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What Is a Turret Board?

K. Reynolds
K. Reynolds

A turret board is a specific type of electronic circuit board. Turret boards were regularly used in electronics manufacturing before the creation of printed circuit boards (PCBs). Using a turret board as an electronic circuit was more expensive than using other types of circuit boards, so it generally was used only in high-end military and commercial audio equipment.

Turret boards are made of thin sheets of non-conductive material with metal turrets that are positioned in a pattern to match the electronic layout of the circuits and electrical components. Components such as capacitors and resistors are then installed between the turrets to specification. After the components have been installed, they are then soldered to the turrets to solidify the electrical connections.

Vintage guitar amplifiers used turret boards.
Vintage guitar amplifiers used turret boards.

These boards allowed for engineered construction, which enabled increased production of the boards. The process of creating a turret board generally began with an engineer designing the board and listing the components and connections that needed to be made. The board would then be passed to a skilled professional who would assemble the components and solder the connections.

Throughout the mid-1900s, turret boards were extremely popular in electronics manufacturing. Many of the military electrical devices that were used during World War II utilized turret boards as their primary construction method. The turret board was also used in the creation of many consumer electronics, including radios and guitar amplifiers.

After the invention of printed circuit boards, the use of turret boards in the marketplace began to dwindle. PCBs were able to be mass-produced quicker and more efficiently than turret boards. Although the turret board is no longer used in the majority of electronic devices, it has continued to be used in the creation of hand-wired vacuum tube electronics. Many do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts used turret boards to recreate vintage audio equipment. This process has led to the replication of many vintage electrical guitar amplifiers and recording studio signal processors.

The process of building turret boards was not scalable, and it was unable to meet the demands of a growing technological world. Even with their limited use, however, turret boards still are useful components in electronics manufacturing. Although the process of building a turret board is time consuming in comparison with PCBs, turret boards still are commonly used in prototype electronics and hobbyist electronic projects.

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    • Vintage guitar amplifiers used turret boards.
      By: matt&stustock
      Vintage guitar amplifiers used turret boards.