Bruno Customer Service - Personal Experiences

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by zoooombiex, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. zoooombiex

    zoooombiex Member

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    The attempt to have a civil discussion on this might be doomed from the outset, but I'll give it a go and reserve the right to just delete this thread if it goes down the tubes.

    The topic of Bruno's customer service came up on another thread. Most of that thread is about people's opinions about how customer service should work (particularly for people who buy amps used). I'm not interested in that. Please keep that on the other thread or start your own.

    I'm interested in hearing some facts based on personal experience about Bruno's servicing of his amps (particularly ones bought used). I don't care if it is good or bad - I'm sure there are both. Please keep the hearsay to a minimum unless you are reporting someone's experience who is not a GP member and therefore can't post it on their own.

    I have no personal beef in this and would just like to understand the true state of things better, as what I have read so far is somewhat vague. No Bruno-bashing or defending necessary.
     
  2. farlowhigh

    farlowhigh Member

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    I bought a used Cowtipper and when I had a slight problem and a few questions, I tried to contact Tony Bruno. Although I didn't receive a response from him directly, I did receive an email from Ken Volpe at Ultrasound and I found Ken quite helpful and generous with his time. I made it clear that I bought used and that I lived too far away to drive the amp into NYC. Ken called me on the phone several times and emailed several times in an effort to find out some information for me and to make sure the problem was resolved. That is my only experience with Bruno customer service and I must say that while I was a bit surprised that the man himself didn't respond, Ken was more than helpful even though it was clear I was only looking for some advice and help and not particularly seeking to buy another amp.

    The angst surrounding this is a bit over the top IMHO. We are very used to very very personalized service in the boutique amp world and Bruno is offering a more impersonal service model along the lines of the major manufacturers. We don't see frequent threads about Fender or Vox and how they should be more personal with us. Tony Bruno is free to spend his time making amps and repairing them when he finds time and his lack of personal touch may or may not have repercussions on his future clientele. I think that Ken's general willingness to help should be enough reassurance for people considering a Bruno purchase either new or used.

    just my 2 cents...
     
  3. zoooombiex

    zoooombiex Member

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    Thanks for contributing a helpful post.
     
  4. GDking

    GDking Member

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    I bought a used Bruno and Tony agreed to service it with no problems. I bought a new one at a later date.
     
  5. ButchR

    ButchR Komet Player Gold Supporting Member

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    I bought a Cowtipper and had it for a while and decided it wasn't the amp for me. I thought I would have to sell it at a loss. I called to get a price on the UG30 and Gene told me to just send the amp back and he would slide the UG30 chassis in my old headbox and just charged me the difference in the two amps.

    I was very impressed with that!
     
  6. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    I have 4 Brunos, my first was one I bought used. I have had only one problem (reverb transformer in my Cowtipper 45), and Bruno (through Ultrasound) had it fixed in less than 5 days. They offered me another to play in the meantime, but I did not need it, so I declined. Upon picking up my first new Bruno, Tony happened to be at Ultrasound. We spoke, and I told him I had bought a used UG 30 that was around 8 years old, and really dug it. He said I should send it to him to upgrade to the newest specs, it would make a big improvement in tone, and would cost me around $100.00. I like the amp the way it is so I never sent it to him. Thats my only direct experience. Great service.
     
  7. Dunnej

    Dunnej Member

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    I bought a used Cowtipper 45 head here on the board. When I had a question about a footswitch that would work the somewhat unique function of this amp, I contacted Ken Volpe first, he was very very helpful. He ended up contacting Tony about the problem himself and then relayed the solution to me. Ken is a great guy to deal with, it's a great partnership he and Tony have going on.
     
  8. dankayaker

    dankayaker Supporting Member

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    I bought an UG30 (used) from Ultrasound. It had issues, I sent it back to Ultrasound which in turn got it to Tony. I never heard what the real problems were but between Ultrasound and Tony, they sent me a new UG30.
    I think that was first class.
     
  9. teddys

    teddys Member

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    A while back, but nothing short of stellar service and communication from Tony.
     
  10. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I mentioned in the other thread: I had a Tweedie Pie prototype for a while. Neither Ken nor Tony answered my emails at first, eventually Ken answered and basically said I would have to bring it in (since it wasn't a production amp they wouldn't even consider looking at it if I shipped it to them). I sold it to someone in New York, who walked it into Tony's shop and after a long delay was able to get it fixed (don't remember the problem, wasn't anything too serious). I've owned two other Brunos: the UG30 I've posted about before that was ungodly loud and refused to break up at any realistic volume (most people think this amp was a factory freak) and an early Cow Tipper 45, which was a very nice amp. I just don't feel good supporting someone who's business model involves orphaning their amp. And I didn't appreciate the tone of Ken's description of Tony's response ("go away"). I wasn't expecting him to fix it for free, but even Groove Tube's Aspen Pitman answers his phone and will offer suggestions for an ailing amp!
     
  11. voodoosound

    voodoosound Funk & Grooven member Silver Supporting Member

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    My questions regarding my used Custom Bruno were answered and TOny was very excited about this amp while talking about it. I have later contacted Ken Volpe about a different amp he represents. And because I did not buy it from him directly he did not want to offer any help even though Ultrasound was now the "only dealer" of these amps. This was a new amp by the way.

    So my results were:

    Tony Bruno great guy very helpful
    Ken Volpe Not so much
     
  12. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    My main experience has been with Ultrasound with my Bruno Lead Man 100 that I bought used. I thought the tone was ok but nothing great...it was a bit anemic to say the least. I pulled the chassis and it looked like a warzone with hidious wiring and lead dress. There was electrical tape used through out the amp. I ended up emailing Ultrasound about it thinking that someone must have had their sodering iron in this amp. Here is his response.

    Hi Brent,

    You see people talking on forums about the parts Tony Bruno chooses or how he wires and they always question his choices and techniques. What they don’t understand is the best part for an amp is the one that makes the amp sound best which in many cases is not the most popular or expensive part. Most transformer and part companies advertise and promote their stuff as better and of course they are in some cases more expensive. What they don’t say is that most of the highly sought after amps from the 50s and 60s did not use their stuff nor did they use the most expensive stuff. Tony does use the very best heavy duty and over rated parts but they are also selected because they sound the best.

    We also both know that wiring is an art and you can either be into looks (everything neatly and tightly wound and tied together with bundles, routed around) or you can be into tone and wires will be neatly run but not with any added length which alters tone. There is also no way bundled, tied and routed wires can be systematically altered in their placement to tune in the sound of an amp. Tony chooses the latter and the results speak for themselves yet some people who don’t understand will accuse Tony ‘s amps of looking sloppy inside. What they don’t get is that Tony has spent several hours moving each wire where it should be and making each wire exactly the right length to tune in the right tone. That can’t be done when they are bundled, tied and neatly routed. I always say if you doubt that fact look at a great Dumble and see how it looks inside – nothing is tied, bundled, or neatly routed around the sides of the chassis which lengthens each wire. Tony Bruno wires the way he does and chooses the parts based on building an amp with the very best tone possible.

    The most important fact and what you did not say is how does the amp sound. Most people who use their ears instead of their eyes or head to judge an amp feel Bruno amplifiers are some of the finest sounding amps being currently produced. They have won critical acclaim, Tony Bruno is always backordered with every amp he can build sold before he can build it, and companies choose him to design their high end – custom shop hand wired amps.

    I hope I have addressed your concerns and please feel free to contact me if I can be of any further assistance to you.

    All the best,

    Gene

    Ultra Sound / Bruno Amps


    I honestly didn't want to piss in Tony's beer by saying my Bruno sounded like ass but maybe I should have. I think a lot of what Gene said is total BS and is just an excuse to get the amp done in a timely manner. BUT with that said I've seen other gut shots of Bruno's and they looked just fine.......mine was the worst I've ever seen.

    I also emailed Tony with a pic but never got a reply. I think Bruno is a one man operation and it has to be freaking hard to try to meet the demands of the public so honestly I really can't blame him to much. They're are a lot of happy Bruno owners out there so he has to be doing something right.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    It's the tape and goop you don't like? I think they are there to stabilize the parts, keep them from buzzing, rattling, etc. The wiring looks fine to me.
     
  14. Markgtr

    Markgtr Member

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    Seriously, all I can say is wow! I know, I know it's all about how it sounds but look at the board toward the front of the amp. It's rough cut and not even. Don't anyone try and tell me that it contributes to the tone. I've seen plenty of amps made by hobbyists (personal friends) and I know that when an amp looks like that, it's because things did not go smoothly. Looks like a lot of frustration and hurry went into that one.

    To each his own though. I want good tone and a reasonably clean build for my money.
     
  15. BrentSP

    BrentSP Supporting Member

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    The amp sounded off and just like ass in my opinion. As a hobbie/passion I build amps to www.myspace.com/brentwoodamplification and while I don't believe the wiring has to be perfectly neat and bundled together on spot, there should be a bit of care involved at least......and lead dress is crucial. The electrical tape and epoxy is just ignorant. Theres isn't any juju or voodoo involved to excuse that mess.
     
  16. johnzias

    johnzias Member

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    I bought a 2 month old CT45 from a fellow TGP member. I discovered that one of the tubes barely lit up. (the tone tube in the Pro II) When this tube was pulled out, the amp still worked. Obviously if it was wired up correctly the circuit would not be complete.

    I spoke to Ken who was very kind and generous with his time. Ken spoke to Tony who agreed to fix it at a discounted bench fee. I was a bit disappointed since this amp was never right in the first place. I still haven't sent it up since it works and sounds pretty good.

    I have mixed feelings about the purchase since the amp was never right, and making it right would get me pretty close to the price of a new one without a lifetime warranty.
     
  17. Markgtr

    Markgtr Member

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    I honestly don't understand why people insist on sending the amps back to him even if they are not under warranty. Any good amp tech can figure them out and repair them. Sometimes it's hard to find that amp tech though.:)
     
  18. jkamp20

    jkamp20 Member

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  19. justonwo

    justonwo Member

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    The inside of that amp doesn't look great, but it's not horrible either. The epoxy goop - I don't know if it's needed necessarily, but it doesn't seem to be hurting anything. Electrical tape? Ugh, I wouldn't use that stuff anywhere. It doesn't hold up and just leaves residue when it finally lets go.

    In a sense, the reply to your inquiry was right. As long as the solder joints are strong, routing the wires in an amp the "right" way (i.e. lowest noise) may not be the prettiest way. With that in mind, I don't see anything too offensive in there (except for that rough cut terminal board, which just looks like crap). The sound quality, which you don't like, is certainly the main problem.
     
  20. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Edjumcate me, what is 'lead dress' and where specifically is it not right in the pics you posted?
     

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