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Here is a list of things you need to have if you are going to work on amplifiers.

You need contact cleaner for cleaning controls and jacks. This is the stuff I use. It has silicone in it, and it cleans the contacts and leaves a thin film to prevent future corrosion and oxidation. Think of it as "Technician in a Can." It can solve or prevent lots of problems. Other cleaners often remove the manufacturer's lubricant that protect the resistance element and the wiper contacts from wear, and you end up with a control that is even more noisy and wears out fast.
At Mouser
Multi-Screwdriver - this is a 6-in-One screwdriver, and pretty handy. Most amps use the #2 Philips bit for almost all screws. If all you are going to get is one screwdriver, get one like this:
At Home Depot
Wire cutters - I also use one to strip insulation, but you might want a stripper, too. If you can find the one with the screw-cutter or the crimper included, that is pretty handy, too.
At Home Depot
Digital Meter for testing things, checking voltages, setting output tube bias, etc. You can survive with just a screwdriver, a meter and a soldering iron.
At Home Depot
Clip Leads for hooking things up temporarily:
And, if you are actually going to do something about what you find in there, you will need a Soldering Iron for permanent connections. Avoid cheap dollar-store irons as they get way too hot. And you don't need a $400 soldering station, either. I use a $65 temperature-controlled iron every day:
At Newark
...and some solder. I use 60/40 or 63/37 rosin core solder. "They" want us to use lead-free solder, but its harder to make a reliable connection with the lead-free solder that is available. If you are Green, Low-lead solder is a great alternative - it still makes good connections. I say we should just stop throwing our electronic stuff in the trash! That would keep a large amount of Lead out of the environment! Eventually they may get the formula right, and lead-free solder will work as well as tin/lead solder does:
At Newark
A few good books: Basic Electronics:
... but I always learned a lot from Forrest Mimms III when he wrote for Popular Electronics:
Reading Schematic Diagrams:
Tube and Guitar Amp Books:

A NEW edition of my book has just been released!

The perfect gift for that tech-head musician or technician that loves to work on guitar amps.
My New Book!
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New edition of my book, "Guitar Amps and Their Problems, 2.0" - Updated and Improved!
With over 2500 entries of service records for many popular (and rare) makes and models of (mostly) tube guitar amps and other gear!

You can go crazy with books, just like anything else. The thing that I have learned is that first you need to understand electronics, that is, learn how electrons behave and how to tame them. Then you have to learn the skills and practices that make it safe and effective to work on stuff in general. Then you need to learn about the particular type of product that you are interested in.

Some books from Alibris, a really good source for new and used books. I've chosen some obviously used books because of the great price break, or they could just be old editions.


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