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  • Tino Zottola guitar amp construction books

    Hello,

    Has anyone else built any of the projects from "Building Vacuum Tube Guitar and Bass Amplifiers," Volume 1 or Volume 2, by Tino Zottola? These are books that are being sold by Antique Electronic Supply and perhaps other sellers.

    I recently completed the Champ clone project from Volume 1. I made a few minor changes, using a Hammond power transformer instead of the stock Fender PT as well as a 4/8 ohm output transformer from Triode Electronics instead of the stock 4 ohm-only transformer.

    Volume 1 has some other funky single-ended projects and even early Deluxe and Bassman clones that I haven't tried yet. I do want to get back to those after I finish the Mission 5E3 I just started. I haven't seen Volume 2 yet.

    I'd like to hear from anybody who has built any of the amps from these books or hear that there's some interest before I bore anybody with additional details of the Champ clone project.

    Keep 'em glowing!

    Ian Abbott
    Ian E. Abbott
    Mission Amps 5E3
    Weber 5C1

  • #2
    I have some of his books. I have built the "Sonic MA1" from the first book. I've built it several times and modified it a bit to get a tone I like. The 50L6 power tube it uses is a cool sounding tube.

    I haven't built anything else from his books. I want to, I just haven't found the time. Volume 1 is all true point-to-point while volume 2 uses eyelet boards for the layouts.

    How did your champ turn out?

    Perlnerd

    Comment


    • #3
      I built the AA4 from the first book and it sounds pretty good. I have an old Marshall Lead 12 with the 2 10" cabs. I run it through one of them. Since its only 3 watts, I can crank it, not get reamed and get decent tone for practice.

      It was simple and the directions were easy to follow. It was a good project for first time builders. My next is the 5E3 from the second book.
      ----------------------------------

      Doc

      Comment


      • #4
        It's good to hear from others who have built projects from Mr. Zottola's book!

        I was happy with the Champ-inspired design from the first book. It had relatively little hum and sounded good through the 12" speaker in another combo amp I have. (I used an output transformer with a choice of 4 or 8 ohm output and wired my amp for 8 ohms.) After playing it for a few months I've disassembled it, intending to build another amp.

        My one disagreement with Mr. Zottola is with his wiring of the AC power coming into the chassis. Mr. Zottola's designs place the switch on the black (or "hot") line of the incoming power cord, and the fuse on the white (or "neutral") side of the power cord.

        I believe that such an arrangement is less safe than connecting the black (hot) wire to the fuse *first* and THEN to the power switch and on to the power transformer primary. This is how most commercial amps are wired and it maximizes the chance that the fuse will blow and disconnect the power from the chassis in the event of a fault.

        I would like to build both the MA-1 and the AA4 amps, but I think I would like to try a larger output transformer, perhaps one of the larger Hammond 125CSE or 125DSE available from Antique Electronic Supply and other sources.

        Direwolf, good luck with the 5E3! After building my Champ-design from Zottola's book I built a Mission Amps 5E3 Tweed Deluxe kit and it turned out great. That was more expensive than going the scratchbuilt route, but I *definitely* got much more than my money's worth. The finished amp looks and sounds beautiful. I've also built a 5C1 (octal pre-amp) kit from Weber and I'm very happy with that amp as well.

        Building tube amps is addictive, but in a good way!

        Cheers,

        Ian
        Ian E. Abbott
        Mission Amps 5E3
        Weber 5C1

        Comment


        • #5
          Two more things about building the Champ-inspired design from Zottola's first book.

          First, I used the nice little "Single Ended/Champ" output transformer (4 or 8 ohm output impedence) from Triode Electronics:

          http://www.triodeelectronics.com/

          I have no connection with them, I'm just a satisfied customer.

          Second, I have some photos of how I bult my amp and some comments on what I would do differently next time for anybody who wants to send me a private message.

          Cheers,

          Ian
          Ian E. Abbott
          Mission Amps 5E3
          Weber 5C1

          Comment


          • #6
            Reply to ian2113

            Originally posted by ian2113 View Post
            Hello,

            Has anyone else built any of the projects from "Building Vacuum Tube Guitar and Bass Amplifiers," Volume 1 or Volume 2, by Tino Zottola? These are books that are being sold by Antique Electronic Supply and perhaps other sellers.

            I recently completed the Champ clone project from Volume 1. I made a few minor changes, using a Hammond power transformer instead of the stock Fender PT as well as a 4/8 ohm output transformer from Triode Electronics instead of the stock 4 ohm-only transformer.

            Volume 1 has some other funky single-ended projects and even early Deluxe and Bassman clones that I haven't tried yet. I do want to get back to those after I finish the Mission 5E3 I just started. I haven't seen Volume 2 yet.

            I'd like to hear from anybody who has built any of the amps from these books or hear that there's some interest before I bore anybody with additional details of the Champ clone project.

            Keep 'em glowing!

            Ian Abbott
            Ian,
            I just finished the Tino's 57 deluxe 15 watt amp from volume 1. This amp was very easy and sounds killer. I usually use a 1970 Fender Super Reverb or a modified Deluxe with a 4-12 Marshall cabinet. This amp is so fine that I have not turned on any of my other amps since I finished it. I have just ordered Volume 2 so I can build a 50 watt amp. I had problems finding a multi stage filter capacitor so I improvised and built my own filter from three caps. My tone pot is either bad or I may have a bad cap. It works on the full left (bass) position or full right (treble) position but screams and acts funny in any of the middle positions. I have ordered another pot and it that does not fix the problem I will start swaping out the caps on the tone circuit. I used an old hammond power transformer that tested the proper voltages but I used an actual fender output transformer. I would be interested in any thoughts you had on Tino's projects. Thanks, Little Walter

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm starting on a Princeton Reverb from book 2. This is my first attempt at amp building. I can say this, these books made me feel like tackling an amp build was possible. I think very highly of the authors work.

              Comment


              • #8
                Aren't Those Books Great?

                After I saw book one, I knew I had to have all three. I haven't been disappointed!

                I'm still quite a novice guitar player, playing just over a year. I'm a professional electronics technician though, and absolutely love projects like these.

                Here's my rendition of the Sonic MA1, built on a bread pan to save the cost of a proper chassis. Most of the other parts were already in the junk box. This was completed just a couple weekends ago. The sound is so much BETTER than my Roland 15w Cube, albeit not as loud. Plenty of volume for living room practice, however.

                Front View: www.kirtland.com/guitar/front.jpg
                Under Chassis: www.kirtland.com/guitar/under.jpg

                Joe

                Comment


                • #9
                  how much detail does he get into as far as once the amp is built, does he explain how and where to take measurements to make sure the amp is working ok? and does he get into trouble shooting at all?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hey Scole,

                    It is pretty much assumed that the reader is comfortable working with electronics, reading schematics, and familiar with high voltages as used in vacuum tube circuits.

                    Mr Zottola does go into pretty thorough detail for construction to the point of telling where to install x resistor (etc) and when to solder the connection. He also has full chassis drilling dimensions for the projects. I'd caution on relying on the dimensions, however, as parts you obtain may not match his exactly. He does not specify a Hammond transformer, for example, but gives the voltage and current requirements that you can match an available part.

                    If your project does not work, the voltage charts are given as to what to expect to see at the various tube elements.

                    If you are looking to gain the knowledge to repair your amp and learn the theory of how it works, Mr Zottola has another book titled, "Vacuum Tube Guitar and Bass Amplifier Theory and Repair."

                    While I'm still a beginning player, I've finally merged my lifelong hobby of electronics and my love of music. Now, if only I could find a cheap supply of EL84's, various transformers, speakers, etc.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All his books are highly recommended...

                      I have them all and they are usefull.

                      I've built MA1, Champ, 5C3 and 5E3, both Tweed Bassman.

                      He has wrote affordable books that provide info to walk you through amp building.

                      They gave me the confidence to jump in to this great hobby.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OK, I will be the one guy who votes no to the TZ books.

                        I have vol 1 and I thought it was kind of "cheap" looking with bad pictures and cheesy binding. When I got this book I was already experimenting with my own scratch-builds and the book never really inspired me to build anything out of it.

                        The main beef I have with the book is that it doesn't include any final layout gutshots of the amps. Instead it shows individual, hand-drawn sketches with squiggly lines showing where to connect the resistor or whatever component that step is dealing with. The few photographs in the book are merely xeroxed black and whites of poor quality.

                        A little color photography and computer-drawn schematics would go a long way.

                        I have built several amps but still consider myself to be a novice. I still may build an amp out of this book, but I would probably use the instructions as a "guideline" rather than for specific, step-by-step instructions.

                        Thanks

                        66merc

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have a novice amp builder friend who built a couple of projects out of Tino's books.

                          One amp he built had an incorrectly spec'd PT. He had a custom PT wound to the wrong specs, as listed in the book. Can't remember which amp it was, though.

                          He built the AC-30 clone and cannot get it to work right despite contacting Tino a few times and taking it to a local tech.

                          I have all three books, and I personally like them. But I would say they are not for rank beginners.

                          I also agree with the comments about the poor drawings and pictures and the lack of a final chassis gut shot for each amp. The books are fairly pricey, so this is inexcusable, IMHO.

                          chuck

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tino Zottola

                            I just got Tino's books and would love to throw together the first project, a MA1. I,m a complete electrical novice and have no idea where to find these parts, particularly the transformers. Is there help for meatheads out there or do I have to actually learn something before jumping in?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Santa Fe View Post
                              do I have to actually learn something before jumping in?
                              You can die if you don't know what you're doing. Your call whether you want to do some research first .
                              Check out my signal generator for your iPhone or iPod Touch.

                              Comment

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