In the ’60s and ’70s, it was not uncommon to find an extra power outlet on the back of your amp. I assume this was because live rock music was in its infancy and most theaters didn’t have a milk crate full of quad boxes and power strips to bring power to your multiple amps, reverb units, and bulky-ass Morley wah pedals. The extra outlet disappeared in the ’80s, which is a shame, because they can be so damn useful. I know, because my Ampeg V-4B and SVT have ones which I use all the time to plug in my pedals.
This is Sean’s Peavey XXX amp with an outlet I added. I did it because he likes to place his wireless on top of the amp and Sennheiser, in their infinite wisdom, made the power adapter cord 3′ long. It’s a pain in the ass to run an extension cord for a single DC power adapter, so the outlet makes things easier. I detailed how I did it in a post about fixing that amp. Another option is to get an IEC plug splitter like the one I wrote about before, but that’s just something extra to lose. Sean’s now got a signature Satriani XXX and he wanted it, too, to have the extra outlet. What a time to make a post dedicated to adding this long-lost convenience.
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.
I’ve detailed before how I added a power socket to Sean’s Peavey XXX. This was because the Sennheiser’s wireless system that he uses doesn’t include a power adapter that actually reaches the floor from the height of a full-stack. Way to plan, Sennheiser. A second power socket used to be standard on old amps, but they’ve gone the way of Bill Cosby’s standing as a moral person. Now Ben has the same XXX amp and wanted me to do repeat the process. But I thought about an easier solution than cutting into his amp. So, I was certain someone thought of it before me.
What you got there is your standard plug for a modern amp, an IEC C13, with an extension for a US three-prong plug. This tiny cable allows for things you want to keep on your amp, like a pedal, wireless unit, or a hair straightener plugged in without searching around for a shit ton of extension cords. Pretty sweet! These are available on Amazon for about $10-20.
Here’s another one for the boss man himself, Mauz from Kicker / Dystopia. He got this amp years ago and it was his go to for a long time. The Kustom 150 was sold as combo amp, but this one had been freed from its moorings and placed into what amounted to a cardboard box. Mauz had a new box built for it by our shop neighbor Chris. It looked nice now, but little did Mauz realize, this amp COULD KILL HIM.
This oldie-but-a-goodie was wired with a two-prong plug, as was the standard for all electronics before people stopped being idiots. That’s fine for a toaster. But when you have a guitar in your hands, you become part of the circuit. Without a connection to to actual earth, a.k.a. common ground, any AC electricity accidentally loosed onto the amp’s chassis will only find you. Zap.
For our band, heretofore referred to as “Sean’s Band,” our guitarist Dan Randall uses my Ampeg VH-140C guitar head. He’s had a string of bad luck getting his own taken care of. My VH-140C is a great head I inherited from Impaled’s old guitarist, Leon del Muerte. It’s solid state and goes for cheap used, but makes the perfect compressed chugga chugga. That makes it the amp of choice for us, Pig Destroyer, Dying Fetus, Misery Index, and more. Leon left it behind, broken. I got it fixed and now it works again… sorta.
Dan kept saying it was cutting out. I didn’t believe him, until I saw the distortion light blink out and come back while he was doing nothing. On a cursory inspection, I noticed the power jack did not seem tightly affixed on the back of the amp. Was it shaking out? It probably didn’t help we kept it on top of my bass rig.