A while back I purchased a lot of the parts needed for a Ruby Amp project. This is a little 1/2 watt solid state amp. I started to put it together and then got side tracked. One of the things I’ve been trying to do this year is finish up all my little guitar projects I have collected over the years instead of getting more projects. This is a difficult mind set to change. I am always on the hunt for new projects. And new projects usually consist of trying to get something for really cheap that needs a little help.
So I spent a big chunk of Saturday and a portion of Sunday putting together my Ruby Amp. On Saturday night I had everything wired up. The LED light would come on when I put a batter in or plugged in a power supply (yup, I went all out and added a an LED indicator light, on/off switch, and headphone line out to the schematic). But I didn’t get any sound at all. Not even a bad hum.
I went over everything that evening and realized I had left out a two jumper wires on my perf board. Got those on and I had hum! No actual guitar sound, but at least it was humming. So I put it to bed and relaxed.
On Sunday I went over everything again. It is all there. But I started messing with where the ground wires all go. Then I moved the wires for the LED light. The gain and the volume all impact the hum. The switch turns it off an on. The LED light functions with the switch (it was always on before). But no guitar amplification.
I am not very technically minded. I cannot read the schematic very well and have mainly relied on pictures of other people’s boards online. Maybe, if I’m free for a long period of time, I’ll draw up my own blue print of the Ruby Amp with the mods I added. Of course, it won’t be a very popular blue print if it is for an amp that doesn’t actually amplify a guitar…
My whole goal for doing this (besides living that DIY spirit and being a “maker”) was to have a little amp on my work bench for when I’m working on a guitar out there. In the same spirit I also got two junk amps from my local guitar shop. One was the Raven RG100 that I turned into my 2×12 speaker cabinet. The other is a sparkly red vinyl Kustom practice amp with a little 6 inch speaker. Neither worked. I figured the Kustom could become a speaker cabinet or could house the Ruby amp I was building.
As I was working on my Ruby amp project I pulled out the Kustom for a distraction. I took it apart and found that the only obvious problem was broken input jack. But replacing that is usually very easy. There must be something more to it because it was thrown away. But I had the right type of jack from the Raven and I just had to swap it with the broken one in the Kustom, so why not? Today, in about 20 minutes, I swapped the broken jack in the Kustom for the jack in the Raven. I plugged in a guitar and got sweet guitar amplification!
I could not believe it. It was so simple. And after I had spent so much time on my Ruby amp. I will admit that the electronics board on the Kustom would not come all the way out. It was tricky to get my soldering iron in there and not damage anything else. I’m sure that the guitar tech at my local guitar shop told the customer that the cost of the professional repair would exceed the value of the amp… so it got junked to me… and I am much less valuable than a professional repair.
So I now have a little amp on my work bench just like I wanted. And what is the moral of this long tale? Look around for alternate solutions before you dive into one of your DIY projects. I could’ve spent 20 minutes on the broken amps and spent the rest of the day playing the guitar.
I’m sure someday I’ll come back to my Ruby amp. It will be cool to say I, an inept DIY-er, made an amp. But for now, I’ll just enjoy the Kustom on my work bench and worry about what I ruined on my Ruby amp later!