N5X British Overdrive amplifier

5W single-ended Class A amp, with Treble, Middle and Bass controls

The N5X guitar amplifier kit is the replacement for the best-selling SE-5a amp kit. You get a single channel amp with a full set of controls; Gain and Master volume allow you to balance preamp and power amp distortion. A three-band tone stack (Treble, Middle and Bass) allows you to fine-tune your guitar tone. In standard form, it’s a typically ‘British sounding’ amp, with a bright tone full of harmonics when overdriven thanks to the EL84. Don’t let the 5W rating fool you – when it’s cranked it’s a loud amp. 🙂


Changes and improvements

Here are the new features of the N5X over the SE-5a. All are made from customer suggestions and requests, and none of them alters the great tone of the original SE-5a:

  • VCB: lets you dial the fully-cranked output to well under 1W for quiet home use Boost switch: Off, Bright or Fat (where bright is the SE-5a tone)
  • Bypass switch: Bypass the tone controls for maximum possible gain
  • Boost switch: Two voicings and off for cleaner tones
  • Octal socket: Plug in a 6V6/EL34/etc valve for different tones
  • Worldwide mains: New 100/120/220/230/240V toroidal power transformer works in UK, Europe, US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, etc
  • 4-ohm output: Added to the SE-5a’s 8 and 16-ohm outputs
  • Plexi control panels: From April 2021


Ease of building

The N5X’s new features add a little extra complexity compared to the old SE-5a. On a complexity scale of 1-5, the N5X rates as a ‘2.5’ (where the SE-5a was a ‘2’ and the WF-55 is a ‘1’, for example). The online construction manual shows how to build the amplifier step-by-step.


The N5X comes in one version, which includes the pre-punched chassis, front and rear control panels as well as transformers, turret boards, all electronic components, hardware for assembly and wire for connections. You can choose which valves (if any) you want. For the original SE-5a tones, choose the ECC83+EL84; or add the 6V6/6L6 if you want to explore octal power valve tones. (Note: the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that have followed have disrupted the global supply of valves. I have a small stock of some valves. Therefore, I can only offer the no-valves and ECC83+EL84 versions of the kit for the time being.)


N5X specifications

  • All-valve signal path
  • 0-5W Class A output
  • EL84/6V6/6L6/EL34 power valve option
  • Hand-wired turret board
  • Gain and Master volume controls
  • Treble, Middle & Bass tone controls
  • VCB power control
  • 4/8/16 ohm speaker outputs
  • 100/120/220/230/240V mains


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