Operating Theater: Acoustic Model 220

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.

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Plug and Play Jack Plate Replacement

Maybe you have a guitar cab with just a single input, but you want to be able to switch to 4Ω instead of just the 16Ω it’s wired to. Maybe you want to run your speakers in stereo. Maybe you just hate those stupid fucking bullshit plastic Marshall switchable stereo jack plates that constantly break. If any of this applies to you, please consider the Plug and Play jack plate as a replacement.

Full disclosure: I have nothing to disclose. This was bought and I installed it. As far as I can tell, it’s made by Amplified Parts, a webstore I use frequently to purchase tubes and parts. This is an all purpose jack plate made of durable metal with no stupid switches that break. Installing one is easy.

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Operating Theatre: Shure GLX-D Digital Guitar Wireless

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.

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Lofty ideas #2

In a previous blog, like, a million years ago, I covered our construction of a loft in our jam spot. Well, since then, we’ve moved spots and were able to move the loft with us. That’s all fine and dandy, but after our group of hooded menaces were given some awesome guitars as part of our endorsement of ESP, we found our loft was not a convenient space for the mass of cases we’d acquired over the years. Hence, the addition of the guitar loft.


Now we have a convenient place to reach our cases without climbing a god-damned ladder and they’re off the floor so we can actually jam. With a couple strokes of luck, we put this up for the price of a few wood screws.

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Operating Theater: Gallien-Krueger 400RG

Mauz from Kicker had this interesting paperweight laying around the shop for awhile over at Monolith Press, where I work my day job. Turns out, it used to make noise. This was a remnant of the eighties, a Gallien-Krueger GK 400RG in all its solid-state and rack-mountable glory. It had its own crusty history as the amp for Geoff Evans from Skaven followed by Mauz when he recorded guitar for Dystopia’s “The Aftermath.” It also had a history of blowing up and some questionable, tweaky repairs with non-spec parts.

So crusty, it has a P.E.T.A. sticker certifying that it’s vegan and better than you.

Mauz asked if I would take a looksy, so it went from a paperweight at the shop to a paperweight in my room. I wasn’t jumping at the chance to work on it. Fixing solid-state amps is a bitch. There’s so many little things that could be wrong or blown and you can’t always see it. You actually have to be smart… or you can blindly test everything a gazillion times until you get it right. So, yeah, testing everything it is.

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Another VH – One Four Woe

Someone commented that they’d been looking for one of these amps after I posted about the last alteration of mine, but couldn’t find any without “issues.” That seems to ring true here.

Today’s problem; the “high” input jack on my VH-140C that Dan Randall uses with us in The Sean Band. It cut out when the cord was jiggled. After almost 20 years of dedicated 1/4″ plug holding, the PCB mounted jack was failing to hold the 1/4″ plug tightly. It needed replacing.

First off, the high input and low input are confusing. Different manufactuers, including Ampeg, use different terms for dual inputs like this. With this amp, “high” is for more gain / sustain and guitars with passive pick ups. “Low” lessens the input and is for more cleans and guitars with active pick ups. I always thought it would be opposite. In this case, the high input ain’t working, so less is more. Less-on over. Les Nessman.

I don’t like these PCB mounted jacks because the metal contacts always wear out in the same way and cannot be bent back into shape. In the age of machines manufacturing machines, however, they are ubiquitous, like Hunter-Killers and Terminators. Unfortunately, their styles are not.

Upon opening the amp, I found this jack. It looks like a standard Cliff brand PCB jack, but it has L shaped legs for the PCB mount. A kind with straight legs will not fit correctly through the faceplate of this amp. That’s fine, but I can’t find anyone that sells these! They do exist on the website of the manufacturer, CHK Electronics, but they don’t sell from their site. They have yet to respond to my email about where to acquire ’em. Fuck. (update: They totally responded a few days later and even offered to sell me a “small” amount… still waiting on the purchase, but go CHK for an actual customer service response! That’s better than Ampeg can say.)

Luckily, the effects loop on the front of this amp uses the same jacks, and Dan doesn’t use the effects loop. He doesn’t use effects, because he has two left feet. Literally… it’s quite freakish.

Some desoldering, a quick swap, and the amp inputs are working fine. If I ever decided to sell this amp, it’s very unlikely they’ll test the effects loop. Shhhhh…

UPDATE 2-8-2012: The amp continued to have problems, cutting treble in and out… eventually, after I tried bypassing the effects loop with a cord, I found the moved problem jacks were still causing problems. I eventually ordered the S4-1308 replacement jacks from Cliff USA and so far, so good. So what.