How often should I change my tubes?
If you are using your guitar amplifier or bass amplifier say 4 hours a day 5 days a week = 20 hours per week. Then you should change your tubes every 6 months if you want to maintain the best sound quality. A year ( approx 1000 hours ) should be the absolute maximum on a set of tubes. Yes, they may still light up and produce sound, but it will not be a very good sound.
What Brand of tubes should I use?
Here is a subject that has a lot of misinformation associated with it.
There are some differences in sound between different brands of tubes you may choose to install in your amplifier. For instance as a general rule Groove tubes tend to provide a much harsher ( edgy ) sound particularly in guitar amplifiers, less so in bass amplifiers than say JJ tubes. However aside from the harshness of groove tubes we find that most of the other main stream brands are similar in sound quality. The one place we find a big difference is reliability. The tubes we use are all pre tested and burned in for maximum reliability and sound quality. The JJ tubes that we used to prefer to use in repairs have recently dropped in reliability so we have switched to using tung-Sol tube. So far we have been having excellent results with them in all types of tube amplifiers. There are of course NOS tubes and other rare tubes that have a nice tone and a hefty price tag, but in most situations and for most people they are not worth the hefty price tag. When we do a repair we will of course use any tube that you desire for your tube amp repair, but in most situations find that our customers are very pleased with our choice of Tung-Sol tubes for their amp repair.
My new tubes make my guitar amplifier sound so much better; surely this brand must be better than what we had.
Consider the following scenario to illustrate why people think the tubes that they recently had installed in their amplifier whether it be for a guitar amplifier, a bass amplifier, or any other type of tube amplifier are so much better than the brand they had in there before. (In other words how tube rumors get started)
Most people do not change their tubes until they have a repair issue. We find that on a average most tube amplifiers we take repair at states have not had their tubes changed for 2-3 years ! After 2-3 years any set of tubes are not going to sound good in your amplifier. So pretty much no matter what tube is installed now will sound so much better that what you had that you will think the new tubes are best thing since sliced bread. In other words it is not so much the brand of tube that you installed, but the fact that you changed the tubes at all that made the amp sound so much better.
Where should I buy my amplifier tubes.
Beware! There are a lot of sources for amplifier tubes and name brand alone does not assure you are getting a quality tube.
You should as a general rule avoid the internet tube warehouse type places because often the tubes they sell are seconds of inferior quality. The initial cost may be cheaper, but the repair bill when they take your amp down will not be. The old adage of you get what you pay for defiantly applies here!
Music stores that sell tubes usually sell what they can buy cheap, sell cheap and make a good profit on. Their choice of what to carry is often not based on careful research. For this reason most music stores are not a good source for tube purchases & information about tubes.
Even some repair shops unfortunately will sell cheap inferior tubes because they feel their customers will kick about the price if they dont do this. What a good repair shop will do is sell the best quality most reliable tube they can obtain at a reasonable cost to the customer. If this means sacrificing some business so be it, because a good repair shop will realize that quality and long term reliability will save the customer far more in the long run than the small amount of money they would save initially by using cheap inferior tubes!
Sorry if it sounds like we are soap box here, but we are very passionate about providing quality service and reliable products to our customers.
We will never sell or use something at our company shop that is not of good quality, poor quality parts make poor quality repairs, which makes for amplifiers failing in the middle of a gig … and that is no good at all.
Cleaning controls or “pots”
Almost every piece of equipment be it a keyboard, a mixing board, a guitar amplifier, or an effect unit has some good old fashioned potentiometers (Pots) that at some time in its life will need to be cleaned.
Cleaning controls is a pretty simple process; it is the getting to the controls to clean them that can sometimes be complicated.
Fist a warning about faders or slide controls.
Do not clean them unless the absolutely need it, and only use special fader only cleaner, and finish up with some fader lube. If you use anything else the controls will become so stiff you will barely be able to operate them. Even when you use the proper products on them thy will still be stiffer than they were before they were cleaned. That is why we at fixit lol wow advise not cleaning them unless it is necessary.
Fader controls unlike rotary controls can be cleaned without taking the equipment apart. You just spray the fader cleaner in the slot that shaft rides in that the knob it attached to. Then work it back and forth over its entire sweep several times, apply some fader lube in the same way, and you are done.
Cleaning rotary controls requires disassembly of the unit being worked on. Once you have accesses to the controls the process is pretty simple. Most, but not all rotary controls have a slot or other opening on the back, or side that you can spray your preferred brand of control cleaner into.
Clean the controls one at a time, do not spray them all first and then go back and rotate them as it is not nearly as effective as spraying the cleaner into the control and then immediately rotating it vigorously several times over its entire sweep. Here at fixit lol wow we generally clean each control twice, the reason we do this is if you have to spend several hours on cleaning the controls on say a mixing board that you had to pull all the circuit boards on to get to the controls you sure as heck don’t want to have to pull it all back apart because you were not thorough in your first attempt.
A few additional notes on control cleaning
- When cleaning controls on keyboards, and synthesizers be careful not to get any control cleaner in the area of the keyboard display, or the keyboard contacts.
- When cleaning controls on guitar amplifiers try not to get any cleaner on the tubes or any of the power resistors.
- When cleaning controls on mixing boards there will generally be a lot of cleaner run off after cleaning the controls. Put the board on some old newspapers or something else absorbent and let the cleaner drain off before you put the cover back on it. It generally helps to do this with the mixing board left sitting in a variety of positions to facilitate draining of the excess cleaner out of the mixing board controls.
All speakers as most of you know have a positive and a negative terminal. If these terminals are hooked up backwards the speaker will still work, and if only one speaker is used you will probably not even notice the speaker is out of phase.
The problem comes into play when using more than one speaker cabinet, or multiple speakers within one cabinet.
If one of the two speakers is hooked up backwards then the two speakers will be out of phase and when played together they will sound very thin as they are essentially cancelling each other out. This is because one cone is moving out while at the same instant the other is moving in.
In cabinets with multiple speakers it is also important if you have to replace a speaker that you match it up as closely as possible to the original, or replace both at the same time. The reason is if the two speakers have different efficiencies and cone materials then the cones will move at different rates which creates another type of phasing issue.
When hooking speakers up you cannot always rely on the markings on the speakers. We have seen many speakers over the years that the positive & negative leads were labeled backwards.
The good news is that it is extremely easy to check for phasing issues and proper speaker polarity, all it takes is a 9 volt battery.
With nothing else hooked up to the speaker touch the positive lead of the battery to the positive lead of the speaker, and touch the negative lead of the battery to the negative lead of speaker. As you are looking straight into the front of the speaker it should move towards you.
The motion when the speaker pops when you hook up the battery is what you are looking for. . Do not leave the battery hooked up for more than a few seconds at a time.
When doing this with a cabinet you can simply use the input terminals of the cabinet to perform this test.However contact fixit lol wow experts for your repairs maintenance and servicing of your Musical Electronic equipment!