I built my 5E3 clone with the mojo board, and mustard / orange caps, classic tone transformers, a raw pine cab that I put a few coats of shellac on, a raw aluminum chassis, a VVR (which is amazing!), and a Cannabis Rex speaker. Sounds incredible!
Thanks! I didn't build the cab. I live in a small NYC apartment. No room for proper wood working! Although I did build our kitchen table....
I ordered the cab as unfinished raw pine from Ted Weber. I just applied a few coats of shellac and installed the speaker grill. I'm obsessed with shellac. My Tele and LP have no finish but shellac on them as well.
Shellac is incredibly easy to apply and it dries insanely fast. You can wipe it on, spray, or brush. I much prefer to wipe it on with a clean lint free rag.
It's durable, but not like like a hard plastic coating. It still feels like wood. If it's gonna get heavily abused, perhaps something more heavy duty would be best. Or add some kind of clear coat on top of the shellac. I personally like how shellac wears. And down the line, a refinish is as easy as applying more coats. You don't have to remove the old stuff. Just look up how to apply it on some wood working sites. Plenty of info. Also, it's made from beetle secretions, which is just weird and awesome.
Well I finished wiring up the amp and yesterday was the moment of truth where I plugged it in for the first time. Aaaaaand FAILURE!!!
When checking voltages I realized I had nothing at B+. Sure enough, I trace my wiring back to the rectifier tube and realize I have wired the center tap of the OT primary and the anode of the first filter cap to pin 7 of the rectifier tube instead of pin 8. That was stupid, but I'm just glad none of the parts were damaged from this mistake.
As soon as I fixed that my voltages were looking good and I plugged in the rest of the tubes and the speaker and all is perfect. My B+ is now at 370VDC on the first filter cap
Well I'm pretty stoked! I'll have to post a pic when I get off work. Now just need to build that cab and I'm ready to rock n roll
Respect to you sir. Must be awesome to build a great amp. One day I would love to build a Fender harvard, but I think I have to learn an awful lot before I can even think of starting a project like that.
Thanks man! Yesterday I was playing around with a 12AX7 in V1 and that sounds pretty freakin awesome. A lot more grit that way. Also sounds really badass with the DAM FZ-678
I totally think you should go for it. There are people here (myself included) that will help you with any questions you have. If I don't have an answer I will help you research.
What I did was study the layout, schematic, photos of original builds, and photos of clones. I also got a nice book from Zach on tube amps.
The two big differences you will see in a modern build vs the original Harvard are that you will use a 3 prong cord on a modern build, and wire the heaters differently. In the original, Fender grounded one side of the heaters. In a modern build you will use a PT that has a secondary winding which provides 6.3VAC to the pilot light and heaters. As you study the layouts you will are what I mean
I still haven't finished the cab. Just keep changing my mind and delaying myself on that.
I've been using the amp itself pretty much every day since I've built it. It tends to be my favorite amp to play around with at home. It seems like it should be loud enough to use with a band but I haven't taken it out yet obviously because I don't have the cab yet
The sound is legit. I was after a pretty specific sound which this amp does perfectly. I love it, but it's not for everyone, and definitely not a super clean amp. It does the bass blocking thing, which to me adds to the character of the sound, to others it may be undesirable.
It really varies depending on what guitar I use too. Running my Ric with the toaster pickups this amp maxes out at like a "Rumble" by Link Wray level of dirt. Kindof a krrrrang sound, not much chugga chugga. It does some really sweet sounding cleans with that guitar, especially with my Revibe adding some reverb.
With my SG with humbuckers, there's pretty much no clean setting on the volume knob, just varying levels of saturation. Again the bass blocking might be a turnoff for some but to me this thing sounds KILLER with the SG. The humbuckers really make it rock
Strat or Tele sound Strat or Tele to the max. Not super clean though
All in all I love this thing and loved building it. It was fun, challenging, and the amp sounds amazing
To ask something superficial.. how much on average would I be looking at to build, say, a fender tweed combo?
Your story makes me enthousiastic, but after just having bought a sweet Les Paul, I'm kind of low on funds.. ;)
I built a 5E3. I sourced everything from different places. So I did not use a complete kit. I spent around $600 USD all said and done.
Mojotone eyelet board, caps, resistors, pots. (Carbon comp resistors, and a mix of mustard and orange caps)
Raw aluminum chassis (forgot the guy who made it. Some small metal shop online)
Weber raw/unfinished solid pine cab (finished myself)
Cannabis Rex Speaker
Classic Tone Transformers