At last, I have a Tweed Deluxe 57 all valve amplifier. All custom made and hand wired by myself and I really don’t know why it took so long.
As a lifelong guitarist and electronics engineer, the guitar amplifier has probably been the most fascinating of all electronics to me. When I was growing up, amplifiers were appearing everywhere as the technology was changing from valves to solid state.
The thermionic valve, as it’s technically known, had been at the heart of many an amplifier for many decades. It’s time had come as it was about to be replaced by a much smaller device. The transistor. Made from Silicon and Germanium, the transistor was more efficient, cheaper to make and much much smaller. This meant amps could be build smaller as well as cheaper. This was to create a boom as amps became more available and affordable.
Nowadays though, the guitar enthusiast will tell you that there are still major differences in the sound that both these amplifiers types produce. The thing is, the transistors design is almost perfect and it produces an almost perfect replica of the guitars sound. Whereas the valve is a very inefficient device which causes distortion to the sound when pushed too hard. It is precisely this flaw that creates the desirable tone that us guitarists are seeking. It’s funny that modern day transistor amps are trying to copy the valve sound and that speaks volumes.
I started building my Tweed Deluxe 57 clone in July 2013. I had spent a long time researching which amp I should build. Since I have owned amps that have 6L6s, EL84s and EL34s, I decided to build an amp with a valve I didn’t have. The 6V6.
After a little research, I kept coming back to the Fender Tweed Deluxe 57. The circuit looked really easy (to me anyway) and exactly what I wanted. Little did I really know that this little amp was one of the most classic amps of it’s generation and still is today.
Without further ado, here it is.
I toyed with the idea of building everything from scratch and sourcing all the parts, but in the end I decided to buy a chassis kit and source a cabinet maker. I managed to source a Scottish based supplier for the chassis kit from Modulus Amplification. It took a while though. Some of these guys are hard to find on Google. What’s more is that it’s in Kirriemuir, the birth place of Bon Scott! (I am and AC/DC fan)
I soon realised that the cost for the tooling for a single build was too expensive, so I found a real nice guy called Mark Phillips of AF Custom Cabs who produced the work of art below. I cannot recommend Mark enough as the quality of the cabinet was second to none. Mark also kindly took the pictures for me as he was building.
I have to say that before I never really cared much for the Tweed finishing, but now I think its a major part and feel of the project and I am so glad I went for it.
Building the chassis took me around 15 hrs in total. To be honest, I could do it much quicker, but I wanted to soak it up and enjoy the first build of hopefully a few more.
I decided to buy a period correct speaker so I opted for a Jensen P12Q. However, I did not like the sound of it and promply returned it and had it replaced with my favourate, a Celestion Vintage 30.
So what’s the verdict?
I haven’t gigged it as yet, but have done two rehearsals with it and I must say I am extremely pleased with the look, feel and sound. I have heard and played some high quality amps and this sounds just as good if not better. At 15 watts and with a 10db louder than normal speaker, this thing rocks. It competes with the drummer no problem and has a massively touch sensitive sound and feel.
The next step is to get some sounds clips recorded and posted. You never know, I may be building a few more once people hear this.
Watch this space.