The Camel

Version 1.4 - 4th October 2005

The camel, some say, is a horse designed by committee. In a similar way, this amplifier was designed by taking ideas from lots of different amplifiers to create something that's a little bit of everything. That's why I've called it "The Camel". The amp is a 2.8W, single-ended, Class A, guitar valve amplifier with twin channels (foot-switchable), an effects loop and an unusual combination of valves. The amp has a Fender-like topology with relatively high gain. The picture below shows The Camel with a full complement of Mullard valves. From left to right the valves (tubes) are an EF83 (6BK8), an ECC83 (12AX7) and an ECL86 (6GW8). The EF83 can be replaced by an EF86 (6F22).

The controls (from left to right) are treble, bass, clean channel volume, dirty channel volume and master volume (the master volume affects the dirty channel only). There are two small red buttons on either side of the dirty channel volume; the one on the left switches the channel and the other boosts the signal/distortion on the dirty channel. There are LEDs above the switches to indicate the switch state.

There aren't many commercially-available, low-powered valve amplifiers and the few that exist are very expensive - even in kit form. You can buy a 15W/30W amplifier for the price of some of the low powered amps so they don't look attractive until you realise that there isn't any other convenient way to get cranked amp tone at domestically acceptable sound levels.

I've never designed a valve amplifier before. I have no formal training in electronics although I have always been interested and have "dabbled" in it from time to time. This is easily the longest and most difficult project I have ever undertaken and without the help of Jim Meek I would never have finished it. Thanks, Jim!

Thanks are also due to Mike Hutchings for helping me with listening tests and for demonstrating just how bad the original design could sound when everything was turned up to 11.

I've been using the amp for a few years now and, while I've tweaked the circuit a few times, the Camel does everything that it was designed to do, does it reliably and sounds as good as I hoped it would. However, I would welcome any feedback that you may have on the content of these pages. I've learned a lot during the creation of this amplifier but I know there's a lot more for me to learn. You can contact me at or visit my blog.

If you don't want to wade through all the technical stuff before you hear the amp, click straight through to the "Sounds" page.

Have fun!

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