The Truth About Vintage Amps
I would like to dispel some of the myths, misinformation, rumors, and guesses out there about using and restoring vintage amplifiers. Any of my customers will tell you that I tend to be blunt, but I’m just trying to save us all some time. If everything you know about tube amps came from the internet, you might want to prepare for a shock.
You probably don’t need new tubes.
You don’t need new transformers.
You might not need new capacitors. I know you read a book that said otherwise, but the book is wrong.
You do not always need a three-prong plug. Putting one on your mint tweed Champ is just plain wrong.
"Recapping” a vintage amp can alter the tone significantly. If you were lucky enough to own a great old amp, why in the world would you want to alter the tone significantly? Read "Recapping . . . the Saga Continues"
Most “techs” make extra money by selling current-production parts and accessories that you probably don’t need.
Restoring a vintage amp does not mean replacing all the parts. “Techs” who routinely advise wholesale parts replacement often do so because they don’t have the knowledge and experience to diagnose problems. They are merely hoping that changing all the parts will fix the problem.
I often have amps sent to me AFTER they have supposedly been repaired elsewhere. Can you believe that a very well known shop replaced every single resistor and capacitor in an original ’60 4-10 Bassman, but failed to spot the actual problem – a bad choke? Hmm. I wonder if anyone in that shop had ever heard a real tweed Bassman... they thought the amp sounded great.
I’m sorry, but “any solder junkie with two beers worth of parts” (March ’08 VG) cannot make an old amp better.
Unnecessary parts replacement and poor quality repairs will ultimately decrease the value of your vintage amp. For some reason, techs who wouldn’t dream of replacing the original pots in a ‘57 Strat have no problem gutting a ‘57 Bandmaster.
All the new boutique amps out there are just fine. Most of them are very well made and should have no real servicing problems for many years. There is just one problem. An original old amp just demolishes a “clone” of the same amp, even if it is “hard-wired” and uses “custom-made capacitors.” Why? Because there is a LOT more to good amp tone than just copying a schematic!