This weekend revealed some interesting perspective on Talkbass, the internet, and my beloved bass guitar amplifiers.
I blew a vacuum tube in one of my amps, and when I searched for tech support, I came up with nothing. In fact; after six hours of Googling and phone calls, I still had no facts, so I was forced to establish my own. I suppose in some realms, that statement wouldn’t be too unbelievable, but when the amp that you’re working on is the worlds “most popular” amp, then why and how is there a lack of information on it?
I should clarify, that I found NO lack (absofuckinglutely NONE) of people “acting” like they knew all about it, and I found no lack of click bait on the subject either, but when I needed to separate fact from fiction, one room was empty and one was full.
Once again, we see that everyone running to ditch the old ways in favor of technology, was not a good thing. When I was a kid, if 300 people needed information, they all went to the library and read a book, which was authored by a documented authority, and then everyone was on the same page.
Tech support is the world and it’s priceless. The internet is a completely lacking and idiotic means to obtain facts when you need them, and yet “we’ve” made it the only game in town. This is why you need to patronize companies who stand behind their products, even if it means paying more.
The SVT is the most famous/ popular bass amp of all time, and yet, there’s a massive lack of knowledge on it. So now I’m wondering, do all all of the people who speak with authority on it, really not have a clue? The answer is definitely “Yes”.
For well over 30 years, I’ve heard that tubes have to be burned in, matched, and replaced in sets… And when I went to Talkbass for information on the SVT, those three things were consistently emphasized by most users. However, a closer look revealed that there were some big holes in the logic. So I called up the worlds leading musical instrument specialists, and I asked them about it… They responded, just as with Talkbass, “match tubes and replace in sets”.
On the surface; I have two authorities on bass guitar gear, both confirming the “old wives tales” that I’ve always heard about tubes, but even a rookie like me, see’s that the facts don’t add up.
- Burn in. All tubes MUST be burned in. That’s the saying, yet there is zero information regarding burn in. Many amp aficionado’s say that burn in is achieved by turning on your amp and leaving it in standby for two to three hundred hours. If that’s true, then you can’t replace one tube, without taking 300 hours of life off your other tubes… And who would do that? More importantly, why isn’t this mentioned in any Mesa or Ampeg manual?
- Matching Tube. All tubes must be matched. Meaning that the properties of each tube should be very similar to the others in your system. The problem here is that NOT ONE seller on the internet advertised specifications for tubes, so even if you knew your tube specs, you couldn’t ever buy new ones to match them.
- Tubes must be replaced in pairs. All of the tubes, which were available for sale on Sweetwater, Guitar Center, Ebay, and Amazon, were sold in singles, sets of two, four, and then entire “re-tube” kits. I checked the Talkbass forums and the rest of the web, and then I called tech support for Sweetwater and GC. Everyone confirmed that tubes needed to be replaced in pairs, especially in the SVT. However, the SVT doesn’t have pairs of tubes, it has two sets of triplets… and after four hours of searching the web, I found no one selling triplets. So apparently, everyone peaks in the back of an SVT, see’s six tubes, and assumes that there are three sets of two, but there are actually two sets of three.
So if you’re attempting to match and replace in pairs, then it’s impossible to replace tubes in an Ampeg SVT, without replacing all three in a bank. And since you can only buy tubes in sets of one, two, or four, then you’d have to buy four to replace a bank, which would leave you with one, brand new, unusable, $50 tube, and two perfectly good, unusable, used tubes. How has this never been mentioned by anyone?
I’d like to give credit to the two users on Talkbass, who knew that an SVT had triplets. It didn’t solve my problem, but it sure made sniffing out the bullshit a Hell of a lot easier. It all goes to show that information is king, so ask yourself, how much of what you know, do you really “know”. I’ve just found out that a lot of what I’ve always heard, is apparently nothing more than creative marketing, which was formed into and old wives tale and then passed down through the ages.
When you need help and your money is at stake, don’t take the Internets word for it… get a book if you can. Anyone who took the time and money to write a book, likely had verifiable sources, which you can trust. Always follow your head. If it doesn’t seem right, it’s probably not.