Home-built Fender Showman
One summer when I was about 17 I had mono and really couldn't do much. So my parents gave me the
money to buy parts and build a Fender Showman guitar amp. This was back when any self-respecting
guitar player felt he needed at least 100 watts RMS. These days we buy these little 18 watt amps and think
they're still pretty darn loud when you turn 'em up to get tone.
I went to the House of Music service department and ordered transformers. I probably bought the
rest of the parts at York Radio, not sure.
I suspect I found the schematic in a library book. The Fender amp design is pretty classic and
somehow has been copied by most other major amps makers. A Marshall is surprisingly similar to
a Fender, just some different cap and resister values mainly.
I'd love to say the amp still runs but it's been raided for tubes and the fuse cap. I suspect if I
powered it on it would have really scratchy pots and a few of the caps would have dried out. No idea
though. Last time it was used was probably around 1989.
It's only one channel of a Showman.
It has been re-housed at some point along the line. It used to be in a black Tolex-covered thing
with a grill covered with black speaker cloth.
I also built a 50w Marshall using the same modus operandi: bought the transformers from a music store
and got the rest of the parts from Jameco. It sounded excellent but I unfortunately sold it.
|Front view, no grill thingy, but you can see the screw holes where it used to attach. No wait,
that's not for attaching a grill, that's actually a little 3 space rack. I would have had an Alesis
Quadraverb in there and I can't imagine what else. I never owned a guitar pre that I can recall. Huh.
The switch on the left is "bright", the tone stack is just bass and treble, and the switch on the right,
as you'll see from the wiring below is some kind of Spinal Tap "mega" switch.
||Back view showing the raided fuse holder.
|The side with all the parts. I remember lighting myself up on this pretty good.
I was reaching across to the switch and touched a bare B+ wire. Threw me
across the room. I'm probably lucky to be here, although it was just the first
of many times I took tube voltages.
Note the totally unhooked 2nd switch. No idea what I was planning for that.
||View of the Fender transformers and the filter caps.
This is a photo of me from high school actually working on this,
the early stages. I'm diggin' the specs.
Here I'm putting the chassis into the original
Tolex-covered box. Looks like I'd ordered metal corners and everything.
||Working on a speaker cabinet. I built a lot of these too. Check out the date in the
border of the snapshot.
From about the same time, me working on a "cake pan" effect, probably a phase
shifter or an octave fuzz. Looks like it could be my old Les Paul Junior in the background
that a friend (Sam Crain) sold me. I remember carving it up to put in a 2nd P90. Makes
me cringe to think about it now. It was stolen in college. I bought a new SG Junior cherry colored
about 10 years ago, looks almost exactly like the old Les Paul Junior.
There comes a time when a guy has to re-own his high school stuff.