What I cost

Unless we’ve made a different arrangement I do things this way:

1) £30 bench fee for work that takes an hour or less to complete the repair.

2) £15 per half-hour after that. £200 a day for bigger jobs like kit builds, full hand-wire jobs etc. If you want to add the proviso “Call me if it’s looking like it’ll cost more than X hundred pounds” or whatever, I will. If it looks to me like an uneconomical repair, ie will cost distinctly more than a replacement amp would, I will call you and we will work it out.

3) Minor parts are included in the hourly rate. Bigger things like valves, output transistors, transformers etc will be charged. I charge £10 for a preamp valve, £15 for a power valve for the more usual types.

4) In the unlikely event that I can’t tell what’s essentially wrong with your amp there will be no charge.

5) Further to that, in the most unlikely event that I simply fail to fix it my rule is: no fix no fee. I can’t and don’t guarantee that something different from the thing I fixed won’t go wrong tomorrow, but I am committed to giving my customers a fully functioning amp for a fair price, and if the outcome is something less than that, no fix no fee applies. This is central to the way I want to work for you.

Uneconomical repairs

– by this I mean, repairs that threaten to cost more than the amp is worth. I will always consult you if we are distinctly over the value of the amp in the middle of a repair.  I won’t surprise you with a bill for more than the amp is worth. To underline this, here’s an offer – if you think I did an uneconomical repair and would rather give the repaired amp to me than pay my bill – that’s fine, give it to me and I will tear up the bill. Can’t say fairer than that.

Estimates, and why I can’t always do them

In these tough times, people like to know how much a job will cost, and that is understandable of course. However, if I am to keep my work for you economical, I can’t always estimate the cost in a very useful way. it’s actually not normally the cheapest way for me to work for you. Let me explain.

The quickest way to approach a repair is to do what you can to isolate the problem to one part of the circuit, and replace suspect parts. Having done that, further problems that were masked by the original fault may emerge, and the process is repeated. Only when the amp is fully functioning again will I be sure that I have found and fixed all the faults. So diagnosis and repair are inseparable and I will only know the work involved in fixing an amp when I have fixed it! This applies to just about all faults – it is not possible to diagnose a fault from symptoms alone.

I know some shops offer estimates. They are likely to be more expensive than me as their procedures are more involved, featuring separate diagnosis and repair processes which you will have to pay for. Their estimates will have to cover the common possibility of faults emerging during the repair process, as well as indemnifying them against your deciding not to give them the job, and so the estimated cost is unlikely to be lower than the bill of someone who just goes ahead and does the job as quickly as possible, eg me.

I will keep the costs down as much as I can, my hourly rate is not a high one for the trade, and I will not charge you more than the repaired amp is worth unless we have agreed this beforehand. If this isn’t ok with you, and you’d feel better with an estimate, then please do go to one of the people who do estimates.

I thought it might be helpful to put up a few examples of actual jobs and charges so you can get an idea. Here they are:

Examples of jobs and charges

Just a few jobs I’ve done recently with charges, as a guide to what might happen to your wallet:

  • Marshall Valvestate. Noisy pots, poor sound. Test some valves supplied and fit best, general clean and service, de-crackle pots, restore jack earths. One new pot fitted. £35.
  • JCM900 head. Poor sound and noisy controls. Service, clean pots and jacks, test valves supplied and fit best, rebias. £30.
  • Fender Bandmaster head (1970s silverface). Amateur birdsnest found inside after purchase; full restoration. Complete rebuild of circuit board with most components renewed, renewal of electrolytic capacitors, one new valve base fitted. £220.
  • Quad II power amps (pair). Restore. Renew electrolytic caps and remove old poor work. Check and service. £70 per amp.
  • Trace Elliott GP7 bass head. No output. Restore internal connections, clean pots and jacks and service. £30.
  • Engl Invader. Broken jack tip jammed in speaker jack. Remove chassis and fit new jack to circuit board. £35.
  • Marshall Superlead 100 reissue. Dead. Replace mains transformer. £150 including part.
  • Ampeg SVT5. Smoked from rear and died. Repair and restore area on circuit board burned by arcing to chassis. Make safe and test. £75.
  • Ampeg Jet combo (1963). Full restoration after purchase. Replace all electrolytic capacitors, supply new 6SL7 and fit, check clean and service and make reliable for gigging harp player. £100 parts included.
  • Fender Twin (1970s silverface). Poor sound etc. Supply and fit three new power valves and new mains switch, repair heater earths and hardwire. £90 including valves.
  • Blackstar SI 200 head. Blowing fuses. Trace fault; supply and fit new KT88 at £25, and service. Total £55.
  • Marshall DSL100. No reverb. Trace fault to tank; supply and fit reverb tank. £55.
  • Ami Continental 60s jukebox stereo amp. Full overhaul; transformers and valves ok. £400. Expect this sort of total for any really old well used non-guitar amp.

As you can see, it varies a lot. usually it’s not a mains transformer or a full rebuild… but now and then, it is! Please note that these are just examples for guidance and not estimates or offers. That really is all I can say about estimates!