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Low Voltage, Tube Driven, Guitar, Headphone Amp: 12K5? Answered

I don't have room for a guitar amp right now so a headphone amp is the logical answer. I tried to find a tube driven, guitar, headphone amp but no one seems to make such a thing even as a kit. I don't really have the expertise to design my own circuit but it seems like that's the only way to get one. Would a 12K5 work for this purpose? Basically all I want is a beautiful clean sound I can listen to through headphones and I don't really want to run 200V for the purpose, if I can avoid it. Am I on the right track here?


Try to find the July 2002 edition of Poptronics magazine (RIP, sniff...) and look on page 23 to find "The Tubester", a combo tube/solid state preamp made with a 6F5 tube and a pair of 741 opamps. This runs off 2 9V batteries and 4 D batteries. If you cannot find the magazine, I could copy the article for you.



7 years ago

You can probably find something that meets your needs here:


Thanks! A lot of great kits! How would I edit a circuit designed for stereo components to EQ properly with a guitar? Could I use, say, the right channel to drive a tone stack and then use the left channel as the sole output, for example?

The 12K5 is a low voltage tube but only has an amp factor of 7.  Not much when you start out with a low power input from a guitar.  These types of tubes were originally designed to use in car radios before transistors became all the rage.

I found a design that uses 3 tubes for a higher amp factor. It works on 12 volts.

A small transistor preamp might be of benefit and you would still get the nice tube sound.

Here's a great little amp.  It's stereo but you could almost just cut the diagram in half for mono.  It takes 48 volts though.

Yeah thanks! Do you have any input on the response I posted to jeff-o's answer?

Not sure if you could find a Tube amp just for headsets, but there are lots of Guitar Amps for headsets for as little as $25. Google it or just check on eBay.