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Thread: Fender Bassman 135 blowing fusss

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    Fender Bassman 135 blowing fusss

    http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/s..._135_schem.jpg

    So I have a bassman 135 on the bench. Thought I fixed it. It was blowing fuses, and I saw carbon on two of the power tube sockets, so I replaced both. Replaced all screen resistors, disconnected hum pot and installed 2 100 ohm resistors on the pilot lamp for a fake center tap. Replaced old filter caps and power resistors in filter section. Converted tube matching to a bias pot. Changed PI section to blackface. Put new tubes in and biased them. It ran fine on my bench for a couple hours so I gave it back. The guy played one song and it blew a fuse and fried the screen resistor on one of the tube sockets that I didn't replace. So I replaced that one. I plugged it into the light bulb limiter and all was fine, except the tubes are running cold. The tubes seem fine. So what's going on? It only blew a fuse with signal applied when he had it. Also, what is the purpose of the 30k 20W and 2.7k 10W resistors?

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    what is the purpose of the 30k 20W and 2.7k 10W resistors?
    2.7K is a voltage dropping resistor, part of the power supply string. 30K is a "bleeder" trying to keep some regulation of voltages in the preamp.

    Maybe there was a carbon track you didn't see on the tube socket that gave you the last problem. Any original output tube sockets left? might as well complete the set, replace 'em all.

    What's going on with the owner's speaker cab(s) and cable(s), they're all 100% perfect? No shorts, opens, intermittent connections, corroded jacks/plugs? Does he plug the speaker into the main output - not the ext output (if one speaker)?

    Another fave spot for failures in these 70's amps: there's an automatic impedance selector switch on the ext. speaker jack. If the contacts on this switch aren't making good contact, the connection to the speaker can go open circuit & boom goes the amp. Similar if both speaker outputs are in use, other switch contact better be working well or else. Sometimes these contacts are corroded from age, or burnt up from handling excess current. If that's the case, tough time finding a new replacement switch; it may be best to wire the output jacks simply in parallel and adding a heavy duty toggle switch to select output impedance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    2.7K is a voltage dropping resistor, part of the power supply string. 30K is a "bleeder" trying to keep some regulation of voltages in the preamp.

    Maybe there was a carbon track you didn't see on the tube socket that gave you the last problem. Any original output tube sockets left? might as well complete the set, replace 'em all.

    What's going on with the owner's speaker cab(s) and cable(s), they're all 100% perfect? No shorts, opens, intermittent connections, corroded jacks/plugs? Does he plug the speaker into the main output - not the ext output (if one speaker)?

    Another fave spot for failures in these 70's amps: there's an automatic impedance selector switch on the ext. speaker jack. If the contacts on this switch aren't making good contact, the connection to the speaker can go open circuit & boom goes the amp. Similar if both speaker outputs are in use, other switch contact better be working well or else. Sometimes these contacts are corroded from age, or burnt up from handling excess current. If that's the case, tough time finding a new replacement switch; it may be best to wire the output jacks simply in parallel and adding a heavy duty toggle switch to select output impedance.
    I have one tube socket left and figured I might as well replace that one too. No carbon to be seen on that or the last one I replaced, but who knows. I asked him about his cabinets, and he tried several, so that doesn't help. It runs fine through two different cabs at my shop and fine through a dummy load. I should check the OT too. Will tubes be cool to the touch when amp is plugged into a light bulb limiter?

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    Also, you wouldn't think the diodes would have anything to do with it, right? They either work or don't? Correct? If one was faulty the amp wouldn't power up, right? Should I just put new ones in?

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    Will tubes be cool to the touch when amp is plugged into a light bulb limiter?
    They sure won't heat up as much as they would with amp plugged straight into 120VAC.

    I'd have a personal look at speakers & cables. Some people have dodgy cables & don't know it, sloppy connections inside the plug shells, like that. Inside cabs, sometimes wires wrapped around jack & speaker terminals, no solder. Push-on terminals are notorious for letting go - solder securely whenever you can. Heck in high school days the general "knowledge" was, you could use your worst guitar cable for speakers. Deafinitely not so! And in a Fender Deluxe I was looking at the other day, one of the lead-in wires from the speaker's terminals to the voice coil was barely hanging on by just one strand, about to let go any second. Dodgy speaker connections kills amps.

    Diodes, what the hi voltage rectifiers? They don't work then short/open then mysteriously go back to working. Though they can loosen up at soldering connections. How's the bias department? All right & tight there?

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Agree that in general you can't solve a problem which is not present when you test the amp, but in this case I suggest you load the ampwith a Big F*ck*ng resistor and drive it to saturation and beyond for at least 2 hours (AC/DC or Ramones Hits are great for this, because they can be run very distorted and are still bearable, at the same time simulate a Rock Band way better than any synthetic test signal )

    Personally I drop the load resistors in a bucket of water, not kidding, almost burnt my house once ..... plus they stand tons more power that way.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    They sure won't heat up as much as they would with amp plugged straight into 120VAC.

    I'd have a personal look at speakers & cables. Some people have dodgy cables & don't know it, sloppy connections inside the plug shells, like that. Inside cabs, sometimes wires wrapped around jack & speaker terminals, no solder. Push-on terminals are notorious for letting go - solder securely whenever you can. Heck in high school days the general "knowledge" was, you could use your worst guitar cable for speakers. Deafinitely not so! And in a Fender Deluxe I was looking at the other day, one of the lead-in wires from the speaker's terminals to the voice coil was barely hanging on by just one strand, about to let go any second. Dodgy speaker connections kills amps.

    Yeah, I'm gonna have him bring his cab and speaker cable. Who knows what he's doing.

    Diodes, what the hi voltage rectifiers? They don't work then short/open then mysteriously go back to working. Though they can loosen up at soldering connections. How's the bias department? All right & tight there?
    Yes, rectifier diodes and maybe even bias diode. Bias was fine when I worked on it last. I need to check it out again. I think I'll just shotgun replace all 5 diodes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    Agree that in general you can't solve a problem which is not present when you test the amp, but in this case I suggest you load the ampwith a Big F*ck*ng resistor and drive it to saturation and beyond for at least 2 hours (AC/DC or Ramones Hits are great for this, because they can be run very distorted and are still bearable, at the same time simulate a Rock Band way better than any synthetic test signal )

    Personally I drop the load resistors in a bucket of water, not kidding, almost burnt my house once ..... plus they stand tons more power that way.
    The dummy load resistors? You dump them in water? Why? After they're hot? That sounds strange. Please elaborate.

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    Not quite what he meant... immerse the body of the resistor in water, not the leads or connections. And don't "dump" them in after they're hot. There are water and oil-cooled tubes, too. Usually for radio broadcasting. When you got something dissipating 2500W, air cooling/convection/fan just ain't gonna do it.

    I just picked up some range top heating elements to use as dummy loads. Hafta see if I can make me some coffee with them and the Peavey Deuce...

    Justin

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Not quite what he meant... immerse the body of the resistor in water, not the leads or connections. And don't "dump" them in after they're hot. There are water and oil-cooled tubes, too. Usually for radio broadcasting. When you got something dissipating 2500W, air cooling/convection/fan just ain't gonna do it.

    I just picked up some range top heating elements to use as dummy loads. Hafta see if I can make me some coffee with them and the Peavey Deuce...

    Justin
    As previously discussed here... Water heater elements work even better

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I fully agree with Leo. The unit under test isn't the same as the unit in the customers hands. You'll need to see, first hand, what sort of shenanigans are going on.

    On another note... Have you checked the bias supply? Rebuild it anyway.

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    Last edited by Chuck H; 02-12-2016 at 05:36 AM.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    TI fully agree with Leo. The unit under test isn't the same as the unit in the customers hands. You'll need to see, first hand, what sort of shenanigans are going on.

    On another note... Have you checked the bias supply? Rebuild it anyway.
    So put them in water before the amp is on? To keep it cool? Is that what y'all are saying?

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    But these were free... best of all! And I can hack them up for the right resistance. After all, "they're guitar amps, not NASA moon rockets!"

    Justin

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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    ...The tubes seem fine. So what's going on? It only blew a fuse with signal applied when he had it. Also, what is the purpose of the 30k 20W and 2.7k 10W resistors?
    A likely possibility is that one of the power tubes has an intermittent short. Hard to find and verify. I just put in a new set of power tubes and save the old set until it is verified that the problem is solved. On the average that is the fastest and least expensive (unless you count your labor time as $0) solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Phillips View Post
    A likely possibility is that one of the power tubes has an intermittent short. Hard to find and verify. I just put in a new set of power tubes and save the old set until it is verified that the problem is solved. On the average that is the fastest and least expensive (unless you count your labor time as $0) solution.
    Absolutely. I do/did the same. I have plenty of known working tubes which I desginate for this very reason. Once I know the amp is stable, I put in the new pair/quad that I'm selling the consumer. No use blowing a brand new quad of tubes if you can help it. And I checked several sets of tubes for this amp, because it's picky, and I even read that this amp is particular about the tubes it wants, so I was especially careful with it. I went all out and over repaired this thing because it cost the guy over $300, so I wanted to ensure that it was solid. Let me do a few more tests and I'll let y'all know what's up. If anyone has some insight into something I may have overlooked please let me know. My ego takes a hit when someone has to bring back an amp that I worked on. I'm sure y'all can relate. I hate doubting myself when I know I'm good at this. Ugh.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    My ego takes a hit when someone has to bring back an amp that I worked on. I'm sure y'all can relate. I hate doubting myself when I know I'm good at this. Ugh.
    Same here. "Don't take it personally" we tell ourselves but that only goes so far. Then I find out the problem's because of some harebrained thing the owner/user is doing, and he winds up with the bruised ego, with a couple tubes wrecked in the process, and lots of time spent troubleshooting & explaining what (not) to do. And me thinking "I can make better income stacking cans at the supermarket." What a long fezzle... sometimes it works out for the best, with the equipment owner hipped to what's got to be done. Sometimes not, they think the repairman's a jerk. Just like real life.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Same here. "Don't take it personally" we tell ourselves but that only goes so far. Then I find out the problem's because of some harebrained thing the owner/user is doing, and he winds up with the bruised ego, with a couple tubes wrecked in the process, and lots of time spent troubleshooting & explaining what (not) to do. And me thinking "I can make better income stacking cans at the supermarket." What a long fezzle... sometimes it works out for the best, with the equipment owner hipped to what's got to be done. Sometimes not, they think the repairman's a jerk. Just like real life.
    Thanks man. I needed to hear that. And yes, I'm either feeling like I'm in a good, stable profession, or I wonder if I should be doing something mindless that pays the same without the pressure of failure. But when its good, its good. And nothing beats the feeling of solving a difficult puzzle and/or just doing a bad ass job that makes the last incompetent tech look, well, more incompetent.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Then I find out the problem's because of some harebrained thing the owner/user is doing,..
    One of my favorite from years ago... A guy started a thread to fix his old Bassman head. He had been using it for years as a preamp by plugging the ext. jack into the input of another amp. Nothing plugged into the speaker jack. He became a little defiant when confronted about proper tube amp use and sited his years of experience as qualification. Anyway, we helped him fix the amp. Which I believe he went right on using as a preamp with no speaker plugged in.

    I had a case a couple of years ago where a customer with one of my custom amps was having sound problems on stage. He swore that my amp was the problem. He was absolutely sure he had narrowed it down to the amp. So I took the amp and failed to recreate the problem. After his next gig he called and said it was still doing it. So I picked up the amp again. This time I intentionally kept it until after his next gig. Never even opened it up. Forcing him to use his backup amp as his main amp, and therefor plugged into his main rig. The problem turned out to be a hinky tuner pedal never got plugged into his backup before I forced him to use it as his main amp. Tada! Another brilliant amp repair accomplished

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    And nothing beats the feeling of solving a difficult puzzle and/or just doing a bad ass job that makes the last incompetent tech look, well, more incompetent.
    Like this one? A customer has a new hobby: building his own Mojo kit amps. He solders like a kindergartner, and isn't good at following directions. Built a tweed Vibrolux a couple weeks ago, said it sounded low power & very distorted. First he brought it to a local tube amp "expert" who lives up the road from him. The expert faffed around with it awhile but "couldn't find any problem." Soon as the amp arrived here, I fired it up, lots of hum, and one of the output tubes didn't even light up - I guess the expert didn't happen to notice either symptom. Kit builder obviously goofed up his filament wiring. "What" was Mr. Expert paying attention to? Hmmm......... All-a-fix now, cheap.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I'll admit to having done a few "repairs" that looked a little funny, but I'm certain were reliable and serviceable. Sans that I'm often surprised by what other "techs" have done. Or not done. There was a local guy here a few years back. He went by some moniker like Wild Bill or something like that. His whole thing was keeping any vintage amp as vintage as possible. Right down to NOT adding grounded AC cords and replacing blown filter caps with NOS units that had dried up over a decade ago. His jibe must have been pretty good because local players would become offended when I would hear their amps and offer to fix them. "Wild Bill just serviced it and said it's fine!" Well, ok then. Enjoy your hummy, phasey sounding death trap. I don't know if he's still operating here. I've been out of the loop.

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    Senior Member ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    I have one tube socket left and figured I might as well replace that one too. No carbon to be seen on that or the last one I replaced, but who knows.
    You *could* know, couldn't you? A carbon trace on a tube socket would be ________, right? (Fill in the blank with an electrical characteristic that could be measured.)

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    Last edited by ThermionicScott; 02-13-2016 at 02:57 AM. Reason: levity

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Like this one? A customer has a new hobby: building his own Mojo kit amps. He solders like a kindergartner, and isn't good at following directions. Built a tweed Vibrolux a couple weeks ago, said it sounded low power & very distorted. First he brought it to a local tube amp "expert" who lives up the road from him. The expert faffed around with it awhile but "couldn't find any problem." Soon as the amp arrived here, I fired it up, lots of hum, and one of the output tubes didn't even light up - I guess the expert didn't happen to notice either symptom. Kit builder obviously goofed up his filament wiring. "What" was Mr. Expert paying attention to? Hmmm......... All-a-fix now, cheap.
    I'm seeing a lot more (well, when the user can figure out how to upload a photo) newbie builds with components joined together in midair, and long uninsulated component leads right next to other connections. Just waiting to disconnect or short out when the amp gets jostled enough. Sometimes in the power supply!

    Here's a couple examples:



    Makes me nervous just looking at the pictures.

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    Rule Number 1: Solder is not "Hot Glue" that conducts!!! Let's hope they use the correct fuse values as well!

    Build by someone that carries a large CO2 fire extinguisher and loves barbecue!!

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    In my old shop... Anytime there was any kind amp with an output failure, we had a printed note that we attached to every unit that said in effect. "This repair my have been caused by defective speakers or wiring. We encourage our customers to have them checked at pickup." And a similar sign on the wall in plain sight below the posted labor rates. It saved a lot of grief, shop time, and parts. The counter staff were trained to do it and many times would just take a meter out into the parking lot so the customer didn't have to drag heavy speakers onto the counter. The worst wiring nightmare was in the old days the manufactures required you to service their car stereos to be an authorized service center.

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    This is all great stuff. People are retarded. So I told this guy to bring me his cab and speaker cable and turns out he's using an instrument cable, and a crappy one at that. Makes me feel better about the job I did.

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evil79 View Post
    This is all great stuff. People are retarded. So I told this guy to bring me his cab and speaker cable and turns out he's using an instrument cable, and a crappy one at that. Makes me feel better about the job I did.
    There y'go! He must have gotten advice from the 13 year old "experts" at my Junior High school. How's the wiring inside the cab? Corroded jack? Make him a good speaker cable plus a spare. No excuse to not use the right one. Hope that keeps the 135 workin'. They're good amps, I got one.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    A crappy instrument cable might cause problems if it's a really long one. Short of actually going open, probably not. Perhaps the crappy cable has an intermittent short? Crappy cables often do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    There y'go! He must have gotten advice from the 13 year old "experts" at my Junior High school. How's the wiring inside the cab? Corroded jack? Make him a good speaker cable plus a spare. No excuse to not use the right one. Hope that keeps the 135 workin'. They're good amps, I got one.
    He hasn't brought it to me yet, but he texted me and told me he realized what he was doing, and that the cable was garbage. I'll check his wiring when I get it.

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