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Photo: The warm glow of tube tone in an Orange Rockerverb 50.
Trejo: I like to make sure all my inputs on my amps are clean with some DeoxIT gold contact cleaner. I also like to do a simple tap test on tubes to make sure they aren’t faulty—take a pencil and have your amp fired up and idling in Standby. Tap your tubes one-by-one. If you don’t hear it coming through the speakers then it’s good to go. Plus, preamp tubes are usually the culprit if you're having tube-related issues.
Dickson: We carried a really good voltage stabilizing and regulating transformer for all the backline. Never take a day or gig for granted—check tubes regularly, and just keep an eye on them throughout the night… even when going to the bar for a beverage [laughs]. And one thing I always checked—and thankfully a few times—is the speakers in cabinets and that they’re fully intact and attached to the baffle. That’s a total tone killer [laughs].
Termini: I check for broken glass or lose valve covers, loose missing knobs, or anything else hanging on or off from the last show. I wipe out dust and try to keep things pretty covered up on some of those outside festival shows or just dirty gigs. If your amp is going to be hanging around these stages, you might want to have some covers for this stuff like space blankets, cheap pillow cases, and everyone’s favorite, festival towels. This can keep the gear cleaner and save you time by not having to clean it out later. Having some good bits and pieces of that heavy military plastic Visqueen. You don’t have to carry around a big load of it, just pedalboard size and for the amp rack and guitar boat—it’s great for keeping things from getting too cold or wet.
Farmer: When it comes to taking care of amps, I implement a housewife mentality—I clean, dust, and wipe everything off every day. I use several different paintbrushes to clean out all the nooks and crannies of each amplifier shell nearly every day. Something I do that Warren rolls his eyes is when I exercise the pots and switches every night before the show. I always make sure the power tubes are seated because if the power tubes aren’t happy the rest of the amp of isn’t happy.
Buffa: I’m super anal to the point where I’m always using cans of compressed air, sweeping the stage and his pedalboard, and wiping down his amps and tubes. I feel the best defense or insurance policy on the gear is to be proactive cleaning it.