#1
Just as I thought I finally had everything I really needed and could bring myself to stop spending money on this hobby... this happens.

Like the title says, I found a Crate Vintage Club 50 (this is the model with the 15" speaker, and it's in blonde tolex) for sale in my area for $125. But it needs new tubes. The owner said that when it failed, it worked fine for the first few minutes and then simply faded out. The power and standby lights go on, but no sound.

I think this sounds like a decent buy, but I'm not as experienced with tube amps as I should be to feel totally confident in handing over the cash without some advice. My questions are:

1) Does the described failure sound like it's just bad tubes, or could there possibly be something else wrong? Is there any way I can check this before paying for it and taking it home/ to a tech?

2) From the symptoms described, is there any way to know which tubes will need replacing? From the research I've already done, it sounds like it's possibly a preamp tube, which would be really nice as I wouldn't need to worry about biasing it... or do I have part or all of that wrong?

3) Assuming it's one or more tubes, what price range am I looking at to get the thing operational again?

I'm going to be in the city where this amp is tomorrow, so speedy advice would be super appreciated. If there's anything I'm not thinking of that I should be... I'm all ears.

Thanks!
#2
Quote by Vlaco
Just as I thought I finally had everything I really needed and could bring myself to stop spending money on this hobby... this happens.

Like the title says, I found a Crate Vintage Club 50 (this is the model with the 15" speaker, and it's in blonde tolex) for sale in my area for $125.


great amp, is this the one with the 15" speaker? the deal is that the amps don't really go for much anyway. the 'Crate' name and the obscure model make for cheap buys, i have seen this amp go for 250 working.

not really trying to dissuade you, just want you to know you're getting a great sounding/playing amp but it's resale is gonna suck.

Quote by Vlaco
But it needs new tubes. The owner said that when it failed, it worked fine for the first few minutes and then simply faded out. The power and standby lights go on, but no sound.

I think this sounds like a decent buy, but I'm not as experienced with tube amps as I should be to feel totally confident in handing over the cash without some advice. My questions are:

1) Does the described failure sound like it's just bad tubes, or could there possibly be something else wrong?


yeah, it sounds like it could be bad tubes. usually with power amp tubes going bad, one of them is working enough for you to hear a signal for a little bit before fuzzing out.

in other words, it could be bad tubes, but it could just as easily be something else. my THD bivalve had similar symptoms to the VC50 you wanna buy, it's problem happened to be a burnt resister and not tubes.

Quote by Vlaco
Is there any way I can check this before paying for it and taking it home/ to a tech?


i have extra sets of tubes sitting around. i'd take the tubes i needed to the place and try and find the 'bad tube'. you kinda have to know what you are doing, but it requires no more technical ability than screwing in lighbulbs.

other than that, you can take it to a tech, but you'd most likely have to pay for that and wait some time.

2) From the symptoms described, is there any way to know which tubes will need replacing?

not really. you'd need to get more info. but it does sound more like power tube failure.

From the research I've already done, it sounds like it's possibly a preamp tube, which would be really nice as I wouldn't need to worry about biasing it... or do I have part or all of that wrong?

that is possible it is a preamp tube, but hard to tell either way. one time my music man went out, i swore it was something huge cuz it wouldn't turn on. the power switch was just broke so it wasn't completing the circuit, simple and cheap.

3) Assuming it's one or more tubes, what price range am I looking at to get the thing operational again?

~10 bucks per preamp tube, ~35 to 50 a set for power amp tubes. so ~50 to 75 bucks for a complete retube.

I'm going to be in the city where this amp is tomorrow, so speedy advice would be super appreciated. If there's anything I'm not thinking of that I should be... I'm all ears.

Thanks!

you probably don't wanna hear this, and i don't really like saying it becuz the amp is cool, but you might wanna stay away from this amp.

i know some things about amps, i could take some parts with me and trouble shoot it a bit and find out what may really be wrong with it. it sounds like you may not be able to tell whats up with the amp. if you buy it without knowing what is wrong it could be a simple fix of replacing 1 tube and you get a cool amp for ~135 bucks and that is great.

it could also end up with you taking the amp into a tech and having it worked on and that may cost more than the amp is worth total (125 cost +150 to 200 in repair in worst case).

i know a good amp guy, so it's not a big deal to me, but if you are cash-strapped then maybe this is too high risk for you.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#3
It's not that I'm cash strapped or anything... I'm willing to take a gamble. I do want to learn a little more about working with amps- fixing, modding, that sort of thing. The only thing that's been stopping me from cracking open my Epi Valve Standard is that it's my only amp at them moment and I'd hate to screw it up. This sounds like it might be a good project to learn some of the basics on. Looking at it that way, is it worth a shot?
#4
I'd buy, however I can pull it apart and fix it.

Last crate I bought had a fuse clip that burned, 38cents later I had a working amp.

Get a better price because you are going to have to take it to a tech. Don't buy it for anything over $100.

-Didn't see your response. If you get it cheap enough it could be a great project amp. Keep in mind they can easily kill you if you don't know what you are doing. They can be near 500v.
Last edited by R45VT at Jan 17, 2012,
#5
You should have spares anyway. If you had you could have tried them already and wouldn't need to ask.
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#6
...I just checked what tubes my Valve Standard uses, and they're the same as what the Crate needs. Could I pull them out and take them with me to swap them out and check? And if I did that, would I have to worry about re-biasing the Valve Standard, or is that just something that you need to worry about with new tubes?

I apologize if these seem like stupid questions. Most of the stuff I've read on biasing just tells me to take it to a tech, but I like doing things myself. Safely, of course.
#7
You won't need to rebias those tubes, but if something is wrong with that crate it could fry the tubes. Honestly, if you wanna mess around with the amp and take a small gamble try to snag it for 100. They're pretty nice amps, made in the US. Pretty much anything wrong with the amp should be fixable, especially considering it doesn't sound like a transformer issue.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
#8
I'd buy it. But I also would be able to fix it myself. My main amp is also a Crate VC50 3x10 that I picked up for $150 and needed a little work. If you intend to learn how to fix amps, that would entail buying at least a multimeter and soldering iron/station, then this is a good start.

Otherwise if you had to rely on a tech you might just end up with a good amp at a reasonable price at best. At worst it would need more parts and cost a lot. But if you are doing it yourself it could still be a bargain.
#9
Don't forget the "death cap".
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#10
NO! You should send me the information so I can buy it!

So, yes...pull the trigger.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#11
It depends on what city its in. If its within a 45 minute drive from me then you should pass it up. If its further away from me then you should buy it... Where is it?
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#12
Quote by LaidBack
Don't forget the "death cap".
I think that's only a problem with 2 prong power plugs. The VC50 is 3-prong with a grounded chassis.
#13
Quote by fly135
I think that's only a problem with 2 prong power plugs. The VC50 is 3-prong with a grounded chassis.


Ah, that's good to know...
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#14
Well, it looked rough, but that meant I could talk him down to 100 easily... almost a little too easily. Maybe I should have kept going. No torn tolex, but there is some corrosion on the corners and screws, and it kind of smells like, well, willful poverty. I think cosmetically it will clean up fine, though. I might leave it looking a little old just for the aesthetic. I'm thinking a thread of before and after pictures might be cool.

The nice part is it takes the same tubes as the Valve Standard I have, so I'm going to order enough for a complete retube and any that I don't need can be spares.
#15
If the tubes are the same in both amps then just try them. Chances are they won't be that far out of bias that they'll blow up. Keep your eye on them, if they start to go red turn it off. You'd have to be pretty damn unlucky though. To just test if your old valves are shot you should be fine. If you intend to leave them in there I'd rebias, but not just to test it.
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Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
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Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
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#16
Quote by LaidBack
Don't forget the "death cap".


most the time it is a crap-your-pants, scare-the-hell-outta-you, give-you shaky hand cap but yeah, it's good not to lick the caps.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#17
If anyone's interested...

I popped it open, and the tubes all had the typical soft orange glow. I switched them out methodically anyway and nothing improved. Right after I popped open the chassis my brother noticed a fuse that's blown- it's not burnt or anything, there's just nothing connecting the ends anymore.

I have no idea where to find fuses for this thing, though... or even what kind I need. There is some info printed on the circuit board next to it- something along the lines of 120/230VAC T250mA 250 V. It looks a awful lot like some of the fuses from the older trucks we've got on the family farm... Is there a fundamental difference between amp fuses and old style automotive fuses?
#18
The trip may have to wait until tomorrow... I'm a little busy gettting snowed in at the moment and the nearest one's an hour away. :/
#19
Sounds like the high voltage fuse. That would explain why no sound.

Buy several because it may blow when you put it in. If so pull the tubes and put them in one at a time until the second fuse blows. Then you know if you have a bad tube.
Last edited by fly135 at Jan 20, 2012,
#20
I popped the fuse in and voila, sound. A lot of it- this thing is loud. Most of the time. It had brief spurts this morning while I was testing it where it would cut out, fade back up to volume and back down, and it was popping with no real pattern. The new tubes should be here Tuesday, so until then I'm going to play with it some more and see if I can't figure out some kind of pattern to why it's doing this.
#21
Quote by Vlaco
It had brief spurts this morning while I was testing it where it would cut out, fade back up to volume and back down, and it was popping with no real pattern. The new tubes should be here Tuesday, so until then I'm going to play with it some more and see if I can't figure out some kind of pattern to why it's doing this.
My money says.... It's doing this because the solder joints on the pots and jacks are cracked where connected to the circuit board. You need to reflow the solder joints with an iron. That's exactly the same problem I had when I bought my VC50 and the fix is free if you have the tools.

Don't worry if you can't see the cracks. You may need a strong magnifying glass to see them. Just reflow all the jacks and pots.
#22
Seems like the popping only happens on low frequency notes above a certain volume. I haven't managed to get it to swell or cut out again.
#24
They're great amps. Borrowed the 1x15 combo for a gig years ago and thought it was great.
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#25
I don't know if anyone's actually following this, but I figured I'd update...

Remelting all the solder joints helped a lot- the popping has mostly disappeared. The only weird thing it's doing now is a weird "wooshing" noise that starts noticably after a note it played... it almost sounds like the amp's exhaling. The first time I heard it it actually creeped me out. Is this anything to worry about?

Also, is there any way to get stains out of white tolex, or is this thing only going to look good from a distance in it's current cab?

Either way, I feel like for $100 bucks and a $1.20 fuse, I did just fine on this. I really appreciate the help, everyone.
#26
this thing could do all kinds of odd stuff until the new tubes are in there.

congrats, it sounds like a good deal if it's just tubes.

i had a crate from the same series with the same tolex. i'd think nothing of a soft brush and some soapy water to clean it up. (i'd only try that with the amp and speaker removed from the shell). a sponge and some warm soapy water should so wonders on the grill. dry it off right after.
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#28
I got a bit more aggressive with cleaning... a medium stiffness brush and soft scrub didn't kill these stains, so I'm thinking I'm stuck with them. For now. Until I decide to experiment with working with tolex. I was going to post pictures, but I think she's ugly enough that only her owner would love her...
#29
well you could always get a bit aggressive.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#30
Quote by gregs1020
well you could always get a bit aggressive.


yep. getting agressive is how I do it.


but yeah, get some soapwater into that.
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Well, technically it could be done, but only in the same way that you could change a cat into a hamburger. It's an unpleasant process, and nobody is happy with the result.
#31
Old thread, but I had a lot of issues with my 2x12in combo back in the day, including a simple issue of corrosion on the effects loop jack. Cleaned that up and the intermittent surge and cut of output disappeared. I also had a cold solder issue at one point, which a tech had rectified in about 45mins and it's been trouble-free ever since.

I play hardcore and metal through mine almost exclusively without any additional effects. Just amp gain. Awesome amps!
#32
just curious, what type of tubes did you buy?
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