The only way to reliably detect the presence of electricity, or of electrical characteristics, is with suitable testing equipment. Well, there are other ways (some people test 9V batteries on their tongue), but I use a battery checker because I’m not Homer Simpson. Radio Shack has #22-156. Please read your Owner’s Manual. Something like this is really the only way to check a battery. I don’t care if they’re “new”, “just been charged”, or if they glow in the dark. If they glow in the dark, please call a professional…

Besides making sure your batteries are good to go, you may want to check the outlet that your gear is plugged into. Did somebody say it’s OK to plug into an outlet? Do you always just assume an outlet is safe to plug into? Well, the basic rule of doing electrical work is: “Check it yourself!” If you don’t know how, the remedy is quite simple. “Electrical Receptacle Testers” can be found all over. No skill is needed (other than to read the 3 lights), and the legend is printed right on the thing. MCM Electronics has #74-300, but if you keep your eye out, you may even see one in Rite-Aid. They really are all over. You grab it by the plastic and stick it into the outlet, and check the lights. If you’ve got 2 yellows, you’re considered good. One yellow, or even a hint of red, call an electrician.

No kidding… Either find an outlet that tests good, or don’t plug in. Your stuff may work, but your electrical source is not properly wired, and should be considered unsafe. Hey, it’s your stuff; make sure both you and your stuff stay safe. Safe gear handling goes a long way towards your personal safety. If you’re plugging up into a strange house system for the first time, please make sure it’s safe. Carry one of these things in your gig-bag and use it often.

Just about everything else regarding checking your gear electrically will require a decent DMM, or Digital Multi-Meter. An example is MCM Electronics #72-7770, but again, they’re all over. Hardware stores, construction supply stores, electronic stores and auto parts stores all will have them. You might be able to figure out how to use one from the manual, but it’s best to be shown how by someone who is already familiar with how to use one. You do need to know some basic electrical principals to use one safely. Please don’t check your wall outlet with a DMM until you’ve been shown how. Damage to your self and/or your new meter can be the result of unsafe experimentation. Use the Receptacle Checker to check any regular wall outlet or power strip.

Thank you,

Armand Blake, Owner: AMPWERX Repair

1935 E. 7th. St. Long Beach, CA 90813

Tel: 562-591-1423 Fax: 562-591-1423

[email protected]

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About the Author


Ampwerks Repair

My name is Armand Blake, and my shop, AMPWERX Repair, is located inside Gilmore Music on the NW corner of 7th. St. and Cherry Av. in Long Beach, CA. I have been there since 2003, however, Gilmore Music, a local independent full-service music store, has been there since before most of us were born. This store is not your corporate super-box, and as far as the repair of electronic and acoustic musical instruments are concerned, we do it all in-house.

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