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.
Wow, that is something I thought I’d never see… a NEW Ampeg V-4B. While I was doing a search for something else related to my OLD V-4B, I came across the press that this month, Ampeg has re-introduced my favorite all time bass amp back into their line-up. Ain’t she a beaut!
It’s funny that they’ve recreated the V-4B, as the original was a guitar amp. They added the B when bass players started using it, changed a few caps, and ditched the reverb. As a guitar amp, it ruled, but as a bass amp, it surprisingly ruled even harder.
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?
This last tour we did was killer… I mean it killed a lot of stuff. Not only were the stages littered with the bodies of the slain, but the gear suffered horribly, too. We did six weeks with GWAR just before and had nary a hiccup. The following excursion was three weeks of headlining buffoonery that really did us in. iPods were lost, speakers blown, casters shot, cords frayed, pedals shorted, and antennas snapped. The two most tragic losses were amplifiers. Without an amp, a metal band you are not. Tenacious D be damned (funny, I find them not). Sean’s Peavey XXX took a hit and still remains defunct. My Ampeg V-4B, with a bit of tuning up on my own workbench, will live again!
When I last plugged in this disheveled beast, it was at Philadelphia’s Kung-Fu Necktie. Occultist had just finished a rousing set. I turned on my amp and it winked at me. The power light went on and then off. This was not good. A quick check of the external fuse revealed it had not blown. I couldn’t fathom what was wrong, but when I borrowed an amp, I found that I had a blown speaker in my 2×15. How and when I did not know. My amp, however, was expecting a 4Ω load and instead got 8Ω. Pop.
It was a strange weekend in the Bay Area. It had been so nice, but all of a sudden it was stormy out, lightening was crashing, and the smell of boiled beets was in the air. Obviously, splatterthrashers Ghoul were in town.
The original hooded menaces in Ghoul have often journied to Oakland in the past. I think there must be some kind of special travel deal or a direct flight from their homeland of Creepsylvania to Oakland. I shudder to think of what their passport photos must look like. This time, they were in town to record their long-awaited follow up album to 2006’s Splatterthrash. I guess Mr. Fang’s wax cylinder recording device must’ve been in the shop, because I found the Ghouls at Oakland’s vaunted Earhammer Studios, a place well known to record some of the best doom, crust and punk coming out of the Bay Area. I’m sure they felt right at home in the depressed neighborhood with people pushing their entire belongings about in shopping carts, not unlike the wheelbarrows of their European homeland. Just less donkey shit everywhere.