#1
Hello!

I recently (yesterday!) acquired my first tube amp (Fender Blues Jr.) and I have some questions about tube amps in general :

I understand that they are more fragile than solidstate amps.

So :

- What is the thing to be the most careful about when using a tube amp ?
- What are the main things NOT TO DO ?
- Can using the amp for a long period of time damage it ?

The Blues Jr doesn't have a stand by switch. Is that an issue?

Do you have recommendations on how to use it ?

Thanks!!!
#2
If it doesn't have a stand by switch I would think it's probably not a true tube amp.

I think..

And who said tube amps are more fragile?
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#4
Quote by dopelope
Little glass tubes arent fragile? Of course they are! Thats why tube amps are more fragile. Fender Blues Jr is def a Tube amp BTW.


Ehh, I've just always heard about SS being more unreliable, but I guess it's all about how you handle your gear too.

I didn't even know that you can have an all t00b amp with no stand by switch.
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#5
Quote by Guitarbaddie
If it doesn't have a stand by switch I would think it's probably not a true tube amp.

I think..

And who said tube amps are more fragile?



Some smaller amps, like the Champ do not have a Standby switch. Just because there's a lack of a switch doesn't mean it's not a true tube amp. If the amp employs tubes for its amplification, it's a tube amp.
#6
^ +1

- What is the thing to be the most careful about when using a tube amp ?

Don't run the amp without a speaker or load attached.

- What are the main things NOT TO DO ?

Don't move it when the tubes are still hot, the aforementioned not running it without a speaker/load attached, warm up the tubes for at least 30 seconds before playing, use standby if you're stopping for short periods of time (but don't leave the amp on standby for extended periods), that type of stuff. That's about it, I think.

- Can using the amp for a long period of time damage it ?

I guess it depends on what you mean by "long periods", but yeah. If anything, I think it does the tubes less harm leaving them on than turning them on and off.

The Blues Jr doesn't have a stand by switch. Is that an issue?

Nah not really. Just turn it on with the volume down for maybe 30 seconds to a minute or two before playing.

Do you have recommendations on how to use it ?

What do you mean?
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#7
You don't need a standby switch on most tube amps. Honestly... the standby switch often means people do more damage to their amps than the standby helps.

Most new tube amps without a standby switch have an NTC in them that causes them to warm up slowly anyway.

One thing... if you do get an amp that has standby on it... DO NOT put the amp in standby for extended periods of time. This does a lot more damage to your amp than just turning it on or off. Cathode poisioning occurs when there is a heater voltage present but no HV.

Most tubes amps aren't really that fragile. The tubes aren't thin, the only thing you have to really worry about is moving it while the tubes are hot.

If you take it out in cold/hot environments let it warm/cool to the ambient temperature before turning the tubes on. It could cause some thermal shock if you don't, although its probably not necessary.
#8
Quote by Guitarbaddie
If it doesn't have a stand by switch I would think it's probably not a true tube amp.

Wrong.

Quote by XgamerGt04
One thing... if you do get an amp that has standby on it... DO NOT put the amp in standby for extended periods of time. This does a lot more damage to your amp than just turning it on or off. Cathode poisioning occurs when there is a heater voltage present but no HV.

Isn't that just a tube concern, though?

I mean, it's not like it physically damages the amp.
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Last edited by bubb_tubbs at Apr 8, 2011,
#9
Thanks for the responses, so moving the amp while the tubes are hot, you mean like moving it when I just turned it off ?
#10
Quote by alans056
Thanks for the responses, so moving the amp while the tubes are hot, you mean like moving it when I just turned it off ?

Yes.
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#11
Quote by XgamerGt04

One thing... if you do get an amp that has standby on it... DO NOT put the amp in standby for extended periods of time. This does a lot more damage to your amp than just turning it on or off. Cathode poisioning occurs when there is a heater voltage present but no HV.


Oh crap. I just forgot about my amp and left it on standby for like 4 hours. It still sounds good... Will I have damaged it?
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#12
Quote by Shredding 4Life
Oh crap. I just forgot about my amp and left it on standby for like 4 hours. It still sounds good... Will I have damaged it?



Chances are it's not damaged. Just don't make it a habit of leaving in STBY for long periods.
#13
That's OK. Try not to do it again. It just might make your tubes wear out faster.

Here are some recommendations for taking good care of a tube amp:

1. Always make sure that a speaker load is present. i.e. if it's a head make sure it's connected to a proper impedance speaker cab. If it's a combo like the Blues Jr. make sure the speaker connection doesn't get unplugged. If you don't know what that stuff about impedance means Google is your friend.

2. Keep the amp right-side up as a general rule. That's the way it was designed to work. Damage may occur to the tubes or the amp if rising heat collects in the amp somewhere since the design of ventilation routes on the amp was for the right side up position. Also if you have a spring reverb unit in the amp, it won't work properly unless the amp is right side up. There may be other reasons I'm not thinking of, but the point is don't take the gamble.

3. When first using the amp, turn the amp on and let it warm up for 30 seconds or so as has been mentioned, with the standby switch on. If no standby switch, then turn the volume down like recommended above.

4. Keep the back and top of the amp unobstructed so that heat can escape.

5. Let the amp cool down when you are finished playing, before moving the amp.

6. Don't just throw the amp in the back of a truck and let it bounce around. As mentioned these are glass tubes. They are more robust than a light bulb but they could still be damaged. If you are worried about your amp getting bounced around too much because you are touring or something, you should get a good road case.

7. Keep an extra set of tubes and fuse around just in case. You never know.

8. All the same rules that would apply to any other amp apply. i.e. Don't plug in an amp designed for 120V power into a 240V outlet. Don't spill beer / water / coke into the amp. Don't leave the amp on for more time than you use it. ETC.

9. Finally, actually take time read the user manual that the manufacturer provided with the amp. You will always learn something valuable and you may learn something that you should be doing with that particular make/model of amp.

Anyone have any others to add?
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#14
It won't damage the amp but it can severely dimish the life span of your tubes. While for cheap modern tubes its not a problem, if you use NOS tubes you don't want to kill those early.

It could also cause a problem if something goes wrong with one of the tube cathodes and it starts to draw excessive current
#16
Good tips, also when transporting keep it right side up too. Don't forget to have it biased if you change tubes. Although that may not apply if its a combo.
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#18
I guess it depends on what you mean by "long periods", but yeah. If anything, I think it does the tubes less harm leaving them on than turning them on and off.


Why would turning the tubes on and off cause damage?
#20
Quote by AcousticMirror
because you are sending tons of electricity through them.

This.

It's called inrush current.
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#21
This.

It's called inrush current.


So you're saying tubes suffer from inrush current?
#24
also, don't keep it in any damp basements or garages for extended periods of time.
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#25
Rusted trannies gives it teh mojoz!
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Feel free to express yours so I can make an informed judgement about how stupid you are.
#26
and dampness adds fart to the speaker.

sadly, i know this from experience.

i was young.
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#27
Don't my eye contact with it. It takes it as a sign of aggression. And don't be afraid. It smells your fear.

I don't buy into the "play at reduced volumes" and all that if it doesn't have a standby switch. When the tubes are warm enough to produce sound, they'll produce sound. That's about it. But then again, I practice "bad" tube amp habits; my first set of tubes lasted for 8 years.
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#28
Quote by bubb_tubbs
This.

It's called inrush current.


If you leave the tube on for extended periods of time you will do more damage to the cathodes than you will if you just turn it off. Most amps today also have an NTC in them to minimize inrush current as it is.