Blowing It – Guitar Amps & Fuses

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I learned a few things about guitar amps and fuses this weekend that I wanted to pass along.  I picked up a used Bugera V5 guitar amp not too long ago that’s been fantastic for playing in a worship service.  My setup on electric guitar at Holy Trinity is very close to the congregation, so having great tube tone, but at a low stage volume is important.  Before that, I was lugging around my heavy Fender Frontman 212r that I modified into a cabinet and was playing an Epiphone Valve Jr. through the custom speakers I’d installed.  The problem was that while “Junior” was only a 5w tube head, I still ran it through a 2×12 which was more volume than we needed considering that we mic the cabinet and run it through the PA.  The Bugera is a cute little 1×6 that’s highly portable.  I’ve been very pleased with it.

Friday night at a retreat, the Bugera V5 stopped working.  It wouldn’t power on.  This kind of thing always happens on long weekend retreats!  Something goes wrong.  We pulled the fuse, but rather than your usual clear glass tube, it was white.  I’d never seen that before.  Turns out it’s a ceramic fuse.  According to online research, ceramic fuses are for higher heat tolerances.  I went to my local Radio Shack on Saturday after using an Epiphone Valve Jr. as a backup and they only had glass versions of the fuse I needed.

My thought was that there must be a reason that they had ceramic in there, so I kept looking.  The good folks at Funky Munky Music in Shawnee ended up having one on site and when I came in, just gave it to me.  What great guys!  I had also called Steve at Guitar Dock in Overland Park.  He’s a veteran in the business and referred me to Kansas City’s area amp guru, Cliff Smith, of Cliff Smith Audio.

The good news was that the ceramic fuse I found worked and the amp was back in business, but I was still curious on glass vs ceramic fuses.  Cliff returned my call and affirmed that I’d have been fine with a glass fuse since the Bugera is a 1A 250V fuse.  (1 amp)  He said that anything under 10 amps should be fine with a glass.  Good to note for the future.

Side Story- My buddy, Jeremy Smith,  lead guitar player at Valley View, has a vintage Fender Princeton amp that Cliff helped restore.  It’s a beautiful amp and sounds fantastic, so Cliff is definitely a pro!

I am fortunate to play on Sunday mornings with another amazing lead guitar Player named Keith Haas at Valley View.  Keith has several amps, and always has at least two electric guitars on him at all times.  He’s the kind of guy that pulls vintage boutique pedals out of his socks at the most opportune moments!  Keith has had enough experience in gigging and getting stranded that he keeps backups for his backups on hand. 

I’d love to hear what your experience has been with gear and things breaking down on you?  What kind of backups do you keep around?