How reliable are vintage amps on the road?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by StudioRat320, Aug 3, 2008.

  1. StudioRat320

    StudioRat320 Member

    Messages:
    348
    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2008
    I've been trying to find a channel switching amp that will do the Marshall/Fender/Vox and guess what? no channel switcher will ever give me what I really need, which is a Marshall, a Fender and a Vox. I've decided to go for the real thing, but I'm concerned about reliability on the road.

    I'm thinking I should go the head/cabinet route and isolate the heads in their own road case. My reasoning is that the least amount of vibration should help insure some reliability. I also plan to make sure the heads are well ventilated and will install fans to suck hot air out. All the amps will be completely gone over and any components that need replacing, will. My tech will be required to carry spare parts for the amps in case of any problems. Each amp will be tested pre and post gig. Also, the tubes will be constantly checked and biased if need be. I think with enough preparation, I should be ok.

    I'd still like to hear from those of you that have or presently gig with vintage gear.

    The amps I've decided on are as follows.

    Late 60's/Early 70's Silverface Bassman or Bandmaster w/4x10 open back cab.
    73' to 76' Marshall 50 watt head and cab

    Early to Mid 60's Vox AC30 head and cab

    thanks for your help.
     
  2. jackaroo

    jackaroo Member

    Messages:
    3,548
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2003
    Location:
    NYC
    I love vintage gear man- but I just have to ask if you've tried:

    Eganater modular setup...seems like it could do what you want.

    Axe FX?

    Reproductions or boutique clones.




    Like I said- I love old gear, but I'm not sure I'd do what you're talking about. I don't think that vintage amps are incapable of what you're tlking about...quite the contrary. They're just hard to duplicate when they break down in some little town. You can go modern repro/boutique and buy an Axe FX as the backup and still have some coin left over and be able to replace them should they go missing or breakdown.

    Maybe it's just sour grape talking! Hell...If you can do what you're talking about, why not? The Fender and Marshall are probably more robust than the AC-30. Lastly I'm hoping you don't drill holes in the heads for these fans you're talking about.

    I used to gig with blackface Fender stuff- no problems BTW.
     
  3. sinner

    sinner Member

    Messages:
    3,686
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2006
    Location:
    The Expanse
    New or vintage, nice to have a backup of everything handy--buy 2 of everything!
     
  4. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

    Messages:
    9,172
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere near White Rock Lake, N. Texas
    Vintage Fender and Marshall amps can be run through by a decent tech, retouching cold solders, filter caps, replacing out of tolerance components, so that they can be made to be as road worthy as any other hand wired amp. I have owned quite a few of these amps, and had them PM'd to the point that they never gave me trouble, though most of those years, I was not on the road, but rather doing local club and private party work.

    Road experience for me was regional - a trailer behind a pickup truck in the days before flight cases. And the amp I had, a '64 Super Reverb, wasn't really old enough at the time to be considered "vintage". Still, it held together without a backup.

    I do not know about vintage Vox's, though, since by many accounts, they had reliability issues when new.
     
  5. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

    Messages:
    3,887
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Location:
    Mass
    Get a mod 50 or an axe fx. The backups are a bit cheaper this way.

    dk
     
  6. rickenbackerkid

    rickenbackerkid Member

    Messages:
    5,386
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2005
    That rig sounds great. I would personally not take real nice vintage stuff on the road. You can get modern and far less valueable gear that sounds just as good.

    Maybe a JMI AC-30, a Victoria Bassman and a THD Flexi 50 or something for the Marshall.

    That way, you are getting the tone without risking trashing vintage gear.

    Thats what I would do anyway.
     
  7. pitner

    pitner Member

    Messages:
    333
    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Location:
    SE PA
    I have been playing out with an 1959 20 watt Guild amp for over 15 years with no failures. I play twice a week for a local church and it sounds perfect to my ear. I use various pedals for reverb and overdrive etc.
     
  8. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

    Messages:
    9,172
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere near White Rock Lake, N. Texas
    A good flight case will keep your vintage gear from getting trashed. A friend had one for his '66 Super Reverb, which he took on both drive and fly in road gigs over at least the last 6 years. Amp still looks and sound near mint.

    Theft, on the other hand, is always a concern on the road.
     
  9. m@2

    m@2 Member

    Messages:
    4,597
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    Location:
    San Francisco CA
    I have gigged with vintage gear a ton. Bassman heads are VERY road worthy, and for combos, I usually get a decent road case to protect when in transit. Ditto on having some sort of back when on the road
     
  10. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Messages:
    18,615
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    under the stars
    Quick question... on the "replacing out of tolerance components", does anyone really do that? I mean, for one thing, most components in a circuit you cannot measure IN the circuit. One would have to remove it to measuer it. Resistors, caps, etc.

    Unless one knows the voltages at test points, or what should be dropping across components, then one could calculate the resistance, etc. but I was just really curious when a tech does "go over" an amp, if they actually measure everything or just replace caps, check trafo, trade out known problems (some fender grid resistor or something I have read are likely to go, better to replace with more beefy...etc.) and check that it seems okay (and as you said, cold solder joints).

    Just that the component value thing seems...very difficult, unless I am missing something.
     
  11. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

    Messages:
    3,146
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Jackson Heights Birthplace of Johnny Thunders
    There is a special tech piece of equipment that isolates the components and takes into consideration the other parts directly connected.
     
  12. wingwalker

    wingwalker Fuzzy Guitars

    Messages:
    6,796
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta GA
    Lots of guys use vintage gear but you shoudl have back up amps even if you're using NEW amps...it's just safer that way. As for the amps you mentioned I'd be willing to bet that the Fender and the Marshall will likely give you little to no issues as long as it's up to speed when you start out however Vox amps are known for being prone to breakdown on the road...
     
  13. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

    Messages:
    3,146
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Jackson Heights Birthplace of Johnny Thunders
    Break a Leg and
    EnJoy the MuSiC
    GrooVey Records
     
  14. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Messages:
    18,615
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    under the stars
    Any idea what it is called? I've never heard of this.
     
  15. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

    Messages:
    9,172
    Joined:
    May 15, 2006
    Location:
    Somewhere near White Rock Lake, N. Texas
    You are right - resistors get replaced as out of tolerance, because it is easy to measure resistance with an ohm meature in a circuit.

    A good rule for the high-current filter caps is to say bye-bye after around 15 years of use. But I know from first hand experience that the old cardboard mallory caps could lose capacitance in as little as 10 years. By '76, those in a my '64 Super Reverb were really showing their age, and replacing them later that year made the amp sound noticeably tighter and punchier. By now any old cardboard filter caps you still find in a vintage amp are going to be pretty much leaked out.

    Otherwise, tone caps seem to hang in their almost indefinitely, and some older tubes used in the phase inverter and rectifier stages can seemingly last forever. Heck, I've seen under played preamp and power tubes seem to last forever, too.

    Otherwise, like you say, it's on to testing for cold solders. I used to use a tone generator and a wooden chop stick. A break in the circuit at key points can cause component failure at other points.

    Then you want to losen and retighten all screws, nuts and bolts at all transfomers and chokes to reinforce their connection to the chassis.

    There are other test points in the process, both visual and electronic, including cleaning and retensioning tube holders and retensioning tube holder "bear trap" clips on Fenders (or just replace them with spring tube retainers), but at the end of the day, these are the things, that when performed on some kind of regular schedule, keeps your amp robust and reliable, eliminates any guessing, and eliminates any surprises.
     
  16. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Messages:
    18,615
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    under the stars
    Um...I was actually saying the opposite. It is not possible to measure the resistance of a single resistor in the circuit, since you will be measuring all parallel resistances, and the rest of the circuit and will get faulty readings, at least measuring all up to coupling caps which would block DC (what the ohmmeter uses to measure...) on either side.

    The only way I know of to measure the resistance of a resistor is to take it out of the circuit.
     
  17. Walter Broes

    Walter Broes Member

    Messages:
    350
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Location:
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I've had a lot more luck playing vintage amps on the road than new ones - if you have a decent tech who knows what he's doing, and the amp isn't a basket case that develops problems if you only so much as look at it, sure!
     
  18. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

    Messages:
    3,146
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Jackson Heights Birthplace of Johnny Thunders
    I cut and paste'd this from Several posts from Todd Shock at Wakarusa Amplification he does all great work BTW:AOK

    EnJoY ThE MuSiC
    GrooVey ReCoRds
     
  19. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

    Messages:
    18,615
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2005
    Location:
    under the stars
    Ahh....very cool, thanks! I should have been more specific...you can't measure components in circuits with an ohmeter, etc. But yes...with a signal injector and scope, and octopus (I will be definitely googling to see how they are made).

    I remember lissajous patterns from electronics school...and just see from the google of octopus tester that one would look for "signature patterns" for components. This is interesting, thanks for turning me on to it.


    Thanks for the info!
     
  20. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

    Messages:
    3,146
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2007
    Location:
    Jackson Heights Birthplace of Johnny Thunders
    Stomp Box

    My Pleasure

    How are the Majestic Moose doing

    I just watched Monty Python Holy Grail
     

Share This Page