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What Are the Best Tips for Making a DIY Guitar Amp?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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When it comes to building a do-it-yourself (DIY) guitar amplifier (AMP), there are a few tips that will help you to build the best amp you can. From choosing the right wood to use for the cabinet to choosing the best covering for your DIY guitar amp, some tips will not only help to build a good amp, they will help to save money too. A DIY guitar amp can be a fun project and a worthwhile investment, provided it is built with care and quality components. There are many pieces that can be purchased for a DIY guitar amp that will add reliability to the component.

Most DIY guitar amps can be welcome additions to a stage show or home practice studio. Tips to creating a solidly-constructed amp begin with selecting the type of wood to be used for the amplifier. Plywood is a good choice for the amp, however, it must be a furniture-grade plywood to make certain there will be no rattles or buzzing caused from poorly-manufactured plywood. It is also wise to choose a relatively thick plywood to avoid rattles in the finished piece.

A tip for making a good-sounding amp is to sand all the edges and adjoining pieces to make certain that solid surface contact is achieved with all components of the cabinet. Once there is a proper fit of all the necessary pieces, a good coating of quality glue will lock all of the pieces into a solid structure. Instead of covering the amplifier with a low-grade carpet, a tip for creating a quality amp is to obtain some Tolex® material from a quality musical supply store. This is a heavy-duty, black cloth material used by most amp manufacturers.

Another tip to a great DIY guitar amp is to obtain a prewired switch panel from a musical supply store. These panels are usually soldered to prevent any shorting or squealing when plugged into a power supply. The speakers used in the amplifier are responsible for the majority of the sound quality from the amp. By choosing quality speakers, the amp will often be able to produce a quality sound, providing the other components are also wisely selected while building the amp. One of the most important tips for any DIY guitar amp is to use the best-quality and largest-diameter wire when wiring the amp so as to get the most power and sound.

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Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Mar 31, 2014

@Vincenzo -- keep in mind that May was a big DIY kind of guy. He and his father also made the guitar he played throughout his tenure with Queen. Also, both May and Deacon had an extensive background in electronics and they spent quite a bit of time coming up with the homemade amp you mentioned.

Still, the results were clearly worth the effort.

By Vincenzo — On Mar 30, 2014

That can be more than a fun project -- it can be the only way for a guitarist to find the exact sound that he or she wants. For example, one of the major components of Brian May's sound was a guitar amp that he designed along with John Deacon (May was the guitarist for Queen while Deacon was the bassist). Trying to get that exact guitar sound without that homemade amp is next to impossible.

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