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The continuing saga of my SWR SM-900 repair nightmare.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mettec, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I have posted this problem on here before and got some good advise. But now I have another issue with this amp and would like opinions on my final dealings with this amp, SWR, and the repair shop.

    Here is the story again as detailed as I can get.

    Back in Nov. last year, I brought my Pre-Fender SWR SM-900 (Red Logo) amp into an authorized repair center for a volume fluctuation problem. After the repair center being back-logged a couple weeks, taking SWR over 2 more weeks to send parts then finding out they were the wrong parts, another couple weeks for SWR to re-send the correct parts then finding out that the correct parts don't fit on the Pre-Fender models due to different circuit board configuration. Now it is the beginning of Feb. and the shop calls me and says that they need to talk to a tech at SWR to try to find out what is wrong with my amp. It takes SWR 2 more weeks to respond then they say they don't know either what could be wrong and since SWR does not repair anything at the factory, only authorized repair centers can do the work. In addition, SWR does not make or carry Pre-Fender parts anymore .SWR then gives the repair center the number of a former SWR head tech and it takes him another week or so to get back to the repair center. The former SWR tech says he MIGHT be able to fix the amp but it would cost me anywhere between $300-$550 to repair plus shipping round trip. Therefore, the local repair guy calls me up and says that they can not put anymore time into this amp and I will have to pay them $150 for the time spent in the shop. I thought about my options which took another week so now I am here March 31st and still no amp.

    Today I went to pick up my SM-900 and asked the person that was working if I could try it out just to make sure that it is the same as it was when I brought it there. He assured me that it was but I decided to drive to a nearby music store and tried it out. Guess what? The amp was crackling, making load popping sounds and producing a fast ticking sound even with all controls tuned down. Tried all the speaker outs and the left ones were popping/ticking and the right ones sounded all distorted with no volume even turned up. None of these things were there when I brought it in. I also noticed that the half the original screws for the top plate were replaced with silver ones instead of the original black ones.

    So now, I brought the amp back to the repair center and demanded my $150 back, which he did give back but said we will still have to charge you the $150 when you come back again. He also said that I would not have to pay anymore to get the amp back to the original state. What would you do? I am going to call the repair center Monday and demand that the amp be put back to the original problem within a week and I refuse to pay them anything for the mess. If they cannot get it back to that point, what should I do? Lawsuit is not out of the question either.

    I was planning to sell it "as is" but with the additional problems, I don't know if anyone would buy it even to try to repair. I would appreciate any suggestions, Thanks.
  2. Bass-only

    Bass-only Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2001
    I had a similar situation with a Trace Elliot amp. I had a (qualified and respected area) tech try to fix it 3 times, but it kept shutting down. I ended up with $200 of repair costs for an amp that I paid $300 for.

    At that point, I figured it was time to cut my loses and I sold it basically for "parts". I think I got $95 for it.

    Let me point out that I am not putting down Trace amps, as I have had many over the years and this was the only one to give me ANY problems.

    It's just that every once in awhile we all seem to run into a "lost cause."

    If you're not ready to give up, then try another tech. From what I've heard (definately no expert here) that most components are "generic" enough that you should be able to find replacement parts for almost anything.
  3. lowmid1

    lowmid1 Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    Did you ever try contacting this shop?

    Audio Design & Service
    10764 Vanowen Street
    North Hollywood, CA 91605

    They used to do all SWR's factory service according to what I'm told.
  4. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    No I have not. I just took it to the authorized repair center for SWR in my city. In fact, they were recommended to me by several well established musicians. They had guitar amps and cabs that got repaired with no problems. Guess SWR bass stuff is different. I will call Audio Design & Service and see what they say. I'm also going to call SWR myself to find out more.
  5. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    Man! I feel for you!:crying: I've had such bad results taking equipment to so called "Authorized Repair Centers" that I just quit doing it. If I can't repair it, I send it back to the factory. I've been luck so far, of all of the amps that I've had problems with (including a couple SWR amps), all of the companys that manufactured them were still in business and recieved repairs at the factory. So many repairmen repair symtoms and don't find the root cause.

    I hate to say this but.........advertise and sell the amp as is!

    I don't know about you, but I just can't gig with a piece of equipment that I can't depend on.
    Mvilmany likes this.
  6. Kael


    Dec 26, 2004
    Oklahoma City
    Contact SWR and tell them of the additional issues politely. Inform them that you don't believe that they are a good reflection of SWR and that you are dissapointed with their service and level of competence. Then contact the better business bureau.

    At all times just state facts and stay calm. For issues like this, litigation will only make the lawyers money.
    Marial likes this.
  7. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I am actually buying a Genz Benz GBE750 or GK 700RB-ll next weekend. I have been using my SWR 350 while my SM-900 was at the repair shop but now that amp is beginning to make buzzing and humming noises. I am going to a different repair shop this time and doing things different.
    Pocket4 likes this.
  8. You'll be dealing with Fender Musical Instrument Corporation's customer service department who are FAMOUS for some of the worst customer support in the industry; only Behringer is worse. I promise that their lawyers are extremely well-paid and are not threatened by much of anything. (You'd think they could just better support their products, but hey, that's just me.) Unfortunately since the amp was made by a defunct company that FMIC purchased later, they are under no obligation to supply parts or support for the amp. Unless mettec is just particularly attatched to this SM-900, I suggest he cut his losses.
    Theweeze916 likes this.
  9. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I was actually talking about taking the repairshop to a small claims court if I don't get my amp back the way it was when I brought it there and still have to pay the $150 for an amp that is now worse then before. As I stated in the last post, I am getting a new amp anyway.
  10. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    *Fender Musical Instrument Corporation's customer service department who are FAMOUS for some of the worst customer support in the industry; only Behringer is worse*

    I had a Virtulizer Pro that had some issues and brought it to a local repair shop. After the repair shop had to wait over 3 weeks to get a part, I called Behringer and the CS person just said that I will send you a new one next day air. That was good customer service and was only 3 years ago. Maybe they have gotten worse.
  11. Unless you received an itemized bill of attempted repairs and parts substitutions, you don't have a legal leg to stand on. A broken amp is a broken amp and you can't claim damages on an amp that was non-functional anyway. Unfortunately, sometimes techs CAN'T fix everything, but that doesn't mean they should not be paid for their time or services. The time spent attempting repairs on your amp could have gone towards another, and it's not fair for you to expect a refund unless they have a specific service warranty.
  12. That post was for Kael's benefit.
  13. MeYHymN

    MeYHymN Habitual User

    Nov 7, 2004
    Charleston, WV
    Have you contemplated going this route.
    1) Obtaining the schematics for your specific amp.
    2) Get into the local HAM radio circuit and ask one of the "guru's" if he/she would be willing to look at it.
    You would have to weigh all this with the price of a replacement amp vs the cost of letting someone "take a look" at your amp. Selling this for parts could ofset the cost of a new one. You could have a myriad of issues from just replacing a transfomer to replacing a few gates and pots. You could also see if any of the local trade school electronic schools would look at the amp. Typically their work is free since it's class work, just not guranteed. If you're willing to pay for shipping to and from my house I would look at it for you free of charge, but it'd probably be after graduation in May before I could get a look at it.
  14. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    I don't think I can get them at least not from SWR since they do not have anything to do with the Pre-Fender models. I could try but I think I am out of luck.
  15. jz0h4d


    Apr 26, 2005
    You need to be bad mouthing the local repair shop not Fender or SWR. The entire problem rests on their shoulders.

    Just go find a better Technician in your area. SWR bass amps are easy to fix, it ain't rocket science.
  16. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    Where do you see in my post or threads that I am bad mouthing Fender or SWR? I have owned 4 different cabs and 3 different heads by SWR all of which are Pre-Fender models. I am bad mouthing the repair center and the repair guy only. I just talked to the repair center and we both agreed that I get my amp back and they are not going to charge me anything. That's good for me. I also sent a nice and detailed email to SWR explaining my situation and see if they can help or have some sort of resolution. So how is that badmouthing?
  17. pocket_groover

    pocket_groover Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Northern California
    I recently got schematics for my Basic Black (pre-Fender) from SWR (Fender) customer service. I requested them to be sent via email, and I got them after about a week. Using them, it was easy to repair the amp (second time I've done this, the first time I did it by tracing out the circuit's output stage).

    Anyway, it's worth a try.

    As a side note, Eden sent me schematics for my WT-800 the next day (email) after I requested them.
  18. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    Got back my SM-900 today I decided to bring it to a local repair shop that is nationally know by professional musicians for their excellent service and knowledge of audio equipment. I had no idea that this shop just became a SWR service center until I was told by a fellow bass player. I called this shop and explained the situation and he told me that they can probably fix it also being aware that SWR does not carry Pre-Fender parts. So I will have them look at it and if I can get it fixed for a good price, I will keep it as my backup amp and sell my SWR 350 (Silver Plate) instead.
  19. mettec


    Aug 22, 2005
    Good news!!! I found someone that can fix my amp. It's a guy that does electronics repair and building as a hobby in his basement. I took my amp there and WOW! This guy had electronic parts and meters up the ying yang. I also showed me schematics of different amps which I thought was cool. After opening up the amp he noticed right away that some of the resisters, transisters, and diodes were either not sodered correctly, replaced with counterfit type parts, or bad looking and not replaced. Said he could fix it and actually mod the power supply to be more stable if I wanted that. He has repaired at least a dozen SWR amps and dozens of other manufatures. It should take about 3 weeks to fix based on how long it takes him to get the nessessary parts. So now my quest begins for a great system.

    This is my plan; Since I have a SWR Megoliath 8x10 cab, which is a split cab (2 seperate 4x10's) I am going to run my SWR SM-900 on the top cab with my Line6 Bass Podxt live AB box to my new Genz Benz GEB750 for the bottom half running clean. I will have 2 totally different tones on stage mixed like it was stereo. This should turn out to be interesting. Will update as things get closer.
    Theweeze916 likes this.
  20. vision

    vision It's all about the groove! Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Endorsing Artist: MTD Basses, La Bella Strings, and 64 Audio IEMs
    sweet! you may have a happy ending after all!

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