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  • Service-friendly and service-unfriendly brands

    As an amateur electronics technician I have repaired many brands and type amplifiers over the years. Here are my impressions. Your mileage may vary. I know I am painting with a broad brush, but here goes.

    Fender: Very service friendly. Schematics available. Parts for both tube and solid state available. Lots of advice/help from experienced technicians. There are lots of YouTube videos on repairing these amps.

    Musicman: Not very service friendly. Well built amps and schematics available but many parts are not available.

    Carvin: Not service friendly. Cheaply constructed. Some schematics available but with lots of design changes. Parts not available.

    Peavey: Service friendly. Schematics available. Many parts available. Built well, though have not worked on real modern Chinese stuff.

    Ampeg: Okay service friendly. Schematics available. Some parts are available.

    SWR: Service friendly. Schematics available. Most parts available.

    Hartke: Okay service friendly. Schematics available. Some parts available.

    Univox: Not really service friendly. Some schematics available. Cheaply built. Parts (other than common resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc.) not available.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Axtman View Post
    As an amateur electronics technician I have repaired many brands and type amplifiers over the years. Here are my impressions. Your mileage may vary. I know I am painting with a broad brush, but here goes.

    Fender: Very service friendly. Schematics available. Parts for both tube and solid state available. Lots of advice/help from experienced technicians. There are lots of YouTube videos on repairing these amps.

    Musicman: Not very service friendly. Well built amps and schematics available but many parts are not available.

    Carvin: Not service friendly. Cheaply constructed. Some schematics available but with lots of design changes. Parts not available.

    Peavey: Service friendly. Schematics available. Many parts available. Built well, though have not worked on real modern Chinese stuff.

    Ampeg: Okay service friendly. Schematics available. Some parts are available.

    SWR: Service friendly. Schematics available. Most parts available.

    Hartke: Okay service friendly. Schematics available. Some parts available.

    Univox: Not really service friendly. Some schematics available. Cheaply built. Parts (other than common resistors, capacitors, diodes, etc.) not available.
    What parts do you find not available? Just about anything can be sourced or made to work. Hell we're not going to the moon we're going for a jam.
    When you try to find some parts for a period piece you have to cross reference. Or know how or who to ask. I had a rare VCA that I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get.JM Fahey showed me how to construct one with 2 JFETS leter I was able to get the VCA which i just tucked away.
    I find sometimes my biggest problem is how the circuit works and that is my problem not the equipments or manufacturers blame.

    nosaj
    Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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    • #3
      With Musicman amps....everything! Transformers, transistors, feet, straps, logo badges, knobs, etc. I once bought up every broken Musiman amp that I could get my hand on in order to get a few working amps from them. I ended up selling them all not repaired at a loss.

      The worst offender of unobtanium is Behringer.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Axtman View Post
        With Musicman amps....everything! Transformers, transistors, feet, straps, logo badges, knobs, etc. I once bought up every broken Musiman amp that I could get my hand on in order to get a few working amps from them. I ended up selling them all not repaired at a loss.

        The worst offender of unobtanium is Behringer.
        Well I guess Like The Dude says Man, thats just your opinion. I'm sure others here will disagree with you also.
        nosaj
        Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

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        • #5
          To be fair: when was the last time MusicMan made an amp? I haven't heard of one from after the early 80s... Am I missing that?

          Justin
          "Wow it's red! That doesn't look like the standard Marshall red. It's more like hooker lipstick/clown nose/poodle pecker red." - Chuck H. -
          "Of course that means playing **LOUD** , best but useless solution to modern sissy snowflake players." - J.M. Fahey -
          "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

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          • #6
            I noted that the ones listed as 'non-service friendly' were all companies no longer building amps. This will definitely impact parts availability.
            Not saying I agree or disagree with them being listed as such, but it should probably be noted.
            "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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            • #7
              Originally posted by g1 View Post
              I noted that the ones listed as 'non-service friendly' were all companies no longer building amps. This will definitely impact parts availability.
              Not saying I agree or disagree with them being listed as such, but it should probably be noted.
              None of them are gooping any parts or sanding off numbers so I fail to see how that makes them not service friendly. I VCR could be non service friendly if you don't know what your looking at or how to source or cross reference parts.
              nosaj
              Binkie McFartnuggets‏:If we really wanted to know the meaning of life we would have fed Stephen Hawking shrooms a long time ago.

              Comment


              • #8
                Agreed. Also of note: SWR is owned by Fender, so should have similar reviews. Yamaha bought Ampeg, so tech support is not so good any more, IMO. As was pointed out, except for a few specific chassis parts, most things can be found elsewhere.
                "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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                • #9
                  Some brands parts are easier to cross than others. Vintage Fender there are plenty of aftermarket parts being made specifically for that market. Vintage Ampeg not so much.
                  So I don't mind throwing something into the 'less-serviceable' pile if it's harder to find parts for. Time is money.
                  But some people might think of 'service friendly' as specifically regarding the physical act of the repair.
                  "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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                  • #10
                    It goes back to what nosaj said. With Music Man you better know what your doing if you are working on their “hybrid” models. You aren’t going to get many cosmetic parts for anything out of production except Fender, Marshall, and maybe Ampeg.. and not all of those. Generally you can find an acceptable transformer for just about anything with a few exceptions. Solid state stuff it’s usually not worth the trouble with rare exceptions. Personally.. I don’t like working on Mesas, but that’s me. Being from San Diego... Carvin was just up the road. They were pretty much disposable. Their tube stuff was as serviceable as anything else inexpensive.

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                    • #11
                      With Musicman amps....everything! Transformers, transistors, feet, straps, logo badges, knobs, etc.
                      Cosmetic parts are often tough on old no longer made lines. I never did cosmetic work. If I guy wanted a new logo, he was free to go find one and I would be happy to mount it for him. Those transistors are easily subbed, I did it many times.
                      Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                      • #12
                        For the typical repair (speaking in terms of my own experience) the customer could care less about a missing logo badge, knob that doesn't quite match, rubber foot that's not identical, etc. You just make it work. Only for the occasional restoration project do those things become issues. Again, that's my experience. I'm aware that some of you might do more vintage restoration work. As a general rule, my customers just want me to make their amps work. And yes, you can get SS parts from lots of different places.
                        "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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                        • #13
                          Sorry Axtman, pretty much a "swing and a whiff" on this post.
                          It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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                          • #14
                            AVID no schematics, no spare parts.
                            ICEpower, Pascal Audio no schematics.
                            M-Audio no spare parts.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Justin Thomas View Post
                              To be fair: when was the last time MusicMan made an amp? I haven't heard of one from after the early 80s... Am I missing that?

                              Justin

                              I had one that was made in 2015......

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