In the early eighties, I studied electronics at Hatfield Polytechnic and a couple of years later, was lucky enough to land myself a job at Simmons Electronics Plc in St. Albans. From there, I moved on to Roland (UK) Limited where I was Technical Manager until 1990 when I decided to go freelance.
Being a recording and performing artist myself, I found it easy to empathise with fellow musicians, engineers and producers, especially regarding technical problems.
So, for over twenty years, I've been servicing all kinds of music technology and designing systems for clients that have included shops and distributors as well as private individuals and named artists.
Yes, I service those big heavy boxes that get really hot and have 600 Volts floating around inside of 'em. In fact I positively love valve amps. Of course I also service all types of amplifiers, guitar, bass, P.A., etc. It's just that I have a personal passion for the old valves!
Other than fixing problems, I do valve changes which includes a bias check. You'll not just notice a change in sound with a properly biased new set of valves but also a change in sensitivity and responsiveness.
I exclusively buy my valves from my friend, Derek at Watford Valves. He always offers me premium components and they always come in either matched pairs or quads.
Most valve changes shouldn't take more than a couple of hours so you're looking at tops, about £100 plus parts.
Custom screening, especially for single coil guitars, pick-up changes, pot and socket changes are just a few of things I do on guitars and basses.
Without going into detail, everything about guitar electronics makes electric guitars almost perfect aerials! In fact, back in the day, there was a set of conditions I'd be able to create that would nearly always pick up Radio Moscow, LOL. And then we plug 'em into amps an' wack up the gain which amplifies everything. WOW!!!! That's a good idea.
So, screening the electronics cavity and proper earthing of all components is something that goes a long way to ensure that what comes out of your guitar is what you do to the strings.
Being a guitarist myself, I can also advise on a whole host of issues from helping you choose the right third-party pick-up for your sound to offering you custom built electronics like for example, my Power Cord which basically has a built-in JFET pre-amp in the plug which attaches to your guitar. With 3dB of gain, it also has a very low output impedance which helps maintain signal integrity between your guitar, pedals and amp.
I don't do wood but I have an excellent locally based luthier who I trust implicitly so if for example, you want a pre-amp fitted to your guitar, my friend Gary will cut out the cavity and make it look like it came from the factory!
The very nature of how a keyboard works, means that over time, contacts will start to deteriorate. Metal spring type contacts are a little more resilient to temperature, humidity and contaminants than rubber contacts and although manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their contacts deliver an acceptable period of longevity, I definitely perform keyboard contact changes more than any other repair on keyboards. There are however, a few things you can do to help prolong the life of your keyboard:
- Don't leave your keyboard in your car over night. While a flight case will provide some protection, temperature and (more so) humidity will take its toll.
- Avoid spillages of any fluid on to the keyboard (obvious but I need to say it).
- Cover your keyboard when it's not being used. After the sound check and before the gig, just put a lint-free cloth over the actual keyboard. This particularly good advice if you're performing outside.
Most keyboard changes up to 61-notes take between two and three hours so you're looking at between £100 and £150 plus parts.
Of course I do a lot more than keyboard changes!
LIVE FOREVER BATTERY MODIFICATION
Older synths, modules and effects processors use an on-board battery to ensure that patches and presets were stored. Usually something like a CR2032 would maintain the 'memory' of a machine for several years. The problem is that there's no indication of the status of the battery and if not regularly used, a leaking battery could damage the electronics of your machine. Unfortunately, battery damage renders a machine unfixable 99% of the time.
To prevent this happening, I offer a 'Live Forever' battery mod'. The description doesn't quite reflect the reality. Of course no battery will live forever. My mod' however, replaces the existing battery in your keyboard, synth module or effects processor, with one of much higher capacity. On top of that, I mount it to the inside of the chassis which means that if it ever did leak, it wouldn't dribble its contents over the precious PCBs in your machine.
I charge a flat £130.00 for the Live Forever battery mod', including parts.
IMPORTANT: Although the process includes dumping the memory from your machine prior to performing the mod', I insist that you do the same; better safe than sorry.
HAND-MADE CABLES AND LOOMS
Now why on earth do I bother offering this service when you can buy cables and looms much cheaper off the Internet? Well, quite honestly, some cables I've seen (that have been bought off the Internet) are either totally over-priced or they're err... SHIT! On one occasion, a customer had intermittent power problems with his guitar pedals. I took out a dc distribution lead and literally pulled it apart with my hands! Not good.
Look, we spend good money on our instruments, on equipment that goes into our home studios and our live set-ups so why, oh why do some of us then connect it all up with cheap, crappy cables?!?!!? As systems grow, the last thing you want to be worried about is an intermittent connection.... somewhere!
I exclusively use Neutrik jacks and XLR connectors because they last forever and similarly, I only use a couple of high-grade cables. The cable I use for straight-forward unbalanced jacks is doubly screened but is low-mass and is still very flexible.
My looms are built for reliability. It's as simple as that.