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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Amp mods

Here at Essex Amp Repairs, we specialise in bespoke amplifier modifications. With our expertise, we can help you get that bit extra from your amp.

Some of the mods we can offer are:

Variable power control

Tone stack optimisation

Effects loop

Line out

Gain structure changes

If you have an idea about how you might want to mod your amp, get in touch with the specialists here at Essex Amp Repairs. We will be able to help you get that elusive sound out of your head and into the air.

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Gallery update!

Checkout our latest gallery updates. Lots for the Marshall enthusiasts in this update. Enjoy!

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Cabling – Equipment failure by stealth……

We often find that the humble cable is the most overlooked item in many peoples inventory. While guitars, amplifiers, mixers, etc are usually well cared for, cables generally get a pretty rough ride.

Damaged cables create a lot of problems, ranging from bad signal through to complete rig failure.

In the event of a problem, check your cables before deciding that the problem lies elsewhere. It’s not uncommon for an amp or another critical piece of equipment to be sidelined during a gig, only to find later that a simple lead failure was the cause.

Here are some simple suggestions to help you avoid cable induced problems:

1/ Take care to store your cables correctly. Always wrap them so that they lie in their natural coil state. Screwing them up, or wrapping them around other objects will cause the conductors inside the cable to fail prematurely.

2/ Avoid pulling on the cables – it is too easy to yank on a snagged cable in the rush to pack up after a gig. If a cable is snagged, release it from the grip of its captor before wrapping it up. Many cable core breaks or connector failures are caused by over zealous tugging on snagged cables.

3/ Always use the correct cable for the job. Do not use a signal lead as a speaker cable, or vice versa. Using a signal lead as a speaker cable will ensure that at best you will sound bad, and at worst you will damage your amp.

4/ Check your cables regularly (it’s a good idea to keep a cable tester in your kit for this purpose) and clean the connectors with good quality contact cleaner on a periodic basis. Do not use WD40 for this job.

5/ Keep some spare cables and leads in your kit for emergencies. If you carry only just enough cables, you know what will happen one day….

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When is a valve not a valve? When it’s a tube…..

Recent conversations with our customers have demonstrated that some confusion exists about what differentiates a “valve” from a “tube”. The Essex Amp Repairs team will now attempt to shed light on things… The terms “valve” and “tube” have their origins in the earliest days of electronics. When the use of thermionic triode devices began to gather favour, two types of terminology became commonly used. In Great Britain, the description of the function of the thermionic triode was analogous to a valve controlling the flow of liquid. And so, in the UK, the term “thermionic valve”, later shortened to “valve” became commonplace. In the United States, the device was described more in terms of its physical construction. As the electronic components within the device are contained in an evacuated envelope or “tube”, the term “vacuum tube” (later shortened to “tube”) became commonplace. From this, it can be seen that valves and tubes are the same thing. The terms of reference can be used interchangeably. A good example of two great nations being separated by a common language.

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