GT Rack Effects Maintenance
In Benefits we covered the highlights of how our modules are designed for easy and inexpensive maintenance. Here's a bit more detail about it.
Please note: We need to update the pictures on this page. In these pictures you'll see what we call "friction lock" connectors on all of our cable assemblies. These connectors have a ridge on the male connector and a groove on the female connector that mate with each other when you push the connectors together. We've since switched to a different style of connector that has a "snap lock" instead of the friction lock. You have to hold down a small tab to release the lock to take the connector apart. The older connectors are found only in some of our prototype modules. All production modules get the newer snap lock connectors.
Some mechanical components used in pedals and in our modules will eventually fail with normal use over time. These include jacks, pots, switches, and LEDs. In our products, with very few exceptions, these components are part of a cable assembly that can be easily replaced without soldering. The pictures below show the steps to replace a component - an input jack in this example. In this case, the component was easily accessible by removing only the top panel of the enclosure. There was no need to remove the module from the enclosure. Sometimes you may need to remove the module, or at least the front or rear panel of the module, for easier access to the part.
- First, as always, if there is an 18V Power module in your enclosure, follow the instructions for draining the power before opening the enclosure
- Remove top panel to get access to the failed jack.
- Disconnect the cable assembly.
- Remove nut holding jack in place
- Pull cable assembly out of panel.
- Install replacement jack assembly and nut
- Plug in new cable
- Install top panel
That's about all there is to it. Sometimes you might need to remove a different enclosure panel, or perhaps remove a module front or rear panel. Normally you don't have to remove the module from the enclosure to replace cable assemblies.
Some of the cable assemblies are standard configurations used by many modules, such as those for most of the back panel connectors. Most other components are in cable assemblies unique to a specific function in a specific module, for example a Volume pot on a Virago 808 module. That cable assembly requires a particular pot wired in a particular manner, with a particular number of pins in the connector, and a specific length of wire. You can't generally substitute a replacement Volume cable assembly meant for some other module unless they just happen to have all the same specs. When you order a replacement assembly, we'll need to know some module details so we can get you the correct assembly.
Direct Replacement of Components
If you prefer, you can also directly replace a component in a cable assembly without getting a new cable assembly from us. The picture below shows a typical module. Notice that all the cables are longer than they need to be. The extra length makes it easy to replace the failed jack, switch, pot, or LED if you prefer. To do it, you follow the steps outlined above to remove the failed cable assembly, then using our input jack example:
- Note which wires are connected to which solder terminals on the failed component.
- Cut off the failed component by clipping the wires at each terminal. Or de-solder it.
- Carefully strip and tin the wire as necessary to provide enough bare wire to solder the new component.
- Solder on the new component, making sure it is connected in the same way as the failed component.
Then re-install the repaired cable assembly, following the steps outlined above.
This requires some basic tech skills. You may be able to do this yourself for no more than the $1 or so cost of the replacement component, or any electronics repair shop can do it for you at probably their minimum bench charge.
Some repairs may require a board replacement. These are also simple repairs you can do yourself, although it should be pretty rare you would need to replace a board. You'll need to get the correct replacement board from us first. We'll show an example of replacing a power board.
- Remove the module from the enclosure.
- Unplug all the cables connected to the board, noting which cables connect to which connectors. There are labels for the connectors on the board.
- Use some needle-nose pliers to gently squeeze together the split ends of the plastic standoff holding the board to the metal PCB support and lift the board free. Repeat this for each of the standoffs holding the board in place. Be careful that you do not damage the standoff, or you may need to replace it. After you free the board from one standoff, it might pop back on as you free the board from the next standoff. If that happens, place something between the board and PCB support to prevent it from being able to pop back on. Occasionally a standoff may come lose from the PCB support. If that happens, remove it from the bad board if it is still attached and push it back into the correct hole on the PCB support until it locks into place.
- Remove the old board.
- Align the holes on the new board with the standoffs. Press it carefully, but firmly, into place, making sure all the standoffs lock into place on both the new board and the PCB support.
- Re-attach all the cables.
Once the new board is in place, re-install it in your enclosure and put your enclosure back together. That's all there is to it.
You can always have us handle repairs for you. Check out Repairs for details.
There's nothing specific to our modules that we recommend as preventative maintenance. Keep liquids away, avoid rough handling, use power conditioners, and take other normal common-sense precautions you would for any electronics. Avoid unnecessary un-cabling and re-cabling to lengthen the life of your jacks. The most-used jacks will probably be the ones where you plug in your guitars and amps. Chances are those are in wing modules, very easy to access and replace should it be necessary.
You might also be interested in security covers for you effects. Not only do they offer some additional protection from physical damage, they might also help prevent unwanted changes to your effect settings. We may offer our own version of these in the future, but third-party covers are available online and at computer networking equipment stores. The one pictured below didn't have the rack mounting holes located to align with our enclosures' rack mounting holes, so we had to drill extra mounting holes in the cover's frame - quick and easy if you have the tools and skills. These covers may be inconvenient if they are meant to protect an enclosure where you may have guitar and amp cables plugged into the front panels. Also make sure they are deep enough to clear the knobs and switches on your modules, yet not so deep that you can't put your rack covers over them. This one works fine in our rack cases, with plenty of clearance for both the modules and the rack cover.
If pots or switches get dirty, they might make noise when they are used or perhaps stop working intermittently. Before replacing them, you can try using some electric contact cleaner spray available at electronics supply stores and online. Follow the directions on the can. An application or two is usually enough to clear up problems with dirty connections.
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