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    Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

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    EddieGnz1

    Posts : 23
    Join date : 2013-10-16

    Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by EddieGnz1 on Wed Oct 16, 2013 9:28 pm

    I would very much love to build my first Tube Amp for home stereo but I'm struggling to find the right book for me (or article, website, video or any resource). One thing that I would love to find is a basic orientation to the inside of any simple tube amp and all it's parts. The ideal thing, for example, would be like a picture that shows in chronological order what each part does and why it must exist even in the most striped down basic tube amp.

    Last week I bought the following books

    ** Valve Amplifiers, by Morgan Jones
    ** Tube Circuits for Audio Amplifiers, by Mullard
    ** Beginner's Guide To Tube Audio Design, by Bruce Rozenblit

    All those books are a bit advanced for me because I don't have the basic orientation nor a reference for what they're talking about. Math is not the problem. I just need the right reading material or videos or something to get me oriented. I feel like I just need that one book and then after that I'll be able to follow along on the above books...I just need the one pre-requisite to the above.

    My objective is not to earn an electrical engineering degree...I just want to be able to build my own tube amp while having a beginners understanding of what each part does so that I can modify or eventually design my own without relying on a kit.

    your suggestions are much appreciated.
    Eddie

    quadaptor

    Posts : 59
    Join date : 2009-05-04

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by quadaptor on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:27 pm

    I'm not deeply into this stuff myself, but you might want to start with a kit or a restoration project. That, coupled with your books and forums like this should go a long ways towards your learning goals.

    corndog71

    Posts : 444
    Join date : 2013-03-19
    Location : It can get windy here

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by corndog71 on Wed Oct 16, 2013 10:33 pm

    Get an iron and some solder and learn how to solder.

    Buy a kit and jump in.

    The best way to learn is to build one. Read the forums. Learn how to read a schematic (think of it as a puzzle with each part being a piece)

    When in doubt, ask questions.

    You can do it!cheers 

    wildiowa

    Posts : 120
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by wildiowa on Wed Oct 16, 2013 11:45 pm

    Just some thoughts...would be nice if you could find an old Dyna ST70 or Mark III or other older tube amp and just do a rebuild on it to get familiar with the parts and functions. Finding one is easier said than done, however. A newer kit from the folks here would also be excellent for learning and gaining some basic, practical knowledge. I don't know the deep math and Ohms law stuff involved in circuit design and operation like many on the board but knowing basically what function transformers, capacitors, resistors etc. have is enough to get into it and enjoy it. And at the end you will have a butt kicking tube stereo to boot. I don't get too bogged down in the theory, try as I may I just don't "get it" but I get a kick out of rebuilding old stuff and learn with each and every project I complete. I sometimes have to come here for help and sometimes you just gotta go to a tech if things get too bad but it's a great hobby and you learn as you go.

    peterh

    Posts : 641
    Join date : 2012-12-25
    Location : gothenburg, sweden

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by peterh on Thu Oct 17, 2013 3:23 am

    EddieGnz1 wrote:I would very much love to build my first Tube Amp for home stereo but I'm struggling to find the right book for me (or article, website, video or any resource).  One thing that I would love to find is a basic orientation to the inside of any simple tube amp and all it's parts.  The ideal thing, for example, would be like a picture that shows in chronological order what each part does and why it must exist even in the most striped down basic tube amp.

    Last week I bought the following books

    ** Valve Amplifiers, by Morgan Jones
    ** Tube Circuits for Audio Amplifiers, by Mullard
    ** Beginner's Guide To Tube Audio Design, by Bruce Rozenblit

    All those books are a bit advanced for me because I don't have the basic orientation nor a reference for what they're talking about.  Math is not the problem.  I just need the right reading material or videos or something to get me oriented.  I feel like I just need that one book and then after that I'll be able to follow along on the above books...I just need the one pre-requisite to the above.  

    My objective is not to earn an electrical engineering degree...I just want to be able to build my own tube amp while having a beginners understanding of what each part does so that I can modify or eventually design my own without relying on a kit.

    your suggestions are much appreciated.
    Eddie
    Why don't you get yourself i kit to build, dynakirparts.com has the ST-35 as kit) together with a good
    build manual.
    If you don't care for building the same amp can be bought assembled, the manual still describes the functions.

    Going the "dynaco" route will get both support and spareparts for your lifetime.

    nerpissad

    Posts : 58
    Join date : 2012-09-16
    Age : 43
    Location : amsterdam

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by nerpissad on Thu Oct 17, 2013 5:48 am

    when I wanted to know more about tube amps, I thought it'd be best to start reading up on the hteory behind it. like you, I found that the books I started to read were a bit too advanced for me.
    in the end I decided to pull the trigger and buy a kit from mr. Latino and just start building and learn as I went along.
    admittedly, I didn't learn as much theory as I'd hoped during the build process. as a beginner, I struggled to figure out what the signal path was for example. a picture overview of what part does what in the amp would have been nice to have.
    then again and as others have stated, I would advice to just start building a dynaco kit. I found that the build manual is one of the easiest to follow of all the kits out there. plus this forum has proven invaluable for the issues I encountered during the build process.
    I guess learning about tube audio is simply a long road of trying, reading and making mistakes as you go along Wink

    wildiowa

    Posts : 120
    Join date : 2012-03-19

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by wildiowa on Thu Oct 17, 2013 8:51 am

    Is there such a thing as a flow chart for signal path as opposed to a schematic?? Even after tinkering for many many years I still find reading a schematic almost impossible, I do not have the knowledge for that....but is there a flow chart that traces your signal from input to output, showing it going through the various processes and electronic magic needed to turn it into sound, and what those components do? Sounds like you need to define, "why am I getting into this"...to really get down into the weeds with it or to gain a working knowledge of tube and amps and basic servicing etc. Either path is great....but may determine how you proceed. Good luck!

    sailor

    Posts : 269
    Join date : 2011-04-04

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by sailor on Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:11 pm

    I was raised around tube electronics as my father repaired tube TV and radio. I am very good at finding and fixing electronic problems but as far as getting the knowledge you seek it took me 30 years of being an audiofool to get a full understanding of what is going on. Don't even consider designing your first amp from scratch until you have built a couple of kits and you fully figure out what all the parts do. You also need to study and learn to read schematic drawings. The first thing though that every novice needs to know is that large electrolytic Caps in the power supply can hold a lethal dose of electricity even if they are unplugged from the wall. So the first two items you need to buy to start you on your journey is a good soldering iron and a cheap volt/ohms meter.
    By the way, Bruce's newest book is his best book [Tubes and Circuits]. It will answer many of your questions once you have a better knowledge of what you are looking at. Below are 2 sites to play with. One is the most important law in all of electronics Ohms law the other is a tube site.
    http://www.ampbooks.com/home/amplifier-calculators/cathode-follower/
    http://www.ohmslawcalculator.com/ohms_law_calculator.php

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1285
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by sKiZo on Thu Oct 17, 2013 12:39 pm

    EddieGnz1 wrote:
    Last week I bought the following books

    ** Valve Amplifiers, by Morgan Jones
    ** Tube Circuits for Audio Amplifiers, by Mullard
    ** Beginner's Guide To Tube Audio Design, by Bruce Rozenblit

    Building Valve Amplifiers by Morgan Jones is less theory and more practical. Long as you're spending money ... tongue 

    And I tend to agree with most in that SOME idea of what goes on from point to point in a circuit is a good thing, but hands on experience actually connecting the dots is indispensable. A decent "classic" working amp is a good place to start, as one will usually need some TLC anyway - electrolytic capacitor and carbon resistor replacement, repointing solder connections, checking continuity, cleaning controls, at the least. Having the hardware in front of you WHILE reading the book takes a lot of the mystery out of it.

    Then again, diving right in with a kit amp, you also have the peace of mind knowing that all the components are good.

    Couple of items ... DO remember that you're playing with deadly voltages!

    And, your most important tools are a good soldering station, an organized work space ... and patience.

    Maintarget

    Posts : 208
    Join date : 2013-02-10

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by Maintarget on Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:06 pm

    About a year ago I had similar ambitions and was researching schematics and kits on the internet when I found the Tubes4hifi web site which lead to the Dynaco forum.
    After lurking on the forum for several months I came to the conclusion that the members were more than willing to help and encourage all even a complete novice first time kit builder like my self and what really sealed the deal was they were having fun while doing it!
    So I made the decision to purchase an ST-120 kit from Bob Latino and have been having a blast ever since from the build to start up, listening to it right now with about 47 hours on it and could not be happier!
    Quality kit, parts, instructions, pictures all thorough enough that a novice like you and I could assemble into a high quality amplifier and be damn proud to show it off to family and friends and enjoy the music.
    So I agree with all safety first, buy a quality kit, teach yourself to solder on a couple of cheap radio shack kits, Read new and old posts on the forum and you will learn as you go.
    I can honestly say a year from now you will be glad you did.

    http://i1325.photobucket.com/albums/u632/RoscoeAJones/photo_zpsfa051e3e.jpg

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1285
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by sKiZo on Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:17 pm

    Last slide of the show with the custom layout and the multi-cap inside ... got plans for an encore?


    kaner

    Posts : 88
    Join date : 2011-09-20

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by kaner on Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:26 pm

    I am also in the "jump in the water's fine crowd". I started three years ago with a beat up 1963 st70 and a VTA board. I hadn't soldered since high school shop class. I read a basic electronics book and decided to jump in. I took my time, learned along the way and have now built 6 tube amps. My latest is a guitar amp that I'm proud to say the I designed (or at least cobbled together parts of others' designs) myself. You can't beat the feeling of pride that I had when the first few notes rang out of that st70 and filled my basement workroom.

    Pay attention to the safety warnings, ask for advice (you will find that we are all very willing to help) and enjoy the ride!

    Kaner

    sKiZo

    Posts : 1285
    Join date : 2013-04-01
    Location : Michigan USA

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by sKiZo on Fri Oct 18, 2013 7:07 pm

    I am also in the "jump in the water's fine crowd"

    Just don't work on an amp for at least an hour after eating. geek 

    j beede

    Posts : 316
    Join date : 2011-02-07
    Location : California

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by j beede on Thu Nov 07, 2013 12:43 am

    Get a pair of MkII or MkIII, strip them down to the bare chassis. Clean, sand, polish, buff, paint all the hardware and transformers. Download the assembly guide--courtesy of this forum. Build an under-chassis capacitor board to replace the "quad cap" and then follow the instructions to reassemble a pair of amps that will make you wonder if anything substantial has been learned in the last 50 years wrt amp design!

    You will not learn electrical theory or amplifier design this way. Once you fire up your Magneplanars being driven by your rebuilt MkIIIs you will not care Very Happy


    xlr8

    Posts : 68
    Join date : 2010-02-09

    Re: Struggling To Get Started in Tube Amps

    Post by xlr8 on Thu Nov 07, 2013 8:07 am

    I had to dive in head first and just do it. I have always been someone who will take something apart, figure it out and then put it back together. That was pretty much the way it went with my first st70 rebuild. I bought enough parts from Bob to do 2 70's. The first one took me nearly a month to complete. The second one only took a few days! I have to read shcematics for work and I also have a good friend and tube mentor who was a naval radio operator in the early 70's, so I guess I do have a head start on some people, but hey, I am the same guy who pops brand new caps by not paying close enough attention to how they are oriented, so what do I know?!?!? Laughing

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