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Thread: Quality of Weber Kits

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    Quality of Weber Kits

    I have heard mixed reviews about the quality of the Weber kits, but I think the prices are too low not to consider one. I am particularly interested in the 5F6A or JTM45 head kits, but are the parts really so bad that they all need upgraded? Particularly the transformers, the hardware, and the caps, which are the most expensive pieces--can I build one of these kits and be happy with it? Or is it conspicuously inferior in tone to a Metro or GDS or other better quality kit?

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    Senior Member Euthymia's Avatar
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    You'll probably wind up replacing some of the components, but even then, they are still a great bargain.

    The coupling caps are tubular poly.

    The transformers are low-end Asian manufacture.

    The tubes are Shuguang.

    I'm using them to build amps for clients, and I find it necessary to replace the knobs, switches, input jack, pilot light, and most of the tubes.

    The way I would go about it as an individual, making an amp for my own use, would be to first build one of these "stock," then if I thought it could be improved upon, swap in different components and see what happens.

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    Senior Member hasserl's Avatar
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    I pretty much agree with Euthymia, just figure on replacing the switches, jacks, maybe the tubes. IMO the caps and trannies are just fine, no need to worry about them. I've used the stock pilot light and fuse holders, but I've upgraded on other amps. The stock ones will do but they can stand to be replaced. As for the switches and jacks, it's a waste of time, IMO, to even use them to begin with. Just upgrade them right away to begin with and save yourself some headaches.

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    The transformers are supposed to be pretty good - not boo-teek - but I've seen people say good things about them. I have a Bassman OT that I put in an amp I'm building right now. Everyone agrees that the jacks and switches need replacing, but the chassis and transformers seem to be a great deal.

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    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    I think they are fine if you are a novice builder on a restrictive budget or not a serious vacuum tube amp builder.
    So, if you are not hung up on that last 5% to 10% good tone, you'll still have fun with it.

    I think the vacuum tubes Weber provides are very very inexpensive Chinese types and probably pulled from bulk Chinese shipped boxes with no testing so the chances of getting a great sounding preamp or power tubes or matched power tubes are slim to none, so the tube quality is far below what I would use.
    The other mechanical parts are as what everyone else has stated, cheap!
    You get what you pay for.
    The tweed amp chrome chassis used to be OK but an occasional terrible looking one would get through... poor deburing and polish job right before the chrome plating.
    I use higher end magnetics in my amps and have not had any Weber transformers in so long that I don't know what they are like now, maybe a lot better.
    I felt they used to be very generic and inferior to everything else I used in my amps in the past so I virtually never used them.

    Bottom line, IMHO, the Weber kit prices reflect who they are really aimed for so take that into consideration and even though some try, I doubt many serious amp builders use them.

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    Bruce

    Mission Amps
    Denver, CO. 80022
    www.missionamps.com
    303-955-2412

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    Well then, is there a good 5F6A kit between $500 and $700 out there? I can source one out myself from parts for about $700 (minus tubes) so anything more than that seems wasteful. I would build a JTM, but the transformers are so much more expensive (at Mercury) and the Metro kit is $1000, and if I can build a 5F6A with a transformer that will handle EL34s, I don't see much point in it.

    Thanks for the feedback!

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    Junior Member ian2113's Avatar
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    I have built a Weber 5C1 and a Mission Amps 5E3, so I believe I'm qualified to offer an opinion on this thread. (Yes, a 5C1 is about the bottom of Weber's line, but the kit has their name on it so I believe it's a fair subject.)

    First, the positives: Overall I agree with the consensus that a Weber kit is a good choice if you're on a budget. Weber offers a wide range of choices in cabinet covering and grill cloth, and my Weber cabinet is well-built and looks great. The Weber speaker sounds great, too.

    The output transformer supplied with the Weber 5C1 was actually better and more massive than I expected, and the power transformer seems up to the job so far. Weber's wiring diagrams and schematics are very good, and their web site offers a kitbuilding forum that is very active; I'd say it's "Recommended Reading" for anybody building any kind of tube amp!

    Now the negatives: The jacks and pilot lamp I received from Weber were just not acceptable, in my opinion. I substituted a "Fender style" pilot lamp and Switchcraft jacks in my 5C1. Count on replacing those parts, period.

    The metal work and chrome plating on my Weber 5C1 chassis was substantially lower quality than the metal work and chrome plating on my Mission Amps 5E3 chassis. There were many substantial burrs on the Weber chassis, and the chrome plating contained obvious flaws. In fairness, most of the flaws in the chrome plating on the Weber chassis are not visible when the amp is assembled, but flaws are flaws and there were some on the "face" around the holes that were *barely* covered by the switch, lamp bezel, and jacks. In comparison, my Mission Amps 5E3 chassis was free of burrs and featured essentially flawless chrome plating. The pressed-in nuts used by Mission Amps also offer a tremendous advantage over conventional screw-and-nut construction.

    In summary, you usually do get what you pay for in this world, but I believe that a Weber kit provides good value. You can build a good-sounding, good-looking amp from a Weber kit, and I would recommend trying a Weber kit if one of their models appeals to you and they fit your budget.

    At the same time, spending some more money can get you a kit that provides real improvements in component quality and appearance. In particular, I believe that anyone interested in building a 5E3-type amp MUST consider the Mission Amps 5E3!

    Cheers,

    Ian

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    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    I wonder if Weber has changed some transformers for the better over the last half year or so?
    I've read on their own BBS that some guys were running into over heated power trannys or open windings.

    I've had two 5F1 Weber kits come in for repairs where both of them had blown output transformers.
    It could be a builders errror or a DIY'r trying to use a 6L6 instead of the 6V6... etc.
    Also, adding to the reports of poor pilot light assembly and bad switching jacks (the term switching jack is used loosely when it comes to those jacks) the other thing I've run into is some bad Weber potentiometers.
    It's funny because they look very similar to other well made imports like custom Alpha pots from Magic Parts but the pots were just broken and could be rotated past their normal limits or had no continuity from wiper to either end, etc. odd.

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    Bruce

    Mission Amps
    Denver, CO. 80022
    www.missionamps.com
    303-955-2412

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    FWIW, I had three Weber 1M pots go bad on me. They seized up and the shaft wouldn't rotate. These were new and unused. Some of the other pots I had ordered had loose casings and the casing would actually rotate when the knob was turned all the way up or or all the way down.

    I had heard great things about Weber's customer service and emailed
    Ted, but got a non-committal reply. I even sent the defective pots back to Weber hoping that I'd get replacements. That was back in March, and I'm still waiting.

    I'm through buying Weber parts.

    steve

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    Weber kits are generally quite good

    I have built a whole bunch of them - and generally they are quite good. I have not had ANY bad experiences with their iron. Their speakers are some of the best in the market. The pots have been good so far - I have had only one or two bad out of very many - not too bad of a record (not much different than anyone else). The knobs are generally good - but I have had some that the opening needed to be cleared out or the set screw would strip or break. I have had some holes that needed widened or drilled out. The yellow tubular caps seem a lot like the mallory 150s (good - I like the sound better than "orange drops" in tweed amps). The electrolytics have been good too - generally rated for higher temp than closer tolerances than the huge sprague atoms (actually a better fit for tweed amps that are cramped for space).

    I change out the jacks, switches, and tubes. I have had many of the shorting jacks fail and the switches rattle in combos. I use switchcraft jacks and carling switches. Chinese 12AX7 preamp tubes are usually pretty good as long as they are not noisy. Most other Chinese tubes that comes with the kit I replace. I have had a lot of problems with the power tubes that come with the amps. I also replace the pilot light assembly - he now offers a metal bracket fender style one now that has and takes fender-style jewels(you may have to ask for it or buy it). I change out the copper caps too - I have had too many failures with those, and sometimes the covers come off too after they get hot.

    I have used heyboer and mercury magnetic output transformers on occasion, and I think they do sound better generally - but I think it the stock ones are as good or better than most of the manufacturers stock trannies out there now. The mercuries and heyboers cost a lot more too. I don't change out the power trannies because I have never had a problem, nor have I had a problem with one of their chokes. You know, I would try the stock output trannies first. You very well will like them. If you want the best - right now I say mercury or heyboer. But open the wallet, especially for the mercury. I give mercury a big thumbs down on recent price increases on some of their models. Some other models are quite reasonable, so it pays to check.

    The cabs are fine - as good or better than most out there. The tweed amps have finger jointed pine cabs. I have had only one or two issues with chassis finish and cabinet rattle. The cabinet rattle issues I was able to work around. I would have likely had the same problem with others.

    I am convinced that Mission makes a great kit that will require less upgrading as it already has most built in and has instructions. I think with just a few dollars in upgrades the weber kits are fantastic. Good choices either way and I would not hesitate to recommend either of them.

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    Senior Member TD_Madden's Avatar
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    Interesting about those CopperCaps..I've yet to have a failure or loose cover.

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    Senior Member WholeToneMusic's Avatar
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    Mojo offers some good quality kits. They use good components. On their Fender style kits they offer Sprague Electrolytics, Orange drop 715 P's, Switchcraft jacks, Sovtek rectifiers tube, Electro Harmonix power and preamp tubes, High quality replica transformers made in the USA with Paper bobbins and interleaved winding process. Cabinets are solid 1/4" finger jointed cabinets. On their Marshall style kits they offer solid finger jointed 13 ply Baltic Birch. Each kit has superior componets such as Sprague Eletrolytic capacitors, mallory 150 caps, switchcraft jacks, carling switches, your chose of Mojo BVH speakers, JJ rectifier tube, Svetlana EL34 power and JJ preamp tubes, High quality replica transformers made in the USA with Paper bobbins and interleaved winding process.
    We sell them on our website or you can go to Mojotone.com.

    Sincerely,
    Brian
    www.whole-tonemusic.com

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    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    I think MOJO's kits are vastly superior to the Weber kits.
    The only things I really don't like about the MOJO tweed kits is the lack of the brass grounding plate, the use of a generic, reissue Deluxe Reverb power tranny, resulting in way too high of B+ on the preamp and the power tubes, subsequently, making the 6V6s idle much too high in current.... and of course, the error in using a SOVTEK 5Y3GT which isn't even a 5Y3GT.
    The trannys are well made, the LENCO 5E3 OT is really very good and the chassis is pretty nice too.
    As a matter of fact, I use the MOJO 5E3 chassis as a backup when needed (like when I run out of mine).
    For the most part the MOJO kits come with very good name brand components.

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    Bruce

    Mission Amps
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    www.missionamps.com
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    Senior Member WholeToneMusic's Avatar
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    Thanks Bruce

    Hello Bruce,
    Thanks for you opinion on the Mojo kits, Much appreciated, I agree about the Brass grounding bar. How would you compare the Mojo chrome chassis with the Weber?

    Brian
    www.whole-tonemusic.com

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    Senior Hollow State Tech Bruce / Mission Amps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WholeToneMusic View Post
    Hello Bruce,
    Thanks for you opinion on the Mojo kits, Much appreciated, I agree about the Brass grounding bar. How would you compare the Mojo chrome chassis with the Weber?

    Brian
    www.whole-tonemusic.com
    I haven't seen a Weber Chassis in quite a while so my opinion my be worthless.
    Many years ago, when I first started doing the 5E3s as kits, I used quite a few of the Weber 5E3 chassis, but I hated having to drill my own mounting holes and I had to sell too many with sloppy ink... plus the metal finishing and chrome look was poor far too often in any random order.
    I admit I have very high standards and picky QC so I just had to quit using the Weber stuff and get my own made... (that was probably 800-900 chassis ago! ha ha.)
    I think they must be better by now or nobody would buy them... but I haven't seen any recently so I don't know. ??
    Mojo had a weak period too but they got with the program and fixed things every go around at their sheet metal shop and now their chassis are very good. Nice mirror chrome faces and good looking ink.
    It seems like I end up using one or two blank MOJO 5E3 chassis' every month or so... like when I run out of mine.
    Of course I like mine better but my handmade eyelet board and brass plate fits the MOJO chassis just fine and I'm happy enough with the MOJO chassis to extend my warranty to them too.

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    Bruce

    Mission Amps
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    www.missionamps.com
    303-955-2412

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    Quote Originally Posted by TD_Madden View Post
    Interesting about those CopperCaps..I've yet to have a failure or loose cover.
    for what it's worth, a friend and I just built our first kits. They were both webers (the price reeled us in) mine a 5e7 and his the 18watt marshall style. His copper cap came apart on day two of working on the amp, mine failed the 4th time I powered the amp up, I put in a tube and am going to leave it at that. His kit shipped with one el84 two 12au7s and three 12ax7s?. having said that, I read the warnings beforehand and was prepared for these troubles, so I'm not disappointed, seems like weber's biggest issue is consistency. good cheap first build...

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    Senior Member WholeToneMusic's Avatar
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    Weber Kits

    Hello camnicklaus,

    Thanks for your input. From a business perspective I agree with Bruce,you must have high standards and be picky with QC. When a business grows usually the first thing that suffers is quality control. When a company expands it gets harder to keep an eye on everything that goes out the door and in the end the owner ends up be responsible for the integrity of their work or products.

    I know I appreciate when a customer emails me or calls about a concern or issue, especially if I was not aware of a situation. I am sure Ted would appreciate if you sent him an email or left him a voice mail about your issues with his kits.

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    Helping musicians optimize their sound.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WholeToneMusic View Post
    I am sure Ted would appreciate if you sent him an email or left him a voice mail about your issues with his kits.
    Absolutely. He's not a "buyer beware" kind of a seller. He sells inexpensive kits. I don't know many vendors who will bend over backwards as far as Ted will for a dissatisfied customer. He always aims to "make it right".

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    yeah, I didn't mean to come off too negatively. I have emailed back and forth with Ted, which is pretty cool in and of itself. My main point was just that it's true that you get what you pay for in this case. I don't think ted is trying to advertise better than he sells. As long as you're prepared for a few issues to sort out I don't think you'd be disappointed.
    when I bought my second kit, the packing slip said that they'd shipped the wrong OT (a lower headroom version as opposed to a higher headroom one) and I emailed ted about it. He helped me take some measurements to see which one it was, but also said up front that if it was the wrong one I could keep it and he would ship out the correct one, that way I could try both and see what I liked better. It turned out to be a error on the packing list, but still pretty nice of him.

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    Member jbefumo's Avatar
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    I know this is an old thread, but may be worth resuscitating.

    I also dealt with Weber when the founder was still with us, and found him extremely responsive. Have bought a few of their lower-end speakers, and found them to be a good value.

    At this juncture I've been searching for a top-quality cabinet, and based on everything I've read, have concluded that Weber is probably not the best source.

    My other cause for concern is their responsiveness in recent years. I have written to them on numerous occasions on a variety of topics. In some instances they simply don't bother to respond. In one, we were in the middle of working up specs for a custom speaker I needed, and they simply stopped responding. I wrote a few time, from different email accounts, just in case my provider had been temporarily blacklisted, but still nothing, so I just gave up.

    I was a busy engineer and business person at some big, high-pressure companies (incl. AT&T Solutions) during my career, and my one golden rule was that I never failed to respond and/or follow up with prospective clients, even when I knew damned well they weren't going to pan out. It was simple business, and more importantly, human courtesy. To be fair, there are increasing numbers of people/businesses that lack this orientation these days, but for me, it's simply rude, and in most cases, I consider it a deal-breaker.

    Conversely, I've been corresponding with MojoTone about my needs, and though I haven't bought anything yet, have been positively impressed with their responsiveness.

    I would still consider Weber for speakers, if what I need is something 'off their shelf', so to speak, but I think they have a lot to learn about customer service if they're going to avoid running the founder's good reputation into the mire.

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    Don't forget the joker g1's Avatar
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    I've ordered one item from Weber (a power transformer). Their shipping policies were so outrageous I will never order from them again. If some one else was handling their product I would look at them, it seems to be ok product.

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    Just because they don't have tubes doesn't mean they don't have feelings! - glebert

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