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Is it possible for an amp to cause a brownout?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by yawnsie, Dec 27, 2001.

  1. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Recently, my band has been unable to play because the flat that we practise in has been devoid of electricity. Let me explain as best I can, considering that I have precisely bugger all knowledge of any of this...

    The flat has one of those mains that have a trip in them - when something overloads, the switch trips, and the power goes off. There are several different switches, for the plug sockets, lights, etc. We went down one day to find that the sockets switch had tripped, and after taking all the plugs in the flat out and switching the sockets out, it still wouldn't work. A few days later, we went back and it worked again - that was, until I plugged in my amp (the only thing that was plugged in) to jam with the drummer - after about ten minutes, the power went again, and once more wouldn't come back on for us.

    Recently, my amp has been playing up - the volume has went up and down of it's own accord, and sometimes it starts humming very loudly (it manages to cut through when the rest of the band plays better than the bass! :eek: ), until it gets to the point where I have to switch the amp off and back on. It's happened once before, at a gig - the amp was acting funny throughtout a song, and at one point the whole club's power went for about minute, before coming back on. That was about a year ago, and I haven't had any problems with it before then, or until now.

    Basically, I now think that my amp is to blame for the electricity going off in the flat - is this actually possible? I'd rather have to buy a new rig than have to get the flat sorted out. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me.
  2. arfur


    Nov 26, 2001
    London, UK
    Could be a couple of things but you are right it does sound like your amp is causing the problems.
    Chances are it is as simple as a mis-wired plug. If your amp runs from an IEC (kettle) type lead then swap it for another one to see if all behaves itself. The one off of your kettle will do. If the power lead is hardwired into the back of your amp then try cracking open the plug and checking that all is wired correctly and all the screws are tight. If you've eliminated these simple things and the amp is still causing breakers to trip then you need to get somebody qualified to have a proper look at the inards of your amp as it sounds like something is shorting in there.
  3. Dude, way too many variables in this equation to solve on the first guess. Sounds like a problem in the, how do you Brits say, "Flat". :D Seriously, that sounds like your amp is responding to the larger problem that is the house wiring. Be very afraid. If a circuit breaker is tripping all the time, something is out of whack. Consult an electrician or your house could look like my parents' in this picture from November:


    Supposedly that was started by an electrical wire shorting out in the wall.

    The actual circuit breaker in the wall could be faulty. They do wear out and need to be replaced occasionally.

    I'm guessing that the power outage at the club is a coincidence. Your amp should have a fuse in it. If something in your amp is sucking that much current, the on-board fuse should blow long before the house circuit breaker trips. Check the fuse in your amp to make sure it is the correct size - not some 50A automotive fuse or something.

    And the problems with your amp are probably unrelated or caused by the bad wiring in the house. Does your amp sound fine when plugged in at another house? Can you make it screw up by banging on the top of it with your fist while sound is going through, jiggling knobs, jiggling cords? If so, there is a bad connection in there somewhere.

    Not a lot of help, but maybe something you can use to troubleshoot.

  4. Just read Arfur's post, and he's right to say check the plug on the power cord.

  5. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    Bad pic there 'nut.:(

    Well, this story kinda goes along with yawnsie's.

    When I was working at Cattle Rustlers (local restaurant), I went up to the back door to go in and go to work. Well, the door was locked, so I rang the doorbell just like I always do when the door is locked. For some reason, the dern doorbell either shorted out or something, because it blew 4 of the breakers in the restaurant. One half of the restaurant was dark and unusable, and the electric fryer shut down along with one of the grills. Needless to say, I heard about that until the day I quit:p

    If a doorbell can cause a full-fledged BLACKOUT, I bet an can, under the right circumstances, cause a brownout or two:D
  6. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    I'd wager the problem is with the amp, possibly a power transformer or a bad cap. The amount of power fluctuation in the line shouldn't cause the audible symptoms you're getting.

    The cuircuit breaker is working fine, it is preventing the amp from drawing too much current which would cause a wire to overheat and lead to a fire. I'd be worried if the circuit didn't trip; most electrical fires happen because someone decides they're fed up with the loss of service and jump or otherwise disable the fuse/breakers.

    Get you amp checked asap.
  7. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Thanks for the advice, everyone. We haven't been back since, but I'll try and borrow another amp to use next time we do and see what happens. The flat (as we Brits say. :D) was completely refurbished about three years ago, so I'd hope that nothing has gone wrong with the wiring in that time. Besides, this is just the excuse I need to get a new amp. :p
  8. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    Looks like an apartment I rented once.
  9. yawnsie


    Apr 11, 2000
    Just an update... we got an electrician who's friends with our singer to look at it last night. Apparently, the wiring in the back room, where we play, has gone somewhere, so none of the sockets work. He's set it up so that there's only power in the other room now, which I suppose is pretty good news, considering what it could have been. All the same, thanks for the help. And I think I'll go and get a new amp anyway. :D

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