Building your own stuff: my take on the subject

First things first, please read the disclaimer.

I'm not a quick hack type of guy. When I build something, I always try my best to build a professional, universally applicable, safe device, often taking months of tinkering. The way I see it, one day I might end up with a commercially viable product. Hopefully, the only thing that keeps me from making vast amounts of profit smiley from it, is the marketing part. But seriously, some of my projects are in almost daily use, and have been for years. A quick hack simply wouldn't last.

There's few things more exciting than building your own bass cabinet, amplifier, flight case or photo strobe. Well, if you're into it, anyway smiley. On this website I'm giving you my email address in case you have any questions about it, and I'm more than willing to provide insight. However - and I sincerely hope this doesn't sound too arrogant - you must realize that I have been doing stuff like this for 20 years. I didn't one day decide to go build stuff and just did it. I have been teaching myself how to do these things ever since I was a little kid, by reading electronics magazines, books, internet content, articles and by talking to more experienced people than myself, like forum members, fellow students, or my father, who was a technician too. I've also been working with electronics professionally since 1997.

So before you start mailing me questions like: "Can you help me building my own guitar effect / speaker cabinet / amp / case / propeller / strobe? I don't know anything about it, but if you could mail me some tips and tricks, I'd be on my way." I'm getting those kinds of messages more and more. Especially from young people (who don't seem to know the phrase "thank you" BTW). I'm very sorry, but it doesn't work that way. I'm not a private teacher. I wasn't planning on teaching you on-line how to build something that needs years of experience, and possibly a degree in Electrical Engineering. So please first get some books or run a good search (a few hours) on the net, or talk to a stage technician / sound guy / pro photographer / whatever. You need much more than tips and tricks to start doing most of the projects you see here. I don't have time to select speakers and calculate enclosures and cabinet tunings for everyone. I hope you understand.

So with that out of the way: I always answer questions I get. That is, if you ask them in a language I understand: Dutch, English or German. I would just appreciate it if you do some digging first and then ask specific questions, that's all.

As far as live stage speaker cabinets are concerned: building your own gear is hardly cheaper than getting new stuff, let alone 2nd hand. Search Ebay if you're in the US. Sure, you can build a 1x15 cab for USD 200, but a used, ready made cab can be had for about the same cash. Cheap second hand is better than cheap DIY. Besides, you'd be able to use it right away, not having to deal with power tools, soldering iron, wood sheets, glue, clamps, screws, sawdust on the speaker, foam gaskets, silicone caulking, carpet finish or polyurethane coating, protective corners and linings, grilles, tuning measurements, power testing, air leak checking etc., etc., etc. all at the risk of ending up with a bad sounding cabinet. The real advantages of building sound gear yourself are:

  • You want or need something that's simply not available commercially (which probably has a very good reason)
  • You can specify your own materials, determine your own dimensions etc.
  • You can make ik look like nothing else

You CAN build cheaper than the big boys, but this is only valid for high-end cabinets. You can build a very high quality "boutique" guitar or bass guitar cabinet for the price of a mid-range one. Still not at all cheap, but affordable, high quality. Needless to say, you need a lot of experience to do this. I hope to arrive at this level some day smiley.

Here's some quick help for cabinet builders:

  • "The loudspeaker design cookbook" by Vance Dickason is required reading (no, I'm not getting commission for this).
  • "WinISD" or "Boxplot" are recommended (downloadable shareware) software.

Comments comment system 1.1   

2011-09-10   Jerry Porter

I recently had an idea for a bass cabinet and am wondering if it is feasible or not. I play contemporary praise and worship our church and was thinking of building a cabinet shaped like a cross. I was planning on using 12" in the vertical and mount them in a coupled configuration. Probably 4X12". Height of somewhere around at least 5 or 6 feet, depending on the requirements. For the horizontal cross about 3/4 the way up the vertical 12's I was planning on 2X6" on each side. I tend to stay away from horns. So is this a design that could be made to work and sound great? I'm very picky about my sound. I am in the process of putting together a rack head as I sold my last one. I'm not worried about moving it around a lot as it would be used in church the majority of the time. Thanks for the time and help, if you can.


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