I am so sad about the many people that had losses from the flood. I'm not sure what I can to help, but if you have a
need or have questions, I will try to help where I can.
If your amp or equipment got water inside it during the flood, please don't turn it on. If you do, you could ruin it or severely
damage it and possibly cause a hazard. Get it checked out by someone, unless you know what you are doing.
There are many good techs around that can do that work for you. Talk to them see what it will take.
If you want to try and check it out yourself, then first inspect it carefully. With extreme
caution and with it NOT plugged into line current, take it out of the cabinet or open any
covers BUT DON'T TOUCH anything. You should be looking for signs of water entry. Mud, silt and leaves and stuff is
a sure sign that water got in there. Even little spots of water is not a good sign. It should be completely dry and free of
Only if it never got wet inside, can you then put it back together and try it out.
If it DID get wet, there are varying degrees of damage from the flood. Reversing the damage all most always has to do with cleaning
out debris completely and getting any water out from inside places you can't see. Motors and transformers are the most vulnerable
because of the intricate windings.
Even fairly clean flood water leaves a film, and sometimes that film stays moist, creating paths for electricity to flow to places where
it should not be, like onto the chassis or exposed metal. So, places around the high voltages need to be cleaned. Silt needs cleaned
out of jacks, switches and controls. Sometimes you have to disassemble the unit to clean stuff out. It is not easy or fast.
Here's a general tip: For the cleanest audio on any amp, turn the master volume most of the way up, and the gain at 1 or 2 to start.
A new pedal... The Multy 15.0 Multi-Effects Pedal
Demo audio/video coming soon!
The HushPuppy is back!
The HushPuppy is a plug-in module that replaces your output tubes and reduces the power substantially, allowing you to overdrive the output stage at a much lower room volume.
No modifications are needed to your amplifier, other than removing one or more output tubes and replacing with the HushPuppy. It does not matter if your amp is Single-ended (Fender Champ, for example), Class-A (Vox AC-30 and many others), or Fixed-bias [which includes adjustable bias]. The HushPuppy creates its own environment within itself. But don't mix Class-A original tubes and the HushPuppy. The Vox AC-30 has its tube cathodes in parallel, and if you pull one tube, the rest draw more current to make up for it. Always check before purchasing if you are unsure of how your amp is biased. Eventually I will provide a table for this.
As an output tube, the HushPuppy can use quite a few standard preamp tubes that you probably already have: 12AX7, ECC83, ECC803, 7025, 5751, 12AT7, 12AU7, 12AV7 ...and more variations of pin-compatible tubes. There is a long list.
So, how does it sound? Expect a change in tone, but not a bad change. It is more capable of high and mid-range sound than huge chunky lows, since the surface area for carrying current is so much lower, but that is not always a bad thing.
The first one I installed on a Hot Rod DeVille had the owner saying, "Finally, I can play my guitar at home!"
I have built several amps with the HushPuppy technology built in, and they all sounded good.
Trident S20 Mic Preamp Repair
A friend brought me his Trident S20 microphone preamp. It had a whole lot of noise for something rated so highly for sounding
like the Trident mixing board's pre. It popped when you turned on the Phantom Power. Noisy gain control. Noise when you switched channels... Really not a nice sound at all.
So I studied the circuit for quite a while, and found out that it was pretty much a standard circuit straight from
the chip manufacturer's example circuit. But they had done some seriously dumb stuff that crippled this potentially
fine piece of gear. I will repair these and other problems in your Trident S20, and you will be delighted at the change! FINALLY it will sound clear and dynamic like the mixing board's preamp.
Just email or call me for directions on how to get it to me. It is a pretty small and light unit that should ship very
well. You will get it back in a very short time. See my Services page for details about how I run the repair cycle.
My New Book, Just Released!
The perfect gift for that tech-head musician or technician that loves to work on guitar amps.
inside peek: New book: "Guitar Amps and Their Problems" by Mike Fratus
Over 2200 entries of service records for the most popular makes and models of (mostly) tube guitar amps and other audio gear!
My Newest Distortion/Fuzz Box
The demo for this Box was done by Michael Anthony Shanks, a really great-sounding and informative YouTube video.
Excuse the appearance... This is the most-recent pre-production model.
It has a 3-position distortion level control, a tone control, and an output level control. The latest model has 4 levels and a Fuzz switch for those who want lots of fuzz.
Plus, always True Bypass and operation on standard 9V battery or standard stomp box power supply.
The new 4-Level Fuzz Version is in production! Available for $185.
I have finally started a separate amp-building effort under the name "MudBone Amps." All the other names were taken.
They are intended to be simple amps that are reliable and usable, and of course, affordable - without looking like cheap junk.
The amps will be made here in Houston, and will be customizable for tone.
Check out the new site at MudboneAmps.com and follow the progress.
A relatively unknown cause for an amp to stop putting out sound or to put out really nasty sound is shown in
this YouTube Video. If your amp has an
effects loop, please watch the video. You can save yourself some trouble.
OK, so you know your controls are scratchy... how hard can that be to fix? Well, it depends.
First, don't pull off the knob and spray some lubricant onto the pot shaft - that won't do a thing that is good,
and may put whatever you are using inside the control. Especially don't use a "no residue" spray, as that just
washes off the lubricant that belongs there.
Here's what you do: (follow all safety rules in doing this) Open up the cabinet and pull out the chassis to gain access to the BACK of the controls. That
is where the working part of the control is. (Most controls are able to be cleaned, but some are sealed or just
not able to be cleaned.) Then use a search engine to find a video about how to clean controls. (Really, that is the best thing. My point
is that you can't simply spray stuff in the front of the control, and it isn't necessarily easy.)
Sometimes the control is so bad that it needs replaced. See this video of me
replacing a volume control in a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Its 4x time-lapse, so a 20-minute job takes 5 minutes.
And, sometimes its not the control at all, its a cap allowing voltage to get to the control. In that case, you
need a technician.
We repair, design and build Vacuum Tube Amplifiers and effects, pedals, vacuum tube microphone amps, instruments and so on.
While not a tube snob, I do find that tubes provide a much more musical and natural sound than most solid-state gear.
If I do make solid-state amps, I will strive to design them to be natural-sounding and not sterile.
Although Guitar Amp Repair is our main business, you are welcome to ask about other vacuum tube devices.
A new product is an EF86 tube converter, which lets you use quieter tubes in the EF86 position, because most all EF86 tubes I find are terribly microphonic.
Or, if you are thinking of a new amp, look at my Custom Amp Estimate
page to get an idea of what a custom amp from me could cost. New formula on 4/15/2015! (Closer to reality, I think.)
For repair services, look at Repair Services for more information.
Want to build your own amp? See Amp Kits page.
Did you find something you liked here? Use my Tip Jar!
For your enjoyment and for a chance to see something new, see these Videos.
Many are local bands, but there are also some tutorials and demos.
If you are interested in lots of opportunities to learn electronics for audio
there is a page for that, as well.
And, finally, there are Links to lots of stuff, from electronics references to stores and parts suppliers. Also, sources of schematics for your equipment.
Call Mike at
If you have a Vox or another amp that uses the EF86 tube for vintage sound, you probably know that this tube is
Its hard to find a current production or even an Old Stock tube that is not microphonic. I have a solution
for that. My new EF86 Tube Converter will plug into the EF86 socket and allow a quieter 6AU6 tube to be used.
The first units are now available. Call for pricing.
Secondary Mission: Provide information for musicians.
Its hard to depend on somebody to take care of your equipment as carefully as you would.
That is, if you knew how. You know how important it is for stuff to work. I think that everyone should know at least a little about the equipment
they use all the time. Even if you only learn some basics, it will help in the long run when deciding what to do about problems
or when selecting new equipment. I prefer to have some idea about what is inside some "mystery box" that I use all the time, or at
least have a vague idea of how it works. Eventually I will probably open it to see what makes it tick. There are lots of places on
this site to learn anything from the basics to advanced electronics, or even how to solder properly.
Serving Houston and the surrounding areas, such as
West University Place and all the Greater Houston Area.
If you are up to the drive, serving Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels, Corpus Christi, Bryan, Round Rock, Georgetown, Huntsville, Beaumont, Lake Charles, Port Arthur, Victoria.
Receiving UPS, USPS, and FedEx shipments of equipment from all around. If you ship "return shipping paid" you will get a better shipping rate.
Some brands that I work on:
Acoustic, Alembic, Alesis, Allen, Ampeg, Ashdown, B-52, Bad Cat,
Andrews, Ashton, B.C. Rich, Blackheart, Blackstar, Bogner, Bruno,
Behringer, Carvin, Crate, Crown, Diezel, Earth Amps, EBS, Eden,
Burgera, Carr, Diaz, Divide by 13, Cornford, Elmwood, Framus, Garnet,
Electro-Voice, Epiphone, ENGL, Fender, Fuchs, Gallien-Krueger,
Genz-Benz, Gibson, Hartke, Hiwatt, Hoffmann, Ibanez, Johnson,
Heritage, Hughes & Kettner, Koch, Matamp, Mojave, Naylor,
Kendrick, Korg, Krank, Kustom, Laney, Legend, Line 6, Marshall,
Matchless, Mesa-Boogie, Metaltronix, Orange, Peavey, Randall,
Reeves, Rick-Tone, Ross, Selmer, Session, Sewell, Soultone,
Rivera, Rocktron, Roland, Silvertone, Soldano, Sound Research,
Sovtek, Squier, Sunn, SWR, Tech 21, Top Hat, Trace Elliot,
Trident, Stephenson, Straub, Suhr, Supro, Synaptic Amps, THD, Tone King,
Trainwreck, Traynor, VHT, Vox, Yamaha, Yorkville Sound,
Two-Rock, Valco, VSP Labs, Yerasov and more.
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