How much is fair to have a relay replaced?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by blackfacesg, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. blackfacesg

    blackfacesg Member

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    So I just bought an original Fender Blues Deville 4x10. I paid $300 knowing it had a few little quirks. not my main amp so I didn't really think too much about it. took it to a guy with brand new tubes in hand and explained I thought it had a bad relay. $25 part..
    He tells me today the amp is done and I'll love it. $175 bill! am I getting screwed or is that about the going rate to replace a relay?
     
  2. Trout

    Trout Member

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    IMO it was maybe on the high end of average.
    I would be about there on that as well.
    Remember, its not the part price as much as its the actual hours spent, any other related bad parts & diagnostics.
    If the tech warrants his work, he gets things done accurately & in a timely manner you came out ok.
     
  3. teefus

    teefus Silver Supporting Member

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    only you know if you could have done it yourself for less. did he say he would put the tubes you supplied in for free? most techs would want to sell you tube or charge to install the ones you supplied. did the tech set and check bias? sure the part was $25 but doesn't the tech get to mark it up a little and charge to t-shoot and install?
     
  4. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Hard to know without knowing where/how the relay is. Did he have to remove the board to solder it? etc.
     
  5. blackfacesg

    blackfacesg Member

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    So the amp had the common channel switching issues that every deville will develop. I did my research and explained what I believed to be the problem (relay). he took the amp apart and recommended I replace tubes. I bought tubes and dropped them off. I told him I didn't want to spend a ton on it cause it is mostly just a good backup amp. if that's fair then i'll suck it up..
     
  6. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    remember that "just changing a relay" requires a 100% disassembly of the entire amp & full removal of the circuit board.

    It's neither fast nor fun.
     
  7. blackfacesg

    blackfacesg Member

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    Taking an amp apart really doesn't take that long though? it takes me like 5 min to have the chassis out. I understand to replace a relay it does require more work. I am not claiming to be an amp tech by any means. I just thought 175$ was a little steep.
     
  8. Silent Sound

    Silent Sound Member

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    The question isn't "how long does it take to replace a relay?". The question is "how long does it take to learn how to troubleshoot and repair a guitar amp with a relay?". That's what you're paying for. It's not about the minutes of actual labor, but the years of accumulated knowledge.
     
  9. blackfacesg

    blackfacesg Member

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    I just spoke with another friend who builds amplifiers to see what he would've charged me.. :( he said like $40
     
  10. J M Fahey

    J M Fahey Member

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    Why didn't you have your friend replace it then? :huh

    That's baffling.
     
  11. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Then your friend isn't a "business"......

    You can't spent that much tome and make $40 and keep your lights on.

    Utilities, taxes, insurance......is your "friend" paying any of those expenses?
     
  12. Silent Sound

    Silent Sound Member

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    And if you were my friend, I would have just charged you the cost of the new relay.

    But then again, I'm not in the amp repair business. The reason I'm not in the amp repair business is because there's no money in it. I live in a city with 1.3 million people in it. There's only one guy who repairs amps full time. He's so busy he's got about a month long turn around time for even the simplest job. You can barely walk into his store because it's lined, floor to ceiling, with electronics in various stages of repair. Business is booming for him, and yet he drives a worn out old car made in the 80's. Why? Because no one wants to pay him what his time is worth!

    Now the real question is, why did you take it to that other guy when you had a friend willing to cut you a deal all along? Seems like the only person who screwed you in this scenario is you.
     
  13. Jeff Gehring

    Jeff Gehring Silver Supporting Member

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    No. That's not what Mark was referring to. With these amps the fun only STARTS when you have the chassis pulled. Then you get to remove every knob from its pot shaft, and every shaft nut and washer from its bushing. Then you get to tag or mark all the parts board connectorized wires that you will need to disconnect, and then disconnect them. Then you get to remove all the standoff machine screws on the main board. You may need to remove the smaller daughter board as well to allow the whole POS mess to flop forward so you can get access to the backside where the traces and solder pads are. Congratulations, you can now START the repair. And when you have replaced the peccant part, you have to button the whole crapfest back together to even TEST your work. Guess what happens if something else (like a frigging tube socket ribbon cable) decides enough is enough and goes intermittent with all the flexing? That's right, you get to do it all again.

    I don't work on these planned obsolescence masterpieces, except under very special circumstances, and then I still reserve the right to grumble.
     
  14. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Yep... this is one of the downfalls of Modern amps. in order to solder most anything you have to take the whole thing apart. I've got one on the bench right now ... same situation.. In reality.... many SS amps are scrap if something goes wrong. Their value isn't worth the cost of repair. This just happened to a bass player I know... his 1200 watt bass head started cutting out. I told him to take it to a tech.. I knew I didn't want to mess with it... It has like 2 or 3 layers of circuit boards in it I think. The Tech told him it wasn't worth fixing...
     
  15. pula58

    pula58 Silver Supporting Member

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    Jeff G. and Mark N. got it right.
     
  16. DeaconBlues

    DeaconBlues Member

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  17. Kyle B

    Kyle B Supporting Member

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    Not me. Even friends gimme a LITTLE profit. All those tools etc cost me alotta $$$. By not asking for a few $$$, it's almost like I'd be PAYING them for the privilage of fixing their stuff!
    However, current band mates always get free repairs of course :)

    If I knew who this cat was, I'd go in there an have a word with him. I totally believe your description - I've seen it many times.
    "So busy he's got a month turnaround" and "nobody wants to pay him for his time" are contradictory statements.
    He's not charging enough. The demand for his time exceeds the supply. If it didn't, he'd have an empty shop.
    He could charge more, reduce the # of jobs in cue, and make more money for the same effort.
    It's basic economics. But sooooo many small business people just don't seem to get that, or don't have the fortitude to increase their prices... I dunno, maybe it's a hippie thing.. "Profits are evil" and all that.

    An independent, and broke-ass contractor friend of mine once said "Man, I'm working every night, any night I'm not gigging". He does the work, wife handles "other stuff". I took his WIFE aside and explained this basic concept to her. She was like 'no ****'... I suggested just add 15% to every estimate her hubby puts out, before giving it to the customer. See what happens. Few months later she calls to thank me.... And said she went to 25% and they get their Sundays off now ;)
     
  18. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    It's the unfortunate reality with many people in most trades:

    Instead of going to college and getting a business degree, they went to plumbing school and became a plumber.

    Maybe even a damn good plumber.

    Maybe the best plumber in the universe!

    He's still a plumber who doesn't know jack **** about business......and usually operates in a most un-businesslike fashion.

    I'm NOT saying that college is for everyone; please don't read that into this post. But if you're going to own a business (plumber, amp tech, roofer, dog groomer...whatever), you NEED to be a businessman first & foremost.

    I'm forever stunned by the number of business owners I meet who don't have clue #1.

    There's this guy...pure hippie blood....who, in the '70s, began producing concerts. He created a business that dominated the rock promotion empire in the NYC area. In an interview in the mid '70s, I remember him saying, "It's great to be a hippie!.....be a businessman first, THEN be a hippie".

    I totally 'got' his message. I think about it all the time. His name is John Scher.....

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2015
  19. Kyle B

    Kyle B Supporting Member

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    Hey Mark

    I never heard of this cat. (Not from your area). Cool story, thanks for sharing!
     
  20. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Did you do the work? No. I assume that means that you COULDN'T do the work or you would have done it. Right?

    Telling a tech what component is shot means absolutely nothing. He has to find out for himself. What if you pointed at the component, he replaced it, didn't test the amp, and gave it back to you in non working condition?

    What you paid for the amp has absolutely no bearing on the repair cost.

    I won't even work on those amps because the shoddy construction often means that things break just by removing a circuit board. The circuit boards are the cheapest possible and pads often lift off them when soldering, which means MORE time.

    I won't say $175 is cheap, but none of us are in the position to say it's an over priced repair.

    Legitimate businesses have expenses like rent, tools, materials, and TAXES. It's not like $150 went directly into the guy's pocket.
     

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