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  • NOOB ALERT: Just some curiosities.

    Hey, everyone.

    I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

    Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
    http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

    Thanks for reading, y'all.

    - Josh

  • #2
    Welcome on board Josh. Yes there are a some engineers here, plus others deeply experienced in repair & building. As for cloning a Knucklehead, please don't go diving in the deep end. Get some experience building simple amps first, see if you want to continue. It would be awful to gather a big expensive pile of parts then discover you're not as enthusiastic when the mammoth task begins. It is good that you have some experience building instruments, but it's quite another thing to build amps especially very complex ones like the KH.
    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
      Hey, everyone.

      I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

      Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
      http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

      Thanks for reading, y'all.

      - Josh
      Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
        Welcome on board Josh. Yes there are a some engineers here, plus others deeply experienced in repair & building. As for cloning a Knucklehead, please don't go diving in the deep end. Get some experience building simple amps first, see if you want to continue. It would be awful to gather a big expensive pile of parts then discover you're not as enthusiastic when the mammoth task begins. It is good that you have some experience building instruments, but it's quite another thing to build amps especially very complex ones like the KH.
        Thanks.

        Thankfully, I'm not nutty or bold enough to dive into a Knucklehead right away, that'd be madness from the offset. It's something I'd like to do down the line.


        Originally posted by m1989jmp View Post
        Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.
        Any particular recommendations of what ones to have a crack with?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by m1989jmp View Post
          Most folks start with something simple, that schematic is too complicated for a first build. For a first build, I'd suggest a simple complete amp kit; you'll get a layout with it that's easy to follow.
          I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

          nosaj
          Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

          Comment


          • #6
            Welcome Josh.

            +1 to what's been said about not going so advanced for a first build. The thing about the KH is that it's SO complex that even experienced home brewers don't go there. Frankly, it's the sort of amp that pretty much REQUIRES automated manufacturing. That said, I don't think a "simple" build is what you want either because it wouldn't give you the features you obviously want. That is, if you desire the uber gain tone then a vintage Fender isn't what you want. But there may be other high gain options with fewer features that would be more conducive to hand building. And as mentioned, making guitars is great experience, but building an amp requires many other skills and tools (expensive) and will have something like 100+ parts. Then there's the problem of cloning from a schematic. For something like a high gain build that can't work. The reason is that when the gain is high the likelihood of circuit instability due to component proximity is greater. A design with a known (or knowable) layout is necessary for success IMHO.

            Maybe consider the features you can live without. Do you actually need two channels with separate EQ and foot switchable gain options on the gain channel? Do you need an effects loop? If you could, say, live with a single channel amp with a foot switchable high gain option and no effects loop then things get a lot simpler.

            Also, there is often troubleshooting on a first build. The more complex the design the harder it will be to troubleshoot. Especially for someone with limited electronics experience. There's only so much help to be had from people that are remote from the actual project and we've seen more than one newbie build what ended up being a very expensive door stop.

            Also, there is the consideration of practicality. Do you want to do this to save money, or do you want to learn about amplifiers and electronics? I think your intro clarifies your position. Since a used Knucklehead would set you back about a thousand dollars and prototyping one would cost only a little less (consider that you will be buying some new tools too) and take many, many hours to build and refine the money angle doesn't make sense.
            "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

            "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

            "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

            Comment


            • #7
              I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

              nosaj
              A champ built from junk parts? Impressive to say the least! How does it sound?


              Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
              Welcome Josh.

              +1 to what's been said about not going so advanced for a first build. The thing about the KH is that it's SO complex that even experienced home brewers don't go there. Frankly, it's the sort of amp that pretty much REQUIRES automated manufacturing. That said, I don't think a "simple" build is what you want either because it wouldn't give you the features you obviously want. That is, if you desire the uber gain tone then a vintage Fender isn't what you want. But there may be other high gain options with fewer features that would be more conducive to hand building. And as mentioned, making guitars is great experience, but building an amp requires many other skills and tools (expensive) and will have something like 100+ parts. Then there's the problem of cloning from a schematic. For something like a high gain build that can't work. The reason is that when the gain is high the likelihood of circuit instability due to component proximity is greater. A design with a known (or knowable) layout is necessary for success IMHO.

              Maybe consider the features you can live without. Do you actually need two channels with separate EQ and foot switchable gain options on the gain channel? Do you need an effects loop? If you could, say, live with a single channel amp with a foot switchable high gain option and no effects loop then things get a lot simpler.

              Also, there is often troubleshooting on a first build. The more complex the design the harder it will be to troubleshoot. Especially for someone with limited electronics experience. There's only so much help to be had from people that are remote from the actual project and we've seen more than one newbie build what ended up being a very expensive door stop.

              Also, there is the consideration of practicality. Do you want to do this to save money, or do you want to learn about amplifiers and electronics? I think your intro clarifies your position. Since a used Knucklehead would set you back about a thousand dollars and prototyping one would cost only a little less (consider that you will be buying some new tools too) and take many, many hours to build and refine the money angle doesn't make sense.
              Cheers, Mr.H!

              What drew me originally to the KH in the first place was how the integration of the 'Fender-esque' cleans and more 'Marshall-y' high gain tones were available from the same amp. This is all excellent advice for me to heed and absorb. The money angle is also a much smarter move and I'm merely a beginning geek who wants to learn more.

              After reading this and the other brilliant responses in this thread, I'm eyeing up something like a Mojotone or Weber kit. Any particular recommendations? I'd rather make something knowing I can use it on a gig rather than it being a fancy, once-educational door stop if it doesn't sound particularly great.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
                Thanks.

                Thankfully, I'm not nutty or bold enough to dive into a Knucklehead right away, that'd be madness from the offset. It's something I'd like to do down the line.


                Any particular recommendations of what ones to have a crack with?
                For starters, what kind of tone are you after? Obvious choices are things like Fender 5F6A/5E3, Marshall JTM45/1987 etc. and would make great first builds. But again, it all depends on the situations you'd use them in. There are much less complicated designs if you need a bedroom amp though.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by nosaj View Post
                  I started with a champ and built it from junk parts. Starting with a schematic instead of a layout doing it true point to point, helped immensely with understanding the schematic and how things layout. Now when putting something together I don't need a layout(training wheels) plus lots and lots of help from the guys here.

                  nosaj
                  I suppose there are people competent enough to build something just by looking at a layout, but don't have time/will/need to learn how to read schematics.

                  That being said, I completely agree with your statement; learning how to read schematics is far better in the long run.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I actually think working from a layout is better than working from a schematic in the absence of some in depth circuit knowledge. If one is going to go rote then go rote. There is a lot more to a guitar amp than a schematic. Just as important (maybe more so) is the quality of the components and their proximity to one another. One doesn't really need to learn to read a schematic. They're drawn all different ways. All you need to do is follow the circuit paths as they are drawn out. This is actually hard to do on some schematics, but not a skill beyond tracing lines.
                    "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                    "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I agree, especially when the components you're using operate in the MHz. The layout and shielding become critical both for sound quality and stability. In some circuits, a 1cm difference in a component connection can result in an unusable amp. Ask any gainclone builder

                      Why don't you try messing with some Class D designs. Buy a few chinese amp modules, they're easy to power, cheap and loud.
                      Last edited by gmaslin; 08-20-2018, 03:28 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gmaslin View Post
                        Why don't you try messing with some Class D designs. Buy a few chinese amp modules, they're easy to power, cheap and loud.
                        Maybe because he wants a tube amp.?. Lot's of room for what could be in the realm of electronic music. It's all over the map anymore with digital modelers and SMPS technologies. But there's still nothing that actually, really and for truth sounds (and feels) like a tube amp. New members with chops are always appreciated and I hope you'll stick around. To be honest though this was, and remains a sort of tube amp biased venue (no pun intended). And I interpret the OP as inquiring about this aspect of the forum. Otherwise they'd just buy a Line 6 and be done with it.
                        "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                        "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                        "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ChunkyMunky View Post
                          Hey, everyone.

                          I'm an engineering student from England who's primarily a musician. I've stumbled upon this forum as there's a few amps I'd love to clone and make of my own. I build my own guitars and basses these days based on what I need for a gig. Just out of curiosity, how simple would it be to be able to clone something straight from a schematic? How did you all get into this? Anyone else have an engineering background at all?

                          Here's an amp I'd love to clone for guitar:
                          http://www.freeinfosociety.com/elect...nucklehead.pdf

                          Thanks for reading, y'all.

                          - Josh
                          I originally got into building and repairing tube amps because I had been taking my amp to local stores to get the tubes changed and the bias adjusted, and I found out a local shop had been taking my money for a year to replace the tubes and bias my AC30, and I found out it is cathode biased and doesn't need to be set in most cases when the tubes are changed, so I was wasting money. I wanted to be able to repair my own amps initially, but my interest in learning more kept growing, and eventually I wanted to mod amps and build my own. Then I decided to go to engineering school so I could work in electronics. Took me awhile but I got the BSEE I was after, though I'm still looking to get a gig as an engineer at a company and not as a contract engineer.

                          I've built my own guitars and basses and amps over the years. I can build an amp from just the schematic and if so then I'll make my own layout if a real world example isn't available. Fenders are easy compared to most other amps to clone since they had a schematic and a layout from Fender. That said, once you learn the rules of how to make them and how to route wires and what not, then just a schematic is enough, but it takes awhile and takes experience to determine how that should be done. Start simple like the others recommend. I went the other way and started with a difficult project that I learned a lot from, but it is still not done, and the simpler amps I have done are finished. A little champ circuit would be a good one to start with. Also read up as much as you can. Merlin's website and books are great and he's in your neck of the woods too which is helpful. http://www.valvewizard.co.uk/

                          Greg

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Tube circuits are basically simple and tend to be intuitive. Unless you just want to buy ready to go Class D power amp and SMPS modules and hook them together, the circuitry in each of those technologies is way more complex and critical, and certainly not for the novice.
                            Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Part of the satisfaction of starting 'small' with a fairly easy to build-and-maintain amp like a champ (and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of amps out there that are 'like a champ') is to reach the project's completion and get the opportunity to see and solve common issues with such an amp.

                              Another part of the satisfaction is to move from the simpler designs on to incrementally more complex ones and experience the evolution of guitar amp designs personally. Jumping into building a complex beast with no prior knowledge of the issues that affect amp design is not useful as a learning experience. Building (literally) along the path that guitar amp pioneers took can be a joy to see how circuit elements were added/moved/modified through the years. And it affords the hobbyist/designer to get a grasp of WHY some circuit element is placed and engineered 'just so'.

                              Merlin Blencowe offers some insight on the evolution of amp topology in one chapter of his 'designing preamps' book. Some of this info may be available on his Valvewizard website. (a quick look and it does not appear so, but plenty of other engineering-relevant info)
                              If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken. - Steve Conner
                              If the thing works, stop fixing it. - Enzo
                              We need more chaos in music, in art... I'm here to make it. - Justin Thomas
                              MANY things in human experience can be easily differentiated, yet *impossible* to express as a measurement. - Juan Fahey

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