$50 to bias an amp sound fair?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by pickaguitar, Jul 17, 2019.

  1. Cap'n Lee

    Cap'n Lee Member

    Dec 17, 2004
    Dansaff, Innit.
    No one ever went into academia for the money.
    How much do you pay for premises and other overheads such as staff you employ or energy bills etc?
    Like the amp tech likely does, I mean.

    $50 to bias an amp is a fair chunk, and to judge its fairness I would take into account the reputation of the tech, his location - garden shed/ within a retailer, whether it was done on-site or shipped, turnaround time, any ancillary checks on amp serviceability thrown in. I would also factor in what it was worth to me in time saved and peace of mind.
    spaceman39 likes this.
  2. 70 Mach 1

    70 Mach 1 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2016
    Oyster Bay NY
    I learned to do it myself. Hang out in the amp tech pages and make friends with
    He walked me through it and also look at you tube and Billm site

    Went with the eurotube probe $99 and a $39 multimeter from lowes.

    Since done all 7 of my amps.

    Paid for itself 4x over already
  3. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2002
    Did we ever find out what amp the OP has?

    An anecdote: When I worked at a guitar shop we had a flat rate for restringing. I think it was $12, not including the strings. You might think that’s expensive. But for every telecaster, we ended up with a Ric 12-string or similar where we’d earn every cent of that $12.

    You need to learn if setting your amp’s bias is like restringing a tele or a Ric 12.
  4. Steppin' Wolfe

    Steppin' Wolfe Member

    Jul 19, 2007
    I grew up a mechanic’s son. There was a sign on the wall....labor-$10 an hour, if you ask questions-$50 per hour, if you want to watch-$100 per hour. He was a very good mechanic...people paid the basic rate and let him work. There are tutorials online. Imho, those should be watched only after one has done some basic study on electronics and tube amp circuits...how do these th8ngs work, what care to take, etc. all of that is free online, too. Back in the day one would have to spend money on books. Those books cost me more than a bias meter does. If one knows what is going on, one can get a multimeter for little to nothing and get after it.

    As for bias points on a back panel, that is all very good for a ballpark thing,but one needs to know the plate voltage to understand the plate dissipation, which is the number one wants to know as the final number in biasing. The bias metering rigs that rad not just the current draw but the plate voltage as well are the way to go if one wants to bias their own amp, imho.

    Can one die biasing? Sure. Anytime current runs across the heart, one can die. It takes a part of an amp of current at the right part of a second to stop that heart. One hand behind the back. That keeps the juice from crossing the body from one hand to the other...with the heart being in the middle, right? Has anyone died while biasing? Who knows.....maybe someone has but didn’t live to tell people what they were doing at the time????
    Have a good one.....
    Baxtercat likes this.
  5. Rick Lee

    Rick Lee Member

    Sep 3, 2012
    The Desert
    Anyone making minimum wage is a W2 employee with no overhead. Amp techs charging $50-100/hr. are running their own business with commercial rent, business insurance, utilities, tools, supplies, etc. to cover. And those bills come every month, no matter what you charge or how many customers you have. Charging $50/hr does not mean you are making a steady $100k per year. You may, but you're probably not billing $50/hr for 2000 hours a year.

    With auto mechanics, if they can do an oil change in 30 min., but the Chilton's Manual says it's a hour job, the customer is charged for an hour. The faster the tech can do the job, the more profit is in it for him. Conversely, if he's training an apprentice or screws something up and the job takes two hours, he can still only charge for that one hour book rate.
  6. Pastafarian

    Pastafarian Member

    Jan 3, 2017
    Edgewood NM
    Well to do it properly takes at least an hour because you "should" let the amp warm up a minimum of 15 minutes and then after proper adjustments are made, babysit the settings over 30-45 minutes or so and tweak as needed. So I'd say thats fair.

    That said I usually do it myself but there's a shop near me that does it for 25 bucks. Well worth the 25 bucks to me so I don't have to bother just give them the plate dissipation I want and let them do it.
    Steppin' Wolfe likes this.
  7. MojoHand

    MojoHand Supporting Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Alta California
    I think the price is completely reasonable. Whether or not you want to learn how to do the work yourself is another matter. But just accepting that you're going to pay a pro to do the job, I think $50 is right in line with what most amp techs would charge.

    People seem to agonize quite a bit about being gouged by amp techs, but I don't know of any that are getting rich. In fact, it's probably one of the worst paying skilled labor jobs I can think of. Electricians, plumbers, and auto mechanics are all similar skill level jobs, and those guys generally get paid around $20 - $40 per hour for their labor alone. Never mind overhead.

    Of course, the reason that people distrust amp techs is because there are indeed some shady ones out there. The problem is that the good guys - the ones with the skills and integrity to do the job well - are driven from the business because, ironically, it doesn't pay very well. If you have the intelligence, skills, and integrity to be a good amp tech, you're probably going to end up in some other line of work in order to make more money.
  8. Rick Lee

    Rick Lee Member

    Sep 3, 2012
    The Desert
    I sold an Aracom attenuator on Reverb that the seller claimed had a totally loose rotary switch on the back when it arrived. It worked fine when I shipped it. But I told him I'd be good for up to $70 for a repair, otherwise, I'd take it back. He got it repaired by a pro tech for $50, including the part, which I'd guess took just under an hour to do. That's opening up the unit, removing the bad switch and installing/soldering a new one. I could have done it for the cost of the part only, but the shipping to me and back to him, would have made that a false economy. Again, $50 is totally fair for anything that involves putting hands on tools and opening anything.
  9. gulliver

    gulliver Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2005
    Buffalo, NY
    I don't think anyone doubts that a good tech is worth $50 ... the question is, within this hobby of gear (with guitar playing being a different hobby), how far do you want to get into the tech stuff? ... which is again, another (different) hobby.

    I once modded a carb on a motorcycle and lost three weeks of riding because I lost a small part. But, it's the way I roll.

    Hobbies, related hobbies and sub-hobbies. They keep us going for sure.
    HeavyCream likes this.
  10. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

    May 10, 2009
    Northern Gulf Coast
    I get the DIY and necessity can be a mother for you. However I like to use a tech.

    I can change my oil but I would rather go to a shop where they are doing it all day, have a dedicated workspace with the proper tools.

    Why would I not go to someone like @Pete Cage who did a couple of jobs for me when I was in the DMV. I mean he is a ninja!

    Here my friend who is also a local player is trying to make a go with his electronic repair shop. I have given him some business and will again. Spread it around.

    $50 for a bias and general under the hood checkup is fair IMO.
    JPH118 and Steppin' Wolfe like this.
  11. JPH118

    JPH118 Member

    May 29, 2012
    If the amp requires removing the chassis from the cab, firing it up on the bench, and measuring/adjusting bias the old fashioned way, $50 is quite fair. Heck, sometimes there’s no bias pot at all and you have to solder in a new resistor. I don’t know any tech who wouldn’t give the amp a good look-over and maybe clean up some shmutz for ya while he’s in there.

    You’re not just paying for a quick measuring & pot tweak, you’re paying for experienced eyes that may catch something else before it becomes a bigger problem, esp on older amps.
    Glass Onion and StompBoxBlues like this.
  12. lespauled

    lespauled Member

    Apr 24, 2017
    It also depends on the kind of amp. For example, the Randall RM series is incredibly easy and safe (as long as you don't do anything stupid). The bias is adjusted outside of the head, so you don't need to reach into the head. If your amp has something like that, do it yourself. If the bias adjustment is on the board (inside), have it done professionally.
    easyed and StompBoxBlues like this.
  13. pdodge77

    pdodge77 Supporting Member

    May 17, 2009
    Harry Potter’s Cupboard Under the Stairs
    That’s a fully loaded rate - the amount that I’d be billed out at on a contract. It represents the full cost to my employer as well as a mark up for some level of profit. It includes all benefits, taxes, a portion of rent assigned to the space I take up in the office, etc. Along with a mark up.

    My annual salary is well south of $250k.

    The point I was making is that $50 isn’t remotely high when you consider all of the other costs associated with running a business. It’s so much more than just a “wage.”
  14. DonaldDemon

    DonaldDemon Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    Fear and Loathing, NJ
    My company bills me out for $130/hr for my services but I sure as hell don't see anywhere near that, sadly. But if you want the work done by a professional that's what you pay. My auto mechanic charges $95/hr but I'm sure the tech isn't even getting half of that. It's how companies survive.

    $50 is more than reasonable, especially if they have to pull the chassis. I eventually learned to do it myself and am glad I did but my amp has to be pulled to access the bias pot and is a PITA. I'd say it's a 45-60 minute job for me but I'm meticulous.
  15. Scrapperz

    Scrapperz Member

    Sep 16, 2013
    Lizard Land
    Sometimes is more fun to just use the amp. 50 bucks sounds like a good deal. Do they offer a warranty? Problems can occur after a bias.
    S. F. Sorrow likes this.
  16. HeavyCream

    HeavyCream Member

    Aug 27, 2017
    Springfield, MA
    So what? I’m a refrigeration technician and we charge $100/hr. It’s a skill trade and it’s dangerous. $50 is fair. I’d rather do it myself but I have meters and work with high voltage all the time. Not everyone does.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
    Scrapperz and gulliver like this.
  17. 70' s Tone

    70' s Tone Member

    May 30, 2017
    Not to be a daunting mother, but keep your hands out of the amp if you don't know what you are doing.
    Seriously, you can be killed.
    The $50.00 is fair. ;)
    Now do the right thing and take it to a professional.
    MoPho likes this.
  18. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Sep 20, 2005
    under the stars
    Even if you don’t get killed, unless you have a dedicated probe you plug he tubes into, a voltmeter in inexperienced hands (sometimes even experienced if you have a clumsy day) the DVM probes can accidentally short between pins, nerves when probing a live amp can make you nervous which means fine motor skills get bad, etc. as someone said it is a little like that game, operation.

    You also don’t have experience to see, while the amp is out of chassis, if there seem to be any developing problems, knowledge to check other voltages (power supply for example).

    I would ask the tech to check voltages when biasing also. It doesn’t take long and can show if all is up to spec. After the power supply.

    It is most definitely worth it.
  19. Codyyy

    Codyyy Member

    Oct 3, 2014
    I paid $150 to have tubes changed, bias and caps done on a Twin Reverb. That did not include the cost of the tubes. Even if I paid $50 alone for a bias, it’s a combination of peace of mind, time saved not trying to learn and gather appropriate tools to bias, minimize risk of damaging amp or shocking myself, and a receipt to keep in case I sell the amp.
  20. Steviecaster

    Steviecaster Member

    May 21, 2019
    I died while biasing my amp, and lived to tell it!
    pickaguitar likes this.

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