A friend picked up this classic Acoustic Model 220 solid-state amp for cheap. It did not work. She figured it was worth the gamble of $50 to buy a non-functioning amp and see if she knew someone who could fix it. The call went up on Facebook for anyone willing to take a look and I answered it.
She had two amps, actually, for me to take a look at. The other was an Acoustic 370, another great piece of solid-state hardware. That one was easy; it had a cracked solder weld and was easily patched. This one was a little trickier. Considering the age of the amp, though, it was still easy and a testament to how durable these old solid-states really are.
Membership has its privileges. I got a new LTD bass from ESP for playing in Exhumed. While I have a couple ESP basses, they are tuned to D for other bands. So, on the last Exhumed tour, I had to drag my old B.C. Rich Ironbird out of retirement because it was tuned to B standard (and looked cool). Exhumed is sponsored by ESP, though. That’s largely just because Matt Harvey is, like, you know… Matt Harvey. He pulled some strings and Tony at ESP made sure we’d all be repping proper for our upcoming tours.
Yeah, that’s the bass I chose. I like the body style a lot; it looks like a Fender P-bass and a Gibson Thunderbird got together and fucked. And yeah, I chose “seafoam” green, or as I like to call it, “doktor” green. Or as I also like to call it, “maybe this metal thing won’t pan out after playing for 26 years and I’d like something that wouldn’t look inappropriate covering dad-rock at a bar” green. In any case, it came tuned to E standard and I needed it in B. So in lieu of hiring someone to do it, I did my own down and dirty intonation on this bad boy.
I spoke about doing this in my post on fixing up a Peavey VTM 120, but I didn’t take pictures. Well, after the ground pin fell out on my Ampeg V4-B, it was time to replace another power cord. This time, I took some pictures for anyone interested in taking on such a task.
This actually happened to me while on my last tour with Exhumed. It didn’t stop me from playing. A ground pin isn’t essential to a functioning amp. It’s a safety device, in case there’s a short within the amplifier, so the amp doesn’t conduct voltage into the user through the chassis. I took my chances on the road, but once I was home it was time to replace this safety feature.
The Peavey VTM 120 is [looks around to see who is listening] a great fucking amp. Don’t tell your friends, because you can still get ’em relatively cheap. It’s essentially a JCM 800 clone with a set of DIP switches “to avoid any Imperial entanglements.” Sebastian Phillips, my bandmate in Exhumed, swears so much by his that he has one for each coast. He even got our other guitfiddler, Matt Harvey, to get one as a back-up for his 5150 (or 6505… I can’t keep track).
Of course, even a good amp has a bad day. This trooper made it through a marathon six-week tour, but upped and quit on us the very last day. It just stopped turning on. Luckily, Matt had that back-up, so Sebastian didn’t lose his groove. I took the amp after we unpacked our shit and did my doktor thing.
I bought a used Shure Beta 58 off of craigslist some time ago. The damn thing just stopped working one day. I tried to see about fixing it, but it was a ding dong mystery and the insides of that thing do not reveal secrets easily. Plus, a bunch of it is just glued in. I finally read about sending it in to Shure for “repair,” where they charge you half the cost of a new mic and you get… a new mic, in the box. No warranty or receipt required.
I can reveal, friends, it is true. Shure has a great product replacement system and sent me a brand new Beta 58A in the box with all the peripherals. All I had to do was fill out a form and provide CC payment info. I also sent in a GLXD1 wireless transmitter that’d gone wonky which they fixed for free! Again, no warranty! They just did it!
I finally got the Shure GLX-D wireless system once my old Sennheiser wireless’s screen crapped out on me before our last tour. I am glad to say I was super happy with its ease of set up and its performance. It’s built tough all the way through and cuts down on the peripherals I need to set up during a fast change-over.
But… there’s always a but… I had a SLIGHT problem with it on the last tour. User error. I nabbed a cable out of it quickly at a bad angle and snapped the tip off inside the wireless. I was a little afraid to even try and open this thing, but I had nothing to replace it and was halfway through tour so I was stuck.
My amp is older than me. I’m middle-aged and I’m falling apart. Why should my amp be any different? I’ve done some other work on it before [Part 1], but ye olde Ampeg V-4B was well overdue for a recap job.
“Recap” means replacing capacitors. More specifically, electrolytic capacitors. After decades, they age and will drift from their original rating or even die. In the tone section of an amplifier, this isn’t always a big deal. It might change the tone. In the power supply, though, capacitor drift is a bigger deal: like, expensive-impossible-to-replace-power-transformer-blows-up big deal. The should be replaced before that happens.
More than a decade ago, I bought a really old NJ series B.C. Rich Warlock bass from my friend Lorraine. I think she was ready to ditch pointy bass guitars for something classier as she went on to play in some excellent bands like The Gault and Worm Ouroboros. It came with a weird whitish-sparkly body, lots of dings that I added to, and multiple failed drill holes for a thumb-rest. I treated it as a beater bass I could fly with if I took the neck off. Well, that lil’ beater looks like this today.
And it also belongs to my wife now. It’s practically brand new, but with a vintage pedigree. This was a classic NJ series Rich, with its serial number planting its birth somewhere in Nagoya, Japan during the early eighties. The NJ guitars were real quality, then. I decided to give it new life. The project took me almost seven years to complete. But it was worth it to give my wife an awesome Christmas present.