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Basic Elements of Tube Amp Design & Layout

By Rob Robinette

This is a work in progress.



What do you want? One amp can't do everything but some strategic switches can add versatility.

    High or low gain? Tube Amp Overdrive.

    Is the amp for you or a "customer"? Too many knobs and switches can be a turn-off for many players.

Must learn to read schematics to study the classics like the Fender 5F6A Bassman and Marshall JCM800.

Basic circuit building blocks.

    AB763 blackface: input, gain stage, tone stack, volume, gain stage, phase inverter, power amp, output transformer.

Voicing your tube amp.

    Voicing the clean tone will affect the overdrive tone and vice versa.

Layout considerations & how the Masters did it.

    5F6A Bassman & JCM800

    Use DIY Layout Creator

Design testing and tweaking.


RCA Corporation, RCA Receiving Tube Manual, RC30.


Merlin Blencowe, Designing Tube Preamps for Guitar and Bass, 2nd Edition.


Merlin Blencowe, Designing High-Fidelity Tube Preamps


Morgan Jones, Valve Amplifiers, 4th Edition.


Richard Kuehnel, Circuit Analysis of a Legendary Tube Amplifier: The Fender Bassman 5F6-A, 3rd Edition.


Richard Kuehnel, Vacuum Tube Circuit Design: Guitar Amplifier Preamps, 2nd Edition.


Richard Kuehnel, Vacuum Tube Circuit Design: Guitar Amplifier Power Amps


Robert C. Megantz, Design and Construction of Tube Guitar Amplifiers


Neumann & Irving, Guitar Amplifier Overdrive, A Visual Tour It's fairly technical but it's the only book written specifically about guitar amplifier overdrive. It includes many graphs to help make the material easier to understand.


T.E. Rutt, Vacuum Tube Triode Nonlinearity as Part of The Electric Guitar Sound

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