Building your own bass amplifier is a fine way to save money and can be a rewarding process. The end result is a hand-built, custom amp. There are two approaches to building a bass amplifier: use a bass amp kit or use second-hand parts. Your amp kit will come with compatible, pre-drilled and measured parts. This is certainly the easier approach. Acquiring second-hand parts can take time, so this is the most suitable approach if you don't need a new amp right away.
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Things you need
- Bass speaker
- Polyvinyl adhesive
- Printed circuit board
- Surface-mounted components
- Amp chassis
- Soldering iron
Purchase your parts. You can get a self-assembly bass amp kit online. The DIY Audio Projects website stocks a simple kit (See Resources 1). If you are using second-hand parts, you can salvage old or damaged amps for working parts. If there is a particular part you can't find, you can buy individual parts from an amp kit supplier. There are three key components in a bass amplifier: The speaker, preamp and power amp. The latter two are both located in the amp chassis.
Assemble the cabinet. If you are salvaging your parts, the cabinet will be pre-assembled. If you are using a kit, follow the instructions. Start from the inside out. Fit the wooden strut to the inside of the top and bottom panel respectively. These struts support the speaker. Once the struts are dry, glue the tops and sides together. Leave these to dry for an hour. Screw the corners together. Once the cabinet is dry, screw in the shelf. This is where the amp chassis sits.
Screw in the speaker. Bass speakers are larger and heavier than regular guitar amp speakers. There are typically four holes on each side of the speaker. Screw through these holes into the struts. Double check that the speaker is securely fitted.
Complete the partially finished circuit board. Follow the schematic and mount the resistors, capacitors and transistors in place. Amp kits come with a schematic. If you don't have one, view generic and commercial schematics on the Free Schematics website (See Resources 2). Each surface-mounted component has a joint or leg that connects it to the board. Fit the parts to the top of the board, slot the joint or leg through the eyelet and solder that to the bass of the printed circuit board.
Wire the circuit board to the chassis. Place the circuit board inside the amplifier chassis and screw it down. Solder the input jack to the input terminal of the printed circuit. Wire each potentiometer to its relevant terminal on the circuit board. Solder the output wire to the output terminal of the power amp. Thread it through the hole in the chassis and tape it down. You need to wire this to the speaker later.
Load the amp chassis onto the shelf. The front panel of the chassis with the potentiometers should face the same way as the speaker.
Wire the power amp to the speaker. Remove the tape from the wire. Solder the loose end to the input terminal of the speaker. Consult the schematic for reference. Tape the wire to the inside of the cabinet to keep it from hanging loose. Screw on the rear panel and front grille.
Tips and warnings
- Using second-hand parts is typically cheaper than purchasing a kit, but double check the condition of each part before purchasing.
- Be careful not to drip solder onto the chassis. Solder drips can interfere with the flow of the signal.
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