Billy Zoom's Jet Set

Basic Electronics Study Manual


Hi Billy,

You were kind enough to recommend a signal tracer in my organ repair thread. Can you (or somebody here) recommend some sort of book or study manual that I could learn some basic electronics? I think it would be nice to know something about tube amps and circuitry and caps and resisitors and the like - I would like to learn the basics so maybe I could in fact know how to use a signal tracer and repair organ amps or Wurly electric pianos in the future. I appreciate any advice! Thank you.


Many Community Colleges have good electronics courses. There are no have to learn the basics before the fun stuff.


A member of the GDP wrote this a few years ago:

Electronics for Guitarists - Denton J Dailey

It is a good book for an electronics introduction (and Billy wrote the foreword) but as mentioned above, try your local technical colleges for further education.

Electricity is one of those things that can very easily do some serious damage, or even kill you.


Many Community Colleges have good electronics courses. There are no have to learn the basics before the fun stuff.

– Billy Zoom

Yuppers! It was my college coursework in circuit theory, that helped me to pass the higher class Ham Radio license exams (I've had an Extra Class ham radio license since 1994), though putting it into use (for me, repairing and restoring older tube-type ham radios), really gives you an appreciation for what you learned. Whatever you do, it cannot be stressed enough - BE CAREFUL, when working around tube circuits. They have some serious voltage. Even with everything powered down and disconnected, un-discharged capacitors in the high voltage power supply section (used to power the final amp section), can easily have several hundred volts of electricity stored in them.


Thanks for the advice! I will definitely look into it. There was one guy around these parts that fixed organs and he has wanted to retire for the past 10 years! Somebody like me needs to get in the game I guess.


Billy's right - you need to focus on the basics before getting into serious electronics construction and repair. Having said that, there are many free resources on the internet for learning everything from basic Ohm's law stuff to DC/AC circuits, amplifiers, and more.

I spent a lot of time over the past five years learning about and building guitar pedal circuits. Building and testing tube screamers and fuzzes from scratch gave me a lot of practical experience with skills needed for electronics repair, including how to use a DVM for troubleshooting, soldering, selecting components, mechanical fabrication, etc. I also learned how to use circuit simulation software (specifically LTSpice), which allowed me to explore a wide range of circuits quickly, and really brought the theory to life.

Good luck with your journey - music electronics IS a lot a fun.


You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. The electronics field is too deep just to find a book on basics and just jump into the technology. With hundred year old tube technology that's been on the way out for over fifty years, it'll be even harder to pick up. Billy has been doing this his whole life and probably still learns something new daily.

Don't let this stop you, tho. Even old dogs can learn new tricks. I commend you for wanting to try something new. You didn't learn piano tuning or guitar playing overnight just from reading one book, right?


I learn new things every day. Unfortunately I also forget things at least as often.


I learn new things every day. Unfortunately I also forget things at least as often.

– Billy Zoom

Ain't it the sad truth, BZ.


Going back to the electronic organ issue, I'm reading that sometimes the best fix for an organ not working these days is to replace it with one that does - there are a lot of free vintage organs on Craigslist!

I really do think it would be valuable for my business to take some courses and know a little more about the electronics field - something to consider.


The ARRL Handbook is a place to start.

Radio Shack's Getting Started in Electronics, is very easy to understand. The page on soldering is lacking.

And the Yamaha Sound Reforcement Handbook, it's not about electronics, but it is such a good book, I love recommending it.


Generally speaking, combo organs are worth fixing, and Hammond tonewheel organs are worth fixing. Livingroom organs are not worth fixing. If that Wurlitzer is a theater organ, you're in a gray area. If it's a home organ, forget about it. Hammonds are always repairable because the tone generators are mechanical. Either the motor spins or it doesn't. The Italian combo organs like Vox and Farfisa etc. are a hassle at first, but at least the tone generators are on seperate cards that can be repaired on the bench with a 9v battery for power. For the rest of the wiring, just follow the signal with the signal tracer. Italian organs require practice.

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