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Can you leave your amp on too long?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by derrick007, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. derrick007


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas Texas
    I've always wondered this, can you leave your amp on too long? For example, today I learned to play The Distance, by Cake, hurray! Then I noticed it was noon so I went to school, then when I got home at five, I noticed I left my amp on. This isn't too uncommon for me, not usually as long as that, but I kind of have a short attention span, and usually play bass for five minutes, then go do something else, then more bass, then something else, and so on. So basically I get home, turn the amp on, play throughout the day, in like five minute increments, then turn the amp off and go to bed. Is this bad, or would it be in worse circumstances like leaving an amp on for, say, a day or two, just sitting there not getting played through?

    And also, similar topic, how long would you have to play through an amp to make it just not play no more? Like if at woodstock, for some reason they only had one bass amp, and everybody just played through that one amp, but continuously, till the amp gave out, how long?
  2. adamrobertt

    adamrobertt Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2007
    Kingston, New York
    You're fine. Not really an issue as long as it's in standby.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I don't think it's a serious problem. Heat is the enemy of electronic components so, in the long term, leaving the amp on will accelerate their deterioration, but the lifetime of the amp might be nine years instead of ten years, or something like that.

    As to your other question, if the amp is a B-word product, about 15 minutes.
  4. Herbie 80's

    Herbie 80's

    Dec 15, 2008
    I've heard bad things about leaving a tube amp in stand by, it accumulates electricity or something because the tubes aren't discharging energy. I've never had problems with my YBA-3 Custom Special.. but then again, I don't leave it in Standby for longer than an hour.

    I do leave my Ross powered mixer head all night sometimes though. Solid state.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i left my super reverb on for a month accidentally and blew the rectifier tube. so yes, you absolutely can leave it on too long.
  6. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    a month! how did you possibly manage to do that?
  7. KramerBassFan


    Jan 3, 2009
    Probably manage to leave it in a practice space/garage.... and forget about it. :)
  8. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    Aha! That's the reason for brownouts elsewhere in the country!

    Seriously, that sounds wrong. The heat will prematurely age the electrolytics and other components. Nothing is storing up energy.
  9. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    A solid state amp just "on" doesn't generate a great deal of heat. You could probably leave one on for weeks or some unknown but rediculously long period of time

    I don't think part 2 of your question can be answered accurately, that is, a guess at the time could be off by months or years. Some electronic components are almost indestructible and could last for days weeks or months. I work in the communications industry. We have all kinds of electronic gear that stays on constantly until failure or it's decommissioned. Most of it generates a great deal of heat. We have some gear that has been operating for several years without a component failure.
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    recorded a guitar part for a session here, then promptly forgot about it because the pilot light doesn't work. i should probably fix it but eh...probably just as much to fix the pilot light as replace a rec tube ;)
  11. depends on the amp. Tube or solid state? Tube amps left on too long will prematurely wear out the tubes. OTOH in most recording studios gear is left on 24/7. There are studios that have had their playback amps left on for decades.
    The theory behind this is that turning your gear off and on causes and inrush of current which is more of a detriment to semiconductors than idle thermal dissipation (heat).
    I left my bass amp on standby after practice last week and had to get up out of bed and hoof it on down there to cut it off. PITA!
  12. Rick Auricchio

    Rick Auricchio Registered Bass Offender

    There is always the chance of the amp overheating the surface on which it sits, creating the chance of a fire.
  13. I had an amp that stopped working halfway through a set.

    It was my fault though because we had been rehearsing alot before the show, and I forgot to check the gas guage.

    I think the newer amps now have a low fuel light next to the preamp clip light.

    I have also heard that the newer hybrid heads can go twice as long between fill ups. :p

  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Leaving solid state equipment on doesn't hurt a thing. In fact, I've heard more than one engineer say that the power surge caused by startup is harder on it than leaving it on full-time. Ergo, they leave it on full-time. Solid state amps don't cause significant heat if they're not being used.

    Most radio station solid state gear - including amplifiers - is never, ever turned off. The video and audio edit systems I've used stay on 24 hours a day, 365 days...unless maybe we're going out of the office for a week; then we shut them off.

    Tubes are different, but they stabilize after some time on - and that means hours, not minutes. If you're going to practice 3x a day, I would turn a tube amp on before the first practice and definitely not turn it off until you finish the last practice. Solid state gear is your choice - the best thing for it would be to never turn it off - but given that we're all trying to reduce energy consumption, I'd probably power it up and down the same as tube gear.
  15. Nightlyraider


    Sep 30, 2009
    It is a sign of a good SS amp when it can be left on indefinitely. Big clubs and arenas never turn off their power amplifiers; and 20-30 years on, the good ones are still going strong.
    Anything with tubes however; you will eventually burn out that lightbulb.

    So long as there aren't overheating issues though; everything should be fine in the electronics department. They either work or they don't.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    never understood the turn it on and leave it on thing. are these amps so fragile they can't stand to be turned on and off? i say no, and i think it's a bit of superstition or ocd involved.
  17. sleepytime


    Nov 10, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    I have an amp in the bedroom and an amp in the living room, both on 24/7. Not trying to save anything, I just don't bother turning them off.

    Tube amps I would turn off.
  18. Tim Skaggs

    Tim Skaggs

    Sep 28, 2002
    My band had a two weekend gig several years ago and we accidently left the power amps on from Saturday night until the next Friday. When we started playing, an old Peavey CS400 caught on fire. We stopped and put the fire out. The amp continued working, so we played on. On Sunday, we tore into the amp and found the fire was just tavern tar that caught fire. Apparently the week of heat dried it out to the point that it ignited when we started really heating the amp up. So the answer is; some amps left on long enough function like a self cleaning oven......
  19. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Pretty sure my SWR Baby Blue owner's manual warns against leaving the amp on for extended periods of time with no input signal. IIRC, the manual indicates that doing so could cause the amp to need to be serviced.
  20. As far as the leaving it on vs turning it off, I have been in more than one studio where the gear might malfunction if you look at it funny. I think they are afraid if they power everything down half of those old LA2a's, 1176's and Siemens V72s might not come back up again. One place the engineer would power off the reverb when it got noisy, count to ten, and power it on again. Worked!
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