Take care of your cables

Cables are one of those often overlooked items that usually get taken for granted.

They can be the cause of intermittant problems and difficult mid-gig failures. Cables don’t last for ever, but there are a few simple ways you can get the best service life from them.

1/ Always coil your cables carefully, using their natural “lay”. All cables have a natural “lay” in them which stems from the manufacturing process. If you coil your cables carefully and naturally, less stress will be applied to the conducting cores. This will avoid core fractures.

2/ Do not yank on cables which are trapped in some way. Doing this will put strain on the cores, and/or the connectors. This will lead to strain and early core failure.

3/ Avoid placing objects upon the cables (such as speaker cabinets, drum stools etc).

4/ Keep all post-gig “helpers” at bay. They will not care about your cables or the rest of your gear.

5/ Try to arrange things so that there is no “weight” on any of the connectors. For example, if you are plugging into a keyboard, use a cable with right angle rather than straight jacks.

Finally, if you do have a cable failure, quarantine the failed item so that you don’t unwittingly use it at your next gig.

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Snap, Crackle, & Pop

Crackly control pots can be a nuisance on any amp. You can extend the service life of your pots by using one simple technique.

It’s often the case that most control pots end up being set a certain way, and then they get left, or moved very little. Airborne dirt and other contaminants then find their way into the pots. This results in annoying crackles and pops when the pots are turned.

To help prevent this problem, all you have to do is, once in a while, turn them fully from one end of their travel to the other a few times. Then restore your favourite settings.

This takes adavantage of the inherent self cleaning action that most pots have.

Clearly the technique will not repair genuinely worn out pots, but it will help with those that are simply dirty.

 

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Standby!

Here at Essex Amp Repairs, we’re often asked for amplifier modifications. A common request is for a standby switch to fit an amp that doesn’t have one. Fortunately we can offer the ideal solution to this problem. At very modest cost, we can replace the standard on/off switch with a three stage item, giving “standby” in the centre position. No extra holes or switches in the front panel, just a neat solution that keeps the appearance right. What’s more, if you have your amp serviced at the same time, we’ll fit the switch at no extra labour cost.

This is a great solution for owners of amps such as the Fender Blues Junior, Peavey Classic 30, and old Vox AC series models.

Keep your amp nice and toasty hot between sets with an Essex Amp Repairs standby switch.

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New Gallery Updates!

Hot News:

Gallery page updated!

There you will find pictures of some of the many interesting items that pass through our workshop.

Gallery – Examples of what we do.

Enjoy!

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Shake, rattle & fail to roll!

Those of us that find our amps to be a little too heavy for comfort often find that fitting wheels is a helpful way of making things a little easier to move around.

However, there is a downside to this elegant solution. Please read on….

Here at Essex Amp Repairs, we see a good number of amps that have suffered valve failures, or solder joint failures that have been caused by shock and severe vibration. This type of failure occurs more frequently to wheeled combo amps than to heads or combo’s without wheels.

The reason for this is simple enough. The amps get pushed or dragged along over rough surfaces, such as concrete paths, cobbled streets, unevenly paved footpaths etc. With the result that they get a very severe shaking indeed.

This severe shaking results in premature valve and joint failure.

To give your amp the best chance of an easy life, here are some simple handling tips:

1/ Allow your amp to cool down thoroughly before moving it. Switch your amp off completely immediately after you’ve played the last song of the evening. Then pack away all the rest of your gear first. By the time you’ve done that, helped your bandmates, and received plenty of praise from your adoring fans, your amp will be cool enough to move.

2/ Only use the wheels on smooth indoor surfaces. Get your bandmates to help you carry the amp over the rough stuff

3/ Place your amp carefully in your vehicle, don’t drop in in there. Take folklore stories that run along the lines of “I chucked my old Marshall into the back of the Bedford after thousands of gigs, & it never let me down once” with a pinch of salt….

4/ Pack your gear securely in your vehicle so that the amp does not slide around and collide with other stuff during transit

All fairly obvious stuff really, but it’s easily forgotten.

Take care out there and enjoy your music.

Dave at Essex Amp Repairs.

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Testing – is the bench good enough?

Quality is important to everybody. Our customers expect the highest standards of workmanship. Our reputation depends on meeting or exceeding those expectations. It follows then that quality control is of paramount importance. For this reason, at Essex Amp Repairs we believe that bench testing alone is not good enough to pass a piece of equipment as being suitable for return to the customer. To be certain that our work has been effective, each item of equipment is play tested after the bench test programme has been run. Using guitar amps as an example, it is quite possible for an amp to pass all the bench test parameters, and yet still fail to perform adequately as a musical instrument. The play test will reveal any such shortcomings. Any amp that does not pass the play test gets sent back to the bench to be reworked. Only when an amp passes both tests do we deem it as meeting our quality standards.

We won’t accept second best, neither should you.

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Loft/Barn finds – handle with care

Here at Essex Amp Repairs & Guitar Services, we often see amps that have been found in various places after a lengthy period of disuse. Lofts, barns,  and garages across the realm seem to yield a surprising amount of hidden treasures.

If you’re lucky enough to find a hidden gem like this, be careful…. Avoid the temptation to get the prize home, switch it on and enjoy untold vintage tonal pleasures. Years of storage in poor conditions often inflict a surprising amount of damage to electrical equipment. Contacts corrode, capacitors dry out, insects often take up residence, and rodents may feast upon covering & insulation materials.

While you might be lucky and switch on without a problem, there is nonetheless a very real risk that damage or even fire may result.

Luckily, we can help you. Specialising in vintage amplifiers and audio equipment, we can check your equipment and remedy any issues prior to switch on. We can handle the nasty stuff, leaving you to enjoy the playing and listening.

Please call 01376 502160 or email info@essexamprepairs.co.uk for more information. It will be great to hear from you.

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“Relic” the mysterious verb

The English language is in a state of continual evolution. The rise of the  internet and social media have placed a new emphasis on the importance of the written word. Gone are the days when it was thought that grammar and spelling were unimportant. The difference between knowing your crap & knowing you’re crap is more relevant than ever.

The rise in popularity of guitars that have been given distressed finishes to make them look old has given rise to a new status for the word “relic”. Nowadays, “relic” is often used as a verb. There is nothing inherently wrong with that of course. But some spelling interpretations of “relic, the verb” can give rise to confusion. Two common examples are “reliced” & “relicked”.

Here at Essex Amp Repairs & Guitar Services, we do try to avoid using “relic” as a verb. We prefer to consider the process as “aging” or “distressing”, giving “relic” as the finished article. However, when there is no alternative but to use the verb form, we will spell it as “relic’d”.

This way we can avoid confusion with items that seem to have been cleaned by tongue, or fitted with new insects.

 

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Essex Amp Repairs appointed by Blackstar

Essex Amp Repairs is proud to announce that we have been appointed as an Approved Non-Warranty Service Centre by Blackstar Amplification.

http://www.blackstaramps.com/

This exciting new partnership offers great post-warranty support for Blackstar enthusiasts.

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Loud Technologies

We are proud to announce that Essex Amp Repairs has been appointed as a Loud Technologies authorised service centre.

Loud Technologies brands include Ampeg, Alvarez, Blackheart, Crate, EAW, Mackie, Martin Audio & Tapco.

 

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