My Philosophy on Tube Amps
Tube amps aren’t just a way to make your guitar loud. They are a musical instrument, or at least a big part of the instrument created by your guitar and amp. Neither is an instrument by itself.
There is a big difference between working on a home stereo, clock radio, PA amp, etc, and a tube guitar amplifier. The purpose of the former is to take a signal and make it louder. A tube guitar amp does that of course, but it also has to work with your guitar not only to develop a pleasing tone, but perhaps just as importantly, a pleasing feel. Your amp should work with you to let you express your ideas, not just make you loud. It should respond readily to subtleties in touch, attack, etc. Your amp should not work against you and make your job harder.
There are lots of techs out there that will work on anything. If you go in their shops, you’ll see stacks of keyboards, tape decks, PA amps, etc. I focus on just tube instrument amplifiers because the ‘toss it on the bench, if it looks good on the scope, it must be good’ philosophy is fine for a clock radio, home stereo, tape deck, etc; but doesn’t fly for musical instruments. That attitude towards amp repair leads to people getting their amps back with big bills, but then getting home and thinking ‘it still doesn’t sound right’.
When I work on an amp, it has to look good on the test equipment, but it also gets tested for feel and response. It’s the little things that matter, and there are things that only a serious player will notice. Most techs are not serious players, if they are players at all.
I stock a lot of vintage correct electronic parts (NOS Carbon Comp resistors, etc). They sound different. I see a lot of vintage amps that have been repaired on the cheap and have cheap, questionable parts in them. You won’t get your vintage amp back with ‘just the cheapest parts I could get’, and you wont get any amp back with parts I don’t think will hold up over time. In cases where a newer part will work better and preserve your tone, I’ll let you know and give you the option if the vintage part is still available.