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Nurture the young

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  • Nurture the young

    Waxing nostalgic today. As I try to relax a little as our nation apparently dodged a coup attempt, I dare think of the future. I am getting long in the tooth, I am in my mid 70s. I gave up my shop a few years ago. And with COVID I don't even visit other shops any more.

    But one thing I always did was invest in our future. When someone came into my shop looking for advice or comment on their home made thing, I gave it. I have a good friend RJ over at Hatt Amps.who started out that way. He was getting into building amps and would bring his latest over for my cold heartless scrutiny. I'd tell him good or bad and provide advice or tips. And I watched as his skills improved, and by the way he's an excellent cabinet maker too.

    https://hattamps.com/

    ANyway, I have done my best to pass along the arcane arts of amp repair to him. And others. If someone is really willing to learn, and not just verify their notions, I am there to help. My three part invoice slips cost about 15 cents, so long ago I decided I'd rather just give away a 4 cent resistor than write up a sales ticket for it.

    But no one teaches this stuff in school. I mean electronics in general, let alone amp repair. And there are SOOOO many practical tips and observations that would never come up in a school anyway. it is easy to sit ou there and bitch "Oh it is all throw away these days, it is amm surface mount, the companies hate us..." Bullshit. We fix stuff every day. DO we fix the little glorified computer that is a multi-modelling amp? Maybe not, but no one tosses out their 5150 or their Fender Twin Reverb. But anyone who refuses to learn how to do basic surface mount soldering is an idiot. You gonna not fix a $3000 mixer because it needs an op amp replaced?

    SO we need to support local young people who have an interest in this technology and would like to learn to work on it. CAn they make a living doing it? MAybe not, but short of renting a store front, a basement shop costs no rent and might at least pay for itself, and for your own projects. SO I urge you to consider helping local young potential amp techs. Some one needs a small part, heck, give it to him. If he asks a question, try to answer it. I mean that is what we do here isn't it?
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  • #2
    Thatīs an important point.
    Besides own day to day job, itīs worth "keeping tge flame alive" and best way is to interest and help new people.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    • #3
      I've delivered some of those free resistors on occasion. I was going out for a ride on my bike anyway. I got a kick out of the guy's surprise at it being free.
      It's nice finding someone who's interested in this seemingly dying trade.
      Now I understand why the guys even more old-timey than me seem to enjoy taking the time out for 'shop-talk', when it's me checking if they might have some odd-ball part I can't find.
      "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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      • #4
        I just gave a customer a couple of caps to wire the tone controls on his guitar this week. Aside from the teaching aspect, I think it's a good way to keep old customers and gain new ones. Being helpful is good for business.
        "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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        • #5
          Recently, I gave somebody a half dozen used pots for an old Marshall SS amp he was trying to fix up....he was very surprised when I told him he could have them....he was very appreciative of that gesture.....

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          • #6
            Ha! When I read the thread title I thought "Nurture the young" ? Good call. It helps marble the meat before we eat them. But then I read on... Blah, blah blah.

            Just kidding. There's a young guy at the local market who's studying to be an engineer. He has tech in spades on me, especially WRT the newer technologies. But he's young so he's still very rote. He asks my advice on things sometimes and it's surprising how often I can help with just basic (albeit experienced) troubleshooting and design skills. He's a nice kid for the most part, but I suspect he's a republican so we keep interactions limited My last REAL gesture was many years ago. A classmate of my daughters wanted to build a Strat copy and document the technicalities of each step for his senior project. I mentored the project and even gave him an American Standard bridge I had on hand. He did a nice job on the project. Even including technical aspects of the finishing process. He got an A

            Recently I was coaxed into helping another young guy build a guitar, but he wasn't as serious as he thought once he realized the scope was greater than fit part A into part B. So I keep an open mind and fully agree with Enzo's sentiment.


            "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

            "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

            "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

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            • #7
              I had a regular guy, whose band was some sort of alternative rock. And he wasn't into like tube amps or anything, but he loved toys. He'd buy one of those sound effect toys and want to make it into a pedal. Or one of those toy microphones that change your voice. None of it was what I personally would find useful, but he liked them. He found tons of them. Eventually he learned enough to be able to make them work in his own.

              Certainly the groups overlap, but I know lots of engineers who are not the best technicians. And of course vice versa. Different skillsets. I recall working on some relay based systems long ago, and a guy with a fresh electronics degree was on the crew, and he asked me what the contact gap dimensions should be on some relay. The timing mattered. I told him "so it works." He didn't like that answer, he was expecting something liker exactly 0.04".
              Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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              • #8
                There seems to be a scarcity of young people who're interested in electronics around where I live. At least, I haven't really encountered anyone other than the odd person who's built a fuzz pedal from a kit and decided it wasn't for them. I find that most are consumers of the vast sea of gear and technology that's pumped cheaply out of China. I still remember my own thirst for knowledge and the sheer determination and hunger to learn, but I don't see that despite the limitless information available and the low cost of parts these days. A big factor in my own development was the almost complete absence of any parts or materials to do anything. I was interested in electronics, metalwork and woodwork and everything had to be re-used from scrap - old radio's TVs and whatever else I could get hold of. Most information came from books, though when I was 16 I was in a garage band and wanted a valve amp, and the bass player said "Let's go see Mr Johnson". So we walked across the road, knocked on his door and were invited in. The elderly chap asked me if I'd ever built a valve amp before and then explained how a triode worked. He set up a wooden tray and step by step put together a simple amp right in front of me without any drawings. Over the course of the next few visits he gave me loads of parts and advice. I'm still grateful to this day and he's now long gone.

                You need people like that when you're young - your own Mr. Johnson. Someone who kickstarts a lifelong interest in a subject and gives you the impetus to keep going.

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                • #9
                  Yes, I always wished I had my own Mr. Johnson when I was growing up. SO I try to be someone's Mr.Johnson now.

                  Short wave radio, which nurtured a lot of us back then is no longer a popular hobby. I used to be into TV DX, but since we went digital, that is gone.

                  Guys like Fender and Hull and MArshall are gone, but next generation guys like Bruce Egnater come from somewhere. I know from this forum that I have a number of young techs right here in the Lansing area. They would have been welcome to visit.
                  Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                  • #10
                    My first interest was with radio and particularly transmitting. Our local library used to carry the USA version of the Radio Amateur's Handbook which I read and re-read. Parts for radios were plentiful as 'pulls' from discarded sets. I built my first transmitter and took it to school along with a transistor radio. There was a fascination amongst my classmates that I'd actually built it and could broadcast through the transistor set. Radio stuck with me over the years, even to the extent of recreating an old space-charge battery regen set a few years back to revisit those early days. It held the same fascination when I'd completed it as it did when I was 12 and it still sits there in my living room cabinet.

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                    • #11
                      "But MOOooOOM, it's a dipole..."

                      My wires all over the roof and between trees in the yard.
                      Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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                      • #12
                        And all the TVs nearby wiped out when transmitting. "Is that, you Michael?" No Mum, not me........

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Mick Bailey View Post
                          And all the TVs nearby wiped out when transmitting. "Is that, you Michael?" No Mum, not me........
                          Heh heh... A fellow I knew some 40 years back used to use the gutters on his house as a transmitting antenna. With a minimum 1 kilowatt linear amp, way beyond FCC limits. On a foggy night he says you could see a blue glow around the house's metalwork when he had his rig keyed down.
                          This isn't the future I signed up for.

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