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When a Mini Amp Dies - A Question for the Techs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jim C, Jun 6, 2012.


  1. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    When the warranty ends on some of the new tiny amps (GK MB series, GB Shuttle & Starliner's, Ampeg's etc.) and a user finds the amp broken, will it be outrageously expensive to repair?

    Just read a post from a guy in Norway who bought his amp in the US and says the repair cost is not worth keeping the amp. Remember some similar posts regarding Markbass repairs awhile back.

    I am thinking that not only are the little guys hard to access, but there will be no repairs at the component level and it will be a board swap exercise.

    Not that these amps are going to be unreliable but curious as to how the repairs will go.
    For that matter, will they even go to the local authorized repair center or back to the factory?
     
  2. 5port

    5port

    Oct 14, 2009
    LI,new yawk
    I love my little MB200 for what it offers...200W for 200 dollars. However like a lot of things in this world I recognize a throwaway when I see one (WRT repair). It will cost what the amp costs (out of warranty). Buy it, enjoy it, dont worry about it. Having said that mine has been dead reliable and I have the green connector version.
     
  3. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    I expect that they will in many cases be unrepairablel...... the manufacturer won't have parts after they go out of production (some don't have parts now), and will probably blow through the few spares typically stocked in short order.

    Parts, especially all-in-one class-D chip amplifiers and the like, may be unavailable, superseded by a different one, or the same type in a different and incompatible package.

    If you can't find a component-level repair person, or don't like that price, you will be buying another one which will have the same problem of being unrepairable.

    And, some companies have NO interest in ANY service after the last unit of the series goes off warranty.... They scrap the remaining parts and tell you to buy a new one. Loud/Ampeg was supposedly like that under Jamie Engen, don't know what they do now.

    it's not just electronics..... someone we know has a Volvo..... the automatic transmission had a problem, and needed re-built.

    but the trannys are apparently a sealed, staked-together unit, no repairs, just replacement, for many thousands of dollars. They were basically forced to scrap the car, or else pay much more than its value to repair it.
     
  4. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Funny you should mention transmissions.
    My new Sonata has a sealed unit that doesn't even have a dipstick; no fluid or filter changes
    After the 100,000 mile warranty ends it's a ticking time bomb
     
  5. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    That transmission stuff is just plain stupid, but sadly, par for the course nowdays. I've worked on my own vehicles ever since I had one, kept them all running 'til the whells fell off.

    Pushing everyone to "go green", while simultaneously making more and more disposable crap doesn't meet the standards of common sense. There has to be an alterior motive...that's the only thing that does make sense.

    Example: one of my side-jobs is being Mr. Fixit for a small handful of rental properties. Somebody's oven quit working. It's a gas oven, you should simply light the fire and cook right?...wrong. It's these new ones with a touchscreen control panel where you "program the fire". How hot, how long, etc. The control panel went out. The thing is a circuit board full of 10 cent parts. There is no resource to troubleshoot this thing or replace anything, you just throw it away and get a new $90 control panel to make sure you got the right 10 cent part....disgusting. I still have the old one in my junk box, because there is $89.90 worth of good parts on it.

    These new amps are the same way. Same approach, same result. I would say "I'm sorry to say", but I'm not sorry. This kind of stuff does nothing but rapes the earth, creates mountains of junk, makes a few people lots of funny money, and does nothing for most of us humans, let alone the rest of nature....and you can't escape it....it's becoming prevalent in most anything normal people use on a day to day basis. This crap is going to bite us all in the ass in a big way. Of course, most people don't care. They can make a quick profit and they'll probably be dead and gone so they can't witness the result.

    Probably not the place to rant about it so.. /rant. I hate plastic.
     
    cfsporn likes this.
  6. chadds

    chadds

    Mar 18, 2000
    Yes it is.
    Buy used the energy has been expended in its construction.
    Hand wired stuff is repairable.
    Vote and purchase how you think.
     
  7. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I think this is the price we pay for progress. Things are changing too quickly for designs to stabilize and for repair info to become widespread. The MOSFETs that make the new amps as efficient and reliable as they are, were nonexistent just a few years ago.

    I'm wondering when an entire replacement amp will cost less than just one or two major components for a mainstream amp, such as the power transformer. (Most bass amps use custom transformers). As for repairs, if you can't find a tech in your area, then you have to ship the amp. That adds a boatload to the cost of repairing a mainstream amp.

    The energy cost of a Class-D power amp module might be a lot less than a power amp with a big power transformer and heat sink. I agree with buying used. Both of my micro heads are from the TB classifieds.

    Don't get me wrong, I love to fix things rather than throw them away. I'm notorious for that. But there are some things where I value the convenience enough to put up with not being able to perform board level repairs. My phone and computer are already that way.
     
  8. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    Until you pro-rate the billion dollar semiconductor factory and its energy cost plus waste materials disposal into the equation..... Hopefully the cost of parts fairly represents the pro-rated cost of the factory (first cost, maintenance, and staffing, etc), and the cost of the factory fairly represents the cost of the energy and waste etc to make it. In a perfect world, it does. In ours, who knows?

    That's getting too far afield, likely..... but perhaps not..... when you toss the amp, you also toss the cost of all the parts which are NOT bad.... and you just have to effectively re-purchase them in the next amp..... that does your pocketbook no particular good, but the people employed to make the parts and new amp no doubt all thank you for your generous contribution.

    Most likely, a great number of things are under-valued artificially, for various social and economic reasons..... Producing amps which are effectively not repairable may be inevitable, but it may become so expensive in future that either repairs will magically become do-able, OR the designs will be more repairable in future.

    Until the Class-D units, SLM-Ampeg made a conscious decision to use components which are familiar to technicians, and easy to replace when doing repairs. With the class-D stuff literally operating at radio frequencies, that was no longer as possible.

    Even with our component-repairable boards, we had shops refuse to do anything but board swaps.... whatever.........
     
  9. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I've been very interested in this thread because I own two Walter Woods Amplifiers that sound great and can definitely be repaired, due to the fact that Walter has maintained a back stock of components. His design got the weight down to 7.5 lbs for a 1,200 watt amplifier. The trade off is that because he uses discrete components, the cost of the unit keeps going up. So the Woods Ultra High Power that was once affordable is now very expensive.
     
  10. Surprise SMT is not new! When I was younger one of my charges was repairing what was then known as "strip-line" RF amps. We call that SMT now. It will require a younger generation of techs and a tech's expected working life will be shortened. But are we getting a new crop of techs to replace those aging? Why would we? Just about every day we have posters looking for repair advice that treat a visit to a tech like a trip to the Dentist. Except they have no qualms about PAYING for the Dentist's services.
    Starting to catch where the idea of disposable comes from? Consumers are IMHO creating that which they now complain about.
    [End my own rant.] :)
     
  11. Interceptor

    Interceptor

    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
    As a tech, I really have to echo what was said before; component selections make or break a small shop. Once a tech has to go on a treasure hunt to find parts, he's lost any profit in a repair, as the research time to find parts isn't going to be billable time. If a tech would bill an hour or two for the hunt, the customers would scream bloody murder.

    Also, there is a point where equipment just is disposable. Years ago, I used to fix televisions. The stuff made today is one component failure from the landfill. MI gear is moving rapidly in the same direction.

    The repairable stuff still exists. It isn't light and cheap.
     
  12. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Jerrold & B-string - I agree with your points but IMO the biggest repair expense for many projects is labor.
    In my area there are very good techs that can trouble shoot and repair discrete amps quickly and effeciently. As I understand from a local repair shop owner, his usual staff are not trained or effecinet with class D amp componenet level repairs. Perhaps he will hire a more highly paid tech for the class D stuff but needs to see more supply of repairs. This also assumes he can buy the parts that may only be available by the manufacturer.

    Then again, if these units are simply plug and play, then the manufacturers will decide if they can be repaired based on the cost for replacement boards.

    Are any manufacturers being particularly naughty or nice with their parts pricing?
     
  13. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    A very good point sir. Folks seem to be confusing the difference between "cost" (upfront) and "value" (down the road). I still don't own a microamp and probably won't, at least until the the last of the 1/2 dozen or so "regular amps" I have stops working and fixing it has proved impossible.
     
  14. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    I think that illustrates the point even more. These things are built to be obsolete. The parts/components change so quickly, even if you wanted to repair/hang on to the thing, you couldn't. The parts they're made with now won't even be available in 10 years. The entire system will have moved on to something else. They're designed to be disposable, built from stuff folks can get in high quanity for cheap now, with no consideration as to what will become of it in 5 or 10 years.

    It follows the same path as a lot of things now. "Make profits next quarter, next year be damned", etc.
     
  15. Depends on what you mean by "naughty or nice"? (Getting into an attrition story now) When I did purchasing I would buy 1/4 watt resistors for $0.0015 each, they cost too little to inventory so were considered "free stock". When I go to Radio Shack I pay over $0.20 each (in a pack of 5). Costly items were on a scheduled delivery dictated by sales projection with a small "spares" projection. Spare reserves costs more than regular production to handle in plant, add a profit to those of purchasing, handling, stocking, customer service personnel, order pull, packers, shipping department and possibly floor tax if you over-stock. Its not easy to tell.
     
  16. +1000
     
  17. dannylectro

    dannylectro

    Aug 2, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    Dunno. Have resisted the "siren song" of lightweight, low price Class D amps. Fool though I might be. The GK 400RB does everything I need, is repairable and accessible, and units are available on the used market for very reasonable prices. I have three now, and will keep buying clean, well-priced units for as long as I can. Weird thing is, the very first one I bought, used, in 1997 is still going strong and I've been moving it to a LOT of gigs without so much as a bag to put it in.
    12 lbs, 200 watts, built like a tractor. Gotta love it.
     
  18. will33

    will33

    May 22, 2006
    austin,tx
    +1......a real amp.

    BTW, my rantings aren't against any company specifically, but rather the direction of society as a whole.......I'll shutup now.;)
     
  19. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    Atlanta
    I love my MB800 head- and so does my back! I wish I'd had it 20 years ago. GK is making a great product.

    BUT- to me this thing is more of a piece of electronic gear than music gear. I treat it more like my laptop than I do like the items shown in my avatar. It's alot easier to care for than my big heavy stuff. It gets handled gingerly because it's light and small. Does that mean that nothing will ever happen to it? Of course not, but it doesn't get banged around like my 'pegs do.

    I hate the disposable world we're living in. I fix everything I possibly can. I don't have an answer of what to do if something just flat out craps out you and it's too costly to repair. But I can say do your part and take care of this new wave of gear as best you can and get the absolute most from it possible.
     
  20. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

    Jan 3, 2009
    It's like an Ipod/ whatever flavor music player you like.

    Buy it, use it until it breaks or you get it in the laundry :D toss it, and get a new one.

    Plain and simple.....
     

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