Where do I find parts for my Ampeg . . . ?


So you've got a B-15N Portaflex and you're looking for new clasps to hold the top down. Or you've got an old Jet and need 7591a power tubes. Or . . .

It seems that Ampeg had a great talent not only for designing amplifiers but also for using parts that were destined to become scarce. This part of the Ampeg page is dedicated to helping you find the pieces you need to keep your amp or instrument healthy and operating. If are looking for something specific, let me know and I'll make some inquiries. Or if you have a source that everyone should know about, let me know that, too. Email me at bluemuse@aol.com.

Caveat Emptor. Although I've done business with a few of the sources mentioned here, I can't vouch for all of them, and one never knows when one of them may suffer demonic possession and turn into a total jerk. Still, I wouldn't list them here if I knew there were verified problems with them. But take all the normal precautions.


General parts and repair

Looking for someone to fix your amp? Someone that just might be able to supply the missing logo or piece of blue-checked Tolex? Try contacting Gregg Hopkins at Vintage Amp Restoration, 728 Karlsruhe Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63125; phone/fax (314) 631-5030. Gregg loves Ampegs as much as you do. Besides cosmetic and electronic repairs and restoration of Ampegs and other brands of amplifier, Vintage Amp manufactures covers, and Gregg is good to deal with. Vintage Amp Restoration has recently begun production of blue-checked amp covers for owners of those amps. Gregg also gets rave reviews for his speaker recone jobs. Gregg can now also provide blue-leather amp handles. The handles are slightly different in width than the originals, but they're close.

Now also available from Vintage Amp Restoration are replacement tremolo modules (see below), late 60s/70s blue and silver grille cloth, made by the original manufacturer, and metal foot cups that go on top of some cabinets and on the bottom of cabinets with dollys.

Also, the rubber shock mounts that attach and isolate a Portaflex chassis from the flip-over top board are now available from Vintage Amp Restoration. These parts are by the original manufacturer. Contact Gregg for more information.

Another source of Ampeg repairs, originally focusing on Portaflexes but now branching out to provide parts for other Ampeg models is Fliptops.net.

In the UK, try contacting NSSC - The Northern Synthesizer Service Centre, 153 Sunbridge Road, Bradford, BD1 2NU, England; Tel./Fax.: +44 (0) 1274 777 300. Trevor tells me they've been servicing Ampeg for many years.

Maybe you've got an old Ampeg "Horizontal" bass and need some part reproduced. (You just know you'll never find an NOS part; if you know where to find them let me know.) Or maybe you'd like an instrument built from scratch. Call, email or write Bruce Johnson at Johnson's Extremely Strange Musical Instrument Co., 119 W. Linden Ave, Burbank, CA 91502; (818) 955-8152.

Trying to find those extra-extra-long scale strings to fit Ampeg AEB-1s, AUB-1s, and ASB-1s? Bruce Johnson has those as well, in both flat- and roundwound flavors by D'Addario. He has, at times, had other brands available. Contact him to find out what flavors are now available from him.

The Bass Centre, which used to stock Ampeg-length strings, has closed its doors.


Tubes

Tubes are probably the single most sought-after part for old Ampeg amplifiers. Some of the tubes used have since become very rare and expensive. Ampegs have used 7027a, 12DW7, 7199, 7591, 6BK11, to name a few off the top of my head, that command premium prices. These tubes are still available, if you look hard enough. Don't expect to just walk into your local guitar shack and find them. Keep an eye on the internet newsgroup rec.audio.tubes. Fortunately, interest in tube circuitry is on the rise, and factories outside the United States have begun to add some of these tubes to their production lines. The 7199, for instance, is being manufactured in Russia and is marketed by Sovtek, although it's been reported that the Sovtek 7199 is not a true 7199, but is merely pin compatible. (Supposedly their 5Y3 isn't a true 5Y3, either, and I've read the same of their 5881; it seems that many old Soviet tubes are similar to desired types, but not quite the same, but they number them as such anyway.) I have also seen the 6BK11 listed in Sovtek advertisements. They've been receiving requests for a run of the 7591, so it wouldn't surprise me if that was to appear soon as well. Svetlana will be producing a 7591A in their St. Petersburg plant. Production was originally reported to have been starting in 1997, but more recent reports say 1999 is more likely. Be patient! Don't booger up your Ampeg!

Many (not all) Chinese tubes have a bad reputation, and deservedly so. However, they are well aware of the poor quality of the tubes they are marketing and are taking steps to improve their product. (Editorial comment:) My personal problem with Chinese tubes is that I don't feel comfortable buying the products of a country that keeps ten million of its citizens in slave labor camps. I'm also not happy that the U.S. government, which for some reason keeps tightening the screws on a small country like Cuba that tries to treat its people well, refuses to apply economic sanctions against China for its egregious human rights record (but it was good enough for South Africa! Good enough for the Soviet Union! Why is China accorded Most Favored Nation status?). I choose to apply my own personal economic sanctions by boycotting Chinese goods. Not a great concern, I'm sure, to the Chinese government if one American won't buy their products, but if more consumers did this, who knows? But this is my choice, and you have to make your own. (End editorial comment.)

One place to try for tubes is Angela Instruments, 10830 Guilford Road, Suite 309, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701; (301) 725-0451. He's definitely not the cheapest for everything (although I find his tubes are very competitively priced), and Steve's got attitude enough to blister a New York cabbie (I used to buy his print catalog every year for kicks--great reading; too bad he doesn't print it anymore), but I trust the guy. Currently, Angela has a good stock of NOS 7027A power tubes. Angela also carries capacitors and other electronic guts that might have gone south in your amp. He doesn't have a lot of Ampeg-specific stuff, although you might luck into a transformer if you need one.

Another place to try for tubes is Antique Electronics Supply, 6221 S. Maple Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85283; (602) 820-5411. I've heard nothing but good comments about their helpfulness.

A nice list of tube suppliers (and other sources for parts) can be found at the Ampage, a very nicely put together web page catering to enthusiasts of all brand of amplifier.

Regarding 7027A tubes, you can stop fretting about whether to convert your V-4s, B-25Bs, etc. to some other tube. There are reports of a 7027 being produced by Tesla. Tesla's quality, judging from reports I've read, tends to be spotty, but it's a promising development. On the other hand, you'll be interested in reading Ned Carlson's 7027A FAQ page, in which Ned explains that you can use 6L6GC as a direct plug-in replacement for 7027A (in Ampegs, at least--read the page). Please note that the text is Ned's, and that some people disagree with him, but Ned is a regular and respected contributor to the alt.guitar.amps newsgroup. Ned and his partner run Tridode Electronics, another source for tubes and related parts.


Other Electronics

Many electronics parts like capacitors and transformers might be found at Angela Instruments and Antique Electronics Supply.

I've been getting a lot of email from people who need to replace or rewind their dead transformers. Unfortunately, I don't know of anyplace where one can reliably find a range of NOS or reissue Ampeg transformers for a wide range of amps. Mojo carries Portaflex transformers, at a cost of about $200. Seems to me that for that money you might find a trashed amp with good trannies and end up with lots of other spare parts besides.

One option when your transformer goes down, especially if originality is a concern, is to have it rewound. Aspen Pittman of Groove Tubes has recommended calling Craig Swancy at Craig's Music in Weatherford, Texas; (817) 599-8021. Craig has a technician who custom winds about anything you'd want, and knows enough to reengineer that transformer from your old one using the same core. For transformer rewinding, I wasn't sure at first, but have been reassured by a techie friend about Dixie Sound Works, 372A Gunter Avenue, Guntersville, AL 35976; (205) 582-2425, fax (205) 582-6681. Apparently, the first time they encounter a particular transformer, they make careful notes on the specifications as they're unwinding it and reverse engineer it. The next time someone needs that particular type of tranny, they've got all the specs and are able to rewind it that much faster and easier.

According to folks that know a lot more than I do, make sure that if you get your output transformers rewound you request that the windings are interleaved. This means that a layer of primary winding is followed by a layer of secondary winding, then the primary again, etc. until the windings are finished. This is the way output transformers were wound when your amplifier was new, but since it is faster and cheaper to wind all of the primary and then all of the secondary, modern transformers are wound in this inferior fashion. Reportedly, it makes a great difference in the tone of the amp.

Tremolo Modules

The big news is that the tremolo module that was used in some Geminis, Reverberockets, etc., a sort of optoisolator setup using a lamp and photoresistor in one package and formerly unavailable is now replaceable. Ampeg has commissioned a direct drop-in replacement, and according to an official source, it preserves the afterbeat that other attempts at replacement were not able to retain. If your tremolo is dead and you would like to get your amp shakin' again, the part is available from Vintage Amp Restoration. See above.

In case you just have to have the original part, I've been told that Antique Electronics Supply (see address above) has the elusive tremolo module--at a price that has been reported to be as high as $130, but this hasn't been confirmed.

Electronic Service

I single out this one particular shop, Central Jersey Music Services, (908) 572-1911, because it is the shop where Dennis Kager does the repairs. As you probably know, Dennis worked in the Ampeg factory in Linden, New Jersey and very well may have had his hands on your amp once before. Dennis asks, though, that you not call him about parts--he doesn't have the tremolo modules, grille cloth, logoplates, etc. that might be missing or damaged on your amp. As he told me, "these parts were tough to get before these amps became antiquity," So don't call him for parts, but if you can get your amp to him, you probably won't find better service.


Hardware

Ampeg bought much of their hardware, like clasps and corners, from Excelsior Hardware in Stamford, Connecticut. Unfortunately Excelsior went out of business in 1995. Fortunately, much of their stock was sold to Luggage and Handbag Supply, 284 East Arrow Highway, San Dimas, California 91773; (909) 394-1213. Some part numbers you'll want are for the "three-finger" corner as found on the old Jet and other blue-check beauties (2801 Corners, n/p) and for the clasps holding down the top of your Portaflex (2403-X Clawbolt Catches, n/p). The nickel hemispherical "feet" on the bottom are part number 195 Bell Studs, 8/16" n/p. Unfortunately they don't have the two-leg wrap-around lipped corner in the correct size (anyone know where to find the correct ones?). If you're not as anal as I am, the Peavey wrap-around corners are pretty close to the original.

I've recently been alerted (December 1996) that Luggage and Handbag Supply may not be the friendliest people to deal with, and that they now have a $50 minimum order. Try ordering your parts from Vintage Amp Restoration instead. See address above.

Metal foot cups, found on the top of some cabinets and on the bottom of cabinets with dollys, are now also available. These, as well as much of the hardware mentioned in the previous paragraph, reproduction script logos, Portaflex chassis shock mounts, and blue leather handles (with mounts) can be gotten from Vintage Amp Restoration. See address above.

The large chrome-plated handles that were installed on the larger-sized Portaflexes were manufactured by Kason Industries Inc.,150-32A 12th Road, Whitestone, NY 11357-1810; phone: (718) 767-3737, fax (718) 767-3972. And surprisingly enough, Kason is still in business! The part number has changed from #577 to # 573. Thanks to Alex for this tip.

You'll no doubt be amused to know that the rubber shock feet on the Portaflex dolly are nothing more than #4 single hole black rubber laboratory stoppers.

I've been informed that those whacky clutch screws that Ampeg used are very common in mobile homes and recreational vehicles and that they're likely to be found at a mobile home or RV repair facility.


Baby Bass parts

Many parts are available for the Ampeg Baby Bass, either NOS or new parts that will do the job better.

I'm told that Fat Dog at Subway Guitars, 1800 Cedar Street, Berkeley, California; (510) 841-4105, has the original jig for cutting necks, as well as a stock of tailpieces and other parts. Whether he'll sell you one is up to him. Check out his web page.

Someone that manufactures replacement necks is Ray Ramirez, 20 Esmeralda Street, Humacao, Puerto Rico 00791; (809) 852-6678. He now also manufactures other components and even makes his own Carribean Baby Bass completely from wood. Parts that Mr. Ramirez can supply include tuning machines (chrome, black, or gold), Thomastik Spirocore or Super Flexible string sets, gig bags, wooden bridges, tailpieces (maga or ebony). Services include pickup bobbin rewinding, pickup maintenance and pot cleaning, potentiometer replacement, fingerboard leveling, neck replacement, etc. Ray now has a web page.

Mr. Ramirez informs me that someone in New Jersey rebuilds pickup bobbins for the Baby Bass pickup assembly. Lue Rosa, (908) 985-3333.

If you are dissatisfied with the stock pickup and are looking to get a better sound out of your Baby Bass and you don't want to try making your own pickup, call Steve Azola at Azola Instruments, 382 Enterprise Street, #108, San Marcos, California 92069; (619) 591-9162. Besides manufacturing his own updated Baby Bass, Steve also produces retrofit pickups for Ampeg Baby Basses that will bring your bass into the present. He offers several different configurations and is a nice guy to boot.


Parts Wanted!

Slowly we're finding sources of many formerly unattainable parts. Some parts still wanted and unavailable include late 60s/70s "block" logoplates (although Ampeg offers a similar logo), Portaflex tube cage thumbscrews, and a reliable source of transformers. If you have any of these parts, please contact me at bluemuse@aol.com. I'm considering adding a page for people that need parts and, hopefully, people that have parts for sale, in an effort to help keep your amps and instruments operational. Let me know what you think.


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created October 2, 1995; modified November 20, 1997