What is Wrong with Your Vintage Tube Amp?
Just like any other old technology, vintage amps can be quite a headache when they start acting up. Figuring out how to end that hissing coming from your’57 Strat will need more than a lucky guess. It will probably involve making a visit to your vintage amp repair technician.
When an old amplifier fails what option is better, replace parts or buy a new amplifier? The problem with replacing parts for a vintage tube amp would be accessibility. You would not expect many dealers to be stocking parts for a 1957 amplifier. This would mean serious looking which could take some time.
You will expect to pay more for hard to find parts. You might be forced another vintage amp to take it apart for parts. This is a pricier option than dealing with newer parts. Getting a technician conversant with your vintage model could also be a problem.
However, not all problems will require replacement of parts in a vintage tube amp. You could diagnose some common problems before rushing off to the technician.
AC indicator is dead
If the AC indicator does not glow most probably, it is blown. Other causes would be:
- The power cable is unplugged
- A blown fuse
- The power cord is open. This can be tested with an ohmmeter
- An open primary in the transformer
- A faulty wire in the AC power path
- The AC switch is faulty.
No sound at all
If the power connections are OK and the AC indicator light is on, it means the signal sign is not getting through. The reasons for this could be:
- Faulty wiring to the speakers
- Open cables leading to the speaker
- Blown speakers
- Open choke
- Faulty power transformer
- Failed tubes
If the amp starts blowing fuses, it means there is more power reaching the fuses than the fuse rating. In a vintage tube amp, this could be caused by:
- Shorted power and rectifier tube
- Wrong rating on the fuse
- Loss of bias or incorrect bias of the tubes
- Faulty power transformer
- High leakage or AC wiring short
For these kinds of problems, your amp would be better off being handled by someone experienced in your local guitar amp repair Long Island technician.
Loss of volume
If your amp suddenly loses volume, it is probably accompanied by loss of power. This can happen from:
- An unbypassed preamp cathode resistor drifting upwards
- Faulty power tube
- Open cathode bypass capacitors
- Insufficient voltage
Keep or not
You would keep a vintage tube amp just like any other vintage item, which is mainly for sentimental reasons. While in condition tube amps will give off the same tone as modern amps, there are some advantages of a more modern amp over the tube vintage.
Modern amps are more compact and have higher power ratings for the same size. There are more parts and technicians for modern amps. Keeping a vintage tube amp would be for the bragging rights and the occasional performance.