A musician and his instruments are inseparable
Going off to concerts and gigs without an amp in hand is like going to battle without bringing any bullets. An amp is a must have, especially if you’re a guitarist.
Having great equipment is one thing but knowing how to take care of it so it lasts the test of time is just as important.
As a musician you need to rest between sets and regain your composure. Likewise, your amps also need to keep their cool and stave off heat so that they can keep on running. Failure to keep your amps cool may result in to faulty performance at least, at worst it may start a fire.
The show must go on, so to speak. Today we are gonna cover some of the basics of amp management and maintenance.
Keeping it Cool
There are many ways to keep the amps cool. Some ways are considered general knowledge while others are more obscure. You may even find your own way to cool off your amps.
Maintain the Heat Sink
Embedded deep into the insides of almost each amp is the Heat Sink. The Heat Sink is an electronic component that deals with heat generated from within. The importance of the Heatsink cannot be diminished as it is in most cases the first line of defense in beating the heat.
They can usually be located near power transistors, as these components are one of the culprit of heat production (power almost always create heat).
Maintenance of a heat sink can be a bit difficult, considering its location. Also, people with no experience with electronics may not be able to discern the location, let alone the shape, of a heat sink. Regardless, you can still take some steps to ensure that the heat sink of your amp is in good condition.
- Vigilance. If your amp has been heating up more than the usual, the heat sink may have been damaged and may be dysfunctional. Go to a nearby repair shop immediately.
- You can also open the lid of the amp and eyeball the heat sink and see if it’s blocked with dust.
- Go to the shop regularly and have the personnel check the heatsink and other components to ensure optimum performance.
Quick Tip : If you can open up your amp and check if the heat sink is clogged up with dust this will help it maintain temperature.
Don’t Store in Hot Places
Do not store your amp in places where the temperature is high. This advice goes without saying and should be common knowledge. However, a simple instruction such as this can still be easily forgotten.
This mistake usually happens during the transportation of amps (especially the big ones). Vehicles used in transporting the amps may or may not have air conditioning. Being stuck in the back without ventilation can cause existing heat inside the unit to be trapped and unable to escape.
Amps are also susceptible to this when they go through a long period of disuse. Leaving amps out and not using them for many months at a time can sometimes cause them to have issues when first turned on. This usually goes away in a few days.
Listed below are suitable cool suitable places to store your amp
- Cool storage area when unused
- Well-ventilated trunk when in transit
- If possible, store in an air conditioned room.
Never ever do the following actions if you want to preserve your amp
- Leaving your amp outside at broad day light
- Leaving it inside your car while the engines (and air conditioning ) are turned off.
- Leaving it inside a enclosed space without checking it from time to time.
Investing in a Fan
While the existing heat sink inside the amp maybe enough to cool it down it will never hurt to pair it with another component. Fans are always a welcome addition and complements the cooling needs of your amp.
Do note, however, that having a fan will not be a guarantee that your amp will be immune to the negative effects of heat. Amps that are overused will always take in some damage. With that said, fans will greatly extend the life of an amp with respect to the heat that it takes in.
There are many brands, kinds and types of fan for amps floating around the market. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the endless choice of fans. There are usually two types of fans for amps:
- External Fans
- Internal Fans
As the name suggests, external fans are not part of the amp and is clearly separate from the casing. Meanwhile, internal fans are fused inside the casing for better performances.
External fans are easier to set up because you only have to plug it with a power sourceand place it near the amp. The best way to utilize an external fan is by placing it near the heat sink of the amp. It’s the usual plug and play products that are targeted to the masses.
The only problem with this set up is the distance between the casing, the innards and the fan itself. The distance may partly dissipate the cooling effect supplied by the fan in question.
Internal fans are better at cooling than their external counterparts because internal fans are inside the structure of the amp. The distance factor that is observed in external fans are nonexistent on the internal set-up. Internal fans are directly cooling the inside of the amp, thereby bypassing the casing and blowing cool air directly inside (especially the power transistors).
The only downside of this approach is its complexity. Installing internal fans will need some knowledge in cutting/ putting together wires and other related activities in installing an internal fan. Leave this to the pros.
If you want a closer look at the inside of an amp and what you need to do in order to maintain it, check this out.
The methods mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more ways to keep your amps cool. Usually, vigilance (mentioned on the first method) is enough to keep your amps cool and in good working condition. The most important thing here is to handle your amp with care.
Here are a couple of other articles that you might find helpful
I’m Mark Mullen. For the last 20 years I’ve worked with some of German’s biggest bands and promotion companies organizing industrial sound systems and special acoustic installations. I created this site as a resource for my many friends worldwide to make the process of buying a quality amp easier.