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Looking for an amp solution/advice... HELP!

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by SpankTank, Sep 22, 2020.

  1. SpankTank

    SpankTank TDPRI Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm relatively new to the tube amp scene. I recently have been through a couple and have repeatedly found rattling noises.
    I started with a vox ac15, which I loved the tone of. The first one I got was a floor model, but had tube rattle right out of the gate. I returned it and asked for a new-in-box model. I got my second ac15 right away. It was actually solid at first, but after only a couple weeks.... tube rattle. I ended up swapping to jj el84 power tubes and sovtec pre amp tubes. This got rid of the tube rattle, which I believe was originating from the power tubes. About two or three months later a new rattle/vibration appeared. Didn't sound like the tubes, rather it sounded like it was something inside, one of the components or maybe the cab itself. It kept getting worse and worse until I couldn't really ignore it, would be louder on some frequencies, quieter on some. This lead to me take the amp in for service, where they tried going over everything. After nothing seemed to work, they offered me a new vox. I was scared to ask for my tubes back, fearing I would void my warranty by admitting to being inside the amp.
    Sure enough, the new vox had tube rattle the day I got it.
    During the time I had my vox in service I did A LOT of reading online which lead me to believe that maybe vox ac15 combos were just prone to buzzing and rattling noise issues.
    So after the third vox, I decided to switch things up a bit. I decided to go to my local music store and try out some tube amps. I saw a used fender custom deluxe reverb '68 that was on sale for the same price as my vox as a part of a clearance event . I plugged it in, and try to see if this amp had the dreaded tube rattle, but it was hard to tell. There were so many things in the room vibrating that it was kinda hard to say whether or not it was doing it. So, seeing as how I thought a deluxe reverb was always gonna be a little out of my price range, I decided to go for it. I've only heard good things about these amps and love me some clean guitar. I should probably mention that I play mostly clean, and any overdrive I would want I can get from my pedal, so I'm really just looking for a really good clean sound. So fender seemed like the natural next choice.
    Well, I got it home and sure enough, that DAMN tube rattle. I mean I could replace the power tubes, but this is getting expensive.
    Is this something I have to expect with tube combo amps? I can't really afford to be replacing tubes every couple months. I looked at the date on the fender, it is two years old, so I mean maybe it lasted longer than my vox before it happened, but man, I'm kinda stuck. I love me the tone of that second vox, and I really like the deluxe reverbs tone as well. Like I said I play mostly clean stuff, country, jazz, blues. Occasionally I'll get wild with some heavy distortion, but clean 90% of the time. I've considered going back to solid state, maybe one of those new tone masters.
    Would getting a separate head /cabinet setup eliminate this? I don't know what to do lol.
     
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  2. drmmrr55

    drmmrr55 Tele-Holic

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    I don't know why you are having so many probs with those amps. I have read that combo amps can be prone to tube rattle because the tubes are in the same cab as the speaker, meaning the tubes are being subjected to loud noise from the speaker could be the culprit. If that's the case I would try a separate head and cab half stack and see if that makes the difference?
     
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  3. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Hmm.
    Did all your amps have retainer clips for (all) the tubes.
    Also, newer tubes have thin rods and are loose in the socket.
    Older tubes rods are much thicker and dont even need retainers.
    imho
     
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  4. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Nah, get some decent tubes from an actual tube seller (as in, not your local music store) and pop those in and you're good to go. Definitely not something you have to do every few months.
     
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  5. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    SpankTank, I like your approach as a tube newbie. You seem to have ears and a good approach to solving problems. With this used amp, ime it is necessary to go through such an amp as one would do with a used vehicle...check everything. Imho, a tech evaluation of the general condition and of the voltages and biasing is a good thing.
    As for this rattle in the DR, do the tap test. Pull that top. Back panel off and tap the tubes to see if you can localize the source. Note that V1, the tube on your right as you look at the back of the amp, is the input preamp for the Custom channel. V2 is the input preamp tube for the Vintage channel. V3 is the reverb driver..12AT7. V4 has a Reverb recovery triode and a gain stage triode that functions for both channels in this amp. V5 is the tremolo circuit tube. V6 is the phase inverter. See if you can find the rattle. You can tap with your finger or a pencil eraser.
    Welcome to the forum and good luck with your amp....
     
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  6. SpankTank

    SpankTank TDPRI Member

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    Hey, thanks for the replies!

    I was up most of last night (this morning) trying to find a solution that wouldn't involve me spending money lol. Scouring this and other forums for answers.

    Uriah1, the power tubes have little gator clips, that pinch them on either side. The rectifyer tube is kind of just chilling there, no clips like in my vox. The preamp tubes all have metal, spring loaded retainers/heat shields. I tried putting electric tape between the retainer clips and the base of the power tubes, didn't help. I tried taking off all the spring retainer things, that didn't help either.

    Wally, thank you, and I learned alot from the fine people here who've had similar issues. I've gone over every external and internal screw, some were loose, but after I changed them, no change in the rattling. Actually by this point, it had gotten worse! I did also try moving the amp to a different room, but the rattle persiste . Then I did the tap/push test. One of the power amp tubes has the smallest amount of microphonic taps coming through. I did check the preamp tubes as well, no taps came through the amp. I checked for this rattle in all the different inputs, and that seems to make no difference. I did notice when I pushed on one power tube, the problem got worse. I could feel the vibrations intensify and could feel it most vibrating against the glass. So I guess that answers that. Looks filament or something inside the leftmost power tube.
    The problem is that due to the pandemic, I'm a little tight for cash and on top of that, shipping times are ridiculous, especially when coming from the states (I'm in Canada)
    I was entertaining the idea of a head/cab setup. I could get the traynor dark horse with matching cab, I also have my eye on a used hughes and kettner tubemeister 18 that I would have to get a cab for. I like those manufacturers because it seems most of their power tube sections are auto biasing, and from what I've read can extend the life of power tubes by up to five times. Other than that I also the traynor combos, on top of having auto-biased power tubes, they seem to have taller cabs, which put the tubes a little farther away from the speaker. Could help with longevity. Anyone have experience with those two amps?
     
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  7. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Holic

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    surely, it's cheaper to buy new tubes than to buy a new amp. i've run into microphonic power tubes that were fresh when buying them off of a big box store or online. and the matched sets are never matched that well either. get them from a dealer like tubedepot or something where you can opt for noise/microphonics tests and the dealer matches the tubes themselves.
     
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  8. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Fwiw, microphony and tube rattle are two different things. Pull that ‘sensitive’ power tube. Hold it by the base up near your ear and tap on the glass with a fingernail. If it is a rattler, you will hear the mechanical rattle.
     
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  9. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    Combos do rattle more. Mine was driving me nuts. I changed tubes twice. Still rattled. On advice from this forum, I snugged every screw I could find. There were a few loose. Problem fixed. Note it could also be something in the room rattling, rather than the amp. A picture on the wall, for instance.
     
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  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    IMO you are taking the long, expensive way around. If you're new to tube amps, how are you determining your "tube rattle *IS* "tube rattle"?

    You need to find a qualified, professional amp tech. Someone who can recognize problems quickly and determine the appropriate solutions.

    Right now you're guessing, and inexperience may be creating confusion in descriptions of problems. Even if not, you may be getting answers from professional techs, or well educated players, or folk guessing at answers, or people whoo like to type but not a single clue what they are talking about.

    And you don't have the experience to be able to "vet" those supposedly providing solutions.

    I realize you are dealing with (apparently) new amps, but repeatedly swapping them or changing tubes without really knowing what you're dealing with takes time and will cost you money in the long run.

    Find a tech with a real shop - not guy in a corner of a guitar store that mostly does string changes and get problems solved more quickly, gaining some education at the same time.
     
  11. Boreas

    Boreas Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    At what point on the V pot do you get the rattle? Do you run with allotta bass?

    That seems to be an unusually bad run of amps for you. I have never had one with tube rattle and I have owned 7 tube combo amps. But I don't dime my amps either.

    I would look at least superficially at some other sources of rattle. Does it do it if you move it to another room? Do you have it sitting with the back against or close to a wall? If so, the speaker may not have room to breathe. Is the rattle being amplified, or is it a separate rattle within the amp? Reverb springs? Grille cloth? Just spitballin' here.

    I am sure you have eliminated most of these, but I just can't figure your run of bad luck. Keep us posted.
     
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  12. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Tele-Holic

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    I feel for you man. I have been playing tube combos for over 30 years. I started with sold state back in the day. Maybe I have been very lucky. I have only had one tube amp with noticeable tube rattle and noise. It drove me nuts, and I returned it. I had an amazing amp tech care for my tube amps when I was gigging a lot. I haven't experienced anything like this in so long. I would recommend taking your amp to a well respected amp tech, or go for solid state amps.
     
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  13. SpankTank

    SpankTank TDPRI Member

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    When it first occurred, it would only be at levels past 4 on the v pot (give or take, this changes slightly based on the channel im in) but the more I test it, the worse it gets. It's happing at lower volumes now. Unfortunately due to my experience with my vox, I have experienced both tube rattle, and as well as sympathetic vibrations. This amp also buzzes and vibrates like crazy when I turn it up loud, but, so does everything in the house lol. So I'm not so much worried about that. It's the ever increasing amount of high pitched glassy metallic ringing that drives me nuts! If it was sympathetic rattle, I don't thing it would get worse as the tubes warm up. With my investigation and a small amount of deductive reasoning, I am quite sure the problem is coming from one power tube. It seems to be coming from inside the tube itself. I have had bad luck with long and McQuade (our chain music store here in Canada) so much so that they should hire me for qc lol. It seems if there's a lemon, I'll find it.

    I'm still debating getting a head/cab rig. For me this would actually be much cheaper than getting the amp serviced, as even though it's used , I have a thirty day warranty. I still have plenty of time to return the amp for a full refund. Been looking at the hughes and kettner tubemeister series, as well as the traynor dark horse. But I dunno yet.

    Also YES I HAVE MOVED THE AMP TO OTHER ROOMS, that was the first step I took. Besides, I had my head practically inside the back of the amp listening for this damn rattling. Definitely coming from inside the amp, though yes, having it up against a wall made it more apparent.

    Thanks for all the replies, when I first went through all this nonsense, I was alone in my efforts. It's nice to have some varying opinions and advice.
     
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  14. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Do you have one of those rubber grippy things you use to open stubborn jar lids?

    Good - grab that. Turn amp on, set to desired volume and tone settings. Play amp so it makes the issue. Grab each tube with the jar lid rubber thing. Does the sound instantly stop? If so, you've found the noisy tube. It really should be that easy.

    Could also use something else - towel, shirt, whatever - you just don't want to get burned while performing this test.
     
  15. SpankTank

    SpankTank TDPRI Member

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    Did that with a towel, but somehow pushing on one power tube in particular made it worse. Did not do this with any of the other tubes.
     
  16. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    One of my Super Champs developed an intermittent high frequency feedback in the reverb circuit sometime back. It was frustratingly hard to find a cause, but Imcould control it by not going to the higher reverb levels.. Then, a nasty distortion came into play. I looked everywhere.....hardware, tubes, speaker...one by one I eliminated possibilities. There was not much left. So...checked out the reverb cables. One of the molded RCA plugs had been replaced with a metal RCA plug, and the ground had worked into a intermittent short situation. A repair of that ended both the bad signal and the high freq reverb feedback problem.
    Later that day finally checked out my #1 channel in my 1955 Gibson Les Paul GA40 amp. It had been dead the day before when I plugged into that channel. The volume control increased and decreased gaiN...you could hear that. But there was no signal processing going on. This amp does not get moved around....but there it was. An input wire to that 5879 input stage had broken off at the pin. Fixed that. I have not been happy with its sound, so I did some investigating. A weak phase inverter 12AX7 proved to be the problem. I had tried a Sylvania long black plate 12AX7 organ pull in another amp in the Input preamp gain stage and it was really microphonic. However, in the GA40 phase inverter, it was as quiet as a mouse and brought the Les Paul amp to life.
    Tubes amps require some attention every once in a while. So do solid state amps, ime. I prefer to play tube amps and to work on tube amps...especially older ones. Things are more accessible. I would much rather replace a tube than to replace a transistor or an IC.
    Imho, it does one well to put a tube amp into a technical evaluation when there is a question or problem...or when an amp is first acquired.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2020
  17. Burning Fingers

    Burning Fingers TDPRI Member

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    4 different amps ( 3 Vox and 1 Fender )..all presenting the same problem...common connection between all 4 is your home...have you tried any of the amps at a different location than in your home ?.
     
  18. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    I was thinking the same. And, are we talking tube rattle, tube squeal, tube feedback/microphonics? Can the OP share his guitar, and tone settings? Is the "rattle" coincident with lots of treble, lots of mids, or lots of bass?
     
  19. SpankTank

    SpankTank TDPRI Member

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    I have solved the issue, for now at least, by going with a head /cab setup. But I promise it was not my house lol, I first discovered the second vox's rattle issue at my friend's house. My guitars are a Japanese jazzmaster, and a Godin stadium (tele with a humbucker in the neck) would start out only reacting to low, bassy frequency and eventually react to most everything.

    When I took the power tubes out of the first vox, I could hear a much quieter version of the exact same rattle when I would shake only one of them. After replacing this, TUBE rattle went away. (it started making noises that had nothing to do with the tubes after a while) I'm now fully confident it was not my room, or house. The new amp is completely free of any buzzing or rattling. And sounds great too!
     
  20. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Well that's what matters. Glad its gone.
     
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