Archive for the ‘Fender Tweed Deluxe 5e3 Clone’ Category

Building amps tends to become a bit addictive, and I’m particularly fond of the 5e3 circuit.  It’s very simple to put together, yet supplies great tone.  The amp is also very lightweight compared to some.  My first 5e3 DIY project was based around a kit.   Nothing wrong with that – it’s a quick way to get something up and running.  However, my friend Pierre and I decided to design a 5e3 circuit board from the ground up using turretboard construction instead of the traditional eyelets.  We also didn’t want to make “replica” of the old Fender board or other existing layouts but instead came up with a new layout of our own inspired the ideas of Merlin Blencowe and Doug Hoffman.

Here’s a look at the turretboard before being populated with parts:

5e3 Turretboard


After glueing on the face frame and rounding the corners with a 3/8″ radius cove bit, the cabinet looks like so:

One the amplifier chassis was finished, it needed a cabinet of some kind…  While there are plenty of places to buy cabinets for these amps, I thought it would be fun to build one.  The originals were constructed of box-jointed pine, so I planned to do the same.  Some plans for a Tweed Deluxe cabinet have been posted on a few guitar-related forums:

5e3 Cabinet SHEET1

5e3 Cabinet SHEET2

5e3 Cabinet SHEET3

I didn’t plan on following these plans exactly, but rather used them as a I guide for overall dimensions, etc.  As in the drawings t I used 1/2″ dovetail/box joint template for the top and side pieces:

The box-joint joinery was created with a Porter-Cable dovetail jig:

After all the pieces were cut and routed  the cabinet was dry-fit  for a test, and then finally glued together.  Once the glue was dry the cabinet was sanded in order to smoother out the joints.

Here are a couple of pics of the completed chassis from the outside.  Transformers are by Heyboer.  Tubes are JJ Tesla, except for the 12AY7 and rectifier, which are Electro-Harmonix.


So far I have tested the amp out with a Celestion G12-80 8-Ohm speaker.  I’m loving the sounds of it.  Compared to my Vox AC30TBX, it’s cleaner on the low settings, with crisp highs, more bottom end, and less mid-range emphasis.  This amp can get very loud. It’s not an AC30 but it’s also nowhere near as heavy to carry.  Even at only 18 Watts, I’ve used it in a few small club gigs and wasn’t able to turn it up over 3 without dirty looks from the sound crew.

The kit instructions call for cutting off the little anti-rotation nibs on the potentiometers, then inserting them into the chassis holes.  However, I like to keep them on as they prevent the  pots from moving if a nut should work loose.  Since the chassis does not have corresponding holes (and I didn’t want to drill it), my solution was to make up a little aluminum plate like so:

This also works as a nice template that allows everything in that part of the circuit to be pre-wired befpre dropping it into the chassis.  The original Fender amps had brass grounding plates, but in this case, the aluminum plate is not for soldering to.  It’s just there to prevent the pot cases from spinning.

Once the pots we inserted into the chassis, it was then time to insert the circuit board into the chassis and wire it into the rest of the amp.


Here are some shots of wiring up the old-school style eyelet board (front and back):

I made a few component changes from the stock Trinity kit parts:  Sprague Atom filter caps, Sozo Bluemolded caps (which are supposed to replicate the Astrons used in old Fenders), a few metal film resitors, and I also replaced the 5W Xicon cathode resistor with an Ohmite “Brown Devil.”   I also used stranded teflon-coated wire for signal wiring as I find it easier to work with compared to the fairly bulky solid vinyl coated wire the kit shipped with.

The original schematic and layout diagram for the 5e3 Fender Deluxe are widely available on the web as this must be one of the most popular amps for DIY’ing of all time:

5e3 Deluxe Schematic

5e3 Deluxe Layout

The Trinity version basically follows the original fairly closely, with a few little mods here and there to improve the grounding and reduce noise.

In no time at all, I started  adding the tube sockets and switches, etc to the chassis…

Then I started on the wiring (tube heaters and rectifier tube socket):

It’s been a while since I last posted as I’ve been busy lately, but I hope to be posting a lot more in the days ahead… Happy New Year!  Anyway,  I thought I’d share something a little different from my effects pedal projects – a guitar amplifier build that I started back around Thanksgiving.  In this case I’m just building a little something for my own personal enjoyment… a clone of a 1950’s Fender “Tweed” Deluxe Amplifier, one of the most revered blues/rock amplifiers of all time.   The particular circuit/model was dubbed the “5e3″ so you’ll often see it referred to by amp builders in that manner.

An Original 1950s Fender "Tweed" Deluxe

U2/Edge gearheads will no doubt recognize this amp as one of the several beat up old Fender amps that Edge has had on tour with him since the Vertigo Tour, alongside his trusty Vox AC30s.  It has been mentioned in magazine articles that this amp was used in the studio to record the song “Vertigo”.  (Note:  FWIW Edge used a Line6 DM4 distortion pedal on that song as well, so the sounds are rather too distorted to apprecate the sound of this amp IMO…)  The amp is more famous for it’s use by those such as Neil Young, and many blues players, etc., etc….  I had the pleasure of to playing a 1950’s vintage Deluxe that was in my local guitar shop over the summer, fell in love with the tone on the spot, and this really had me itching to get one.  Not just for U2-related sounds, but just for the good ol’ rock’n’roll vibes these things put out.  The price of the particular vintage amp I played was around $1800, with new caps and speaker.  I knew there were some kits around for this amp, so I started thinking it would be fun little project, and also a more economical way to go.  After pricing out the cost of sourcing the various parts on my own vs. buying a kit, I decided to go with the Trinity Amps kit and then add a few different parts to it.  Going with a kit costs a little more but it saves some time and hassle, and in the case of the Trinity kit, you get some nice documentation.

A couple of weeks after ordering here’s the jumble of parts that arrived in the mail: