Andy J - Music Business
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Basic repair tips and maintenance advice on keeping your p.a. equipment and leads in top notch condition.
Keeping equipment clean, checking leads for breaks, splits and loose connections should be a regular part of any maintenance routine.
Damp wiping leads to remove stickyness on a regular basis will also give you the opportunity to check the lead and make repairs if necessary.
Check all amplifier connections, knobs and sliders - tighten any that are loose and remove excess dust or foreign objects in those that are sticking.
Examine all plugs and fuses for condition (always carry spares of each amp wattage that you use).
Keep all leads neatly coiled to avoid twisting and tangles.
Regularly clean the heads on audio cassette decks, cd and minidisc players. Carry spare cleaning discs, cassettes, fluid and duster/brush in your kit bag for emergancies. If you do need to use them at a gig leave them to dry for a few minutes before attempting to use the player again.
Unless your pretty good with electronics and handy with a soldering iron it's not advisable to try and make repairs on your valuable equipment. We take no responsibility for your diy skills - take faulty equipment to a specialist for repair!
Having said that, there are some basic repairs that even a beginner should know and a few tips for those who have an old lead or microphone that they'd like to practice on.
Switch off and unplug everything before attempting any repairs.
Amplifiers, Mixers & Monitors
Sometimes its the simple things that go wrong and the most basic solution is the answer. If an amplifier ceases to work take a look at the fuses.
There are usually two on a powered amp/mixer - one inside the plug (check & replace this first), and the other inside the amplifier. It is not usually necessary to open up the amp to replace the fuse on newer models which is normally placed at the rear of the amplifier and marked 'fuse'. Open this, check and replace if required. Always replace the fuse with the same type and ampage as the manufactures recommendation.
Nasty crackles or no sound from one or both of the speakers can be caused by loose or incorrect connections. Check to ensure that all leads are plugged in firmly into the correct connectors which should also be tightened if loose.
Split and broken leads can also cause crackles so try using different leads.
If you have a microphone that 'pops', 'crackles' or just won't work then it's worth taking a look at the inside to see what the problem is.
Check the base of the microphone for bent or loose pins (repair/replacement by a qualified repairer advised). A temporary repair for microphones whose plugs are loose is to wrap a piece of electrical tape around the lead and base of the microphone. This prevents the lead from dropping out or moving around.
Unless the microphone is a one piece unit you should be able to unscrew the top. Inside there is a diaphram with wires leading to it - check these are securely in place. If a wire has come loose from its connection re-attach or solder it back in place.
If you are unsure of where to connect the wires and have a spare microphone of exactly the same make and model then open it up to check where the wires should be before attempting to repair - if in doubt take it to a qualified repairer.
These are often the main culprits for drop out or crackles and should be checked regularly for splits and breaks in the wires.
Invariably the problem is easily fixed by tightening the plugs connections but some repairs or replacements may be necessary.
Undo the screw at the side of the cannon plug, carefully remove the center from the casing to it's limit (tugging and pulling may disconnect the wires) and check that the wires inside are firmly soldered. A wire that has become detached should be re-soldered into place.
Jack & Phono Leads
Unscrew the casing and lower gently, check that the wires are firmly in place and re-solder if necessary.
Do not tug or pull the wires or their connections inside the plugs as you may inadvertantly disconnect them! It should also be noted that some leads are solid units which are unable to be opened or unscrewed.
Every singer should learn how to change the fuse on a 3 pin mains plug!
Many power leads and plugs supplied with musical equipment are sealed units, some of which may provide access to the fuse without the necessity of opening the unit. In some cases the fuse is covered by a sliding or flip top often red in colour. This allows the user to replace the fuse without disturbing the inner components. If the fuse is not accessable the plug unit should be replaced with a new unit purchased from the instrument / equipment retailer or manufacturer.
Some amplifiers and p.a. systems are connected to the mains with 'kettle leads' (like the lead on a household kettle this has a normal plug at one end and a male or female 3 pin connection at the other). The mains plug can often be unscrewed at the back and opened to reveal the fuse within a small holder plus two or three wires secured by adjustable screws. Check and replace the fuse with one of the same ampage if required.
Dead Fuse Detection
In most cases an inoperative fuse can be detected by it's darkened or burnt appearance. Clear glass fuses allow you to view the thin wire contained within the fuse, if this is broken or discoloured either inside or on the outer casing then the fuse should be replaced.
- Always replace the fuse with same amp rating as the
manufacturers recommendation. Equipment plug ratings can usually be
found in the instruction manual or specifications supplied when
purchasing. Plug amp rating is usually written on the base of the plug.
- Seek advice and supervision from an experienced person until you
are confident and competent at performing minor maintenance and
repairs. Children should NEVER attempt any repairs or maintenance
unless instructed by a qualified adult.
- Always read the equipment manufactures instructions FIRST and NEVER
open electrical equipment without switching off and unplugging
everything unless you are a qualified or experienced electrician!
- Opening equipment can affect the guarantee or warrantee conditions and should be undertaken with extreme caution.
Anyone who possesses or has regular use of a sound system should have a survival kit on hand. This includes:
Tape--electrical, duct, masking
Several of every kind of adapter imaginable
A set of Allen keys (useful for guitar repairs and various other things)
Markers for the console
Soldering Iron and solder
9 Volt batteries
Voltmeter for testing cables, batteries, AC lines
Set of very small screwdrivers, wire cutters, wire strippers, sharp razor knife
Spare cables and speaker wire.
Headphones to do line checks during set changes