[sigh of relief]

I’m pleased to report that the problem with my amp seems to have been a bad power tube. I got a replacement set of Sovtek KT88s from Tubedepot.com this afternoon and replaced the old ones. I fired it up, and it sounds like it’s supposed to sound. Actually, it sounds way better than it did when I first got it. I would like to put some real playing time on this thing, but I just don’t really have the opportunity right now.

Anyway, I’m glad that it was a $50 set of tubes rather than something ridiculous like a power transformer.

Redplating

I’m pretty sure that my amp’s fuse problem was caused by a bad power tube. After I replaced a fuse and fired the amp up again I smelled something burning after about 5 minutes. I hit the power and looked inside the amp and one of the power tubes was glowing bright orange. Apparently, this is known as redplating. It happens when one of the power tubes goes bad and the other tube tries to handle everything on its own. The remaining tube draws a huge amount of current which exceeds the rating of the fuse, causing it to blow.

Anyway, I ordered a pair of Sovtek KT88s from Tubedepot this afternoon. Hopefully, they will rectify the situation.

“How’s the new job?”

I have been asked this question many times over the last couple of weeks, usually followed by a snicker. If you didn’t know, I recently changed jobs. For the last five years I have been an orchestra director, but this year I have made the transition to elementary music.

In all honesty, I would rather be teaching strings, but the new job is much closer to home. I used to spend about 12-15 hours on the road every week, but my new job is less than 15 minutes from my house. I used to have to fill my tank 2-3 times a week, but now I can usually go a couple of weeks on a single tank. Between gas and tolls, I expect to save about $2000 a year (not including wear and tear). That’s a pretty hefty percentage of a teacher’s salary.

On the down side, I don’t really know what I’m doing with some of these kids. 2 weeks in, I have discovered that I am much better at dealing with the little guys (pre-K up to 2nd grade) than I am with the 3rd and 4th graders. The little ones are willing to be silly and move and dance, but the older guys are much too cool for that stuff. I find myself at a loss much of the time. I am much better at teaching an applied skill to middle school kids than I am at teaching general music to 3rd and 4th graders.

One positive is that this job is forcing me to reach outside of what is comfortable. I have to be goofy to connect with the little guys. I have to dance and do action songs, even though I feel completely stupid doing them. I can’t allow myself to be self-conscious while doing this stuff, or the kids will totally pick up on it and disconnect.

I also have to sing on an almost daily basis, which is something that I’m really not comfortable with. I’m getting better about my confidence, but it’s still awkward. I brought a guitar today and did The Star-Spangled Banner with the third graders and they responded pretty well, even though that song has a completely evil range.

Basically, this experience is stretching me. It may be good for me in the long run, but it’s not very comfortable right now. Hopefully, things will settle in sooner than later.

blown fuse

I blew a fuse in my new amp tonight.

Hopefully it’s just the fuse ($cheap), but blown fuses can indicate bigger problems in the amp. It could be a bad 5U4 rectifier tube (~$15) or a bad set of KT88 power tubes (~$50). It could also be a speaker problem. I got a couple of new speakers this week (Eminence Wizard and Governor, both 16 ohms) and the problem may be with one or both of the speakers. I wired them in parallel, but it’s quite possible that I wired them wrong.

There’s also the totally off chance that the power transformer could be blown. It’s unlikely, but if that is the case, I will contact Fryette and see if they will repair the amp. If they won’t, then I’ll try to get my money back from the seller.

Of course, this is all speculation since I haven’t even tried to troubleshoot the amp yet. The first step will be to pick up some fuses. If the fuse blows again with the current setup, I will remove all the tubes and try again. If the fuse doesn’t blow, it’s a bad tube. If it still blows, then something else is wrong.

Anyone else have any ideas?