Amplifier Ownership Do’s and Don’ts

In this blog I am sharing some suggestions for maintaining and caring for your amplifier.  These are things that I believe will keep your amplifier working well and even prolong its life.


1) DO check your speaker impedance regularly.

   Get a Volt/Ohm Meter.  Learn to use it.  It will be your good friend.  Make a habit to check the impedance of every speaker before you plug in.  You just never know what may have happened since the last time you used it.

2) DO replace power tubes after 300 hours typical use.

    If you play six hours per week, you need to retube yearly.

3) DO transport your amp on it’s back whenever possible.

    Aside from negating the possibility of your amp tipping over and destroying itself, an amp on it’s back will allow the speaker to bounce down the road with it’s natural movement.  This prevents voice coil damage due to contrary vibrations.

4) DO wait for power tubes to assume room temperature before moving the amp.

     Of course, it’s not always practical to give your amp 20 minutes to cool off.  But when you can, give those power tubes a chance to relax.  The worst wear on power tubes is banging them around when they’re hot.

5) DO ensure that your amp is plugged into a properly wired outlet.

     In addition to the VOM, a basic circuit tester should also go into your gig bag.  It’s a small plastic plug with three lights that will check the AC wiring for you.  Refrain from using any AC outlet that isn’t wired correctly.


1) DO NOT use the “Standby” switch as a mute.

    If you leave your amp with the filament (or power) switch “On” and the high voltage (or standby) “Off” you can over time expose the power tube plates to what is called “cathode stripping”.  This will cost you tube life and money.  When you take a break, leave the amp on.  Don’t power down until you are done for the night.

2) DO NOT use an incorrect fuse type or value.

    If your amp needs a 2 amp fast blow (or fast acting) fuse, THAT is what you need.  NEVER use a larger rated fuse than called for.  EVER.  I mean it.  If you can’t find the right value, go smaller.  NEVER larger.

3) DO NOT defeat the chassis ground of any amp.  Ever.

    If I need to elaborate, you likely should not be allowed to use electricity.

4) DO NOT operate an amp with an absent or mismatched load.

     Some amps will tolerate an impedance mismatch.  Others may even endure a temporary loss of load.  Don’t take chances.  Know the speaker load your amp wants to see and use it faithfully.

5) DO NOT place liquids of any sort on top of an amplifier.

     This might seem obvious, but the number of repairs I see with this cause would indicate otherwise.