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How To Make An Amplifier From An Old Radio

Learning how to make an amplifier from an old radio is an interesting upcycling task. It is such an easy and practicable venture that you will not have a hard time doing it as a first-timer.

The best part of this project lies in how exceptional your radio will sound and look when you are done making your amplifier. If you are using an older radio, you may get a low-fidelity or vintage tone.

Newer radios will give you greater portability, a better outlook, and a sweeter tone. But this exercise is all about making an amplifier from an old radio, so that will be our focal point.

At the end of this DIY exercise, you’ll get yourself a new and unique amplifier.

What Is an Amplifier?

An amplifier is a general designation for a circuit that produces a boosted version of its initial signal.

Note that amplifier circuits have some variations because their categorization depends on their operational modes and circuit configuration.

Small signal amplifiers are some of the commonest amplifiers because of how well they can amplify even the smallest of input signals.

For instance, small-signal amplifiers are employed in photo-devices where they magnify small input signals to considerably large output signals.

There’re several forms of circuits categorized as amplifiers, from Small Signal Amplifiers and Operational Amplifiers to Power and Large Signal Amplifiers.

As noted earlier, the categorization of amplifiers is contingent on some parameters. These parameters include the way it processes input signals, configuration, signal size, or its overall size.

What Does An Amplifier Do?

We can split the functions of amplifiers into two major parts. The first part lets users collate and choose several inputs and choose the desired level of amplification.

Some people like to call this the preamplifier. Next, the second part does some magnification of the signals so that you can use them to power your speakers.

How To Make An Amplifier From An Old Radio


  • Soldering iron
  • Radio
  • 22 AWG silicone wire
  • Soldering wire
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • ¼ mono female jack
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Scissors or wire cutter
  • Amp and guitar
  • Drill
  • Instrument cable

Time: 2 Hours

Cost: $100 or less

Steps To Making An Amplifier From An Old Radio

01. Selecting The Radio

Choosing the right radio for this project is the first step to learning how to make an amplifier from an old radio.

It could be as simple as checking out the thrift store in your neighborhood or doing some research on Amazon.

When you are lo for the radio, keep the features that you most desire at the back of your mind.

Some of these radios have equalizer tones or squelch knobs with which you can control and fine-tune the final sound to your taste.

Some of them have headphone jacks, an in-built handle, and can even be battery-powered.

You may even settle for one that makes a desirable travel companion. It all depends on you and your choices.

02. Rip The Radio Open

As soon as you get the right radio, then the next step is to open it. You want to do this gently.

To begin, you’ll have to remove the switches and knobs from the device. You can do this by using a flathead screwdriver or any other suitable option in the tiny space between the radio’s body and its knob.

Then proceed to remove the screws that are holding the radio’s outer covering.

You can effortlessly find these in the edges of the radio’s back. Sometimes, the manufacturers hide some of these screws in the battery tray side.

As soon as you’ve successfully taken out all the screws in the radio, opening up the rest of the radio can be as easy as pulling one side from the other.

However, you may have to use a screwdriver in the space between each side.

Now that you’ve opened up the radio, the next thing you’ll have to do is to find the circuit board.

You can find most circuit boards under the control plate of the radio, and this positioning gives it some level of protection.

They are very easy to identify. But when you find out that the position of your is under the plate, then you’ll have to remove the screws holding it. This will give you direct access to it.

03. Get Your Jack Ready

Get ready with a quarter-inch jack. Next, cut out two or three pieces of wires. Trip the ends of the wires to reveal them.

You can do this with scissors, but doing it with a wire stripper or cutter makes the work easier.

Solder the wires onto the quarter-inch jack. One careful look at the jack will reveal two pieces that stick out across.

They are solder lugs. Connect one (the slightly shorter one) to the center of the quarter-inch jack.

This solder slug is the ground wire and the area of the quarter-inch jack that you connect it to is known as the sleeve.

The second solder slug, which is the one that is slightly longer, tilts to the outside of the quarter-inch jack otherwise known as the tip.

Take one careful view of the instrument cable to help you understand the distinction between the sleeve and the tip.

This cable has a sleeve and tip that a black line separates.

Still, on the instrument cable, the hot tip produces the sound that comes from your guitar while the sleeve functions as the ground signal that helps cancel out unwanted noise that emanates from the guitar.

The quarter-inch jack will conduct these signals if you plug your cable in.

04. Finding The Volume Pot

With the jack ready, it is time you find out you’ll plug it on the board. What you are trying to locate is the volume pot.

Since it attaches to the volume knob, you can easily find it. Also, it normally includes several solder lugs, making them even easier to recognize.

To know the log that you will be connecting the wire to, you will have to conduct a small experiment. Begin by connecting the instrument onto the jack.

Then, search for your radio’s negative point so that you can solder the ground wire to it.

Power on the radio. Look for the volume knob and place the hot wire’s tip on both lugs while plucking your guitar.

You are interested in the lug that amplifies your guitar and also lets the volume knob act as a regulator of the volume of the instrument. When you see it, switch off the radio and solder the hot wire to it.

05. Putting Everything Back Together

The last step is to put everything back together now that the amplifier is working. Look for a container for the jack.

Disconnect the instrument cable and test it with different points on the amplifier.

Ensure that the jack has sufficient space so it’ll not get in the way of the other components on the board. With that done, you can completely close the radio.

Immediately you locate the point, make an opening into the radio’s covering that is sufficient for containing your jack’s tip.

After taking out the nut and washer from your jack, use a sharp object or drill to dig the hole. When the jack fits through the hole, attach the nut and washer again to keep the jack in position.

Next, re-fix the circuit board. Close the radio and fasten the knobs and screws that you removed when you started. That is it. You’ve got yourself an amplifier!

FAQ’s of How To build An Amplifier From An Old Vintage Radio

Are older radios better than newer radios for conversion into amplifiers?

It all depends on what features are more important to you. If you want your amp to produce low-fidelity or vintage tones, then old radios are your best bet.

If, on the other hand, portability, a more beautiful outlook, or a cleaner tone appeals to you, then you should use newer radios.

Should I unplug the amplifier before making changes to the system?

Of course! You’ll have to unplug the amp from the source of power whenever you need to make some changes in the system.

This is particularly advisable if you didn’t connect an antenna to the system. This will help prevent some handful of damages to your amp.

Do amps function on cell phones?

Yes. Some amps can work in concert with all digital and analog GSM technologies, such as TDMA, CDMA, AMPS, EDGE, iDEN, 3G HSDPA, GPRS, and the latest1xEV-DO.

Can a direct connection amp be used as wireless units by including inside antennas?

Direct connection amps are ought to be physically linked to your data card or mobile phone with an exterior antenna adapter.

It does not generate sufficient gain to power an internal antenna and provides you with even a tiny service range.

Can I get greater power outputs by paralleling amps?

Yes. But the truth is that it is not as easy as linking both outputs and both inputs in a parallel arrangement.

It entails a thoughtful utilization of power hybrids with appropriate power levels, phase balance, and amplitude, together with amps well-matched for phase and gain characteristics. Examples of these are the MERA and HELA-10 amp series.


Amplifiers augment relatively small sound signals to a greater output so that you can hear them from a distance.

While it is true that this article highlights the steps you can employ to make an amp from old stereo, you can also repeat the process for newer radios.

The difference is that the tone of the sound produced from both radios will be slightly different.

By reading to this point, we are sure that you can confidently make an amp from an old radio by simply applying the steps discussed here. We’ll like to hear what you think!

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