Here at the Sunflower Flower Repair Station we are always busy repairing and doing maintenance on all sorts of amps and other electronic musical equipment. The world of amps can be overwhelming and confusing sometimes so our chief amp patcher-upper and technician Chazz Bessette has put together a summary of basic amp care guidelines based on common questions and issues many amp owners encounter.
Hello music and gear enthusiasts! After over 17 years of servicing electronics and instruments I’ve learned a few things I’d like to pass on to you about the continued care of your amplifier.
Great! Take note of the date they were installed and if you use the amp regularly (e.g. 2 rehearsals a week and monthly gigs) have those tubes checked or replaced after about a year. Modern output tubes will usually give a year of reliable service consistently. Most amps I see with tube shorts have been gigging for between 1-3 years. Most vintage US or European made tubes last much longer.
When tubes short they will cause the amp (hopefully) to blow fuses, but sometimes other things blow up as well as the fuse. The worst
case I’ve seen is blowing both transformers and although this isn’t common, blowing a transformer is certainly a risk with using worn out tubes. Many times, resistors blow when tubes fail. Depending on your amp this can lead to more expensive repair fees down the road that could have been avoided.
Jacks and pots cleaned?
If you see this note on a Sunflower and Friends purchase or repair you've gotten done by us, it’s because I’ve used the best quality cleaner (Caig Laboratories D100 or D5 for jacks and switches and Caig Laboratories F100 or F5 Fader lube on pots and moving sliders) on parts of your amp.
The best way to make sure this cleaning sticks is
to use your controls and jacks. Even if you never use all the jacks or knobs be sure to (with the amp powered off) plug a cable into each jack port about 5-8 times and move each knob back and forth 5-10 times. This will help keep the lubricant and cleaner circulated through the part.
Amp not making sound?
Here's something you can try that may help (especially if you've just had your tube sockets cleaned). Tubes can easily come loose in their sockets in transportation. I suggest to:
1)Wait for the amp to cool for 15 minutes or
proceed before turning the amp on at all.
2)Gently wiggle the tubes in a very small circular motion-- do not twist the tubes, just rock them in their sockets very gently. This will work the corrosion away from the cleaned socket pins.
Should your amp have bad connections on FX loop jacks, it can cause the amp to stop making sound entirely. Try working a plug in and out of these jacks and see if there is any improvement.
Always connect to a speaker!
Never turn on your amplifier without a speaker hooked up. This is a leading cause of output transformer failure in tube amps. Some solid-state amps are more forgiving, but it’s a good general rule to make sure you are always plugged in to a cabinet of the correct impedance (Are your speakers original? Double check the ohms!) to make sure nothing becomes damaged.
Thanks for reading and best wishes with your equipment and your journey in music!