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Running amp on an extension cord?


lewzer
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I don't know if this is a dumb question or not but I've never done it before. I went to a drummers house without asking if he had outlets near his kit and guess what, he didn't. So he had to run an extension cord from one part of his basement to his kit. Is that safe?

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i have two distinct schools of thought on this. both really depend on the quality of the cord. if it's a good thick cord, it shouldn't be a problem because it's just wire, and will probably be better than the wire in his house. if it's a flimsy cord, it's not a good idea, but it could still be better than the wire in his house.

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I don't know if this is a dumb question or not but I've never done it before. I went to a drummers house without asking if he had outlets near his kit and guess what, he didn't. So he had to run an extension cord from one part of his basement to his kit. Is that safe?

Why wouldn't it be? You do it when you gig, don't you? You have to in most places. Guitar amps draw very little juice. Not sure why it should be a problem.

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A lot of venues where I play have power issues. Many times the stage area is not close to good clean power. If you get a buzz you may be on the same circuit with a neon light, or an Ice Maker. Good quality cables matter all the way around from instrument, Speaker, and even power. I don't skimp on the gear I buy, and after years of beating my head against the wall I now only buy quality cables, and power cords.

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Never run a tube amp on an extension cord. Such a long run of thin gauge wire carrying a high current could overheat and thereby cause a 'current bottleneck', which could cause the filament within the power tubes to combust. Flaming pieces of glass will be shot all across the room, possibly getting tangled up in nearby drapery or acoustic foam. Tube amps on extension cords are the third most cause of recording studio fires since the 1890's.

 

Solid state amps should be fine.

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I'm no engineer and won't debate with anyone on the matter, but I'll say I've played 100 watt tube amps since the early '90s and have run them through just about every type of outlet and extension cable (from cheap $ store variety to very nice) I can imagine and never had any issues unless the cord itself was bad and didn't carry current for even a lamp; I'd be a lot more concerned about using a good speaker cable to go from the head to cab or about getting shocked if the power cord looked damaged or if playing through a vintange amp that's not grounded.

 

That said, I've also always played fairly cheap gear and would likely invest in a nice line conditioner and better cords for expensive high end amps many people on the forum run through.

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I just tried this and I heard loud pops upon picking my guitar up to try out the new PT2 that’s plugged into the same extension cord that the fender frontman 212r amp is plugged into. I unplugged everything and am scared to proceed now. Any advice would be appreciated!

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On 1/24/2008 at 12:59 AM, missingastring said:

Never run a tube amp on an extension cord. Such a long run of thin gauge wire carrying a high current could overheat and thereby cause a 'current bottleneck', which could cause the filament within the power tubes to combust. Flaming pieces of glass will be shot all across the room, possibly getting tangled up in nearby drapery or acoustic foam. Tube amps on extension cords are the third most cause of recording studio fires since the 1890's.

From an engineering perspective, this is complete and utter BS.

A 100W tube amp draws less than 2 Amps maximum, even at full power.  This is roughly equal to (2) 100 W light bulbs.

From a code perspective, 14 gauge wire is acceptable for continuous duty at 15 Amps over runs much longer than an average extension cord.  Even a small 18 gauge extension is OK up to 25 or 30 feet, for a single guitar amp.

Now, you can cause problems if you try to put several amps on a single extension, and/or if you leave the cord tightly coiled or on a spool.

One thing that IS important is grounding.  ALWAYS use a grounded extension, and don't even think of using one of those two-prong adapters or cutting off the ground pin.  Ground faults are a serious hazard, and you can be seriously hurt or even killed by a fault from an ungrounded guitar or mic.

Edited by SteinbergerHack
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Agreed,  current draw of a typical guitar amp is 1.5 amps...which, on a 15 or 20 amp line, is nothing. But we are 11 years late to straighten out those people.

to Dixie Ann...where are you that you need an extension cord for your amp?

What are you using as an extension chord?

Is everything properly grounded?

A Frontman shouldn't 'pop' unless there is a problem with the power or the cord, so first try another extension cord.

Sorry, I don't know what a 'new PT2' is...please explain what that is and how it plugs in...because that sounds to me like the likely suspect.

Do you have a Volt-ohm meter? If you do, check the continuity of the extension cord.

A not unknown problem can be mis-wired outlets where the hot and neutral are reversed...it won't matter to a lamp, but to a complex circuit it can cause a myriad of issues. I run into this all the time in bars and clubs...so I carry a AC outlet tester with me [they cost about $5 on Amazon].

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