Funny smell from solid state head...

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Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Jordan » 24 Mar 2013, 21:05

Hey guys,

First up, you'll have to excuse my ignorance when it comes to bass amps, I'm a effects pedal kind of guy. :lol:

I'm getting a funny smell coming from what seems to be the transformer (the big round thing?) in my Hartke 3500 head while its running. I noticed it while playing this morning, I can't recall having smelt it beforehand. I'm not pushing the amp hard at all, its sitting in my bedroom being used as a practice amp. I'm running it with a 4 ohm cab btw.

I pulled the cover off the amp to have a look around and couldn't see anything burnt or out of place. It does seem that the smell is coming from the transformer though, that's where it smells strongest. The transformer also crackles a bit when when the amp is warming up and cooling down. No sparks or anything like that, lol. It sounds sort of like rice bubbles crackling, but slower. :thumbup: Is that normal? I can only notice it when the cover is off the amp. I'm not prepared to go any further than just having a look around though, I know when I'm out of my league.

It doesn't sound any different, it still behaves the same as before. But the smell seems to be new. Its not a really strong smell, but its strong enough for the fan to pump it out of the amp and into my nose about a metre away...

Any suggestions? Do I just rock it for a while and see what happens? Take it to a tech? Admit myself to a mental facility, realizing its all in my head?
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby EAdanikDG » 24 Mar 2013, 21:19

Ibanezsr500 wrote:Admit myself to a mental facility, realizing its all in my head?

It may well be in your head... the Hartke I mean.
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby bloodmason » 24 Mar 2013, 22:18

It doesn't sound good. I'd get it looked at.
The crackling may be a problem with the transformer but it could also be an electrolytic capacitor leaking. Have a look at all the large capacitors near the transformer and see if any of them are bulging or have any white crusty stuff around the base of them.

If you don't know what an electrolytic cap looks like:
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Jordan » 25 Mar 2013, 05:24

Ok, I'll take a second look.

I build pedals, so I'm not completely clueless, I'm just not used to the higher voltages!
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Swinging Beef » 25 Mar 2013, 07:48

get it looked at
it shouldnt smell like anything unless you have super powers
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Jordan » 25 Mar 2013, 12:01

Ok, thanks for your replies guys, I'll get it checked out. Now I've got to find an amp tech somewhere around byron...
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Jordan » 03 Apr 2013, 07:26

Figure I'll update this.

Turns out I don't have super powers, it was the transformer melting. Contacted Hartke, they want $400 for a new tranny... not gonna happen. Time for a new amp.
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby DeadlyErnest » 03 Apr 2013, 08:46

$400 :crazy: heres my :2c: to help out, plus you have to get it installed.

Depending on the transformer, someone with the skills could track down a compatible substitute for a bit less. You don't need the more expensive toroidal ones, for example, if you don't mind a small amount of hum.
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Re: Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Rude_Mechanical » 03 Apr 2013, 09:04

DeadlyErnest wrote:$400 :crazy: heres my :2c: to help out, plus you have to get it installed.

Depending on the transformer, someone with the skills could track down a compatible substitute for a bit less. You don't need the more expensive toroidal ones, for example, if you don't mind a small amount of hum.


There are no drop-in substitutes - it's a proprietary multi-tap transformer that would require installing multiple replacements. We've jumped through all the hoops already, even got in touch with Larry himself. The experience has been a long way behind other manufacturers/distributors I've dealt with (although much better than Line 6).

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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Jordan » 03 Apr 2013, 09:17

Yeah. And a huge thanks to Chris for helping me out with this. Great guy to deal with.
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Re: Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby PilbaraBass » 03 Apr 2013, 10:32

Rude_Mechanical wrote:
DeadlyErnest wrote:$400 :crazy: heres my :2c: to help out, plus you have to get it installed.

Depending on the transformer, someone with the skills could track down a compatible substitute for a bit less. You don't need the more expensive toroidal ones, for example, if you don't mind a small amount of hum.


There are no drop-in substitutes - it's a proprietary multi-tap transformer that would require installing multiple replacements. We've jumped through all the hoops already, even got in touch with Larry himself. The experience has been a long way behind other manufacturers/distributors I've dealt with (although much better than Line 6).

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if you're keen.... REALLY keen... you can reverse engineer it and then rewind it...

$400 for a new tranny?

interesting... an entire new amp can be had for $650

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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Rude_Mechanical » 03 Apr 2013, 10:43

if you're keen.... REALLY keen... you can reverse engineer it and then rewind it...


We'd need a working transformer to measure - there's no info on the readily available schematic, and Larry wasn't going to do anything that might piss off the Au distributor. Realistically, the time required is just not worth it though.
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Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby PilbaraBass » 03 Apr 2013, 10:55

yeah... you can count winds... But it is time consuming and you only get one shot

time for a new amp ... Don't forget to scavenge the components :)
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby DeadlyErnest » 03 Apr 2013, 15:07

Buy faulty amp with a good transformer for $50. Get some spare parts at the same time.
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Re: Funny smell from solid state head...

Postby Gutterat » 08 Apr 2013, 00:18

How old was this Hartke head before you had the problem?
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