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lightning and my cabs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MrChrizmo, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. MrChrizmo


    Mar 31, 2012
    Vienna, Austria
    so, big storm going on outside, directly opposite to my flat is a huge construction site...

    not even a week ago I got a great deal on two used aguilar 1x12 cabs, playing them through a tonehammer 500, only got speakon cables for it yesterday...

    suddenly I see a huge spark in the top cab, then more or less a fraction of a second later I hear the lightning crash, had to be directly at the construction site, which is directly across the street...

    now I have a very distinct static buzz in both cabinets, everything else seems to work, but come on... how is this even possible, no other electric device in my flat even budged, my computer didn't care at all.... ok the internet connection broke for a short time but man....

    is this even possible or am I imagening things ?

  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Could be the fuse for a tweeter. Some cabs use a lightbulb looking thing as a fuse. Check that first.
  3. Could be damaged equipment in the area outside your home.

    Do you have a friend who you could visit outside the immediate area, and try the gear out there?
  4. Toptube


    Feb 9, 2009
    If you saw a spark in a cab, then you've got an issue with the cab. If the cab still works, then its probably a minor part/minor damage.

    For the future, you shouldn't use non-essential electronics that you care about/can't afford to replace, during a lightning storm. Don't even leave them plugged in.

    I understand though that maybe you didn't hear the storm start, due to the fact that you were playing a bass.

    I lived in Biloxi Mississippi for awhile and during the summer I got into the habit of only plugging things in as I needed, because there would be lightning nearly everyday, often more than once per day.

    Recently Seattle has had lighting and I made sure to unplug my computer, 50 inch tv, and all of my bass gear during each storm. Just gotta do something else until the storm passes.
  5. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    +1 especially if you live on a hill (as I do).
    wall switches aren't going to do much... plug it out to be safe.
  6. WingKL


    May 12, 2007
    Aren't there lightning protection systems and surge protectors that work?
  7. Toptube


    Feb 9, 2009
    sure, but I wouldn't trust a $10 surge protector to block 1.21 jiggawatts.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    No surge protector on earth will protect your rig if it takes a direct lightning hit. I think you might have fried the crossover or the tweeter. Lightning is unpredictable, and it's very possible it'll blow something and not other things. Wish I had better news for you but it sounds like it's going to cost you a little more money.
  9. +1 If you had received a bolt of lightning your amp would be toast long before any damage to the cabinet.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Then again I could be wrong ;) But why would his cab rattle if the tweeter light bulb blew? At worst, the tweeter would just stop working, right?
  11. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I am no electrical expert, but when lightning strikes very close to electronics, or any kind of conductive materials (like speaker driver copper windings for instance), isn't it possible for large static charges to build up and possibly arc ?

    Again, no expert, just wondering.
  12. wave rider

    wave rider

    Jan 5, 2005
    Is lightning a square wave? That is sure to hurt the speakers...

    :bag: :ninja: :D

  13. will33


    May 22, 2006
    When lightening hits, it's energy does "fan out" some and get into anything that'll carry the juice. It can kill you if it strikes a few feet away and not necessarily hits you on top the head. Friend of mine had a strike in their backyard a few years ago that took out all kinds of stuff in the house, including a lot of music equipment. Oddly, some things weren't damaged at all. It does funny stuff like that. If it's close enough, it can also come up the ground rod outside your house and basically go through your wiring system backwards and wreak all kinds of havoc.

    Electricity strong enough to arc 2000-3000 feet between cloud and ground is not going to be stopped by any fuse/breaker/power strip.

    Of course, this could also be coincidence. The flash in his cab may've been the bulb fuse. They're added protection, but they don't always stop a big instantaneous surge/spike. Some could've still got through and burned a tweeter coil.

    The lightening across the street could've put enough of a surge in his house to help that happen, but not a big enough one to kill anything else. True though, if it was a direct result of the lightening, stuff before the speaker should've been damaged.
  14. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    Lightning is generally held to be in a league of it's own (unless you happen to work with some very specialized equipment). If you buy a normal 'power conditioner' or 'surge protector' the documents typically state whether it's suitable for extreme environments (operating temperature, IP rating, etc) and ought to give a warning that it's not suitable for lighting or other extreme voltages. I think it's required by law.



    Versus this:


    Basically lightning protection is a much bigger deal, and isn't cost effective in most situations.
  15. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    That's not a fuse, it IS a light bulb. When a conductor, i.e., the bulb's filament, gets hot, its resistance increases. If enough voltage passes through the filament, it will get hot enough to glow but by doing so, it reduces the voltage and current going to the tweeter. This has been used for saving tweeters for decades.
  16. 1958Bassman


    Oct 20, 2007
    Yes- both exist and they're for totally different purposes. Surges are nothing like lightning.
  17. MrChrizmo


    Mar 31, 2012
    Vienna, Austria
    thanks for all the replies,

    so, I'm gonna take the cabs to a tech next week

    any chance the tonehammer head itself maybe got any damage and is the source of the buzz ?
    the spark happened so fast, I'm not exactly sure where it came from
    however, the aguilar cabs have a variable tweeter control on the back, which I have turned about halfway up, when I turn it down completely the buzz more or less subsides to a barely audible level, but then it's like turning down my treble quite a bit

    however, I'm quite sure the buzz comes from both cabs....

    so anyways, taking it to the tech, what pointers can I give him ?

  18. LowEZ

    LowEZ Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2011
    Central NJ
    That makes it sound more like the amp to me. Do you happen to have another cab you can hook it up to as a test?
  19. JEBassman

    JEBassman Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    I agree that seeing a tech makes the most sense. Just explain what happened, including the fact that there was a lightning strike nearby, and he'll run tests on your gear.

    My fingers are crossed for good results...keep us posted.


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