Introductory Tube Amp Material on the Web

by Mark ~ April 17th, 2008. Filed under: Books, Safety, tube amp electronics.

We’ve talked about three series of books, so far, that each provide a different approach to tube amplifier analysis, design and construction:

  1. Nerdy 
  2. Easy reading theory/practical mix and,
  3. Comprehensive (encyclopedic) hands-on with a practical focus on guitar tube amp projects

Something for everybody in that list, but if you are hankering for more (or less, as in ‘free’), then there are lots of resources on the internet and this post tries to capture some of the more notable ones, specifically ones that are good for beginners.

There is a Naval Electronics Engineering Training Series (NEETS) module introducing tube electronics (Module 6)… you can find it here and there.

Aiken Amplifiers has some really good technical papers targeting various levels of experience, select “TECH INFO” when you go there. I really got a lot out of this site and they even provide safety rules for working on tube amps.  Duncan’s Amp Pages is another good resource; for beginners I would focus on the free software tools he provides:  The Tone Stack Calculator and The Power Supply Unit Designer are two tools that I use often.  Another good reference resource is the works of R.G. Keen. Mr. Keen is all about effects, but inclusive of tubes… he has Tube Guitar Amp Tech pages with great articles applicable to the DIYer including construction technique, mojo component selection, and a good guide to basic debugging of tube amplifiers.

Forums are a great place to lurk when you are a beginner, there are great forums for DIY guitar amplifiers (see the SideBar under “DIY Forums” for a few), and these are great places to go for help when you get further along in your project.  You can learn loads without ever posting and when you do, please be respectful… you should have made a decent effort to find your answers in previous postings (use the search tools!) before asking.

Don’t forget to check out the scanned books on Pete Millett’s site referenced in one of my first posts.

With a little tube theory under your belt you may find that schematics speak volumes to you as well.  The three best guitar tube amplifier schematic resources on the web are:

  1. Schematic Heaven
  2. The Free Information Society
  3. The Blue Guitar

If your tastes are narrow (e.g. Fender only) a couple of excellent resources are:

You may want to check out all the book review posts and look in the sidebar for recommended books stocked by

4 Responses to Introductory Tube Amp Material on the Web

  1. VintageP

    I recently had to bring an amp in for repair and in talking about that to my wife she suggested learning how to work on them may be yet another aspect of the guitar hobby. Looks like I’ve got the how to steps here to go by!

  2. Mark

    More importantly… it looks like you’ve got the green light from an understanding spouse to build a dream amp… we’re all envious!

  3. Jude


    I’ve just been taking a look at your Ceriatone trainwreck and wish you luck with it. However, I wanted to leave you an unrelated comment: The text on this site is quite hard to read. I don’t know what kind of font you have, but it interacts with the white background in a bad way. The comments read OK though. I just thought I’d let you know since I read that you made your own site.


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