Small Amp, Great Sound – Part 5 – The Andy Chamberlain Pedal and Amp Combo

The best laid plans…
Basic Lil’ Dawg chassis  $279
stripped ebay cab   $115
Weber 12A125A Alnico $105
Total     $500

So my original idea was to go for a used or inexpensive pine cab with the Weber 12A125A alnico speaker – i.e. the best speaker in my budget range. I tried my chassis with an Original Celestion Blue poached from my AC30 and whilst it sounded amazing it was a little too bright with some guitars in comparison to the warmer and more bassy Weber. I found a guy on Ebay in the States last autumn who would build me a pine tweed deluxe cabinet with whatever dimensions I wanted for $115 and I would either get it shipped or get one of my friends coming over from the US to bring it. Job done for just over budget – then the bottom dropped out of the UK pound and it would have cost me more than a UK built unit. Either way blowing my target budget.


Then I stumbled upon a cunning plan… I have an old Marshall JCM800 1933 1×12 cab from the early 80’s gathering dust that I bought years ago for £75 including a vintage Celestion speaker. It’s closed back and but made of really light weight ply and because its slightly oversized has just great tone. Check these out, if you can find one, buy it! They’re not worth much in the UK but some players have really cottoned onto them in the States where they go for a lot more.


Now, because of its vintage pretensions I didn’t want to make any irreversible mods so I decided to swap out the original back panel and mount the amp chassis to it on a new piece of off cut ply. I got one cut to fit at B&Q for the princely sum of £2 and cut it down to make the cab open backed to access the controls.

with-detachable-back-removedSo I mounted the Weber inside (straight swap) and as you can see in the pictures I suddenly found I had a large space above the speaker itself. So…cunning plan number 2. Why not make the remaining part of the new ply back board into a hinged panel for safe transportation AND use the available space to store a small pedal board whilst in transit?

marshall-amp-with-pedal-board-compartmentThus a one-box amp and pedals solution!  So I got another off-cut of ply from the local timber yard for the board, screwed in some plinths to rest it on and hey presto, a guitar amp revolution! Well perhaps not, but it is a really portable, usable solution that sounds great and easily keeps up with a drummer in church.

These are the final costs. Now although the Marshall cab cost me £75 years ago I’ve factored that in at no cost as I could now probably get near that for the original speaker (which I don’t want to sell) and I can still unplug the cable and use it as a stand alone cab for other amps. And it’s my blog and if I want to use ‘creative’ ways to come in on budget I will! Also, while I’m being honest I couldn’t be bothered to do all the wood cutting, painting, amp mounting and hinging so I got a local carpenter friend to do it for £30 ($50). So this is it all in.

My option
Lil’ Dawg chassis + extras $325
Old marshall cab  $0
Weber 12A125A alnico $105
Carpentry mod work   $50
Shipping    $25
Total     $505

So is it possible to get a boutique quality hand made guitar tube amp for under $500. Absolutely! Especially if you are willing to do some research, leg work and not go all green eyed on the options list. If you are playing a lot in church I would seriously suggest you investigate this type of low wattage amp as it will last a lifetime and give you great tone before the sound man ‘encourages’ you to turn it down.

Next…a series on large amps for Mega-church rock legends…8×12 Marshall Plexi stack anyone?

Here’s the list of contacts.