A Blues Harp Guide to Tube Amplifiers
Does it Work?
Any vintage tube amp can be fixed, for a price. They are not like VCRs, which are difficult to service and designed to be thrown away after a few years service. Tube amps have all of their components easily accessible to you and the parts are designed to be replaced.
Some repairs to an amp are expensive. A new speaker or transformer can cost more than $80. A cap job costs around $100, although you can try that yourself for less than $20. It is no good to buy a $100 tube amp and spend $100 to get it working so you can have a $150 amp.
Most tube amp problems involve tubes and capacitors. Turn the amp on and try it out. If smoke doesn’t come out of it, it is a very good sign. Typical problems are 1) no sound 2) weak sound 3) loud hum 4) popping 5) scratchy pots. If you get no sound and the tubes light up, there is hope for the amp. It could be a tube or cap or the speaker is bad. If you get a sound, then a good amp tech should be able to fix you up. Things like scratchy pots you can fix yourself. Hum and pop are cap problems. I’ve read the amp fix it pages and sometimes I can fix a small problem. I’ve recapped amps and lived to tell, but I am not a repairman. I take bad amps to dude named Dumbrowsky who lives way out in the Jersey woods and a couple of months later I get the amp back in perfect condition.
If an amp doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that it has no value. The parts in an amp are worth more than the amp itself. The quesion is: do you want to take the time and effort to get the amp fixed?