Is My Amp A Time Bomb?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by MaxPlank, May 15, 2020.

  1. MaxPlank

    MaxPlank TDPRI Member

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    The amp is a Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10, made in USA in 1997. I bought it in 2003 in mint used condition — never gigged, not a scratch. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s had very little use since. It’s way too loud for home use and I don’t play out. But I love its clean sounds and its Tweed Bassman-Super Reverb Love Child vibe. With caps that are 23 years old, is this amp about to self-destruct or does its low mileage mean that I can continue to fire it up every once in a while without fear of a Chernobyl-scale meltdown?
     
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  2. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    Tick tick tick ...
     
  3. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Better call the

    [​IMG]

    amp tech.
     
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  4. johnnylaw

    johnnylaw Tele-Afflicted

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    All amps are time bombs.
    If you like it, have a cap job and a check-up by a good tech.
    A good friend of mine has a Twin Reverb in his living room because he prefers that tone. Ironically, he's married!
     
  5. jimbo735

    jimbo735 Tele-Afflicted

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    Have it Serviced.:)
     
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  6. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    Chances are all it may need is replacement of the filter caps. :cool:
     
  7. Jakedog

    Jakedog Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If it’s not making any noise or behaving wonkily, I’d say it’s fine. If it makes you feel better, you could drop it with a tech and give it a good checkup. They’ll probably just tell you it’s fine, doesn’t need anything, and charge you a bench fee. But you’ll have piece of mind.

    Before we had the internet, 97% of us never knew our amps needed all this attention. All we did was stick tubes in em when they got wonky. If that didn’t work, we went to a tech. But all this regular service stuff didn’t happen.
     
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  8. Andy ZZ

    Andy ZZ TDPRI Member

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    "If it’s not making any noise or behaving wonkily, I’d say it’s fine."
    Agreed.
    When I got into the amp repair/build/prototype biz, I was replacing filter electrolytics as a standard practice.
    Years later as I built up my tools array, I acquired an ESR Meter, Multiple Cap testers, Variacs, etc.
    So then I was testing filter caps as a standard practice.
    I very rarely find amp's filter caps from that era with failing, leaking DC, or excessive ESR. They typically test as new or nearly so.
    Usually it's quite obvious if they are bad: Bulging or leaking electrolyte or smoke/char/stink evidence. Or the amp buzzes like a chain saw.
    Very rare to find one that looks good, but tests bad. Maybe a handful in the past 8-10 years.

    On the other hand, if you would sleep better knowing there are fresh, high quality caps in there and can stop worrying about it....
    Just my 2 cents.
    -azz-
     
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  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    In short - no.

    A good amp is a good amp. After the first few years Fender upgraded the rating on the filter caps. A filter cap or caps going is betrayed by humming.

    Amps don't explode without warning. Don't start imagining noises unless it does actually make them.

    If you don't dime the amp frequently and don't run a ton of high gsin into it, it's probably fine.

    If you want to quickly check, unplug the amp. Take the back panel off.

    Don't touch anything inside the amp, there's no risk of electrocution.

    Check out the grey things that look like batteries - these are the filter caps. They have a voltage rating on them. If they say 500 volts you're probably OK. If 450 probably an idea to get them checked.

    images (32).jpeg

    Just look visually, what you're looking for is signs of failure. Bulging of the end gaskets, stuff leaking out. If so it's tech time.
    images (33).jpeg
     
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  10. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's

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    Not using it is actually harder on the caps. If it was getting regular use, you'd be in better shape. At least, that's the conventional wisdom with e-caps, and was demonstrably true in the old days when the foil was thicker, there's even guidance on reforming caps by applying voltages.

    How that relates to a modern cap, I'm not sure. But if that were my amp, I'd replace them (since I DIY that stuff).
     
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  11. adjason

    adjason Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I would not worry about it. its not worth putting money into something you rarely use - heck I'd probably sell it and look for something else. I have heard lots of stories about amps destructing but have never actually known anyone who had it happen. I agree with Jakedog
     
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  12. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire

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    My buddy has one of those; also never uses it even though he plays a ton. It may be a time bomb, or it may be just a bomb.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  13. davenumber2

    davenumber2 Friend of Leo's

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    I’d sell it for something that would make you want to play it and is more practical for home use. The Deville is a gigging amp.
     
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  14. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    I think I first got an internet connection at home around 1998. At that time, a '90s Fender amp would have been less than a decade old and shouldn't have needed service- now they're 20-30 years old. Amps from the '60s & '70s were built to a higher standard and could last longer without service though, like the '67 Ampeg Gemini I picked up with original filters that sounded just fine. But, leaky filters pull more current and can blow your OT in a worst-case scenario. You can drive a car without changing the oil, but is it a good idea? My philosophy is that filter caps are a lot cheaper than an output transformer.
     
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  15. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    It will fail... tomorrow maybe...
    Or in four years ...

    Of course, at an inconvenient time, and/or place ...

    That's why you have a backup.

    Stuff happens...
    .
     
  16. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    I would be more concerned about some slobbo tech doing a hack job than I would about the potential for failure in older original parts.

    Untouched amps that break are usually easier to fix than butchered amps that broke because someone "fixed" them, especially PC based amps like your HRD.


    If you don't use it much you don't depend on it to earn your paycheck, right? So play it 'til it breaks.
     
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  17. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm with the rest, if it ain't broke, don't break it.
     
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  18. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Happy birthday, @Jakedog!
     
  19. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    These are always the ones where it comes down to the customer. I have a guy bringing me a late 90s Twin that he's gigged with and will continue to do so, so it needs to be rock solid. It's gonna get a recap. For your situation though, let it roll, and then if something happens you can deal with it when and if you need to.
     
  20. middy

    middy Friend of Leo's

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    Im married and have a Twin Reverb in the living room. What’s the problem?
     
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