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Well, it was bound to happen... (amp died at gig)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by christw, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    I was playing a show last night and shortly into the first set my VT-22 felt like it was losing volume. Halfway into the set I knew something was really wrong. Two more songs went by before I had the venue owner asking me to turn up my gain. Too bad my amp was already on ten! As an aside, he was incredibly helpful all through the night, especially with fine tuning the FOH mix because we ran our own sound. I wish more people around here were like him!

    I managed to limp through the first set out with a very distinct lack of power. I decided to play it safe and went direct to PA for the next set and a half. It was a tremendous success and had we not brought our own PA, I would have been SOL. I think I might have just learned a valuable lesson about not having a backup amp!

    Frankly, the failure was probably my own fault. I bought my VT-22 off of craigslist with mismatched output tubes and in overall unknown condition. I opened it up, gave it a visual once over, and didn't think much of it. The amp sounded strong and didn't hum so I decided to just risk it. It made it through about 50 hours of hard use and well, you know the rest!

    Moral of the story, service your old tube amps when you buy them or you might end up like me. :D
  2. lexington125


    Sep 11, 2013
    hollywood, baby......
    someday I will find 4 or 5 other guys who want to play the blues the way it was played before it became all about guitar heroics
    I wouldn't blame yourself; stuff happens. I've had one amp faillure, but it was the worst possible situation. I ordered a brand new Bass 400 and two 1-15 cabinets from a store in Boston back in the mid-80s. The Bass 400 was recently introduced and no store actually had one in stock. After a 6 week wait, the amp arrived on Thursday afternoon; I picked it up and took it to our rehearsal space and gave it an hour test drive. The next night three Boston bands were playing a show about an hour west of Boston. I knew the other bass players and we agreed to just bring my new Boogie stack. The other bass players happily left their SVTs back in Boston. Get to the club, set up, everybody is standing around looking at $2k (1986 dollars) worth of Mesa bass goodness. Plug-in, hit the standby switch and dead silence. The club is already nearly full, the first set starts in 45 minutes and we have no bass amp and I just want to crawl away and hide. the soundman finds an old 100 watt Peavy PA head that some keyboard player left in the club a few nights before. Instead of a brand new Boogie, we all have to use the Peavy.

    It turned out to be a bad solder joint. The head was fixed in about 10 days and worked flawlessly for the next 26 years.
  3. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Ouch! That sounds like a situation I might get myself into. Still, good to hear it worked out and that the amp lasted. Those Peaveys can still do wonders as backup amps. I used to carry my 100w Century Bass 200 in my car as a backup to every gig, even when using a 1001RB-II. Somewhere along the line, I forgot my good habits.
  4. Part of the total price for a used tube amp should always be the cost of some TLC from a tech.

    Edit: I looked at a used Ampeg tube amp a friend had just bought. He didn't like what the tremolo did. I found that one of the pots was wired to the wrong terminal on the board. I also found a terminal that had never been soldered!
  5. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Sorry to hear you had an amp failure at a gig, but it is great that you were prepared to work around the problem. Shows you guys know how to make sure the show goes on.

    Back in the old days, I used to bring a meter, a soldering iron, spare tubes, connectors, various capacitors, and all kinds of other stuff. More than once I repaired stuff for my group, and other bands. Non of us carried backup amps, and such. Couldn't do that with the new fangled ss stuff now days. But amps are cheap enough now, that if I was seriously gigging, I would just bring a spare amp, and leave the meter at home.

    For some reason, I am also glad this wasn't about a PF-500.
  6. As did I. :)

    Ahhh the good old days when men were men and sheep were nervous! :D
  7. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    I agree completely. I got the amp for $500 when cash was tight and went, "eh, what the hell!" even though I'm normally way more careful.

    Yikes! :eek:

    It happens. I'm fortunate enough to work with some of the best musicians in the town. I doubt there's much the band couldn't tackle. :smug:

    I did too, although I never had to do anything at a gig. I got tired of carrying the full repair kit with me and opted for two spare preamps and some pedals to make anything work.

    Me too. I had one die but it wasn't Ampeg's fault.
  8. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    On the plus side, chances are it's just a tube. Shouldn't cost too much to make it right.

    When things don't work I usually give them a whack.
  9. Hi.

    Nice save :).

    Agreed to an extent IMO, but for me the more important moral of the story is to at least have a possibility of going direct to the PA. (And to have a PA and monitors that can handle bass ;))
    Not to rely solely on a mic or speaker level DI.

    Just like Paul there said, anyone buying a tube amp should always factor in at least a complete re-tube to any unknown shape purchase, if not a complete once-over.

    The same gors for both new and vintage amps IME/IMO.
    Perhaps people are too used to in using SS amps in which almost nothing can go wrong in shipping.

    The fact is that neither heavy components nor tubes do not travel well.
    Especially EH KT88 that has mica's that don't touch the glass. Before the internals short that is :meh:.

    On top of that, IMLE most manufacturers just use the cheapest tubes "because people will swap 'em right away anyway".

  10. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    Thanks! I usually do have the option to plug in around town but had we not run our own sound, I would have been stuck with a very underwhelming house PA.

    Again, I'm in complete agreement. I have plenty of tubes, just didn't have the cash for a tech at the time. It kept on ticking so I forgot about it! :)

    It came with 3 original RCA 7027A and one Sovtek 7027A which was my first clue that it may be tech time. Sorta like buying a care riding on a spare, y'know?
  11. Hi.

    :) I know exactly what You mean.

  12. xring


    Sep 16, 2003
    My backup these days is an MXR M80 preamp pedal to go direct to the board if ever needed. One gig it actually saved my keyboard player when his amp died and he needed to go direct.
  13. Yep, my Avalon U5 is my direct backup, even sounds good through a JBL Eon in a pinch!
  14. Psychobassguy

    Psychobassguy Banned

    Oct 14, 2013
    Of all the problems that can happen with old tube amps, tube failure is rarely the sole cause of any problem. Stocking a new set of tubes into an old amp to "fix" it is not a responsible action, and more often than not, can just end up ruining a new set of tubes in a broken amp.
  15. Interceptor


    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
    +1 to this. Something causes all failures. Until you know what the root cause is, Mayhem is your pal.
  16. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    While this is true. In this case the amp was loosing volume over the course of the gig, an indicator that a tube may be failing. Of course, there are other possibilities.
  17. Psychobassguy

    Psychobassguy Banned

    Oct 14, 2013
    Losing volume can be tons of things. I've had of s/s amps lose volume during shows. It wasn't bad transistors that caused it. Just because you have the ability to plug new tubes into a tube amp doesn't mean that it was ever intended to fix anything other than replacing a known bad tube.
  18. By the same token a tube may not be "known" to be bad until a fresh or known good one is used in its place. ;)
  19. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    But how do you know the tube is bad or not till you replace it?
  20. Psychobassguy

    Psychobassguy Banned

    Oct 14, 2013
    It's easy enough to take voltage measurements on tubes in-circuit and much more reliable than simply blindly guessing as to which tube might be "bad." A proper diagnostic will check all the voltages and verify the output on an oscilloscope. It's not a complicated process and will readily identify just about any 'bad' parts: tubes, resistors, capacitors,connections, coils, etc. Plus, in the process of doing so, a good visual inspection of the circuit can reveal things like burned connections or resistors, bubbling caps or even stray material inside making shorts. The bottom line is that ANY used amp, tube or s/s should have a good going-through before it sees use. $60 of tech time and a few 20 cent resistors can spare a few hundred dollars on down the road.

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