Monthly Archives: September 2013

Broken USB ports

usb port

Many pieces of gear these days have USB ports of this style.

Keyboards use them, DJ mixers Use them, DJ control surfaces use them, some standard mixing boards use them, some effects use them, Digital recorders use them … On and on the list goes.

The problem is the connectors were really designed to be plugged in and left alone.The music industry really needs to come up with better connector to use. The big problem is about 25% of the time when these break off the circuit board they also damage that circuit board.

Unfortunately when these break you must take them to a well-equipped and experienced shop trying to change these yourself, or having an ill equipped shop try it will only end in your having to replace the entire circuit board. Which in most cases is the Main PCB. This is a most definite do not try this at home situation.

My best advice of course is to be as careful and as gentle as you can with these USB ports. As I said they are a poor design choice for this gear and break easily.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Technics SL1200 cutting out, or output low on one side

The most common problem we see with the technics SL1200 are the rca output cables failing.SL1200

The original output cables for the SL1200 are no longer available. Due to the strain relief system on these not just any cable will fit. There are however several good quality cables out there that will fit the SL1200, just don’t try to use a super fat cable as you will never get the strain relief back on.

Other than that these tables are almost bullet proof. It is a shame they stopped making these.

Here is a link to a utube video that shows what you would be up against – If you attempt it be sure to use a better soldeing iron than this dude did.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK9rK6yLR7U&feature=player_detailpage

 

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

BUYING USED EQUIPMENT

In this tech tip I am going to talk about some things to look for when buying used electronic equipment. Buying used equipment can save you big bucks or provide you with big problems if you are not careful.

The first rule is plug it in make it work and test all the functions. If the person you are buying the equipment from does not have the needed equipment on hand to test what ever you are buying, (such as a guitar & cable for and amp, an amp and cable for a keyboard, etc.). Bring your own! When you test a piece of used equipment you are thinking about buying don’t just turn it on play through it and say yea it works I’ll take it. Leave the equipment on for as long as possible.

Many problems take an extended warm up period to show up. Lightly wiggle all the jacks (including the ac adapter jack if it has one) on the unit while it is operating to check for intermittent connections. Lightly tap on the unit in different places while it is running again to check for any obvious bad connections. If a unit is capable of running on both batteries and ac power, check to see that it does indeed work with both. Rotate all the controls while operating the unit, if they are audio controls there should be no erratic behavior or crackling from them if there is, while this is usually not a serious problem it will mean an additional repair expense.

If the controls operate a function as on a keyboard or an effects unit the same applies only the problem will show up in the way the display that indicates that function changes. If a unit has an external fuse check it to see that it matches the value written on the unit. If the fuse that is in the unit is of a substantially higher value or worse yet has foil on it. Insist that the proper value fuse be installed to make sure the unit will operate and is not drawing too much current which could indicate expensive repairs.

If the unit is fairly complicated make sure you get an owners manual with it. If the person selling the unit does not have an owners manual figure on spending an average of $15.00 to $25.00 to get one if it is not available as a free download, as many are these days. Many private parties sell things as is with no warranty, but it never hurts to ask for some kind of warranty (don’t expect too much and don’t be mad if you don’t get it.) If you are buying from a music store expect some kind of warranty. In either case be sure you get the warranty in writing so you are both clear on it. Last but not least get a written bill of sale with the model and serial number of the unit on it.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Where should I buy my tubes?

From a reputable source!

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 don’t 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 I am a soap box here, but I am very passionate about providing quality service and reliable products to my customers.

I will never sell or use something at my 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’s no good at all.

 

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

My new tubes make my guitar amplifier sound so much better; surely this brand must be better than what I 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 in for repair 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.

 

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

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 I find that most of the other main stream brands are similar in sound quality. The one place I find a big difference is reliability. The tubes we use here at the shop 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.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Tung sol tube

How often should I change my tubes?

Tube picture

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.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Do tube amps sound better than solid state amplifiers?

Tube amplifiers seem to have garnered a lot of mystique over the years. I hope to be able to sort from of the fact from fiction for you here.

In my opinion … yes whether they are a guitar amp, a bass amp, a home stereo amp, or the more rare tube power amp they have a warmer sound, great dynamics and a more pleasant breakup than a solid state amp. The downside of course is the higher maintenance cost.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Fender reissue amps

Fender reissue

According to some people the new Fender reissue amps and the originals do not sound the same.

As of this writing Fender Offer the following reissue amplifiers: Fender 65 deluxe reissue, Blues deluxe reissue, Blues deville reissue, 59 Bassman reissue, 63 Fender reverb reissue, 65 Super reverb reissue, 65 Twin reverb reissue.

I have not had one of each in the shop for repair at the same time to compare them side by side. So I can not say one way or the other, but here are some probable reasons. For some tonal differences.

Here are some of my thoughts derived from my experience as an electronic repair shop providing tube amp repair service over the years. In the course of providing tube amp repair on both the originals and the reissues here is what I have come up with.

 

First of all let me state that I think Fender has done everything possible to make them as close to the originals as is possible and to my knowledge the schematic matches between the new and the old units.

Production methods and component quality have changed over the years. Resistors for example are much closer to their stated value than they used to be. Which could account for some of the reason on older amps one amp simply sounded better than the same model from the same year. In other words while the circuits were the same the tolerance factor in early component design meant the circuits operated slightly differently from amp to amp. For example a 100,000 ohm resistor with a 10% tolerance meant the resistor could be anywhere between 90,000 and 110,000 that’s a 20,000 ohm window. Capacitors fall into the same category in regards to tolerance. However before you go out searching for old carbon composition resistors and old style capacitors …. the type of resistor is not the issue it is the fact that the values varied. Carbon comp resistors are also much nosier than the new film resistors. As far as capacitors go you do not want old capacitors as they go bad just sitting on the shelf. The electrolyte in them dries up. Other possible differences may include the manufacturing process and materials used in the transformers. As well as materials and processes used to manufacture the speakers. So in summation The new reissue amps are going to all pretty much sound the same from unit to unit. The old original amps are going to have tonal variations due to looser component and manufacturing tolerances. If you want a Fender 65 deluxe , Blues deluxe , Blues deville, 59 Bassman , 63 Fender reverb, 65 Super reverb, 65 Twin reverb or any one of the other many fine amplifiers that fender has produced. Even if you buy an original it will not necessarily sound as good as your buddies down the street does. Can you tweak the new ones .. of course. There are after market transformers, speakers and different tubes that are all going to change the way it sounds. If you want one to sound the same as your buddies original down the street. You are going to have to get your buddies and yours and bring them both in to the shop. Then every resistor and capacitor will have to be measured in his and the ones in yours that are a different value due to tolerance will need to be changed to match. If after that the sound is still not where you want it. Then it would be time for the after-market output transformer, then a different speaker, and possibly different tubes. Then if it still did not sound as good we would know it was just the magic from the 60’s that made them sound so good

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

Sticking keys on Yamaha keyboards

Sticking keys on Yamaha keyboards

I guess all good things must come to an end.

Yamaha has just informed us that as of 1/1/2014 they are no longer providing no charge replacement keyboards to correct sticking keys.

So if you have sticking notes they will need to be individually repaired at your expense.

If you have a Yamaha keyboard with sticking keys, stuck keys, or sluggish keys there is a possibility that you can have a new keyboard installed in your unit for just the cost of the labor.

There are way too many models affected to list them all here. So if you have a Yamaha keyboard with sticking keys go to our website www.asmusic.org at the top of the page you will find a Contact link, click that link, and then click our email link to email us the Model and serial number of your Yamaha keyboard. We will then check with Yamaha to see if it qualifies and email you back the results.

By the way you do not have to be the original owner to take advantage of this, Also you would be surprised at how old some of the models they are covering are. So even if your keyboard is pretty old it is still worth checking into.

Don’t forget to visit our website: www.asmusic.org when you get a chance.

Randy Morgan …..  Owner & head technician at All Service Musical Electronics Repair

IMG_0097

When comparing labor rates are you comparing apples to apples, or apples to Kumquats?

Apples

We charge $77.50 per hour here, which for the level of experience, the efficient manner in which we are able complete the repair, and the quality of the repair work we are able to provide in my opinion the best deal in town. 

What is the effective labor rate you are paying, that lower price that other shop quoted you sure sounded good .. But is it really? 

A lower level of experience may actually mean you pay more for your repair.

An experienced well equipped shop may complete a repair in an hours’ time that may take a less experience poorer equipped shop and hour and a half to accomplish. So if the less experienced shop is charging 60.00 an hour you are in effect paying them 90.00 per hour.

If a shop is not factory authorized for most brands they will not have access to all the factory service materials.

This will again cause them to spend more time than needed to repair the unit and again increase the effective labor rate you are paying.

Sadly, some shops quote a lower labor rate and a quick turnaround time to get you in the door, but then actually charge a higher rate, and then take longer than quoted, sometimes much longer to complete your repair.

I was on good terms with a tech that used to work out of Showcase Music, and he freely admitted that he engaged in this practice. Many shops will also give low ball estimated repair cost on the phone just to get you in the door, but then will find a reason to charge you more, sometimes much more.

I hope you found this information useful and encourage you stop in sometime and check us out.

 

Randy Morgan

Owner