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  1. #1

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    Hi!

    I just have started another DIY project and I thought it would be nice to share and some of You may find it interresting or at least entertaining
    So I have some DIY guitar pedals and semi hollow guitar, where cost of upgrades exceeded cost of the instrument itself, now it's time for the amplifier
    It all started from the situation, that my pedalboard is out of space and I still have plans for new pedals. I play only in heaphones and I have big old DigiTech RP80 to use it only for cab sim and headphone amp. Time to get rid of it! My plan is to build micro "amp head", which will stand outside the pedalboard and let me connect my headphones straight to it.

    So this are the main features:
    -simulation of the Fender Blackface clean amp (I will use circuit of Lovepedal super Six as a "preamp"), it will be the same circuit as I already use as guitar pedal
    -possibility to connect headphones or cabinet (mini cab will be the next phase of this project ); for "power amp" I will use super simple circuit basing on LM386, which should give about 0,7W of power
    -cabinet simulation for headphones or recording (I will use this circuit: Guitar FX Layouts: MultiCab Simulator)
    -effects for my delays, reverbs, etc.
    -fancy look reminding Fender amp head
    -9V power socket and onboard battery holder
    -compact size: ~20x13x15cm

    This is what I have done so far and materials used (MDF 10mm and 3mm plates, vinyl veneer with leather look and grill cloth). As You can see I have a kind of enclosure, now it's time to build chassis for all the electronics and it will be holding front and backplates.
    DIY Micro Amp Head-img_20200612_170059-jpg DIY Micro Amp Head-img_20200612_173206-jpg

    Stay tuned for the updates. I don't know if it's going to work as planned, but if it is, I think it can be nice architecture also to build another micro amps. Today there is plenty of simple circuits, that can simulate tube amps with quite good results.
    Cheers!

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  3. #2

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    Hi Again!

    So it's ready! My little amplifier is up and running. I have to say I am quite happy with the result. Comparing to my other projects, this one went pretty smooth without crazy amount of issues. I've had to implement RC low pass filter to eliminate some noise after LM386 amp and tweak a bit the cabinet simulator, because it was very quiet. Except that pretty fun project I wanted to have also professional front and back panels but my file from Solidworks was not compatible with vinyl engraving machine, so I ended up with printing the plates, gluing them to the plywood and covering with transparent foil. This is the only point, that I am not 100% happy with. Size of the amp is ~22x13x15cm.
    DIY Micro Amp Head-img_20200624_074930-jpg

    DIY Micro Amp Head-img_20200624_074947-jpg


    • Sound is vintage and very sweet to me - mid scooped with nice top end chime (pedal, that I based on was designed to emulate Fender Blackface Super Reverb).
    • For tone controls (TMB) I have used the same (or very close) values like in Fender tone stack and it also contributes to the tone.
    • Cabinet simulation has one knob on the back which changes the character of the simulated cab (from little speakers to the big ones). It is very usefull for playing in headphones or recording.
    • There is also output for the external speaker (headphones / cab selected by switch on the back). When external speaker is activated, cabinet simulation is bypassed. I have tested it so far by connecting it to speakers from Marshall MS-4 mini amp, but in the future I plan to build the little cab with Jensen 6" speaker. Loudness is no more than bedroom level
    • Extra functions are efffects loop and line out for recording (with or without the cab sim)


    I will upload some sound samples soon.
    Overally I am super happy with the result. I keep playing this amp and tweaking the knobs. Also I can say that this concept of the amp seems to be working and probably this is not my last build like this. Maybe next time JTM45 or Tweed based...

  4. #3

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    Looks great! Looking forward to the sound samples...

  5. #4

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    Excellent work! Congratulations!

    I'm also looking forward to hearing the sound samples.

  6. #5

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    Very nice! How did you make the faceplate and backplate? Did you say you printed them? On metal? Or on paper? I am interested in how you did it. Thank you!

  7. #6

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    Thanks for the comments! I will try to record some samples soon

    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    Very nice! How did you make the faceplate and backplate? Did you say you printed them? On metal? Or on paper? I am interested in how you did it. Thank you!
    Generally I printed it on paper and there is the full process:
    1. I've cut front panel and back panel shapes from 3mm MDF
    2. I've printed on paper plates from the Solidworks project in two versions: actual full color version and contours only view (original files are here (link) if anybody interrested)
    DIY Micro Amp Head-przechwytywanie-jpg
    3. I have cut glued contour version to the MDF plates as a template and drilled all the holes
    4. After cleaning the plate from drilling residues I have glued actual full color version on the plate
    5. I have covered the plate with normal self adhesive transparent foil and cut all the holes
    6. Front and back plates (and other pieces) were used to make chassis for all the electronics. Part visible below is slided from the back into the enclosure and fixed with two srews
    DIY Micro Amp Head-111-jpg

  8. #7

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    As musician and amp builder I appreciate the way you "Play the Amp" with your composition. The music matches the characteristics of the amp and it sounds great.

    Kind of reminds me of Metheny when he plays his Roland Synth as a conventional electric guitar. It is not the a usual electric solidody sound that Carlton or Ford would use, but he makes it work.


  9. #8

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    Many many thanks for this extremely kind comment! On the recording from my signature, I have used another gear as I didn't have amp from this topic yet. However I can fully agree, that "Play the amp" approach is extremely enjoyable. I have noticed, that exploring the amp (and pedals) can lead to very interresting results. Gear can really influence the way we play.
    Regarding Pat Metheny and his synth sound, I love the way how he use it on the album "We live here"

  10. #9

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    That looks like a fun quarantine project. I assume you have made several amps before. Where would you recommend someone who has never built an amp and knows nothing about them start?

  11. #10

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    Yes, that was really fun project. Not so much solving problems with the circuit and a lot of woodwork, applying clotch, vinyl etc. Actually this is the first amp I've ever made. However I've built some guitar pedals before. I am sure on this forum there are real amp builders with the experience from building actual tube amplifiers

    If we speak about some easy project to start with, there are some very easy fun options for sure:
    • If you want something absolutely basic, there is very nice project (build out of just a few components) with full video instruction etc
    • If you want to go a bit deeper (but still easy I think), you can follow method as I used and base on guitar pedal emulating one of the famous amps. To do this you need to make basic LM386 circuit (link) and amp emulation in front of it. You can find a lot of them here: tagboardeffects and some of them are super easy. Then you need to connect output from the emulation to the input of an LM386 and output from LM386 to the speaker.
    • If you want to have nice decent sound for heaphones, it's the best to place cabinet simulation between amp emulation and LM386, but then it gets a bit more complicated, so it's already not so basic project. Popular cab sim circuits are: multicab or condor. Without it you can still play in headphones, but sound may be quite harsh, especially overdriven.

  12. #11

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    Hi! I have finally recorded some samples of the amp. All of them are done straight from the amp to the audio interface with the use of onboard cabinet simulation (no speakers and microphone used), so it's basically the sound, that I can hear, when I play in headphones. No guitar pedals used. Only a tiny touch of reverb in DAW to make listening more pleasant


    So this is how it sounds. For me the tone is very sweet, however this is very subjective thing
    And this is how it presents in its natural environment:
    DIY Micro Amp Head-img_20200629_171056-jpg

  13. #12

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    Thanks very much for posting all of the recorded samples. I liked #3 slightly more than the others. Admittedly, I tend to be quite conservative.

  14. #13

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    Thanks for the comment! I think that #3 is the most smooth one, almost totally clean. I think that all of this sounds can be usefull but each in different musical environment DIY Micro Amp Head

  15. #14

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    Hello!
    That's been a while since my last post, but end of 2020 occured to be extremely busy for me.
    I wanted to share my last track, that I've recorded using this mini amp. It is solo guitar composition where I worked really hard on hybrid picking technique. Tune is important for this thread, because the sound represents exactly what I was expecting from this little amp and generally what I was trying to achieve for a long time. Moreover song itself is very significant for me as I finally obtained some playing style, that I imagined for many years already. Therefore I think it concludes the chapter in my guitar playing and opens the new one. Ahhh perfect statement for end of the year You can find tune under the link:


    I wish You all the Best in 2021!

  16. #15

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    WELL DONE! Great creative playing and amazing tone!

    Even more impressive is that you built the amp and spent many hours "personalizing" the guitar you are using (I assume it was the same guitar?)

    Sounds so similar to what I remember hearing on Beale St. in Memphis quite a few years ago.

    Dobra muzyka my friend.

    Cheers

    Dave

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greco
    WELL DONE! Great creative playing and amazing tone!

    Even more impressive is that you built the amp and spent many hours "personalizing" the guitar you are using (I assume it was the same guitar?)

    Sounds so similar to what I remember hearing on Beale St. in Memphis quite a few years ago.

    Dobra muzyka my friend.

    Cheers

    Dave
    Many thanks for listening and kind words! This reference to Beale St. is a huge compliment for me
    Guitar, that I've used is Ibanez S07LTD (this one is also personalized )

    Bardzo dziekuj?!