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Cost to have BF Pro Reverb brought up to code

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Treeface, Oct 6, 2016.

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  1. Treeface

    Treeface Tele-Meister

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    Question is in the title - assume the amp has gone untouched since the 1960s and will need a full servicing, three-prong mod, etc. I realize the final price will be amp-dependent, but are we looking at $100-200, or more like $400-500?
     
  2. jazzguitar

    jazzguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    With me, about $100 plus parts - if all is working, five or six electrolytics @ $4-5 each.

    I usually keep the bypass caps as they're probably still good and no danger. Whatever you do, if you still have the blue signal caps, don't let anyone rip them out (these almost never fail and are $10 a pop on ebay).

    Of course everything not working or bad has to be taken care of, often a few resistors have gone bad.


    (I do not consider this advertizing my service as you probably won't ship to Europe).
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  3. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    That seems about right, jazzguitar. When I recap something it ends up being about $100. Then you'd have the grounded cord, and whatever else it needs. Depending on the hourly rate of the tech is gonna be the biggest thing but if it just needs a general service and cord I'd expect it to be in the $100-200 range.
     
  4. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It very much depends on the condition of the amp in general. Caps might not be the whole story. Tubes and speakers would drive the cost up considerably if they're needed, not to mention whatever it would take to clean up past atrocities. If you can get it cheaply enough it's probably worth considering.
     
  5. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I haven't figured out whether I'm an optimist or a pessimist. For example I had two Dan Torres modded Princeton Reverbs show up here. The part I heard was,

    "PTs have already been changed. Amps have had a cap job."

    Turns out our man Dan hacked the transformer openings and used oversized "stand up" style transformers. That's not just unsightly. A hacked chassis permanently de- values the amp.

    Oh, well. At least they already had the costly CE cap cans.

    Except.... except they used 20/20/20 cans instead of 20/20/20/20 or even better, 40/20/20/20. See... that extra section is there to reduce hum in the reverb return. No big deal, just add and extra cap. Well... that's a compromise. Compromises stack up and de- value what might otherwise be a valuable amp.

    Let's not blame it on Dan. Even though the amps have Torres stickers there is no way to know where else they've been.


    Best Pro Reverb I've seen sported a Dennis Electronics sticker.


    Turns out there are a couple schools of thought on this. I used to think I was an amp repairman. Turns out I'm an amp restorer. For example:

    I spent an entire day detailing the circuit board on a '66 Super Reverb recently. While the components were of acceptable quality, the solder joints were a little dry. I don't mind getting rid of the brown paper capacitors but those little blue resistors bother me. The theme these days is

    "Untouched solder joints and all original parts.

    So I spent a day replacing nearly half the parts on the board and touching up most of the solder joints. At a glance it looks like a really, really nice vintage Super inside. Not exactly "untouched" but still... not messed with and trashed from one end to the other.

    Moral of the story is

    "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."


    I've seen some invoices from the "looked at it and gave it a clean bill of health" crowd. One dude in particular is "legendary". He's a proponent of "untouched solder joints and all original parts". When he looks at it that's all he does. He looks at it. His typical invoice is $250. Want him to have another look? Bring another $250.


    My buddy Harry used to charge $125 up front for evaluation and the first hour of work. He's an old TV repairman. He's a very, very good technician and probably the best amp tech you never heard of. His difficulty was it became cheaper to buy a VCR than it was to repair one before VCRs became obsolete. Same thing happened with the walk- in TV repairs. When business slowed to a trickle in Booneyville, Vermont he mostly closed up shop. The shop is still there. He still repairs electronics but he has a new day job, now.


    So: Hope none of the resistors have drifted too far, hope the original Mullard GZ34 is still there and usable, hope the 6L6GCs are still usable and half- assed matched, hope all six of the preamp tubes are usable 'cuz they ain't cheap, either. I'd expect to take a couple hours on the main board, either that or hurry through it and leave trail of scorched wires and ugly solder joints. I'd figure another hour for the filter caps and the cord. Takes me at least another hour to set bias, roll tubes and make sure I don't need to include a leash with the amp.

    It needs a leash if it's going to walk down the street then come right back.

    You can have good, cheap or quick. Pick two.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
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  6. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    In my neck of the woods -I'd say around $200
     
  7. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

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    My experience with untouched amps - not having muchxs around my parts - even though my tech is someone I would trust and continue to go back to.

    Untouched 40+ year old amps often take more than one trip into the doctor... honestly it could even happen to amps that have been serviced along the way. I would expect to spend $100-$200 at the tech not including parts.
    Now to the parts, you should be hopeful that the main components are good (trannies, speakers, tubes, etc) as the price goes up quickly with this replacements. Also if the trannies or speakers need to be replaced, then you start to loose in your investment into the amp, if there is such a thing.

    What type of money are you taking about spending on the amp? Do you have one spotted already?
     
  8. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Way I figure it one trip should do it. Trick is to replace everything that cooked and everything that is going to cook.

    I look at it like this:

    It's difficult to match the reliablity of 1960s Fender amps. Every last one of them are creeping up on 50 years old. Still, many of them haven't been to a tech as long as they still make sound.

    If you see an amp with "untouched solder joints and all original parts", you are lookin' at a few things:

    You're lookin' at an amp that has gone 50 years without anyone messin' with it. That means it's gone 50 years without service.

    You're also lookin' at a grenade with the pin pulled out. That amp owes you nothing! If it needs a break in the middle of your set, it's gonna take a break in the middle of your set.


    I guess we need to achieve a balance. We probably shouldn't replace everything inside because that de- values the amp. So we don't. We still need to be aware of the parts that usually fail.
     
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  9. Treeface

    Treeface Tele-Meister

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    Yes - my guess is I can get it for around $1200[?] Does that sound fair? I don't think I would go much higher than that.

    I might ask to get it checked out by a tech before handing over the money. Of course he could tell me to pound sand.
     
  10. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

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    That's cheap for a BF Pro Reverb. Depending on shape I'd go for it!
     
  11. kavalero

    kavalero Tele-Meister

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    Not a bad price providing all 4 trannies are original to the amp.
     
  12. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Way I figure it amp evaluation is like the late Gene Berg's take on VW repair:

    "You should do your own work. It's not that difficult. Besides... no one is more commited to your car than you are."


    Having said that... I don't suggest doing your own cap job and grounded cord conversion even though it ain't rocket science.

    You should be able to do your own evaluation. The easy stuff is to look at transformer codes. I don't mind changed transformers although the general consensus is they de- value the amp. That Super I mentioned earlier? The original transformers are 40 weeks apart.

    Look under the "doghouse". The original caps should Mallory with brown paper shells. You'll want to change those.

    It should look tidy inside. You want to see blue capacitors not yellow or orange. You should see more Mallory capacitors with brown paper shells.

    Things you don't want to see:

    You don't want to see extra holes especially in the faceplate. Added master volumes were the thing back in the '80s. The holes they left behind aren't the thing in 2016.

    No extra holes in the back panel although they can be plugged.

    No added holes for extra tube sockets.

    No butchered transformer knockouts for oddball power transformers.

    In other words hack modifications may be the reason a "bargain" is priced below market.


    Google images of untouched Pro Reverb guts. It's not difficult to figure out when something has been messed with if you know what it's supposed to look like.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  13. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Eyeball this one:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/1966-Fender...942186?hash=item1c5e9587aa:g:2-oAAOSwgQ9Vw3gv

    That's what it's supposed to look like inside.

    Those brown paper capacitors go away with a cap job. Don't fret. The new ones will sound a lot better.

    That particular amp has been hacked into a head.

    The chassis is more corroded than I like to see. Some of those have a nickel plated chassis. Clean ones are pretty!

    The math on that one:

    Figure $200 for a combo cabinet and another $200 for speakers. That puts us at $1900 and in reach of amps that haven't been modified.
     
  14. keithb7

    keithb7 Poster Extraordinaire

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    $1200 that's a buy. Untouched? Touche. Git ta gittin'.
     
  15. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    Good tubes are expensive. I re-did my Pro Reverb for around $200 with reverb tank minus 3 prong.
     
  16. kavalero

    kavalero Tele-Meister

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    I find JJ's to be very good tubes, and not very expensive at the same time.
     
  17. RubyRae

    RubyRae Friend of Leo's

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    True, but a new set is still $100 bucks before you even do any work on the amp.
     
  18. jazzguitar

    jazzguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    Sounds very fair, depending on condition - provided untouched but showing wear. Mine was $1700 (looks new at first glance but has its share of minor dents.)
     
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    A BF Pro Reverb for $1200 in excellent condition - either untouched or correctly serviced with no odd mods - would be a good deal. Low book is $2200.

    However, never assume anything. Can you look at the amp or are you buying something "blind"? Honestly, I no longer buy vintage amps where I am unable to see pics of the transformers, serial number, speakers, and chassis. I've had "untouched" amps brought to me that were totally modified in non-reversible ways by buyers who did not ask for full disclosure. If extra holes have been drilled or grill cloth changed knock $1000 off book price - suddenly it's not that great a deal unless you REALLY want it.

    Have you played one? Carried one? You're basically talking about a warmer-sounding Twin Reverb - a heavy amp that doesn't sound its best at ow volume. It takes some pushing to get the speakers to "bloom", so it's not an idea small-club amp (I've owned 3).

    If completely untouched a decent tech will probably cost you $150-300 (at least that's average around the L.A. area). Removing chassis, filter & bias caps & power cord (if untouched these are done before even turning it on), initial testing, cleaning/retensioning tube sockets, cleaning pots/jacks, probable power tube replacement (voltages checked and initial bias/rebias always done), usually a few incidental parts will have drifted & need replacement...

    At $50-60/hr 2 hr will be $100-120 plus parts - and an untouched or modded amp will take more than 2 hours' work, plus you need to add parts. (a real tech shop has business license, taxes, lights, rent and other overhead - not just the time it takes to work on an amp. A "garage tech" might charge $25-30/hr but will usually take longer, pay retail for parts and not have all the test equipment to do an efficient job).

    So if it's in excellent condition AND you can get it for $1200 your budget should be around $1500 to cover minor contingencies...at least $1800 if you can't look at everything mentioned above.

    Hope that helps.
     
  20. kavalero

    kavalero Tele-Meister

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    So true .. but when it "blooms" it gives one a BF heaven!
     
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