Book Review: The Bottle Builder - A Compendium of Tube Amplifier Designs

July 1 2015, 06:00
In this article, we explore a great tube amplifier design reference book by a unique individual whose life experiences in audio electronics are written down in a way that will help you get to a better project faster.

The recent release by Johan Basse Bergqvist, The Bottle Builder, Volume 1, provides an incredible set of reference designs for anyone at any level who wants to build audio tube amplifiers. The approach is written as a project book, not a theory book. There is a time for theory. Then, there is a time to put the theory to use. The Bottle Builder is about getting down to work and realizing practical results that sound great.

The author, Johan Basse Bergqvist, is an engineer, a musician, and an audiophile with a knack for building projects that produce the desired results. The combination of these skills leads to a uniquely valuable perspective on audio design that is routinely reflected in the book and passed on to the readers.

Several design projects are provided, 40 in total. The designs are explained, and the unique features or methods he uses are described in further detail. Each design includes detailed schematics and a complete parts list. Many of the projects also include layout documentation in the form of CAD photos of the PCB layouts. The range of projects is very diverse and includes something that will appeal to everyone. Stereo amplifiers, guitar and bass amplifiers, preamplifiers for phono, and microphones are all covered. Several variants for each type are included, and the power amplifier designs range from a few watts to several hundred watts, which meet almost any power level you might tackle.

The compilation of design documentation on each project is impressive. The book’s subtitle, A Compendium of Tube Amp Designs, is completely appropriate and an accurate description of the book. Rarely is such a detailed set of design documentation provided in a published format.

This level of detail is usually only available at a working level inside a company when developing a product for manufacturing. As an example, a thorough parts list is detailed on every project, including part numbers, manufacturers, and physical dimensions. This provides not just a list for that project, but a valuable starting point for parts to consider or part families to consider in your own designs. Similarly, clear schematics are provided on every project and documented in a way you can use as-is, or copy elements of a design for your own project.

Quality is emphasized throughout the book, particularly in the parts selection. As audio builders, we notice and appreciate quality. Oddly enough, I also noticed the quality of the book is very good. There is a hardy hardcover and well-bound pages, with built-in bookmark strings to save your place — well done.

The book provides value to everyone at any level. If you are new to building audio projects, you can build exactly what is documented with confidence that you will have working results. For those beginning to branch out on their own, the great tips and known designs provide invaluable reference points. For experienced builders, the compendium of design information in one spot will save time, lead to better results, and trigger new ideas you can bring to the next level.

The book is worth having on your bookshelf. It will be relevant to tube amplifier audio design for a long time. I predict that years from now, it will be considered a somewhat legendary reference source, providing a unique contribution to the tube amp audio world.

The Bottle Builder, Volume 1: A Compendium of Tube Amp Designs
By Johan Basse Bergqvist
Publication Date: January 2015
Format: Hard cover
Pages: 440
ISBN: 978-1-907920-38-7
Buy this book 

About the Reviewer
Peter Delos is a Radio Frequency (RF) Circuit Design Engineer at a major electronics company in the greater Philadelphia, PA, area. He is also a guitar player. Peter began modifying and designing guitar amplifiers for gigs and recordings when he couldn’t buy what he wanted. He does guitar amplifier repairs, modifications, and custom designs for local musicians and friends.
related items