Tube amps and how I got here ...


In May 2008 I bought an Epiphone Valve Junior on ebay for about $120 including shipping, it came with three Bitmo kits that had never been installed ... so in the beginning ... I opened up the box the amp didn't work, I emailed the seller he said check the preamp tube so I pulled the 12AX7 out of my little Behringer amp and that fixed it, and I got a $20 refund from the seller.

My first real tube amp education was from the S2 Valve Junior Mod Kit Installation Instructions (vj_kit_inst.pdf) that were available at the now defunct I got permission from S2 and now have his document here:

A little while later after many many hours at I picked up another Vjr and soon we were using two VJr's on stage in parallel, one was pretty bright and dirty, the other one was darker and cleaner. Together they were a pretty nice mix, definitely the two amps together were way better than either one alone, and twice as loud ...

Then the next step I built a Baby Will pcb amp using a cheap ebay bent aluminum chassis, a recycled Dynaco tuner power transformer and an MPS OT20PP output transformer. My brother and I built a pine kind-of vintage radio-looking cabinet and voila a new amp. You can get Terry's pcb from here: It works best with transformers 275 to 285V non-center tapped or 550 to 570V center tapped. Just be careful, a couple of people built Baby Will's and didn't realize that you have to wire the rectifier different for the two type of transformers as soon as the plugged them in they fried the power transformers. A friend heard my Baby Will and wanted one so I built his as a modded VJr using the stock power transformer with an added filament transformer, at first he used the MPS OT20PP, but later swaped that for one of the ClassicTone 18 Watt OT's.

Then on to using the Terry Stinger designed 5E3 pcb available from You'll need to register on and then go to for documentation and help. Of couse I built mine as a T'N'T - Two kNob Trainwreck, a Trainwreck preamp with a wrong tone control mated to a 5E3 ... it really didn't work ... but with just a few mods it turned intro a decent sort-of Blackfaced-like 15 watt amp.

Then back to the VJr platform for two Supro like EL84 SE amps, one a screamer and one a lot tamer. The Super-V turned out to be an amazing amp with one knob (period), here's a schematic, I built it as a VJr pcb mod. I need to build another one ... it's the screamer especially with the ClassicTone 40-18031 15watt Champ OT.
Then the tamer one the S16, another VJr mod. It's loosely based on the S6616 with an EL84, here's the schematic: ... if I was going to do another one I'd go back to the 0.01uf cap for C2 (note to self: edit the schematic). A nice amp with a nice vintage rock tone.

Then came another slightly modified 5E3 pcb amp, built pretty much stock topology, but with a few changes, ~50% split-load plate resistors so a 12AX7 could be used for the input, smaller coupling caps so the lows were better controlled. It's now Simon Tucker's main amp for his electric screaming dirty blues rock stuff. For his new album he used the 5E3 for leads and my SuperliteIIb for the cleaner rhythm stuff.

Then the SuperliteIIb which I documented earlier. Here's the schematic: and by the way I used the ClassicTone 18 Watt OT in this one ... what an amp!!!

Then it came time to finish up something I started about a year ago, a LiteIIb eyelet board finally built to test out my new 18Watt spec'd Edcor power transformer, again I went with the ClassicTone 18 Watt OT. A completely different amp than my Baby Will, the higher voltages made the amp clearer and cleaner, it needed the dirtier preamp from the LiteIIb schematic, the lower voltage Baby Will needed the split-load plate resistors etc.