For a guitarist, it is always a special experience to plug in the guitar into an amp and hear the legendary sound break the silence right there in the fingertips. It is exciting to crank that volume up and get lost in the power to create harmonies like Stevie Ray Vaughn or monstrous riff like Metallica.
But if your tube amp is not delivering the best sound like it used to, here are some ways that you can take care of, maintain and prolong its life:
- Don’t sell it just yet. Take it to a professional for periodic maintenance. Never try to maintain it yourself as the amp may still contain lethally dangerous voltages even when it is switched off.
- Tired sounding tubes can be replaced. Your technician can help you determine which tubes should be replaced or if there is a specific problem in the amp elsewhere. Replacing the tubes is one way to freshen up the sound.
- The big electrolytic capacitors or “filter caps” also need to be checked and replaced if needed. They might work fine but may fail to deliver the tonal solidity you need or break at any given moment.
- Keep the tube sockets screwed tight. This is usually advisable to be handled by your tech, but it can be done with extra care using a jeweler’s screwdriver.
- Clean up those scratchy pots with a contact cleaner. When you’re with a technician, have them blow out any dust, cobwebs and even insect carcasses in the chassis. This way, your tech can also check the wires and the soldered connections in your amp.
Take note that it is always safe to work with a trained professional when maintaining your tube amp.
The circuits may contain 500 volts at least and put you in high risks. Once you have experience in maintaining your amp, you will know when it’s time to get it fixed or when it needs to be replaced.