1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

making the tubes and the amp last as long as possible

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lonesomedave, May 17, 2011.

  1. i have been told that you can make the tubes in a tube amp and the amp itself last longer if you turn the standby switch to OFF after you finish playing and then wait 5 minutes or so before turning off the amp itself.

    is this true? and if so, why.

    obviously i want to take care of my equipment, but was just wondering what the protocol is for taking good care of a tube amp.

    any thoughts would be appreciated.

    /s/ Dave
  2. When turning Tube amps OFF- it's OK just to switch off- doesn't matter re standby for OFF. But leave it for as long as poss till you move it- is a good option.
    I usually turn it off straightaway when finishing playing, then pack up all leads etc... & move head lastly. I've had tube amps all my 35+ yrs playing & had pwr tubes last 20yrs no probs.
  3. when you say "leave it for as long as possible..." do you mean after you turn it off do you wait a while before you pack it up and move it?


    /s/ Dave
  4. Hi.

    Welcome to TalkBass Dave.

    I sometimes do it just like that, but it's just because I heard that same "old wifes tale" back when I was young. It won't do neither any harm or good either way.

    I also let the tubes heat up a minute on stand-by before swithching the power on.

    What does make a huge difference in a tubes lifespan though is to have the output section correctly biased and making sure that the load, ie. speaker impedance is correctly set.

  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    if you can leave it sitting for 3-5 minutes after you're done playing, that's the best thing. tubes that are hot are more prone to damage from moving. however, if you have to move it when hot, just try not to bump it and it should be fine.

    don't get too hung up on trying to protect it from everything. tubes aren't nearly as delicate as some people think they are, and all the stuff about standby really doesn't matter so much in the long run. just run it at the proper impedance that it requires for your cab(s) and don't drop it if you can help it, and you should be fine for a good while.
  6. t- bird,


    how do you do that. i mean if i buy a speaker cabinet, don't i just have to trust that the speakers are correctly set up?

    also, i am thinking of buying an older ampeg b15 and have read that the bias's are not adjustable on these.

    please excuse my ignorance


    /s/ Dave
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    he was talking about setting the impedance switch on your amp for the proper impedance for your cab, or plugging into the speaker outs in the correct way to get the correct impedance to the output transformer in your amp.

    the ones made after 1965 are fixed bias. the bias can be adjusted, but it involves soldering a resistor in line with your tubes rather than turning a trimpot.

    (WARNING: non-by-the-book response coming up)

    i usually just toss a set of power tubes into my b-15 and hope for the best. so far it's always worked out. if it sounds distorted at too early a point (usually when the volume hits around 11:00 is when they start to distort), then take it in and get it biased, otherwise rock.
  8. Back in the days of tubes in space, I really don't think that the satellites and other equipment had standby switches before being blasted into space.at many times the force of gravity.
  9. jimmy m.

    thanks so much buddy.

    you have (at least partially) straightened me out.


    bassmanpaul: too true, but i bet the tubes in an amp didn't cost 100,000.00 each

    /s/ Dave
  10. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    True enough Paul, but NASA didn't have cost restraints back in the day.

    So, if you only are only going to practice for 15 minutes, do you fire up the SVT or use a SS amp?
    Life is too complicated some days:bawl:
  11. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    The reason for leaving the standby switch in the "on" or "play" position when turning the amp off is because the caps will discharge slowly through the tubes - which is, in fact, good for the longevity of the amp.

    Just remember to switch it back after the amp is unplugged so it cxan do it's job when you fire the amp back up.

    It is also good, as the others here stated, to wait a few minutes (at least) before moving the amp, to allow the tubes to cool a bit. If you don't it's no big deal, unless you're going out into the bitter cold.
  12. jim c- i know what my son is going to do:
    plug into his 15 watt fender rumble for that short practice session.

    /s/ Dave
  13. Neither did the ones they sent into orbit.
  14. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Avoiding thermal and mechanical shocks is the best thing that you can do to prolong tube life.

    Try not to bounce the amp around too much.

    If the amp has been in the cold, let the tubes come to room temperature before turning the amp on. Likewise let the tubes cool down before taking the amp out into the cold.

    Just use common sense to not shock anything.

    Blocking the airflow can lead to overheating and shorten tube life. When operating the amp, allow enough space around it so that you are not blocking airflow. Don't put the amp up against a wall.

    If it is excessively hot at the back, supplement airflow by using a small fan to blow air into the amp. I use a fan that I got from the grocery store. It is very quiet.

    Use of the standby switch is not a big issue. Use it if you've got it, it will help, but a lot of amps don't have one. On some amps, putting the amp in standby before switching the amp off avoids sending a loud pop out the speakers. Otherwise just turn down the volume and switch the power off.

    Leaving the standby off when the power is off helps discharge the power supply caps. This is good thing. Before plugging the amp back into the power outlet, check that the power switch is off and that the standby is on.
  15. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    This is going to be another one of those internet lore that just keeps echoing around in space :D

    The space programs were the first to dump tubes.
    Here's the Apollo schematics - no tubes anywhere.


    Forget about saying they had it in the radio. The schematics for the radio's are online also, and they had big radio antennas on earth, and so the space ships needed very little power micro-watt.

    Checkout Voyager - still sending signals as it leaves the solar system. It has an LP - but no tubes.
  16. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    Go away Troll.
  17. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I expect that your tube amp manufacturer has a manual that explains how to take care of the amp. But it's going to be like a science statement - the manual is only going to "be right" if it reinforces what some people believe. Otherwise it's bunk. :p:ninja:

    I'd say trust the manufacturer. They designed and built it. Manufacturers all have a common story about keeping up the maintenance on the amp. Other parts of the amp are going to be more expensive to replace if you use bad tubes.
  18. staindbass


    Jun 9, 2008
    im pretty sure the standby switch in "standby mode" turns off the plate voltage to the tubes. the glowing red filaments still stay lit. the filaments heating up and getting to the right temprature is what takes time before the amp starts to make sound after you turn it on. that way you can have the amp running without making any sound, and have it as soon as you flip the switch, instead of having to wait till the tubes heat up. johnny a.
  19. sea monkey

    well i am thinking off getting an old b15, so i bet that manual has long since gone bye bye

    /s/ Dave
  20. Question - my dad was an audiophile; separate tube preamps and amps, heavy expensive turntables, Klipsch speakers the size of Montana; he RARELY turned his tube pres and amps off, supposedly to save wear and tear on the tubes IIRC, although some argued that it was just a myth. Assuming that it isn't a myth, does this (alleged) logic apply to OUR tube amps?

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.