Tube Amp Guide lines

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Iruleonbass, Jul 9, 2005.

  1. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    Hi everyone, So now that everything has been sorted out on what amp im gonna buy and how im gonna protect it, The only thing left for me to know, is how to treat my new amp. Im getting an Ampeg SVT-CL and Ampeg 810. So sinse its a tube amp, I need someone to tell me what I should and shouldn't do, so that I dont break my amp, or electricute my self.

    I need to know everything, Im pretty sure plugging the head into a ac outlet, and speakon connector from cab to head, I can handle. :) But than everything from turning the amp, so setting the can to my bass and all that fancy stuff I need help with.

  2. Make sure that with a tube amp you always have a load otherwise you might damage it.... Other then that I would say try to let the tubes warm up before starting to play.
  3. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    What does always having a load mean? And how exactly do I go about letting the tubes warm up, I know its got something to do with the standby switch, but whats on and whats off? Im a complete newb to tube amps and and form of cab and head, so I need details people. :D
  4. A load means speakers ie. The cab must be connected before you turn it on.

    To warm up the tubes switch on the stand by switch if the Ampeg has one and let i warm up for a few minutes and then turn the on the ON switch and play.
  5. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    HAving a load would mean dont turn it on unless its connected to a speaker cab.

    Turn the standby on before powering it up, and leave it be for around 30 seconds or so...... let them suckers glow. It's really cool to watch. I just had my first experience a few weeks ago :) . When your done playing, I'd go back into standby for a couple mins, if you can spare it. Then flip the power off.
  6. DaveMcLain


    Jun 19, 2005
    Cuba MO
    With a tube amp you should ALWAYS turn on the power with the stand by in the off position. Then after a short while, about 10-20 seconds is probably enough switch on the B+ with the standby switch, then you're ready to play. Switching on the B+ without allowing the tubes to warm up can cause cathode stripping and short tube life.

    A tube amp circuit is not like a solid state amp in that the speaker is part of the circuit, the amp should always have a load attached, if not the output section could be damaged by a "runaway" condition.

    Other than that, there isn't much else to remember, on a break between sets just switch off the standby and leave the power on, then when you're done switch off the power switch with the standby in the play position to drain the power supply, after a few seconds switch off the standby and you're shut down safely.

    Allow the amp to cool to a reasonable temperture before you move it off the stage too if possible. Switching it off at the end of the set, putting your bass in it's case and rolling up your cord should be enough time.

    Good luck!
  7. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    Ok that helps me out alot. Is there anything else I need to know? When I need my tubes changed I'll be bringing it back to GC for it, any malfunctions I'll bring it to them. So thats all I need to know? That seems easy enough. Before I buy the amp Im gonna find out how loud it goes just for curiousity, I doubt I'll ever need it that loud though. ( I like rambling btw )

    Thanks for the help.
  8. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Don't have guitar center retube it. They'll overcharge you for it using mediocre Groove Tubes. Take it to a reputable amp tech. It'll be worth it. Also, you won't need to replace the tubes until their is a drastic decline in the quality of the sound. The rule of having to retube every year is false. As long as you take care of your amp, you should be fine.
  9. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    +1 on all ends.

    I got my V4B used from GC..... and it will never spend a minute in that doofy place ever again. They dont know a DAMN thing in there. When I first spotted the head, I was like "Wow! A V4B!!"..... then I checked the tag they put on it. It read Ampeg B4V ; Used. So.... yeah... I'm sure they're real professionals.

    GC will just put generic tubes in there... no better than stock. Find a tech in the area (might as well go to NYC, in your case), and aim for Svetlanas, JJ's or something a little higher quality. It probably will end up being close to the same price, but you'll get way better tubes and a more proficient job done.
  10. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    Ok than, I will take it to the city when ever I need it tubed. Altough the person who helped me out at GC knew alot. He played bass too so he did help out a little bit. He knew everything about what he was telling me. He told me that tubes are light light bulbs, that you can turn the switch on and they can just blow randomly, and for other people they can last for 10 years with out needing a retube.

    Im still gonna take it to the city though, becuase there tech may use the groove tubes.

    A retubing is how much money? Like 300 for the tubes and than 50 or so for the labor?
  11. Gigging 5 nights per week + rehearsals you will have to retube it once a year. Been there done that. If you operate the amp less than that you will have to retube less often of course. Preamp tubes last practically forever, it's the power tubes that haul the load and wear out first. No extra care is needed in transport than with any other kind of amp. As mentioned earlier, you just don't want to move the amp while the tubes are hot because the filaments are more fragile when they're at operating temperature. A cool down period of 5 minutes is plenty. Have it in standby mode when you turn it on and switch it to standby when you're taking a break...even if the break is several hours long. Better to let her run than switch the power on and off. It's the powering up that's hardest on tubes. Always, always, always have the cab connected before you switch the amp on.
  12. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Tubes are decidedly NOT like light bulbs. And while you could 'blow' a tube, I've never had it happen to me, and I currently own 3 tube amps and have used others for over 20 years.

    If you use that standby switch properly, you should not have much of a problem.

    Just because this yahoo plays bass and spout what sounds like tech speak doesn't mean he knows what's up.

    The important part of changing tubes (if and when you need to) is not the actual replacement, but in the 'biasing' of the amp (should yours have an adjustable bias). Sorta like when cars had carbs that needed adjusting to run properly.

    GC is not known for their service...
  13. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    I have one last question, how would I go about recording with my amp, besides sticking a microphone infront of the cabinet, whats a good way of recording directly into a computer?
  14. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    He has no idea what he's talking about. And don't use Groove Tubes or Mesa/Boogie tubes. They're just relabeled Sovteks (which aren't that great).
  15. thedoctor


    Jun 20, 2005
    Treat your tube amp just like you would a high-perf. automobile. Warm it up before you lay some rubber, use the best gas you can get (ie: no cheap extension cords, cheap tubes or cheap cabs), and always take it to a reputable mechanic, not the dealer. You can go as fast as you want, as long as you want, if you take care of it.
  16. I think you've got it the wrong way round, but im a bit knackered

    You turn the MAIN power switch ON (and the standby switch is at STANDBY), then after you've let it warm up, you knock the standby switch to ON

    If this is exactly what you said, i appologise for being an ass
  17. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    Never ever ever ever take your tube amp outside when its cold if you just got done playing. If the tubes are still hot, and its really cold outside, the rapid temp change can make the tubes explode. Trust me.
  18. Okay, just a sec here... I've broken your quotation down into three points for clarity.

    Point 1: I certainly agree.
    Point 2: I also agree with this
    Point 3: Be careful not to commit a point 1.

    GT are relabelled chinese tubes that are packaged in the US. MB has also engaged in the practice of rebranding and selling chinese tubes... low cost and high profit margin. Sovtek makes decent tubes, especially given the cost. Check the KT-88 and 6550s.

    Personally I try to remember that if I'm going to hook my thumbs into my suspenders and pontificate, I need to do my best to avoid inaccurate generalizations (eg. get the facts straight as much as possible).

  19. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    I own a Marshall VBA400, 400 watt, all-tube head. For those who may not know, this formidable beast features 12 tubes ("valves" if you're hanging with the Brits... BTW, God bless Great Britian. My heart goes out to you!):

    8- 6550 power tubes;
    3- ECC83 classic Marshall pre-amp tubes;
    1- ECC82 tube. :eek:

    There seems to be some confusion regarding start-up and shut-down, so, please indulge me as I quote directly from my VBA400 Instruction Manual:

    "1. POWER SWITCH- Controls main power to the amplifier, activating the valve heaters and other auxiliary circuits including the fan. This should be switched on before the standby switch.

    "2. STANDBY SWITCH- Controls the H.T. (high tension) supply to the valves to allow them to attain the correct working temperature before playing. To prolong the life of the valves it is always advisable to switch on the Mains Power Switch (item 1) about 2 minutes before switching on the Standby (item 2).

    "This procedure allows the valves to heat up fully before use. On switching off, the Standby should always be switched before the Power Switch.

    "The standby facility is particularly useful live, between sets, as it allows you to reduce the amount of heat generated by the amplifier but keep the valves operating, which is conducive to longevity of valve life. Valve life can be further increased by always ensuring that the amplifier is allowed to cool down completely after use and before transportation."

    So, that just about covers it. The manual does, indeed, point out that "...all valve amps need to be connected to a speaker before use and failure to do so will result in serious damage to the amp." However, Marshall adds a safety feature to the VBA400. To ensure that one doesn't damage their VBA400 by forgetting to plug-in to the cabinet, they've designed the unit so power cannot be applied internally unless it's connected to a speaker.

    I realize I've merely repeated what others have already pointed out in this thread; however, I thought it would be helpful if I offered the instructions directly out of the manual from one of the world's most respected makers of all-tube instument amplifiers.

    One more thing... "thedoctor" is right on the money with his "High Performance Automobile" analogy. I agree that, if you use common sense and a little TLC, your all-tube beast will always be there waiting for you to put the pedal to the metal!

    Oh yeah... NEVER PLACE A BEER, OR ANY OTHER BEVERAGE ON TOP OF YOUR BELOVED AMP... :scowl: otherwise, should it accidentally spill onto, and into your amp... you'll have a fireworks show that you'll NEVER forget! :bawl:

    Aloha... :cool:
  20. Iruleonbass


    May 29, 2005
    New York
    I cant drink beer yet.... :)

    But I wont ever put a pepsi can up there either.

    I just need to know how to record into my computer, if therese some way of using a line out or something like that, it would be better than me sticking a mic infront of the amp I think. I may just stick to that method if no one can let me know how to go about using a slave our or line out to record.