Little One

Version 1.3 - 10th October 2013

I designed this amplifier because, having built The Camel I realised that 2.8W was too much for a domestic environment and I wound up attenuating the output to keep everyone happy. From my calculations, this amp produces a little less than one watt of clean output power which explains its name; "Little One". One watt doesn't sound like a lot but when it's pushed into distortion, it's enough!

Over the years I have slowly come to realise that great tone is less about clever amp design and more about having a good-sounding basic amplifier; a short, uncluttered signal chain and simple controls: An amp that was designed to do one thing well. Trying to design an amp that is all things to all men involves too many design compromises to provide the best possible tone and flexibility demands over-complicated controls. Simple tools are easier to use and Little One is about as simple as it gets.

The amplfier design remaineed unchanged for seven years but I have recently made a number of small "tweaks".

Version 1.2 of the amp. From left to right, the controls are bass, treble, volume and the two switches are standby and on/off. The valves are EF83 (6BK8), ECC83 (12AX7) and ECC82 (12AU7). The EF83 can be replaced by an EF86 (6F22)

While it seems incredible now, at the time I built this amp, there were no commercially available 1W amplifiers so I had no points of reference. So Little One was an experiment and there were a few things I wanted to try:

  • building a really low-power amp - would it have enough grunt to sound convincing?
  • designing a push-pull amp
  • using a Baxandall tone-stack in a guitar amp

Because it was an experiment, I didn't really want to spend a lot of money doing it but, luckily, I managed to buy quite a few components at good prices on eBay (the mains transformer only cost me £5.00) so it was not an expensive amp to build. If I was going to build it again, I would happily spend a lot more; it's an impressive little amp! You can check it out for yourself by bypassing all the technical stuff and jumping straight to the "Sounds" page.

Since building this amp I have hardly touched The Camel. If I need more distortion than this simple amp offers then I can plug in a distortion pedal. Simple!

This amp has had many admirers. I Hope you like it too. If you have any comments or questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can reach me at or visit my blog.

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