Have we reached the point of disposable gear?
Yesterday, 45 minutes before service, my approximately 6 week old Ampeg PF 800 peed the bed. The DI shorted, making a horrific racket. Fortunately I ran to the house, grabbed my Reiner and was back in business.
This was especially discouraging to me. The Ampeg was literally unpacked from the box, set up in the church and has not moved since.
I have tested a lot of amps in the last three years. I experienced three failures, all within 90 days of being new. So no one thinks I am picking on Ampeg, there others are as follows:
Carvin BX500 - Not a single problem until unit was sold. Arrived at buys dead. Had to send the unit back to Carvin. Bad amp. Amp was replaced.
Hartke Kilo - Died 60 days in. Tech never told me what was wrong with it, they just sent me a brand new one...........after 13 weeks.
Ampeg PF800 - Shorted DI. 6 weeks old.
Now lets address all the common TB responses. First, Please don't say that these are all exremely rare circumstances. I don't care about math. I don't care about percentages. All I care about is that MY amp works every single time that I flip the power switch.
Next up, I baby all of my gear. Anyone that knows me will vouch for the fact that gigging or not, all my gear looks as knew. We all spend a lot of money on gear. I want it to last as long as possible.
I am not buying that I have bad luck, nor do I believe that I have a local problem. In each case, they were at different places, with different cabs, cords, power, etc.
I buy right watts-wise to ensure that gear is never pushed beyond its reasonable/common sense working capacity. To summarize, I haven't dimed a head since I was 16 years old.
Speaking with a friend that gigs regularly in Nashville, he said that he has heard musicians brag about getting a WHOLE YEAR out of new gear. Even the local guys are buying 2 amps at a time.
It seems to me that big box amp builders have cut one too many corners. Between sub-standard components and measuring solder use in micro grams, I have to wonder how much worse can it get. And we as consumers continue to tolerate it. The accounting squints keep beating up the engineering/spec folks to find ways to save money. It's insane. It seems that companies now build in an acceptable failure rate by percentage.
Now I'm an older guy, blessed with a great job and few bucks in my pocket. So I will survive this latest escapade. But what about the poor guy with a couple of kids that saves his money to buy the best amp that he can afford, and then has to wait weeks or months for repair or replacement?
And I have to wonder why companies don't do more to protect their reputations. If a piece of gear fails on me in the first 90 days, its gone. Further, I wont chance using anything from that manufacturer again. I don't want to say prayers every single time I turn my gear on. It's ridiculous.
Now I know that a bunch of people are going to jump on here and tell me that they have had their BX500's, and their Kilos, and their PF800's for 25 years and they work flawlessly dimed at 2 ohms, in temperatures ranging from absolute zero to 145 degrees F, down at the beach, eating sea spray in 50 MPH headwinds. And I'm happy for you. I really am. You received the product that you paid for !
So have I have to ask, have we all become so accepting that this is new norm ?
Many pedals and most class D amps are not meant to be repared, typically because it costs more to fix them than to spit out a new one.
So yeah, in this sense they are disposable.
This doesn't have much to do with reliability which should increase over time, although I can't say I have noticed it.
Unfortunately most commercial companies have replaced their testing department with the customers.
The engineers will take care of what they think can go wrong, but honestly (being an engineer myself) it is rediculous to think an engineer could review his own work. Never worked, never will. It's like learning to speak without accent all on your own.
But yes, you, the customer, are the new test 'engineer'. If nothing happens, the test is passed. If the amp dies, you send it back, get a new of fixed one, everybody is happy. Looking at it statistically, this approach is SO much cheaper for companies. That's of course seen over a short period of time, because you, the customer, will not buy any product anymore. And it works only if your supply-chain and -network is big enough.
Anyhow - your experience sucks big time! Sorry for you!! Luckily you had a REINER
I believe the short answer is yes.
Step 1 - Find an old vintage Trace Elliot head of your liking, and in good condition.
Step 2 - make bassy bass goodness
Step 3 - :D
Step 4 - Profit
The answer is yes and is also why I have not gotten into the "new" class D amps until very recently and even then I went used on the Markbass F500 because I knew it had a proven track record and was obviously working for the previous owner. I almost always buy used because I think I have a better chance of not getting a lemon and usually it is easier to deal with another individual bass player than any store or manufacturer if there is a problem.
Get a GK. They are the most reliable amp out there
It seems that manufacturing industry has adopted the quality control strategy of the software industry, plus manufacturing techniques that often make repair impractical or impossible.
Consume, consume, consume!
To answer you question, absolutely not. However, as always, there are products mass produced at low price points at the low end of the market that are definitely not quality products. Unfortunately, you seem to have purchased number of those.
Instead of asking 'why are we all accepting of this new norm' (which is in NO way true), I would look in the mirror and ask 'why would I not do my research regarding quality and reliability prior to buying a product', and/or, 'why would I expect the low end of the market in 2013 to be significantly different in quality and reliability from the low end of the market in 1983'.
If anything, in general, amps have become massively more reliable and powerful, especially if you stay away from the bottom end of the market. Sometimes, you actually do get what you pay for:smug:
As to the OP's post, I really don't know much about new amps or the digital power amps except to say I have never wanted anything that had a digital power amp in it. Too many manufacturers seem to be competing for who can get their amp to weigh less than a guinea pig as though that is the most important thing. Stop being such wimps I say to my fellow bass players and buy heavy bass amps.. they last ;) ( unless of course it was a GK 2000RB :eyebrow: )
This is not particularly a new thing.
Pretty much yes.
However, I think the notion that older gear is better can be a bit of an illusion; maybe it's just that all the flawed or weak units have been retired and only the hardiest samples have survived. ;)
Since I've never had an amp that went bad, it's hard for me to agree with the OP. I would certainly change my tune if I had an amp go bad within 6 months of buying it new. I have owned Fender, Acoustic and Ampeg amps all of which were work-horses. I don't believe that a amp manufacturer that has been around a long time is building deposable equipment. They wouldn't stay in business very long doing that. However, I also understand not wanting to buy another product from a company I got burned by either.
Is it even possible for a consumer to do proper research on a product?
Reading Talk Bass comes as close as is possible, I guess, but that's not research. A handful of complaints/praises in an internet forum can greatly distort perception.
Have we reached the point of disposable gear?
+1 on both points...
I have bought twice into the class D amps this year, an Aggie TH-350 and Genz Shuttle 9.2.
I spent months watching and reading threads here before choosing these two amps, so I tried to avoid the amps that had a lot of issues and I hope it pays off, but I am also keeping my GK400RB as it has lasted 20+ years of gigging so I'm not left amp-less if the new kids on the block both fail...
So far, no issues...
But, I hear what the OP is saying about a first amp or less affluent/working muso buying their dream amp. It would appear that more failures of electronics in many areas are becoming common and it's not right... I don't think we tolerate it so much, I just don't think we have much choice. Even the most expensive gear seems to fail, look at luxury cars or expensive tv's/home theatre as an example... Just sad.
Folks are NOT posting what they really mean here..... almost everyone is talking around the point.
yes, of course the gear is disposable.... in the end it is really a tool, like a mechanic's wrench, and will probably wear out, break, fail in some way eventually. The more complex it is, the more likely it is to become unusable, because there are more things to fail.
2) new gear
yes, it ends up being more of a problem, for several reasons. First, there are more parts.... therefore the failure rate is higher.
Second, the construction techniques (surface mount parts) are not widely accepted as repairable, and in some cases really are NOT repairable in any sensible way without a big investment. "repair" means replace the board, see next point..
Third, some parts (processors, transistor of whichever type, etc) are changing so fast that they are not available in just a few years. That means that you cannot replace them directly (even if you accept that SMT is repairable, AND can get the program for the processor). For a processor, that means the product is dead unless an equivalent PWB is put in, which probably doesn't exist. A transistor MAY be able to be replaced with an equal part, if the "package type" is still made.
With replace-the-board repair techniques, the supply of boards will be depleted before too long, and then the situation is the same as with any "unobtainable" parts.
This was a problem even with tubes..... try finding a "compactron" (3 tubes in one) such as Magnavox used in Ampeg....
3) Old gear
it was simpler, meaning a lower inherent failure rate.
Many of the active parts (tubes) were known to wear out, and because of that were installed in such a way as to be easily replaced, even by the user.
Even the "permanent parts were easily repairable, and at the time, the repair facilities were everywhere, any TV repair ship had the capability to fix the technology.
As ICs etc came in, reliability did go up, but repair was still pretty easy for "qualified folks". Not so with more modern stuff, see above.
So, yes, modern gear IS often "disposable", simply because you are given no other option. This is known, and accepted by manufacturers.
Once your gear is off warranty, it really may be already unrepairable.
Here are some rules I try to follow to buy solid gear:
Never early adopt. I never buy ANYTHING at it's 1.0 release. EVER. And I wait until LOTS of reviews are in, usually at least a year. Patience rewards.
Buy used gear that is proven solid. I will only buy used gear that has a great rep as reliable AND fixable. GK is my favorite brand for this reason - it lasts forever and if something goes wrong there are lots of techs out there who can work on them. I live in Windham Maine and there is an authorized repair shop in my town.
Those heads are on the less expensive end of today's scale. There may be a correlation there. I have owned a gaggle of micros and have never had one fail, ever. I had 1 with scratchy pots when new (thanks De-Oxit) and one with some hiss (which was replaced).
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