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On, Off, or Mute

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by DrThumpenstein, Mar 29, 2020.

  1. I leave it on all the time, muted if not playing

  2. I turn it off if I'm not coming right back

  3. I mute if I'll be back in a couple of hours, otherwise I turn it off

  4. I mute if I'm coming back in the next 8-10 hours

  5. I mute while munching carrots

Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    So this downtime has me home and playing more than usual. Sometimes I leave the WD-800 muted when I'm between sessions, so the tube stays nice and warm and ready to rock when I get back after it. I'm under the impression that the more power cycles a tube goes through, the sooner it may fail. So there's 2 reasons I leave it muted if I think I'll come back within say 2 to 4 hours.

    But this downtime also gives me time to ponder whether I am being wasteful of energy, and what the nominal power consumption might be. Haven't been able to find that information. Even when I play loudly, I'm not using anywhere near the 8oo watts it has on tap, but I wonder how much energy it consumes while muted. I also question whether my concern about power cycles is overblown. I've seen studios and know people whose amps are left on continuously. My Compressore keeps the tube warmed up whenever it's plugged in, but the WD's manual says the tube needs to warm up a bit before you start playing.

    All things considered, what's the best practice, and does that vary with specific equipment?

    I'm interested in whether the TB cognoscenti turn off or just mute if they think they'll be back in a couple of hours vs say, 8 hours or longer.

    School me, Talkbass! Please answer. Multiple responses allowed to account for different gear.
  2. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    If nothing else, I hold out hope that @agedhorse might be willing to address my petty inquiry.
  3. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    If you aren't going to be playing for say an hour or so, I would just mute it but longer than that there's not much benefit. The tube life is going to be plenty long no matter what you do, and the energy consumption at idle is less than 15 watts IIRC.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Got enough experience with tube amps to know that this is truth. I don't turn it on standby in between sets or if I have a 2 hour break or anything, but I do turn my bass down just in case. The difference is negligible at worst.
  5. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Electronics and music gear is usually good for hundreds or thousands of power cycles. Leaving gear on all the time is not only wasteful (even 15w adds up x24 x365 x10 years or so), it's absolutely horrible for the environment, at least until we're on all or mostly renewable energy generation. So like AgedHorse said, sure, if you're coming back in a little bit, leave it on, I do that sometimes. Anything more than an hour or 2 you're just burning money and not really giving your gear any extra life. Your power company will love you though.

    Even if your gear does die or have issues what seems like prematurely, there are so many variables it would be impossible to pinpoint power cycling as the definitive cause. Sure, use ages things, but time also ages things, or do you think an 300SL from the 50s that's been sitting in a garage for 70 years is going to be exactly the same as one that just rolled off the line back then? No, the paint would be faded, the interior would deteriorate, gaskets go bad, etc...

    So the quest to "save" gear by not turning it on and off is misguided at best. The gear is DESIGNED to be turned on and off a whole mess of times. What it's NOT really designed for is to just be left on 24/7 forever. To have current and voltage constantly running through it. That's not a use case that is really prioritized in the engineering nor should it be, because it's not a realistic representation of how the gear is actually used by the customer.

    I would rather keep my gear off and do things that will ACTUALLY prolong it's life, like not letting it sit on my front porch in a rainstorm, etc... Not tossing it around free and loose into a pile of mic stands and drum hardware. Treating it with general care will go a lot longer than some bizarre superstition about not ever turning it off.
  6. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Oh, and to be more specific to thread title (not the post though, which mentions a SS amp), with tube stuff, if I expect to be away from it a short amount of time, I definitely put it in standby, and I definitely put it in standby before shutting down as well. I mean, I don't think you should EXCESSIVELY turn gear on and off all the time, but leaving it on and unattended/unused for hours at a time is stupid and does nothing more than run up your electricity bill. The only real exception might be in a studio during a session so that when an idea strikes, it can be captured instantly without waiting a minute for power tubes to warm up.
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  7. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Power switches in modern amps are generally designed for 10,000 switch cycles under load. This is part of the 60065 safety regulations, switches for audio equipment are specifically identified as such.
  8. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Here's a consideration. Does the fan run when the amp is on and idling? If yes, then it's going to get gunked up a lot faster if you leave it running continuously.

    When I am done playing my amps, I turn them off.

    If I am taking a relatively short break without leaving the area, I mute my solid state amps or turn them off, and I put my all-tube tube amps in standby. If I leave the area even for a short time, I turn my amps off.
  9. soundsupport1


    Aug 17, 2017
    I leave the Eden Glowplug tube pedal on between rehearsal and show, about half an hour. At home I leave it on for an hour max if I'm not playing. So with a 1-hour rehearsal, 1/2 hour break, and 1 1/2 hour show, that's 3 hours on at a time, max.

    That has more to do with the fact that the Glowplug has no venting and I'm worried about the heat buildup inside the pedal, though.

    I might drill some holes in the casing. Warranty be damned, I doubt i'd even want the hassle of returning it if it was defective anyway.

    Good point about the fans, as well: hadn't considered that.
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  10. swink


    Jan 10, 2019
    Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring | Currant Smart Outlet
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  11. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Shut the amp off when not using it. If taking a short break, leave it on. If trying to save on power utilization is the objective, don't use the amp at home. It's easy to get used to using an instrument unplugged when practicing. For practice, playing memory and hand movement are important, amplified sound is nice but not necessary.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  12. I always "Standby" my All Tube Heads in between "Sets" or if I'm going to be idle for more than 30mins.. Just a habit from years of playing..:cool::thumbsup:
  13. DrThumpenstein

    DrThumpenstein Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    St Louis, MO
    Thanks. I assumed this would probably be the case. I was kind of looking for an over/under to respect the energy consumption AND the investment in such a great amp.

    I wouldn't necessarily call it a bizarre superstition; I have seen it suggested here before a number of times by players who are a lot more experienced than me.

    I was hoping to settle my little internal debate once and for all. I only had solid state amps before the WD-800, which gets the most out of a single tube than anything I've ever heard. Must say, I'm really grateful to be able to hear it straight from the @agedhorse's mouth!

    Thanks for the thoughtful and helpful replies!
    12BitSlab and agedhorse like this.
  14. Plectrum72

    Plectrum72 Supporting Member

    If I'm not coming right back, I turn it off. Not out of concern for the equipment, but because I'm likely to get sidetracked and not go back to my music room until the next day.
  15. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    Same here. I just zero the volume knob on my bass and the amp and leave it be.
  16. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    On my WD800 I turn the mute on when I'm on break or plugging in my bass. But when I'm playing a gig, my band-mates prefer I leave the mute ON. ;)
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
    S-Bigbottom and DrThumpenstein like this.
  17. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Leave your pedal alone, what you think is hot and what is hot to electronics are not the same.
    ak56, soundsupport1 and SLO Surfer like this.
  18. dab12ax7ef


    Sep 25, 2011
    Exactly my reasoning as well.
    DrThumpenstein likes this.
  19. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Yay, for electric billboards!!! :rollno:
    Omega Monkey likes this.
  20. james condino

    james condino Spruce dork Supporting Member Commercial User

    Sep 30, 2007
    asheville, nc
    The best thing you can do for everything right now is to turn your computer off!

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