Are you thinking of buying a guitar amplifier? Where’s the fun in that? I’ll do you one better, how about you make one! All you need is to pick one of the best guitar amp kits and you can have all the fun!
A guitar amp kit allows you to have all the benefits of a good old guitar amp, but with more excitement. You get to channel your inner mechanic slash music pro and build it from, well, scraps. Just imagine it, the satisfaction that you would feel once you succeed in doing so.
We must admit though, there might be some drawbacks to doing so. It requires someone who’s handy with electronics, especially musical ones. You need to know what you’re doing because if you don’t, it won’t be a walk in the park.
Choosing the right kit is the key to successfully putting together your amp. To do so, you need to do some research, which is probably why you’re here in the first place. First step: check! You’ve already started your process, and you’re on the right track!
To spare you the nuisance of overwhelming your browser with dozens of tabs, in an effort to figure out the best guitar amp kits on the market, this article has all you need!
We’re going to tell you what guitar amp kits are, how to use them, what hardships you might face, why they’re worth it, and the top 5 guitar amp kits on the market. We’ve got your back!
What Is a Guitar Amp Kit?
A guitar amp kit is basically a DIY amplifier. It contains all the components needed to build your own amplifier.
What you need to use one of these kits is time, which thankfully there’s a lot of that these days, and some technical knowledge. You don’t have to be a technological genius in order to make your amplifier but you should at least have the basic knowledge covered.
Now, all there’s left to do is to purchase a kit of your choosing, follow the instruction guide, then assemble and connect the components. Congratulations! You just made a guitar amp yourself!
Things To Consider
Before you hit the buy button, take a few moments to consider some important things. These are the things that determine which product will meet your exact needs.
One of the major concerns when it comes to tube amps is how potentially dangerous they can be. It’s true, their high voltage can cause harm.
In order to avoid this, make sure you place them somewhere safe. This means keep them away from water, children, or flammable materials.
Before you start building them, make sure you’re doing so somewhere safe, dry, with plenty of space around you.
Guitar Amps have a wide range of prices. They can range between around $40 to $1000 or more! You need to decide on a range before you pick an amp.
Are you a professional or a hobbyist and money doesn’t matter? Feel free to ignore this point altogether.
If you’re a beginner and money is a bit tight, you don’t need to let the prices scare you. There are some quite affordable options. You don’t even have to sacrifice quality to get one of these.
However, if you’re looking for more professional amps, then you should be ready to invest a couple of hundred bucks in this. Trust us when we tell you the price will be worth it.
Ease of Assembly
Before you buy an amp, you need to be completely honest with yourself. How good are your technical skills? This is the first question you should ask in order to narrow down your field.
A lot of people get frustrated after purchasing kits, only to find themselves unable to finish their assembly. If technology isn’t your forte, then pick a low-profile, super easy to install kit.
If you know what you’re doing beyond a shadow of a doubt, pick whichever amp you like!
How Loud Is It?
What for or where will you be using your amp? You don’t need to get a high-wattage output amplifier if you’re going to be using it in your room for instance. A 2.5-watt amp might be enough for you in that case.
If you’re going to be using it in large or open spaces, then don’t opt for one less than 5 watts. What use will it be to have a beautifully-sounding amplifier if you can’t hear it?
Are you going to be using your amp in one place only or will you be on the move? Some amps are harder to move around than others. If you’re uncertain, then make sure you pick an amplifier that’s not too large.
However, if you’re frequently moving around then try to opt for a compact amp kit. Some have amazing sound quality, in spite of their size, don’t worry.
Why Buy a Guitar Amp Kit At All?
So why should you bother? Why not just pick one of the ready-made amplifiers. Here’s why.
Assembling amplifiers means they’re done with love. Just like cooking, when it’s done right, the results are bound to impress.
Amplifier kits usually mean that this amplifier will have more to it than mass-produced amps. It’s like going old-school. Some might even compare it to the difference between the sound of vinyl and a stereo. Which do you think is rawer? It’s basically the same here.
Did we mention how enjoyable the process is? You can think of it as a 4D, technological puzzle.
Know Your Amplifier
If someone has assembled a car and turned it from individual car parts into a running car, how well do you think they would know their car? If anything goes wrong or simply needs adjusting, they’re more likely to know what it is than the person who simply buys a car, right?
Now, replace the car with an amplifier. You’re going to hold each component in hand and find out exactly where to place it and how. In other words, you’ll know your amplifier inside-out. Will this be the case if you buy a readily-made amp?
This means that if anything goes wrong, you might have an idea of how to fix it, as opposed to buying a sealed amplifier.
The Ultimate 5 Guitar Amp Kits
Remember all that research you were going to do before finding this article? We did it for you! We’ve worked on preparing the 5 top-rated guitar amps out there and broke them down for you to pick your favorite.
StewMac Build Your Own ’59 Tweed Amp Kit
StewMac Build Your Own ‘59 Tweed Amp Kit is for the pros! Don’t worry, it doesn’t leave behind the beginners either. Do you want to know who else it’s for? The classics.
This amplifier will make you nostalgic. Its high-quality tubes, such as 6V6, 12AX7, 12AY7, and 5Y3 tubes work with its heyboer transformers to achieve that vintage sound.
Its vintage tone is amplified, excuse the pun, with genuine fiber eyelet boards. This is what they made original vintage amplifiers from. It might as well be a time machine!
Here’s a trick question, do you know what this amp has to do with pine? Its cabinet interiors. They’re made of North American Pine, the real kind. Add to this top-quality hardware StewMac is known for and you’ve got yourself an astonishingly durable amplifier.
- StewMac has lovingly recreated this timeless amplifier in our '59 Tweed 15W Amp Ki
- With mysteriously fat saturated tone, this little monster makes it easy to achieve seismic distortion, which is why this amp is one of the finest examples of vintage tone available anywhere
- We've gone to great lengths to make this kit something a complete beginner can tackle, and it comes with all the parts you'll need to complete this project in just a few evenings
- Includes step-by-step instructions (full of photos and illustrations) that break down every task into clear, bite-sized pieces
- Amp cabinet dimensions: 16" (40.64cm) high x 20" (50.8cm) wide x 9-1/2" (24.13cm) deep
MOD Kits MOD 102+ Guitar Amp Kit
Another MOD Kits masterpiece, MOD 102+ guitar amp. As the name suggests, this is the 2.0 version of the MOD 102.
Just like MOD 102, this design is also a combination of classic American circuit with British-style Class A output tube section. The addition? MOD 102+ has an output of 8 watts. It’s more powerful than its low-key predecessor.
That’s not all! Remember those vintage channel controls? MOD Kits kicked up a notch, well, three notches to be specific. If you’re all about that bass, as Meghan Trainor put it, then you’ll love the mid-boost feature! Just pull the bass knob out for an extra bass kick.
You can also make your treble extra bright if you pull it out. Even the volume control has a little surprise for you if you pull it out; it’s going to go all turbo!
Combine these things with the newly featured electronic brand preamp tube, the ECC803, and you have more control over your amp. You can now choose between more tones than the previous model allows, giving you the versatility to match your creativity.
- All-Tube Design (solid-state diodes used only for full-wave rectification)
- 8W output power into 8 Ω
- 1 channel
- Vintage channel controls with push-pull functionality: bass (+mid-boost), treble (+bright) and volume (+turbo)
- Vintage pilot lamp and screw-on jewel cover for power-on indication
Mojotone GA-5 Style Combo Amp Kit
Another user-friendly kit, Mojotone GA-5 was inspired by Gibson’s GA-5.
This combo kit is pretty easy to build. It can take as little as 4 hours! You don’t have to worry about standing there, glaring at a circuit board having no clue as to what you’re doing. This is basically just about connecting stuff, and that’s it! If you’re not exactly a pro yet when it comes to assembling amp kits, this might be for you.
This classic style of this amp produces impressively clear, low volume tones. Its output is 5 watts, but it might sound even louder than most 5-watt amps.
If you’re looking for a kit to use for recordings, look no further. This kit is quite ideal for recordings thanks to its classic GA-5 style. In case you didn’t know, GA-5 is an amazing recording amp that was made in the early 50s.
- The perfect place to start your amp building journey
- Average build time is 4-5 hours
- 5 Watt, Class A Tube Amplifier
- Lush clean tone at low volumes
- Fantastic Recording Amplifier
C. B. Gitty Parts-Only Cigar Box Amplifier Kit
This cigar box amp kit is pretty impressive. It might look tiny but don’t let its size or its price fool you! It’s up for the job! Not to mention, It’s like hitting a jackpot for beginners!
Not only is it insanely affordable so beginners don’t need to worry about ruining an expensive kit, but it’s also very easy to build! It comes with a detailed instructional manual to walk you through the process, so shove your fear away.
This 2.5-watt amplifier produces a beautiful sound. Don’t worry, it comes with a speaker to amp up, no pun intended, the sound for you. Thanks to the tone trim pot, you can tune your sound until it reaches that perfect tone.
Reviews for this product rave about how this cigar box amp kit produces “great sound for such a small speaker.” It’s always the little ones that have the potential to impress us the most, take it from us!
“The wiring was very simple and self-explanatory,” says Matt Grant. As we said, the assembly should not be an issue you face if you opt for this little guy.
What might be an issue is the LED light. Mike’s LED light didn’t work. There’s actually a simple solution for this actually, reversing its polarity. “LED stands for light-emitting diode, which means that much like their diode cousins, they’re polarized,” according to Sparkfun Start Something. Therefore, reversing the polarity should do the trick.
- You can build your own amplifier! This kit contains all of the parts you need to build a cigar box amplifier - you just supply the cigar box (or other enclosure)!
- Mount in your favorite cigar box or other enclosure. Pre-wired leads make assembly easy!
- 2.5-watt Artec amp board produces very respectable sound off of a 9-volt battery
- On-board Tone/Gain Trim Pot allows fine-tuning of sound. Optional headphones and output jack hookups
- Circuit works great for amplifying smart phones (adapter cable required).
MOD Kits MOD 102 DIY Guitar Amplifier Kit
If you’re new to amplifier building, then MOD 102 might be the one for you. It comes with a clear step-by-step instruction manual. It’s a bit low-key, with its 5-watt-output power, making it perfect for a beginner.
MOD 102 features vintage channel controls, which give you complete control over the bass, treble, and volume. In addition, it contains all of the components that you’re going to need and more. The steel chassis is open so it doesn’t hinder your assembly and it’s even pre-drilled, saving you from one more step.
As promised, MOD 102 is top-rated. You don’t need to worry about missing parts when you order this one. Brian Hinkle says, “The kit is complete, uses high-quality components, has very good instructions, and it works!” Trust us, you’re covered!
Remember when we told you that amp kits usually end up sounding better than the readily-made ones? Esther seems to think the same! She states, “This amp sounds as good or better than these I’ve had/have at low clean volumes.”
One of the problems that some customers experienced was that the EL84 tube was faulty. This can be a problem for someone who doesn’t have any back-up tubes at home. After spending a large amount on this kit, imagine it being faulty.
Don’t worry though, we wouldn’t have mentioned it in our review if we didn’t have a solution. Customers have contacted MOD Kits about their complaints. Do you want to know what they did? Drumroll, please. They shipped new EL84 tubes free of charge. Even the problem isn’t really a big problem anymore.
- All Tube Design (solid-state diodes used only for full-wave rectification)
- 5W output power into 8 Ohm
- 1 channel
- Vintage channel controls: bass, treble and volume
- Vintage pilot lamp and screw-on jewel cover for power-on indication
If you’re tired of being locked up at home, this is the perfect project for you! You can have your own little DIY project, get a new guitar amp in the process, and learn a few things about it all at once!
Once you decide on the criteria of the price, ease of use, sound range, and versatility, make sure you have the safe space to work in before you start picking your favorite amp.
Of all the amps we’ve mentioned, Mojotone GA-5 Style Combo Amp Kit is a favorite among most people. While its price alone is reason enough for that, its simplicity and sound quality add to its appeal.
All that’s left is to ask yourself, which one is your favorite kit?