I had a experience last week that has put my mind in quite a dilemma. I’m not sure of exactly the best way to handle the situation, so I thought I would take this to the streams…. you know, crowd source it a bit.
Here are the facts, with no embellishments nor pre conceived notions.
I recently been having issues with my beloved 1963 reissue Fender Vibroverb guitar amplifier, so I asked around the music scene for amp repair shop recommendations. My amp was in need of repair and I had a gig in 2 days. I called a local repair guy who was recommended by a few friends and explained what seemed to be wrong with the amp. He seemed to know exactly what the problem was from the symptoms I described to him. Best of all, the amp could be fixed that same day.
Sometimes… the radar simply tells you – be alert!
Upon dropping off the amp, I was told it seemed like a bad tube, that replacing all the tubes and servicing the amp would make the most sense. The price tag was $160 and my amp will be born again. I confirmed again that replacing all the tubes would first and foremost fix the problem and was yet again was assured it would. How cool was this… same day amp repair and a totally serviced Fender Vibroverb ready to rock…. I picked up my amp, paid the bill in cash and headed to the gig that Friday.
Hey Mr… did you really check this amp out?
As you might imagine, the amp continued to have the same microphonic issues it was having before I took it to the repair shop. And I had a Saturday night gig to get through. What a nightmare this had become. Monday morning I was on the phone to the repair guy and he told me to bring the amp back in. I chilled…. I chilled some more… I dropped off the amp and a few hours later got a phone call.
We have found the cause this time…
Ummmm, ok. The culprit seemed to be the output transformer and he just happened to have the upgraded part on hand for a mere $42 plus labor to install. I got an uneasy feeling and told him I would stop by and pick up the amp and will just use my spare amp while I mull over replacing the transformer. He claimed the amp was all apart. That he would have to put it back together again. I said ok, I really appreciate you doing that for me…… I immediately took the amp to my former trusted repair guy who happened to be a bit more of a drive away.
….we seem to have an issue here
I got a call from the new repair shop within a few hours. My amp had a bad capacitor. The cost of the part was under 10 bucks. My tubes were never biased nor was the amp serviced. When purchasing a “set” of tubes, it goes without saying they are all from the same manufacturer and sold as a matching set. The tubes in my amp were from 2 different manufacturers. Two of the tubes were installed incorrectly. A wire to one of the tube sockets had been rewired incorrectly.
Total cost to repair – $100.00
Turns out I never needed tubes… which really means I never needed to spend that $160 bucks. The amp has now in fact been working just like it came off the showroom floor. I have yet to call that first amp repair dude and inform him of the bad diagnosis and shoddy repair. The musician scene in most areas is a cordial one and many who play the same genre or even play out live all know each other. My area is no different.
My Dilemma – as you can now understand, I have been tossing and turning over how to handle this. Every musician friend I have turned to for advice said without a doubt, “ask for your money back”. But I keep hearing something in my mind saying, “just let it go and learn from your mistake”.
…….So I ask you all – What would you do?