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.

VH-140C Power jack fix

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.

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Ghoul School

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.

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