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Thread: What to look out for when buying used tube amp

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    What to look out for when buying used tube amp

    I found a Marshall JCM DSL 201...this will be the first all tube amp I've tested for purpose of buying. I've decided to go used to try to save money so I don't want to buy something that I'll need to dump money into...

    Are there any symptoms that I should be aware of to avoid a purchase all together? Is it normal for a tube amp to hiss on clean channel?

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    Last edited by lenleym; 02-05-2018 at 12:24 PM.

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    Axe-honerated spellcaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenleym View Post
    ...........Are there any symptoms that I should be aware of to avoid a purchase all together? Is it normal for a tube amp to hiss on clean channel?..........
    One of the things you may want to take in account is whether the amp will need to be retubed. I had to look online to see what this amp is, and it looks like they've been around since 1997. So...20 year old amp, possibly, but you have no way of knowing whether they've been used a lot or played hard, or used with an attenuator (which is harder on output tubes). You might need to replace one, more, or all of the tubes at some point. About the only other thing I see mentioned consistently is that older tube amps might need recapping, although that comment is most often in reference to old Fender amps from the 60's and 70's. There's probably less chance of component drift or catastrophic failure that would wipe out transformers if the amp's 20 years old or less. It's always a crapshoot when you buy used electronics, but I don't see any issues that would make me walk away from it. Good luck, and welcome to the forum.
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    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    It is hard to say exactly without seeing the amp but a pronounced hiss on one channel could be a sign of an issue- if any channel were to be noisier I would think it would be the high gain channel.

    The question I would ask is will that hiss come through as an unpleasant sound to your audience? If so I would pass because the amp will not be usable on jobs. This all said we're not seeing the amp firsthand.

    Is there any way you can have an amp tech look the amp over prior to buying?

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    Axe-honerated zontar's Avatar
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    Certainly look into what maintenance could cost, what new tubes could cost, etc
    & take that into consideration in addition to what's been mentioned above
    I've been a pilgrim on this earth, since the day of my birth, I'm a long way from my home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by die Bullen View Post
    It is hard to say exactly without seeing the amp but a pronounced hiss on one channel could be a sign of an issue- if any channel were to be noisier I would think it would be the high gain channel.

    The question I would ask is will that hiss come through as an unpleasant sound to your audience? If so I would pass because the amp will not be usable on jobs. This all said we're not seeing the amp firsthand.

    Is there any way you can have an amp tech look the amp over prior to buying?
    The amp is about a 100 mile drive away so I asked the owner to disclose any issues before I drive that far to check it out...this is what he said

    "The clean channel has some hiss to it (more than the dirty channel does)... not sure that it's actually an 'issue' just wouldn't want you to have any surprises. It's always had the hiss. I had a guy look at the amp and replace a bunch of capacitors and a couple of relays. It's not crazy loud or anything."

    Unfortunately I don't know anyone to take with me that knows anything about tube amps..

    Sent from my B1-770 using Tapatalk

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    Axe-honerated zontar's Avatar
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    Do you live somewhere remote?
    If not you should be able to find something as good or better that's closer
    Nova Scotia & New Brunswick have more music stores per capita than anywhere else in Canada
    Although not all of them would cover amps
    I've been a pilgrim on this earth, since the day of my birth, I'm a long way from my home.

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    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lenleym View Post
    The amp is about a 100 mile drive away so I asked the owner to disclose any issues before I drive that far to check it out...this is what he said

    "The clean channel has some hiss to it (more than the dirty channel does)... not sure that it's actually an 'issue' just wouldn't want you to have any surprises. It's always had the hiss. I had a guy look at the amp and replace a bunch of capacitors and a couple of relays. It's not crazy loud or anything."

    Unfortunately I don't know anyone to take with me that knows anything about tube amps..

    Sent from my B1-770 using Tapatalk
    100 miles away? I'd pass and buy something online from GC- that will at least be guaranteed

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    Quote Originally Posted by zontar View Post
    Do you live somewhere remote?
    If not you should be able to find something as good or better that's closer
    Nova Scotia & New Brunswick have more music stores per capita than anywhere else in Canada
    Although not all of them would cover amps
    There's only a couple of music stores within 100km of where I am...and not one has a used tube amp... I don't have $1000 to spend on a new one

    Sent from my B1-770 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by die Bullen View Post
    100 miles away? I'd pass and buy something online from GC- that will at least be guaranteed
    GC?

    Sent from my B1-770 using Tapatalk

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    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    Ultimately the choice is yours but clearly the hiss was enough of an annoyance to make the current owner to have looked into and spend money on attempting to address, albeit unsuccessfully.

    The amp might be fine, however- I guess if you don't mind the 160KM drive go and check it out.

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