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Amp Repair

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by skippylou, Jun 25, 2007.

  1. skippylou


    Oct 20, 2004
    I am interested in learning how to repair my my own amps, when the need arises, but I don't know where to start. I have an swr la15 that is ready to be the guinea pig, but where do I get manuals, schematics, parts, etc.? It seems to be top-secret information. Thanks...
  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    The reason they don't release that information to the public, is that they want you to take it to an authorized repair center.

    This way, if you fix it, and it dies again, you can't wrongfully blame the manufacturer. ;)

    Do you have any background in electrical engineering or electronics at all?
  3. Unless you have formal training and experience working on electronics, this is not an endeavor lightly embraced. There's also an issue of 'capitol outlay'. To do this right, you are gonna be spending some $$ getting some rather pricey test equipment (e.g.) an "O'scope" for one.

    Not trying to discourage your interest, but do some research first and ask questions of people that are already making a living doing it.
  4. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Not to mention the AC power CAN KILL YOU.

    I'll modify my 9V stompboxes left and right, little shock is the worst thing that'll happen. I won't touch an amp because it CAN KILL YOU.
  5. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    You must definitely have some experience working on electronics before you start tearing into things. Pedals and other battery level electronics are probably a good place to start. Maybe you could also build a couple of stomp box effects to start.

    Solid state amps are not to bad as far as voltages go. The wall AC voltages is the worst in there, usually. Troubleshooting solid state devices is harder, though. Tube amps are the ones with the real voltage. A guitar amp I used to own had nearly 500 volts flying around inside. More than enough to kill you. I worked on the amp quite extensively, but there is always some risk involved.

    Start small, and maybe befriend someone with electronics background and have them teach you stuff.
  6. skippylou


    Oct 20, 2004
    Thanks, everybody. I think you've told me what I need to know.
  7. tadawson


    Aug 24, 2005
    Lewisville, TX
    No, they do it for two totally different reasons:

    1) The legal department does not want to be blamed if someone does something stupid (god forbid we take responsibility for our own actions!!!)

    2) They want to maximize profits, and letting service information out would show how truly easy it is to work on this stuff, effectively killing a cash cow . . .

    I work on all my own even without docs - they are typically that easy to debug . . . but I am an Electrical Engineer . . .

    - Tim
  8. Yeah, your best bet would be to study electronics on some level. I always wanted to be an amp tech, or at least be able to do it. I was a hobbyist, then I studied electronics for broadcasting, then for computers, and at that point most of the emphasis on audio, and especially tubes, was put on the shelf. I still don't really repair anything to a deep level, because I just missed out on the practical application of what I learned.

    I don't know anyplace, other than perhaps some internet or correspondence type school, that would teach you how to get directly into audio electronics repair, with an emphasis on MI amplifiers. I think most of the guys do it as an extension of either: 1. Their "folk" hobby of electronics, and have done it for years, and learned along the way (like Leo Fender and friends), or 2. Their high-level electronics knowledge, being from engineering backgrounds (electronics or otherwise) and just happen to be into either recording or playing music, and there was a logical need to do it.

    Kind of a mysterious trade. Let's hear from some of the guys who currently do it, and how they got into it. Maybe start another thread?
  9. Hi.

    I disagree slightly with some previous posters about the need for a formal training about electronics when starting to repair/build amps 'n stuff.

    IMHO You DON'T.

    What You do need first and foremost is training/knowledge about:


    That stuff can kill You, or worse, cripple You for life, if not treated with care, knowledge and respect.

    I did start with some DIY amp kit with absolutely nothing but a soldering gun, some solder and a bag of components. Not a single bit of information other than the included instructions, but a firm determination that I have to try it and a feel that I can do it. As any teenager feels about the world ahead ;) .

    Surprisingly the amp did work, I wasn't electrocuted, the fuses didn't blow. All was well....

    The lack of formal training kept me from getting good at repairing electrical stuff. As I didn't know even the basics behind circuitry design, the repairing was more or less hit and miss guessing, and led to some quite expensive and potentially lethal mistakes. So one should definately seek some person to person training when working with electronic circuitry. There has to be someone to rescue you if something serious happens.

    The down side is that the theory and math behind modern circuitry is quite far from the average math skills of an average person. That usually discourages anyone who seek a deeper understanding behind the box of parts and a circuit board. There are "short cuts" around the heavy math, and that ed. one gets in formal el. training.

    I'd say go for it, but take it slow. Don't try to do it like I did: "dance before you can crawl" . Still can't dance but learning...

    Just my 0.02€
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