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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 8: No UK Repairer?

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Trying again with my 22 Feb reply re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 14 March 2007 21:32:01 GMT
To: dave@dave.st

Dave;

Upgrades include everything we know that will improve the Superfly.

UK- I don't know anyone in the UK with the ability who has the time. Adrian from Orange had done one upgrade fix for us (after some famous and clueless amp tech couldn't figure it out). As far as shipping goes, I may be able to get the amp consigned with another cargo to substantially reduce the shipping cost. However, there would be a wait.

If the reverb is not working at all, and all of the tubes are correct and the reverb pan checks out, I will do the upgrade at no charge.

What is the serial number on your Superfly?

BZ

So it seemed like the upgrade could be quite involved... but no-one in the UK was able to do it?

Shipping costs could be minimised subject to a possible wait? At this point I didn't know what waiting was!

Strange question at the end though: I'd mentioned in my first email that I could not find the serial number.

Still, I went back to the amp to have another good look. See part 9 for my response.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 7: Checking The Options

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Re: Trying again re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 22 February 2007 21:24:06 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

Thanks for your reply.

Are the changes referred to in your last paragraph the equivalent of the upgrade work in your second paragraph? Can the upgrade be done by someone here in the UK as otherwise I guess I'd have to ship the chassis back to the US?

Would the upgrade include the capacitor mod to the reverb?

I'm just trying to understand what my options are!

Regards,

Dave

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Trying again with my 22 Feb reply re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 12 March 2007 21:56:17 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

My last email may have got lost so here it is again...

Regards,

Dave

My email on 22 February (right) asked for more information from which to make a decision. It wasn't clear whether Bruce reckoned he could instruct me to do the upgrade myself (gulp!) or just to try and sort out the reverb problem. If the upgrade required expertise, was it available in the UK?

At that point I had not even seen inside the amp chassis - a daunting array of circuitry (see picture of the area around the reverb driver transformer) to handle the MIDI switching as well as the audio shaping.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 6: First Upgrade Offer

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Trying again re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 21 February 2007 01:14:43 GMT
To: dave@dave.st

I would try capacitor values between 500pF and about .01 mF across the Output of the Reverb Pan (From the back of the amp, the RIGHT side of the pan).

Now, there are a number of updates to the design since the first amps were produced. We will update any Superfly to current design standards for $100 (you'll have to send us the chassis).

Now, if you wish to take the chassis out of the cabinet, I can give you some guidance on how to make a few changes. This I can do in real time, via email.

BZ

Next day I received a reply (opposite). I didn't really want to start adding components into the circuitry or making changes as per paragraphs one and three, my knowledge of electronics being sparse.

However I was interested in the second paragraph which mentioned an upgrade service. $100 seemed affordable... except that I was in the UK so shipping it overseas would be expensive.

I sent another email to try and understand what my options were - see part 7.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 5: Inconclusive Observations

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 4 February 2007 21:07:25 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

Thanks for your prompt reply, sorry it's taken me this long to acknowledge it. I played around with the box connections and hooked it up in line with the red side of the reverb tank rather than the black side as it had been, and the one time I have been able to use it since, I have not noticed it cut out completely, and the signal level into the reverb appears not to be causing symptoms of overload.

I would be interested to know the details of the sensitivity mod you mention. If it's just down to cutting the wires on one capacitor, I think I could handle it.

I had another good look for a serial number on every surface that is visible without removing the chassis, without success. Was it just a self-adhesive sticker that could have been peeled off?

Thanks and regards,

Dave Jackson

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Trying again re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 20 February 2007 19:41:10 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

Hoping this will appear on your radar this time...

Regards,

Dave

It took me a week or so to find the time to check out the amp and my observations were not exactly conclusive - I still had an intermittent problem, but had it just become more intermittent?

Receiving no reply by 20 February, I re-sent the email with the comment "Hoping this will appear on your radar this time..." (see below right).

This was the first indication that the initial quick response from Bruce might not be typical. However a response did come - see part 6.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 4: First Response

From: zinky@zinky.com
Subject: Re: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 29 January 2007 01:06:27 GMT
To: dave@dave.st

Hi Dave;

The Reverb in early Superfly amps wasn't the greatest. The design was very unique, and it needed a little extra time for it to be right. Unfortunately, we shipped amplifiers before that time. Since then, we have improved the circuit and upgraded many of the original amplifiers for better reverb performance.

The box you have sounds like it was made by me. I bet those RCA phono jacks ARE 40 years old (Still better than new chinese parts). Yes, all that box does is mute some high frequency response from the reverb pan. It's a patch, not really a fix. But, corrosion on the inside connector could be causing the signal to cut out, so you may want to have a closer look at this, and/or try the reverb without this box (will be brighter).

The pan can be reversed (input for output), and the reverb will be less, but it should still work. If it doesn't , then the side plugged into the RED wire (drive wire from the chassis) is broken in the pan.

The amp SHOULD have a serial number. There should be a back panel serial number, plus one on the inside of the chassis near the power transformer, plus another one, either underneath the chassis, or underneath the front panel.

There was one amplifier shipped to the UK that had the reverb re-worked by Adrian (Orange amp designer), that would have been #0036, I believe. Supposedly, that one was "Fixed".

If the reverb is cutting out, I would check the cables and the reverb pan first. These are the first two things to fail in any amp (Those and the tubes). The Reverb function has 8 clicks, from no reverb to maximum reverb.

Cutting back the sensitivity on the reverb is fairly easy. One capacitor is removed from the chassis to reduce the amplification gain. The chassis needs to be removed, but the work can be done by the owner with simple hand tools.

TUBES- Small tube near the output transformer is a 12AT7, this is for the Reverb, only. All other small tubes are the 12AX7 type. The middle 12AX7 is use partially for Reverb, the other half is the Global tone control driver. All other tubes are guitar preamp or power amp driver. Schematic- We don't provide schematics, but we can provide detail on particular parts of the amplifier to aid you in the repair/restoration. Right now, check the cables and pan, and let me know what you find.

Let me know if you need further assistance,

Bruce Zinky

The response from Bruce (opposite) was helpful and informative, although his description of where the reverb driver tube should be ("near the output transformer") was a bit ambiguous - near the speaker output transformer or the reverb output/send transformer?

By much trial and error I later figured it should be the latter.

Over the next few days I did my best to check Bruce's points as well as I could and then emailed him again - see part 5.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 3: First Contact

From: dave@dave.st
Subject: Frustrating Superfly Combo reverb problem
Date: 28 January 2007 19:51:15 GMT
To: zinky@zinky.com

Hi, I wonder if you would tell me if there are any known issues around the following little problem?

I bought a used Superfly Combo a few days ago here in London, England (private sale via eBay, for the record). By the way, it's the best sounding amp I've played in 25 years, but you're probably used to people saying that. The previous owner stated that there was a "factory mod" to provide a global reverb control. There is indeed a little metal box hooked up between the "black" end of the reverb tank and the main amp chassis with a single pot and a capacitor inside. On looking at it closely I was immediately doubtful that it was supplied by yourselves as some of the components, particularly the phono connectors, look about 40 years old with corrosion to match. I couldn't find a serial number on the amp to indicate when it was made.

My interest in this mod was driven by the fact that since I've been using the amp, I've noticed the reverb cutting out periodically. It doesn't vanish entirely but is barely audible even at maximum setting. Suspecting a bad connection I disconnected this extra box completely so that the amp should work as designed. However the reverb (when it worked) was almost swamping the guitar sound except on the first two control settings, and it sounded distorted even when the actual gain setting was low for a clean sound.

With higher amounts of gain, any adjustment of the gain knob generated a slight click (possibly normal), which was magnified by the reverb circuit as a loud "plink" (surely not normal). Shortly after that the reverb cut out again. All this was at living room volumes.

I can't believe that the excessive distorted reverb experienced when the "factory mod" is not in place is a design feature so I'm wondering if it's a tube issue? The amp is supposed to have had a service recently but I'm waiting on the previous owner to find out if any tubes were changed. Would it be possible to send me a schematic so I can check that the right tube is in the right socket? I have downloaded the PDF manual but it stops short of providing those details.

I read on a web forum about a "reverb update" for the Superfly, but could find no more details. Hopefully by now you can understand why I'm curious. If it comes to professional intervention, do you have someone in London who knows the insides of these amps?

Hope you can shed some light on this frustrating problem as I'd like to get the amp (which is otherwise in very good condition) back to full usability and reliability.

Regards,

Dave Jackson

PS A far more trivial question - is there any problem with transporting the combo laid down flat (on the front to avoid damaging the speaker plug at the back)?

So on 28 January 2007 I sent off the email on the right to the main support address.

Note the question about the reverb level control add-on. At that stage I couldn't really believe that Bruce Zinky had supplied it!

I also raised some observations about the behaviour of the reverb when the retro-fit level control was not in-circuit.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a reply the same evening - see part 4.

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Zinky Superfly Blog - Part 2: Early problems

Quote from the Zinky web site Q&A discussion archive

"Our amplifiers are indeed serviceable, but I give 'em a lifetime warranty and I'll do any needed work at no charge, if the need ever comes up. Our warranty is on the AMP, not the buyer." (their capitalisation).

Over the next few days in January 2007 I began to notice a problem when using the Superfly: upon turning it on and plugging in, at first everything was fine, but then the reverb would go silent; no crackles, pops, hum - just an absence of reverb.

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