My boss Mauz’s Ampeg V-4 had cut out. It was very strange… one day he was at practice, and shit first started cutting in and out. Then it stopped making sound altogether. It still had power, which was the weirdest part. This beauty (one of my favorite amps of all time) had to be resurrected.
As I’d already fixed multiple problems on my own V-4B, which is almost exactly the same amp minus a reverb circuit, I was unafeered of delving into Mauz’s. I think he was more afraid than I was. Despite knowing it was in my successful-yet-amateurish hands, it was his baby. His mojo. His tone. He shouldn’t have been worried.
[Originally published in the August 2014 issue of Bulldozer Magazine]
Back in the ‘90s, I went to a Good Guy’s Electronics store. I was looking for a new record player as my old one had broken. I couldn’t find any, so I asked the salesman for help. “You want a what?” We found a floor model and it was literally the last record player they had. I tried to explain that some people still listened to records. If I didn’t have a record player, how could I listen to “Welcome to my Bone Yard” by Impetigo over and over? The salesman didn’t care. He thought I was an idiot for wanting to hold onto my vinyl. I thought he was an idiot for never having known the majesty of Ultimo Mondo Cannibale.
Believe it or not, there was a time when you had to explain what a vinyl record was at a show. “Are you guys selling calendars or something?” No, little one, this gigantic thing plays music. But now records are back. I watched as they climbed back into the awareness of folks’ minds as a collectible item while the ubiquity of iPods and digital files collapsed the music industry into a whimpering baby without its binky.
I had gotten about half way through a really great post for this week over the last few days, but disaster struck. My Ampeg V-4B went SNAFU. I smelled something smoking at practice. I thought it was my strings from some awesome bass licks. Nope, I had a tube red plating in the back if my amp. It was about to blow. I turned everything off and had to figure this shit out. I had a show in Canada to play and no back up amp!
Over the next couple days, I checked shit out. I tested all the tube socket voltages with the tubes out, in case it was feeding my tubes too much voltage or not draining enough. This is dangerous territory here and not for the inexperienced. We’re talking leads getting 560V. That will kill you. Long story short, everything tested fine. So, WTF?