

Guitar amplifiers are large boxes full, mostly, of air. The rest is occupied by some metal, a few electrical components, a speaker (usually), and some tubes. They take up a lot of space. They also sound good. But they take a lot of space.

When I first started out, I bought a bunch of old Gibsons and Fender amps, and amps by other, much more obscure, makers. Then I started to make amplifiers. I made a clone of the Marshall 18 Watt amp and it turned out pretty well. Then I was hooked. I've built a tweed Fender Bassman (5F6-A), a tweed Low Power Twin (5E8-A), another 18 Watt in a head cabinet, a Marshall JTM-45 clone. I've got another JTM-45 on the bench. I also built a speaker cabinet for the JTM45 head. Finally, I found the time to build a small 1-watt stereo hifi amp.

Gibson Amps

Clockwise from the bottom, a 1959 GA-5T, a 1957 GA-6, a 1948 GA-25, a 1950 GA-50T, and a 1951 GA-20.

The GA-6 is the best sounding amp of the bunch, one of the best I own. The GA-25 is maybe better suited as a harp amp. That's certainly what the previous owner used it for. The GA-20 and GA-50 are nice sounding but somewhat mellow amps, and the GA-5 is a handy alternative to a Champ. This is the GA-5 with the EL-84 power tube.

Getting parts for these old amps is a challenge, but I recently came across a site that offers some parts for GA 20s. It's called Buffalo Amps.

Fender Amps

On the left is my everyday practice amp, a 1963 Champ. It's stock, except for new filter caps. Of all Fender amps, I prefer the sound of the tweed circuits and this Champ sounds good at any volume.

I've got a '66 Blackface Champ and a couple of Silverface models, one of which I modified to "tweed" specs. Of course, the internal voltages are too high to really be a tweed circuit, but it sounds okay.

To the right is a very clean 1970 Deluxe Reverb. To my ears, it's hard to tell the difference between this amp and blackface Deluxes. I had a '66 DR, but I never really warmed up to it and I eventually sold it. Same for the brownface amps. I had a '62 Vibrolux and a '61 Deluxe but neither of them really worked for me and I sold them too. If I really think about it, I shouldn't keep this amp. So, it's for sale. Offers?

Self-built Amplifiers

The two thumbnails to the left are of my '59 Bassman clone. It's the 5F6A circuit. The cabinet and transformers are from Clark Amplification. It has NOS RCA preamp tubes, and a pair of NOS Tung-Sol 5881s. The speakers are Weber, alnicos on top and ceramics on bottom.
The above thumbnails are of my low power Tweed Twin, the 5E8-A circuit. You can see the pair of big bottle (ST envelope) 5U4G rectifiers, which is what makes this amp's power supply so stiff, and the pair of big bottle RCA 6L6-G power tubes. The other tubes are also RCA. The cabinet was made by Jeff Swanson. The transformers are by Mojotone. The hardest part about building the 5E8 is getting the right transformers (I'd say). As far as I know, Mojo is the only place making the correct output transformer.

Some amplifier links