Hey all,
Last week I sent my tube amp in to an Amp techie to get fixed. The problem with it was a 'white-noise' like sound on the clean channel that could be also heard slightly on the drive channel. I just rang up and the guy said that a pre-amp valve had gone and that he had serviced the amp as well as performed the replacement of this valve.
He has quoted/charged me £68 for this, and as I know little to nothing about the maintenance or servicing of a tube amplifier, I just wanted to know if this was a fair price he will be charging me when I go to pick it up? When looking for tubes on the internet I thought they cost around £10-25 each. Any help from any genuine tech-guys would be helpful!

NB: In dollars this would be around $120 for any US replies
It depends on the "service" he performed. It's certainly a bit high for a simple preamp tube replacement, I mean, all you do is pop it out and put a new one in.
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You didn't ask him for the servicing did you? Just to fix the problem, which was a preamp tube swap. Anyone could have done that in less than 5 minutes.
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No, literally all I did was drop it in and say "can you have a look at this for me" then he agreed and said he would call me with what the problem was and we would go from there. Rung him up today as I didn't have a reply from him in over a week and he said he had fixed it (which consisted of Pre-amp valve change, cleaned valves and service).
"Service" is too ambiguous. Don't pay him a dime until he details everything he did and justifies doing it. Even then, I'd be hard pressed to pay, as he did not confirm that you were ok with the amp being "serviced".
I'm putting my GAS on hold
for a couple months in order to pimp my ride.

Don't judge me.
Hmm yea! I am seriously annoyed about it to be honest. My plan was to identify if it was anything more serious than a blown/dead valve and leave it to him. If it was just a blown valve then I could pay him for looking over it and go get the valve myself as I have changed them before!
So shove the old valve up his poop chute and tell him what's what!
I'm putting my GAS on hold
for a couple months in order to pimp my ride.

Don't judge me.
Yeah, that is way too pricey. Confront him about it, but remain civil. Don't go and get on anyone's bad side.
Well... he got you now.. but don't let this happen twice
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you need to also understand that even tho he determined that it was a valve problem. he may have had to spend some time with the amp first,

cleaned the amp and tested other areas of the amp.

i'm not saying that the price is justified, or that he should have done additional work.
just that, it's not as out there, as all that.

i've taken electronics in to shops where, there's a fee just for looking, because looking takes time.

anyway, in the future, i guess get more specifics up front.

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Sounds high, but reasonable.

Any decent amp tech will do an inspection of the amp when servicing... particularily if the amp is an older model. There's also a flat rate minimum bench fee that you'll pay regardless of whether it's a 5 minute fix or a 45 minute fix (the inspection is usually part of the minimum bench fee). Lastly, there's the cost of the tube.

If buddy installed a £15 tube and had a £50 minimum bench fee, plus applicable taxes....

Lastly, American's need to remember that the cost of living in the UK is higher than in the US... so service fees tend to be higher than what you'd expect in the US.
Last edited by some_dude_2 at Feb 9, 2009,
What you're paying for is really the diagnostic work. While he may have simply replaced a single preamp tube, he probably tested the preamp circuit for bad components, loose solder joints, damage, etc, before coming to the conclusion that it was indeed a tube that was at fault. After that you have tube testing, which is generally expensive in order to offset the cost of tube testing equipment (good tube testers are WAY expensive).

I don't see anything unreasonable about the price you paid. In fact I would have expected it to be a good bit more.
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Average cost varys but usually its 60 bucks a hour. And the only time something might be cheaper is if you do a diagnostics first and let him call you before he works on it. Then its just $20 until something is actually worked on.

Example of fees, say you bring it in to me and say hey have a look at this and tell me what is wrong with it. Its going to be $20 bucks if you say ok thanks and you dont want it fixed. But if you say yes go ahead and fix it, the $20 is included in the first hour charge (minimum of one hour).

And like stated above the first hour regardless 5 minutes or 60 minutes is the same cost I usually dont pro-rate until its over that hour mark. And one of the main reasons for this is due to most of us being contract labor. Most techs dont work at the location providing the service usually we are contracted out. So this means we pay the store a flat rate or precentage on everything they bring to us to fix and factor in the cost of driving to the location and bringing it back to the location. So that first hour is what takes the biggest hit because of all the other associated costs.
Last edited by IbanezPsycho at Feb 9, 2009,
As an amp tech, I have a policy...any parts I replace I give them a copy of the recepit, I put down exactly how much time I spent on it and what I was doing (I literally record "I work from 5:34 to 6:56 on this, and I was doing x, y, and z").

...unorthodox, sure, but keeps people happy.

Seems like your tech could do with a bout of openness. Just ask him, what did he do, exactly. If he says "long story", say "I've got the time". Do do your best to be civil though...the economy being what it is, the guy might very well be charging just a bit extra so he can feed his family for another week...not saying that jacking prices is right/good/whatever, just that he might have a different perspective on things.

He also might be screwing you over. So, yeah...go have a chat with him.
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Not sure why basic diagnostic work is so hard for people to pay for. When I worked as a tech on cars people did this all the time "you didnt do anything you only diagnosed the problem" yea I spent a half hour of my time using the tools that cost me alot of money combined with the experience to know what to look for. They were only willing to pay for the part and time to replace it. If I diagnosed it but they went and got the part themselves then they felt I was owed nothing at all I "didnt actually fix it".
Figure a half an hour to get your amp out put it on the bench and plug it in. Im sure he did more than just look at it and devine it needed a preamp tube. Yea a tube on the net is 10-25 but if you go to a store to buy one its gonna be a little more due to markup. Im sure valve amps techs arent falling out of trees so his service's are at a premium. So around 50 for his time is not an outrageous amount. You can probably argue with him about the getting your own tube and the diagnostic fee, BUT dont expect him to near as friendly next time you need your amp fixed if he will do it at all.