Question about Crate Blackheart BH15H Handsome Devil Guitar Amp Head, 15W All Tube with Attitude

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Crate tube amp will not power up but cooling fan tries to run

It's a crate 100 guitar amp. Tubes appear good, fuse is good, and I found 3 additional fuses underneath the board that are all good. Odd thing is the cooling fans sputters like it's getting some power. Any ideas?

Thanks.

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Yes.
Are you saying that the only indication that it is running at all is that the fans are running? So the tubes don't light up? No indicators on the front of the amp?
Power supplies that provide multiple voltages, which your amp has, can provide some of the voltages while having a problem that prevents them from providing others, all while not blowing a fuse. If you are not confident in your ability to work on a piece of electronic equipment that has 120VAC coming in and at least 175VDC or more present inside it, bring it to a service center.
The good news is that it is probably not horribly serious. Problems like this can almost always be repaired in a cost effective manner.

Posted on Apr 24, 2009

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Your amplifier is a solid-state rectified tube amplifier. This means that a tube is NOT used for the power supply. Why is this significant? Because most of the time you have the problem you are describing, it is because of the tube rectifier.
Since this amp does not have a tube rectifier, the problem is likely one or more of the tubes. I have seen in 95% of the amps I repaired that the tubes were the cause, and since the amp is so new, I would suspect tubes first.
Now the hard part: which tube? Without a tube tester, you will have to use the 'firewall' technique. You will need to get a bunch of replacement fuses, as you might go through a few untill you find the problem. Radio Shack is a great place for fuses (make sure they are SLOW BLOW type).
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This is what I do at a customer site without a tube tester:
(1) Have either a KNOWN TO BE GOOD REPLACEMENT SET OF TUBES or a NEW SET OF TUBES.
(2) Have plenty of fuses.
(3) Start with power tubes: they cause most of these problems. Replace burned out fuse.
(4) Replace all 2 (or 4 in your case) with the good tubes.
(5) Turn on amp and play on it (30 minutes at various volumes and settings). Turn it on and off many times using the on/off procedure your amp requires (like using the standby switch on some models).

* if the amp plays and works, likely you had a bad power tube. If you are blowing fuses, the problem is either the power amp circuitry or the preamp tubes.

* Leave the good power tubes in before going on to the next step. Also: the minor difference in bias wont matter for what we are doing now: the bias being WAY out is almost never the cause.

(6) Check preamp tubes (easy to do, as this does not require us to poke around on the insides).
(7) Replace burned out fuse (atleast number two by this point).
(8) Replace all preamp tubes.
(9) Turn on and repeat step 5.

* Blowing fuses at this point means atleast two types of repairs needed: retention tube sockets or someone to look inside the amp. Either way, this is a serviceman repair (things I do). Since the amp is so new, take the warentee buyout and throw it back to where you got it. Crate is real good about dealing with these issues (if you are the only owner and it is within warantee).

If you need to contact warantee support, you can tell them you have had the amp re-tubed and the problem still persists (meaning they can brush you off with 'just get it retubed and then call us if there is problems'. This is like 'take two asprins and call me in the morning: 95% of all tube amp problems can be fixed by this (retube, not asprins).

If you have to do the warantee route, KEEP YOUR NEW TUBES. The preamp tubes are fine, but the power tubes may be damaged. Wait for what Crate tells you before you use them. This is if you are cheap. I would pitch all of the tubes and consider the 70 bucks as my cheap attempt to bet I am in the 95% solution number (tubes are the cause). Otherwise, the repair will cost shipping at a minumum. Dont you love it: tube amps are expensive and require someone with deep pockets to enjoy the tone. But what can we do: tubes DO sound better and when everything is working, they perform reasonably well.

Good luck on this!
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Based on what you tell me, I am going to say you have a bad power tube. And I will even go as far to say that you buy a set of tubes and play on them as long as you can. If so, then you not only burned up the tube, but weakened the power section and may have a slooow tube frier. I always tell customers: modern tubes have an effective life of less that 1200 or so hours and that varies. Replace the tubes once per year if you gig with the amp: period. Otherwise, guys like me (doing repairs) stay busy and the tube companies get rich selling tubes to amps with weakened power sections.
It sounds like you burned a power tube and blew a fuse. First, you need a new set of power tubes and some extra fuses (go to Radio Shack and set the value you need in SLOW BLOW fuses).
Then, replace all the power tubes. Don't worry about biasing yet, we are just seeing if there is a problem. Next, replace the fuse.
Turn on the amp and play on it at various volumes and settings. If all is well, take the amp to a tech and get it rebiased. If you can afford it, pay to have the grid/plate and other resistors changed so the power section will be like new (clean slate with new tubes). Your amp will love you for it.
Almost all of the amps I have worked on for performance problems (cant keep tubes to stay alive for very long) are directly related to end user use. When you use a tube until it blows it ALWAYS TAKES SOMETHING WITH THE TUBE WHEN IT GOES (like the power section components). The compents will be weakened and the tubes will 'wear' at different rates that can even move them out of the 20% tolerence they must be within to sound good. 99% of the time a board repair with a retube after a catastrophe fixes the amp until the next time it is 'run into the ground'. Tube amps are NOT invinceble: they are weak compared to solid state and expensive to own. But we love tubes because they sound great. I have solid state to knock around on, when when it counts, I play only with tubes. I have spent hundreds on good tubes because you do get what you pay for.

Hope this helps!
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