Do You Gig with a Back-Up Head? - I had H.T. Fuse Blow! Tube-Change Frequency?

dptone5

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I have played on our church worship team for decades and never had an amp failure. We use a Vox AC30 through a Suhr Reactive Load IR and it has been great.

So we have an outdoor service in our town park. Decided to use my 1987XL Plexi through my Suhr and the other guitarist was using a Helix. We went through rehearsal and my tone was sounding terrific. Used the Plexi with a little crunch from the amp and was pushing it with a BB Pre-Amp for any lead work. Sounded great in the in-ears as well.

So between rehearsal and the service, I powered down, first by going on Stand-By for a few minutes. Powered up the by leaving it on Stand-By for a few minutes, just like I should. We start the first song........NOTHING!

It was clear the amp wasn't giving any signal to the Suhr. I shut the amp off, and not knowing if the issue was the amp or the Suhr, I put a cable between the front end of the pedalboard and the loop, and went from pedal board to the direct box. Was ready for song #2. Needless to say, my tone was awful. Thin, no presence, no sustain.

When I got home, the H.T. fuse was blown on the Plexi. I replaced and powered up, and it was fine. I know the H.T. fuse generally means that there is a problem with the power tubes, so I am going to replace them and determine if that was the issue.

I don't play the Plexi much, since I have Master Volume heads at home, but it has been 5 years since the power tubes were replaced.

So my questions are:

1) When you play out or gig, do you have a back-up head available and ready for use if there is a problem?

2) If not, what other alternatives exist for back-up?

3) How often do you change tubes on an amp that may get less than 40 hours of use per year?

Thanks in advance for your input!
 

scozz

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Well my experience is decades ago, I never had a backup amp at gigs. I was fortunate, I never had an issue.

I don’t recall my amp, or the other guitar player in my bands amp, ever in the shop. They always worked.

Both our amps were both 1971 amps, mine was a100 watt Fender Super Six Reverb, and the other was a Marshall 50 watt Plexi.
 

Kinkless Tetrode

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I do now. That's was back when I only had one amp. I then had a second SS amp but usually left it at home. I had never had problem before, but one night I didn't bring a back up and had a tube red plate.
 
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JHMvP

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Dear Brother,

First of all; in churches or gigs I keep my set-ups as simple as possible, with equipment that is far from likely to fail.
Next; I always have basic things with me like strings, cables, a few small tools and a few fuses.

This is the reason why I always used 5210's SS amps for church and gigging, along with my PodXT Live, POD HD300 or POD HD500x.
Nowadays I merely use my DSL5C (with 12" upgrade) and a JTM30 2x10" as cabinet, miked with a E609.

Answers on your questions;
1. I always have a 5210 SS amp with me as a backup (as said: I used to do all my gigs on a 5210's and they *never* failed me once).
2. I always use a Line6 Pod XT Live, HD300 or HD500X so in any case of malfuntion I always have the option to go direct into PA.
3. I assume my tubes live *at least 100-200 hours* (with my use and volume) so I only replace them when they start sound bad.

Main advice for reliability is always to keep things simple.
Been acting so for the last 23 years and I never ended up with a serious disabling set-up.
 
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RCM 800

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1) When you play out or gig, do you have a back-up head available and ready for use if there is a problem?
yes, either a modeler that can go straight to board or a second head (used to carry a tiny terror but now or20).

2) If not, what other alternatives exist for back-up?
see above

3) How often do you change tubes on an amp that may get less than 40 hours of use per year?
I only change tubes when they go, but I also bias them in spec and dont run them hot or cold on fixed bias amps. I am also not a touring musician, I play local gigs. If I were touring I would probably do much the same.
 

KraftyBob

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I haven’t played a gig in years, but when I did I didn’t have a backup as I could only afford one amp. Fortunately I never had a failure.

I may be playing with some friends in the future - mostly at someone’s house - but we do have interest in the occasional gig if the right opportunity presents is self. I now have several amps but I‘d still only bring one as I’m not interested in lugging around heavy amps “just in case”. I have a Helix LT and run that 4CM with my tube amps. However, I also setup a separate set list that’s all Helix/amp models so if my amp dies I can switch to FOH.

Tubes are a funny thing. Although rare, I’ve had some fail very quickly after being installed, yet others have lasted years. The best thing is to have a spare set on hand that you can quickly change out - assuming a failing tube doesn’t take out a screen resistor or something else. Best thing to do is listen to your amp as they usually (not always) give clues they are starting to go. Sometimes though it’s hard to notice those slight changes in tone over a period of time.
 

JHMvP

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I own three 5210's for a reason...simple design, built like a tank and almost as reliable as J*hw*h Himself.
Better to go through a 5210 than going directly through the PA.

And even if then, a Line6-product will never leave you silent or too cleanish/shrill through a PA.

Also, your piano/keyboard/bass/acoustic-bandmembers will be super-grateful whenever their amp goes down.
 
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PelliX

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1) When you play out or gig, do you have a back-up head available and ready for use if there is a problem?

Not necessarily as a 'backup' as such, but depending on what's going to be on the list a VOX and a Marshall are generally there. Could I get by with either one? For most stuff, casually, yes. Spare valves? Yes. Spare fuses? Mains fuse spare, no HT. Unless there was an obvious reason why the HT fuse popped, I wouldn't stick in another one and hope to be able to do a song. That's a workbench thing for me.

2) If not, what other alternatives exist for back-up?

Some kind of amp-sim would work, but would need to be set up ahead of time during the sound check, too. Depending on your (amp'ed) tone, you might get close.

3) How often do you change tubes on an amp that may get less than 40 hours of use per year?

Probably once or twice in my lifetime if that's what they would be doing, hehe. When they fail or the sound starts to get dull and A/B-ing with a fresh set 'warrants' the replacement. Of course, any valve can fail at any time.
 

donwagar

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Years ago we used to carry around our singer's spare Traynor YBA1. My JTM60 overheated one night so I had to use the Traynor. I did have an attenuator with me, that stock old Traynor on full crank sounded wonderful. But, it is a tank so we don't carry it with us anymore.

Now I just keep a Sansamp GT2 in my gig bag, I can go direct to PA if need be. I know there are many better modelers out there, some day I'll buy one. I'm in the 'I hope I never have to use it' camp.
 

JHMvP

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Also, I'm not knowledgable about churches or venues in your local region.
But here in The Netherlands some churches were built in the 1700's and I've come across a lot of stadiums that couldn't deliver the amperages (or even the voltages!) we needed as a band.

The same goes with open-air venues (quite deep here in a forest, with long cables) that were powered with little under-proportionized gas-generators.

In those cases we have to think about the amperages we might need.
That's when I bring my 5210 by default.
 
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jimmyo

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When playing live I always have two guitars and two forms of amplification. I’ve had gigs where I’ve broken a string or the volume pot or output jack came loose on my first guitar and I had to switch to the backup.

I bring a primary amp, usually one of my Marshall’s or a Splawn. I’ve had the same issue with an output fuse failing on power up. Not frequent but it does happen and then you are kind of hosed. So usually we make sure all the amps are on and producing sound at least 30 min before the first set and then I just leave the amp on during the night. It’s usually on power up where these things fail.

Every gig and rehearsal I bring this guy:
It’s small enough to keep in my gig bag and has all the essential things needed to get through a gig. Also helps if my pedal board or cabling takes a dive and I can’t troubleshoot. I have a 50ft XLR cable and the Flyrig ready to go and just DI to the PA mixer. The speaker simulator and tones are all pretty good, especially for the size. FOH it sounds decent and most folks in the crowd would be fine with the tone, especially mixed in with bass, keyboards and drums and rest of the band etc.
 
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PelliX

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This might catch some hate, but I'm putting it out there; I have actually considered something like a cheap little Bugera. Technically a full valve amp, but also a decent line out, apparently. I've never tried one, but at the price of some of the modeling gear and whatnot - I might be tempted. I tend to rely on the amp for tone, so I'm not sure how that would work out. With the line out, you could technically have it in parallel going into the mixing desk and the sound guy (or you) can switch if/when that dreaded moment arrives...
 

dptone5

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I bring a primary amp, usually one of my Marshall’s or a Splawn. I’ve had the same issue with an output fuse failing on power up. Not frequent but it does happen and then you are kind of hosed. So usually we make sure all the amps are on and producing sound at least 30 min before the first set and then I just leave the amp on during the night. It’s usually on power up where these things fail.
I was wondering about this. The time between rehearsal and the service was 1.5 hours. I turned the amp completely off. Was wondering if it would have been better to put it on standby, or leave it on the entire time?

Instead of leaving it on, this would indicate that 30 minutes before the set, turn everything on, ensure its all working, and leave it on at that point. That way, you would still have time to trouble-shoot, change the head, or go with your back-up modeler or unit if need be.

Great feedback everyone! This is all very helpful and appreciated. I hope this conversation continues and helps others too. I know that members of this forum understand how disappointing it was to go from glorious Plexi tone to playing through an OD pedal!!
 

MonstersOfTheMidway

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Most of the time, I do carry a backup to my main amp. Sometimes I take another amp but at the very least I'll have a multi-effects unit featuring built-in modeling that I've preselected (i.e. amp, cab, effects) and arranged in presets according to a set list. Not everything turns out the way it's drawn up, but we do the best we can.
 

Jethro Rocker

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Absolutely! Every time! Not for farting around but for gigs, definitely.
I used to take a SS combo, then a mini head like the 6505MH. I now take the Taurus SH3 pedal amp. In addition, I have amp sims on my G3 multi.
Spare guitars, of course too. No time to change a string midsong. No point on troubleshooting tubes between sets.

Last gig we played was late April. The Mesa MkV 35 suddenly gave silence after 4 songs. I unplugged all and went guitar straight in. Still nothing. (Incidenatlly, it worked when I got home the next day:hmm:)
I quickly hooked up the little Taurus and carried on. 2 channels with a boost and a loop, 60 watts. I now also have a BluGuitar Amp 1 Iridium and will be taking it next Fri for sure.

The ONE time I neglected to bring a backup I lost a power tube. Used buddy's ancient PV Bandit. Glad he had it.
 


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