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Vox AC30CC2 just repaired - Sounds AWFUL now. Pls Help.
Old 8th September 2007
  #1
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Vox AC30CC2 just repaired - Sounds AWFUL now. Pls Help.

***EDIT BELOW - Further findings***

I started a thread a week or so ago re: my mains fuse that kept blowing in my 4 month old VOX AC30CC2.

I took it to my nearest Korg/VOX authorized repair guy (which happens to be the same guy I've used before on another repair...he did a good job then).

Long story short, My amp would not stay on for more than 20 to 30 seconds before the 250v, 4a 'Mains' fuse would blow. It turned out to be (according to the tech) my rectifier tube (GZ34).

I had no guitar or cable to test it int he shop, plus I was on my way back to work when I picked it up...so i was in a hurry.

I got it back in to the studio, turned it on, let it warm up for a few minutes and plugged in a guitar. CRAP! crackling, hiss, odd distortion that comes and goes, etc, etc. Sometimes it almost sounds like a speaker cone is ripped (but neither are).

I can hear crackling, hiss and pops when I turn almost any knob.

The amp stays on and plays now, but obviously not well. I've verified that the OHMs are set correctly (16). I've also tried every combination of capacitor 're-tasking' available (Warm, Hot, Modern, Vintage).

I do not know what blew the rectifier tube to begin with, but does it sound like he put in a bad one...or does it sound like one (or more) of the other 10 tubes is shot?

OR

Does the new rectifier tube need time to 'burn in' before it starts to behave? I hope asking that question does not unveil my deep ignorance about the inner-workings of a tube amp! heh

How can I tell? Does this amp hold a lot of voltage for a while after it is off? How long after unplugging it from the wall until it is safe to pull apart?

Thanks in advance for ANY help or advice!


***EDIT***

As I 'mess' with it more, Iit seems like the lower the note (frequency), or the more Bass I add, the more it distorts. Also, the 'Normal' channel seems to cause more problems than the 'Top Boost' channel (although both are pretty bad!). Just thought I'd share that, in case it helps. Thanks again.
Old 8th September 2007
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manthe View Post
Does the new rectifier tube need time to 'burn in' before it starts to behave? I hope asking that question does not unveil my deep ignorance about the inner-workings of a tube amp! heh

How can I tell? Does this amp hold a lot of voltage for a while after it is off? How long after unplugging it from the wall until it is safe to pull apart?
No, they don't, and don't try to open it up yourself. Some amps will drain the power caps when the power is turned off, but I don't know about the AC30. If not, the power caps can store a voltage for a very long time. i.e. far longer than a few hours or days. I wouldn't count on being able to fix it yourself unless you've worked with high voltage before. Ignore my advice and you could end up dead over an amp. Seriously.

There is still something very wrong with your amp. Did the repairman say what he did? You can take it back to him, but if this is how he lets it out of his shop, you might just have to find someone else.
Old 8th September 2007
  #3
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I know this doesn't help but is your amp under warranty? If so I'd see what you could do about getting it replaced. I would also highly recommend the head. I had one for a year and unfortunately I had to sell it because I was broke, but it never had a single problem and was generally CRANKED when recording. I love the tone of this amp but I've also heard a lot of people with combos have problems with them.
Old 8th September 2007
  #4
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The rectifier shouldn't need any burn in time. I just wonder if the rectifier was the only thing wrong with the amp. Typically a bad rectifier will pop fuses but that is not the only thing than can cause that. You could try pulling tubes to see if you could isolate the problem. Just be careful if you haven't even taken the tubes out before, those PCB sockets are kind of flimsy. pull one tube at a time and see in the crackling goes away. I would start with the preamp tubes and work forward from there. Regardless, you need to take it back to the repair shop.
Old 8th September 2007
  #5
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Thanks to all. The problem here is, VOX/Korg only covers tubes for 90 days. If the tubes are fried, I am not covered. I was not covered for this repair because it was a rectifier tube. I agree that the tech should have done WAY more. I'm certain he never tested it.

The problem is, if I take it back and he tells me X number of *other* tubes are fried, he is going to charge me a fortune to replace them (he really ripped me off today and I plan on reporting him to Korg...he is on their list of approved techs in the area).

I was able to hunt down and download the service manual for this amp. I'll study it and other sources. After all, people replace tubes in their amps all of the time. i've replace/upgraded tubes in several of my mic preamps.

I certainly appreciate the high voltage aspect. I will do a lot of research before I open it up. But honestly, I do not feel comfortable taking it back to this a-hole.

What kind of incompetent, lazy, worthless tech lets an amp out of his shop in this condition? I paid extra for him to 'expedite' the repair. I have bands in all weekend and I really wanted/needed to use it.

Obviously I am getting angry about this. It is not worth wasting a lot of mental energy over. There is nothing I can do until next week anyhow.

I guess I'm not sure what to do. I'm sure at least 1 tube is shot. But, what if it blew because of a bigger issue? I mean, obviously the rectifier AND another tube went (unless the idiot tech put a bad *new* rectifier in). So, if I spend a ton of money and time replacing tubes, only to find that there is a problem on the board or with the caps, I am out all of that time and money. Then I have to take it or ship it somewhere (on my dime) to prove to VOX that it is bad and get a replacement.

This sux. I can see that this is going to take a long time, a lot of money and headaches. In the mean time, I've spent 1k on an amp I cant use!

FVCK!


I really appreciate everyone's help at any rate!
Old 8th September 2007
  #6
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Seriously, take it back to him, plug it in and ask him what the hell he did to it to make it sound that craptastic.
Old 8th September 2007
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonboy79 View Post
Seriously, take it back to him, plug it in and ask him what the hell he did to it to make it sound that craptastic.
I think you're right...hopefully another client or 2 will be there...maybe I can embarrass him!

Old 8th September 2007
  #8
I am not an amp tech,but I think if you own a (fixed bias--which the AC30cc is) tube guitar amp, you should feel okay about changing the tubes yourself. If you own any kind of tube amp, you'll have tubes go bad from time to time; it's just part of owning a tube amp. I've been changing tubes for years and haven't been killed once! (But then, I wanted to join the Hell's Angels when I was a kid...)
Old 8th September 2007
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manthe View Post
Thanks to all. The problem here is, VOX/Korg only covers tubes for 90 days. If the tubes are fried, I am not covered. I was not covered for this repair because it was a rectifier tube. I agree that the tech should have done WAY more. I'm certain he never tested it.

The problem is, if I take it back and he tells me X number of *other* tubes are fried, he is going to charge me a fortune to replace them (he really ripped me off today and I plan on reporting him to Korg...he is on their list of approved techs in the area).

I was able to hunt down and download the service manual for this amp. I'll study it and other sources. After all, people replace tubes in their amps all of the time. i've replace/upgraded tubes in several of my mic preamps.

I certainly appreciate the high voltage aspect. I will do a lot of research before I open it up. But honestly, I do not feel comfortable taking it back to this a-hole.

What kind of incompetent, lazy, worthless tech lets an amp out of his shop in this condition? I paid extra for him to 'expedite' the repair. I have bands in all weekend and I really wanted/needed to use it.

Obviously I am getting angry about this. It is not worth wasting a lot of mental energy over. There is nothing I can do until next week anyhow.

I guess I'm not sure what to do. I'm sure at least 1 tube is shot. But, what if it blew because of a bigger issue? I mean, obviously the rectifier AND another tube went (unless the idiot tech put a bad *new* rectifier in). So, if I spend a ton of money and time replacing tubes, only to find that there is a problem on the board or with the caps, I am out all of that time and money. Then I have to take it or ship it somewhere (on my dime) to prove to VOX that it is bad and get a replacement.

This sux. I can see that this is going to take a long time, a lot of money and headaches. In the mean time, I've spent 1k on an amp I cant use!

FVCK!


I really appreciate everyone's help at any rate!
Every tech I know will support their work for a minimum of 30 days at least, some more. How much did he charge if you don't mind? It's generally hard to keep from spending $100 for ANYTHING wrt a tube amp. Bench fees start at $65 and tend to go up. It could be higher since I've not had an amp in the shop in a couple years.

I don't know about the particular AC30 you have but I have a "63 and an early 80's reissue and they are very unfriendly on the work bench. They have three sides to work on. Very much a pain compared to a fender or a marshall.

I've been around plenty of amp techs in my life. EVERY SINGLE ONE was NUTZ! I don't know why but even the most down to earth guy was pretty weird.

If you want to insure against being ripped off just go to GC and buy a new set of groove tubes el84's as cheaply as possible. Put them in and see what happens. Tubes typically don't "blow" unless there is a mechanical problem inside the tube. Generally tubes are more resilient than the other components in the amp. Tubes are more likely to take out a grid resistor rather than fail.

A repair man is going to stick you with full retail so take your tubes with you. If he gives you a weird vibe just tell them a friend gave them to you. Whatever you do just don't cower to his weirdness. I think it's a weapon they use against you.

Sorry for your troubles.
Old 8th September 2007
  #10
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interesting problems you're having with this amp.

I would call this tech up, and tell him whats going on. if he is a good guy, he'll take a look at it again and not charge you. (since he should have fixed it right the first time)

If that ever happens with a customer of mine, (and I'll admit it has before) I always fix it for free the second time.

just out of curiousity, what did this guy charge you for the rectifier tube and labor?

if you really think this guy doesn't know what he's doing, take it somewhere else. where do you live?
Old 8th September 2007
  #11
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Thanks guys. After a nights sleep, I *feel* less angry, but I'm still frustrated.

I was charged $150. His bench fee is $75. I paid $35 for an 'expidite' fee. It could not have been too hard. He called me back in less than 40 minutes after dropping it off. I dropped it off and went to lunch. Obviously, he called too soon and did not diagnose the issue properly.

There is definitely a 'strangeness' factor with this guy. He's been around the Orlando, Florida area forever. I know of him via his great reputation...but obviously, he let this one get by him. He may, indeed be a good tech. He always seems to have work and he had a full shop.

I sent him an e-mail. I was not impolite. I'm sure my displeasure was evident. I asked him how we should proceed with the matter and left my number.

He is only open Tues - Fri, so I am stuck. I have sessions all weekend. Both of which I had planned on using this amp. Now I am stuck!

Here is a copy of the e-mail I sent: (Does it sound inoffensive and professional to you?):

Peter,

My name is Mike Manthe. I dropped off my VOX AC30CC2 guitar amplifier at your shop on Friday, 9-7-07 at roughly 1:00 to 1:30PM. I explained that the 'Mains' fuse would blow any time the amp was powered on.. I agreed to pay a $35 expedite fee to have it looked at that day.

I received a phone call less than an hour later telling me the amp was repaired and ready to be picked up. I was told that the Rectifier tube was replaced. I was charged roughly $110 to, presumably, diagnose any problems and ultimately to replace a tube (on top of the expedite fee).

I brought the amp back to my studio and turned it on. The amp stayed powered up, but it sounds absolutely awful. Absolutely unusable. I assume from this that the amp was never actually tested, functionally.The sound coming from the amp is highly distorted and filled with 'crackling' and 'pops'. Also, any pot that is turned results in popping and crackling sounds as well as a lot of hiss.

I payed the expedite fee with the hope that I would receive a fully repaired amp back, which I would be able to use it on this weekend's sessions in my recording studio. This is, of course, not possible now. I do not consider this amp to be properly repaired. Given the state of the amp, it is fair to say that it was not accurately and/or fully diagnosed or repaired.

Please let me know how to proceed with this matter. This amp is a very important part of my studio and having it in proper working order is paramount to my business.

I can be reached at any time on my cell phone at 407-***-****. You may also reply to this e-mail address at any time.

Thank you,

Mike Manthe
Old 8th September 2007
  #12
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Just send it to Psionic Audio, ask for Lyle. They are in Memphis and will make your CC both reliable and sound like an old JMI.

S.
Old 8th September 2007
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve10358 View Post
Just send it to Psionic Audio, ask for Lyle. They are in Memphis and will make your CC both reliable and sound like an old JMI.

S.

Do you have any idea how much 2 way shipping on that amp would be? He'll end up paying probably $150 just for shipping. Not very logical.
Old 8th September 2007
  #14
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$75 "bench fee"? plus$35 to put you to the front of the line? man I wish I could get away with outragous charges like that.

most techs I know charge $65-75/hr. for him to charge you that much just to replace your rectifier is absurd.

plus, since your amp is still broken, it really didn't get expedited. I hope he realizes that too, and gives you at least a partial refund of the $35 fee.

I think your email was direct. which I like. especially since you paid so much money, you would expect that no little detail would go unchecked, or untested.

hopefully this guy takes care of you. regardless... get a new tech.
Old 8th September 2007
  #15
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Shipping it out of state is not economically prudent. There are good guys in the Orlando area. I went out today and found a few. I found another tech with a company called Ampwerks that is supposed to be amazing.

I want to make this original guy do what I paid for, but from now on, I am going to try Ampwerks. My luthier (who I trust VERY much) swears by them!

I'm pretty disgusted with the whole thing. I was ripped off, for sure. If he takes care of it, he will redeem himself. If not, I have a LOT of friends who will receive less than stellar word-of-mouth opinions on him and his operation!
Old 8th September 2007
  #16
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If he just swapped a recto tube and didn't check anything else that's not cool. I guess the next time you better listen to the amp before you pay. What brand rectifier did he put in? Was it Chinese or a Groove Tube? They can sometimes be duds. Most tubes are very robust even if they're quirky, I doubt he did any damage, probably just didn't find the exact cause of the problem.
Old 9th September 2007
  #17
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He obviously did not check anything. I was in a hurry and did not have a guitar with me. He did not appear to have one in plain sight either. Hind-sight being 20/20, I def. should have askid him for a gtr and cable to test...but in reality, a good tech should have done that him/herself. Truthfully, a 4 year old would have spotted the problem in about 4 seconds (after warm-up)

He put a JJ Electronic (made in Slovak Rebublic) GZ34 recto tube in, BTW.
Old 9th September 2007
  #18
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The more and more I think about it... he really charged an outrageous price.

bench fee -$75
rush fee- $35

that equals $110 for him doing absolutely nothing.

so... that leaves $40.... a rectifier tube from JJ costs $15.95. (5AR4 / GZ34 Tube Types)
lets assume that the tube store has a really low price, and that most shops charge $20.
what was the other $20 for? or did he really charge you $40 for the tube?

this guy is running a racket. you got overcharged at every turn, and he didnt even fix the amp.

I understand the concepts behind bench fees and rush fees, but how can this guy sleep at night knowing that all he did was put a new rectifier in your amp and charged you $150 for it. thats like charging $150 for an oil change.
Old 9th September 2007
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hangman View Post
The more and more I think about it... he really charged an outrageous price.

bench fee -$75
rush fee- $35

that equals $110 for him doing absolutely nothing.

so... that leaves $40.... a rectifier tube from JJ costs $15.95. (5AR4 / GZ34 Tube Types)
lets assume that the tube store has a really low price, and that most shops charge $20.
what was the other $20 for? or did he really charge you $40 for the tube?

this guy is running a racket. you got overcharged at every turn, and he didnt even fix the amp.

I understand the concepts behind bench fees and rush fees, but how can this guy sleep at night knowing that all he did was put a new rectifier in your amp and charged you $150 for it. thats like charging $150 for an oil change.


You forgot labor, which breaks down to probably 15 minutes of work. So he really probably only changed the one tube. Kinda sad.
Old 9th September 2007
  #20
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I would borrow an amp from a buddy or rent an amp for your gigs on the weekend. When you have time get him to fix the amp properly. No need to give up on the outrageous amount of money you've already spent.

The large probability is that the guy does know his shvt but was being lazy and rushed it out the door. Test it while you're there in the shop and if it still sounds like crap ask for your money back. I'd give you odds that you will end this exchange without spending more money and have either a working amp or the cash you already spent. He probably realizes he has a choice: lose the money or lose some of his reputation which means losing money later. The musician/guitar community is really small so if he is successful already he probably abides by these principles.

Good luck - try this first and save your $ for a cool pedal or a new mic!
Old 9th September 2007
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonboy79 View Post
You forgot labor, which breaks down to probably 15 minutes of work. So he really probably only changed the one tube. Kinda sad.
I didn't forget anything. Usually the bench fee covers the labor charge...unless the labor exceeds the bench fee. in this case, the guy changed a rectifier tube, and charged him $150. that is f**ked. it probably took the guy 10 minutes, and he obviously didn't test it.
Old 9th September 2007
  #22
Gear Addict
 

I wouldn't let all the commiseration crank you up too much. Until it's known if he will make good on the amp it's not worth the worry. It's much easier on your mind to just wait it out.

I hope it gets resolved.
Old 10th September 2007
  #23
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Well. I REALLY appreciate the support here. It has been a disappointing experience so far, but I've tried not to let it bother me.

I received this e-mail, this morning, in response to the note I sebt on Sat am.:

"I'm very sorry that the amp did not work properly. We always check them several times before we let them out. I don't know what happened to make it not sound right. Please bring it back as soon as you can and we will check it to see whats going on. Once again I'm very sorry to hear that it's not working properly."

Not sure he actually 'tested', but...at any rate, he seems to be trying to make it right. Hea has sent me 2 other messages, so he is definitely taking it seriously. I was not sure what response this would be met with, but I'll give him the opportunity to redeem himself (from a service perspective).

That said, I'm not sure I'll ever go back. He really did over-charge me. If the amp had worked, I would still have been ripped off. I can not do business with someone who takes advantage of people financially.

I am always extremely fair and flexible financially, with all of my clients. I NEVER take advantage. I always give more than what the paid for, because that is good service and keeps people coming back and keeps the recommendations flowing.

I've got a decent reputation as a solid engineer. I also help write arrange and play instruments on most of what I record in my studio, in one way or another. I do it all for a very fair price and I never skimp on any part of the process. I am NOT a high-end guy with tons of equipment and space. I am a small, home-based project studio...probably less than US $90k worth of gear. But I know how to use it fairly well and I NEVER stop trying to learn and improve. I have a long way to go, but I do a good job...at least the absolute best I am capable of.

I think this guy saw an opportunity for a very fast buck and wrung me for it. He heard my story, sensed my urgency, etc. It is only $150...but if he does that 6 or 8 times a week, he could easily fleece and extra 30 or 40k a year off of targets like me.

Makes me a little angry when I reflect on it...but if he makes it right, perhaps I'll change my mind about him as a human being (still won't bring any more business, though).

I'll post updates for anyone who is still interested.
Old 10th September 2007
  #24
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moral of the story here.....ONLY bring your tube amps to shops with a good and long term reputation. even better is a specific tech that people from other bands and studios can personally endorse from their particular experience.

good amp techs who get the work done quickly are a valuable thing.
Old 10th September 2007
  #25
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if its a power tube, they need to be replaced in equal pairs, so you can't really just replace one power tube. For a 50 watter, there are is normally 2. \
tubes are pretty easy to replace, and need to be every now and then.

I am sure he will fix it for free, any reputable person would do the right thing, since it was not fixed entirely. I wished I had one to let you borrow dude, since i live in O-Town. hope it all works out
Old 10th September 2007
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Energie View Post
if its a power tube, they need to be replaced in equal pairs, so you can't really just replace one power tube. For a 50 watter, there are is normally 2. \
tubes are pretty easy to replace, and need to be every now and then.

I am sure he will fix it for free, any reputable person would do the right thing, since it was not fixed entirely. I wished I had one to let you borrow dude, since i live in O-Town. hope it all works out
HEY! Nice to have a neighbor here!

Where in heh 'Jamlando' heh are you, if you don't mind? Are you familiar with Peter Wells (Wells Electronics)? Apparently he has a sterling reputation..but more people around here are recommending Ampwerks.

I don't know if you've been to or dealt with Guitar Den (all used gear...mostly amps and guitars), but they deal with Ampwerks. I have EVERY reason to trust them!

I do have a handful of tubes laying around the studio, but they are not the right ones. They are replacements for my Bricks, LA-610, etc.

I really need to pick up a handful of replacements for my VOX and Fender amps to keep in the locker.

I appreciate the offer, in spirit. Likewise, if there is anything a small, home-based project studio, with some low-end, some mid-range and a few higher-end pieces can provide, I'd be happy to oblige!
Old 10th September 2007
  #27
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I am just on the west cide, just right outside of the city. I have heard of guitar den, but havn't been there. I havn't had to have any of my amps worked on, I think i go through them too quick

do you have a studio in the city?

I still think you should try to get it fixed correctly from the source, shoudln't cost you more out of pocket, unless materials are needed. But in the future maybe try another place. Hopefully this won't be a recurring issue you know.

its always good to have extra tubes around. I like trying different tubes for acheiving slightly different sounds, though that in itself adds up....
Old 10th September 2007
  #28
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First of all, let's not bash the amp tech terribly. There's a few horrid amps out there. Had a Matchless DC-30 that we got screwed on (the seller purported it to be a Samson era one from 96' when it was from 2000) and it was giving us similar problems. Blowing fuses nonstop. We tried several things, and in the end the amp was just screwy. I think it finally got fixed, but we got rid of it ASAP. And to think, we traded a VOX30HW for it. Stupid stupid stupid.

The CC amps are known to have issues, and aren't the easiest to repair. These aren't built on turrets. Perhaps the amp is working at 8ohm, but not 16ohm or something odd? The tech might have tested it and it worked there.

Amp techs charge fair amounts. I don't see any of them driving Porsches.

And opening a tube amp isn't that dangerous. Make sure you discharge the filter caps properly, and you should be fine. Working with one hand in your back pocket isn't a poor idea. You might shock the **** out of yourself, but you'll likely live that way. I'd take it back to him, don't act too upset, just tell him that it's still happening. Maybe at the same time it's a good time to find a new amp tech. Factory certified ones aren't always the best.

At the same time, sometimes great amp builders make ****ty amp techs. Had another Matchless at the studio that the guy who built my amp did some things to that made it sound horrid. I loved the amp he built me, but putting what was it... an inverse feedback loop or something on it, just made it sound like ****.
Old 10th September 2007
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tibbon View Post
First of all, let's not bash the amp tech terribly. There's a few horrid amps out there. Had a Matchless DC-30 that we got screwed on (the seller purported it to be a Samson era one from 96' when it was from 2000) and it was giving us similar problems. Blowing fuses nonstop. We tried several things, and in the end the amp was just screwy. I think it finally got fixed, but we got rid of it ASAP. And to think, we traded a VOX30HW for it. Stupid stupid stupid.

The CC amps are known to have issues, and aren't the easiest to repair. These aren't built on turrets. Perhaps the amp is working at 8ohm, but not 16ohm or something odd? The tech might have tested it and it worked there.

Amp techs charge fair amounts. I don't see any of them driving Porsches.

And opening a tube amp isn't that dangerous. Make sure you discharge the filter caps properly, and you should be fine. Working with one hand in your back pocket isn't a poor idea. You might shock the **** out of yourself, but you'll likely live that way. I'd take it back to him, don't act too upset, just tell him that it's still happening. Maybe at the same time it's a good time to find a new amp tech. Factory certified ones aren't always the best.

At the same time, sometimes great amp builders make ****ty amp techs. Had another Matchless at the studio that the guy who built my amp did some things to that made it sound horrid. I loved the amp he built me, but putting what was it... an inverse feedback loop or something on it, just made it sound like ****.
I will double agree with you that the CC is a headache to work with.... But $150 to replace a rectifier? I wouldn't be suprised if That tech is driving a Porsche.

as far as the repair goes, I'm willing to accept that it was a fluke... that they tested the amp, and that it was something that didn't surface until the amp was back at Manthe's place. But that doesn't make the charges any more reasonable. he still charged an insanely high price for very little work.
Old 10th September 2007
  #30
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It could have been that he had to do a good bit of testing to figure out that the rectifier needed replaced. Most replacements themselves are cheap, and only take 2 seconds. Maybe the tech did rip him, but I'm figuring that this is all just a misunderstanding.

Keep in mind that techs are expensive! When I was initially getting our console fixed up a bit, and our JH-24 initially set up (when I was working at a larger studio), then it was something like $85/hour. What the guy was doing wasn't rocket science for 90% of the time (recapping, etc), but what he was doing 10% of the time to me was (analysis, noise reduction, calibration).

Just like going to a doctor, and them looking at your for two seconds, and saying, "take these pills". It's not the pills you're paying for, but hopefully the expertise. Just it happens on occasion that the doctor and the tech each get it wrong.


I hope this guy gets his amp fixed. I personally wouldn't want to have to work on a CC2. They seem to be a PITA compared to other Vox AC30 clones.
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