S OUNDADVIC E
Time To Spruce Things Up
It’s a good time of year for doing some
preventative maintenance on your PA gear.
It seems like speaker cabinets always need
touching up, problem cables need to be
checked and resoldered, and loose, scruffy
mic stands need cleaning and tightening.
Power amps can almost always benefit from
a good cleaning and the faders and connec-
tions on the board always sound and feel
better after some contact cleaner and lube.
Speaker cabinets can begin looking ratty
after a few years. Handles rust, paint flakes
off, carpet tears, grills get scratched and
speaker cones fade. First, use a staple gun
and spray glue to pull any torn carpet on
the cabinet back into place – just stretch,
glue and staple. Next, use black fabric paint
to touch up any seams and spots where
the wood is showing through. Take off the
speaker grill, lightly sand it, paint it and
then set it aside to dry while tackling the
rest of the repairs.
Take some glass cleaning wipes and a 1. 5”
paint brush and clean up the woofer and
the horn. Alternately, you can use com-
pressed air between 60-90 psi, taking care
not to damage speaker components. Grab
some Thompson’s WaterSeal and lightly
mist the woofer with a sprayer – the goal
here is not to get it wet, just slightly damp.
Repeat this approximately three times, let-
ting it dry thoroughly after each coat.
Between coats of water sealer, you can
begin touching up the metal parts of the
cabinet. You can clean the 1/4” jacks in
your input plate with a . 22 caliber gun
bore cleaning brush by gently inserting the
brush into the input. Use a rotating motion,
and finish it off with some contact cleaner
– preferably CAIG Laboratories’ DeoxIT,
although WD- 40 will work in a pinch.
Now it’s time to put the grill back on and
check the cabinet for buzzes and rattles
by running sound through it. If you hear
anything, break out the screwdrivers and
start tightening screws. If that doesn’t take
care of it, you may have damaged boxes.
Cabinets that have seen too much moisture
or were made out of cheap plywood can
be repaired with fiberglass matte and resin,
although that type of repair is beyond the
scope of this article.
Give the heat sinks a shot of compressed air
and clean the filter elements if your amp is
so equipped. Then use some contact clean-
er to clean the inputs.
Check Your Cables
Pick up an inexpensive cable checker and
check all of your cables, repairing or replac-
ing as necessary, followed by a shot of
contact cleaner on all contact points. Now
would be a good time to label the cables
if you haven’t done so already. Mark them
for length and use – i.e. a 25’ speaker cable
would be marked SP- 25. Also consider using
some type of “branding” to differentiate
your cables from others, which helps when
using your cords in festival environments.
Check your snake and tape or shrink wrap
worn spots in the cabling, and check all con-
nectors using your cable checker to make
sure all the connections are good.
Blow all of the faders and connectors out
with compressed air and spray all contact
points with contact cleaner. If your board
has insert jacks, spray them with a generous
amount of contact cleaner and “exercise”
them with a 1/4” connector. Blow out the
faders one last time before spraying fader
lube into each one, and then move each
fader up and down through its full range.
Finally take an auto detailing brush and
clean the board by brushing between all
the knobs, moving up and down and left to
right. Finish by wiping it down with Armor
For black mic stands, rough up the surface
with a scuff pad or sandpaper and then
spray it with flat black spray paint. For
chrome stands, use fine steel wool to clean
off tape residue and remove rust – you can
prevent future rusting by waxing the surface
of the stand once it’s clean.
Almost all mic stand bases these days are
painted black and can be touched up with
spray paint when they begin to look ratty.
Unscrew the stand from the base, clean and
scuff the base and then paint. Remember,
the more paint you use on cast metal, the
better it looks and protects. The trick is to
avoid runs – spraying multiple thin coats
and waiting five minutes or so in between
These tips can be done over a free weekend
or over a few evenings during the week to
help make that old gear look new again.
Remember, people rate your professional-
ism on your gear’s appearance and most of
us would find it too expensive to replace
everything every couple of years. Take care
your stuff and it will look and sound great
for years to come.
Your repair materials checklist:
Light sandpaper ( 150) or scuff pad
Black spray paint (flat, semi-
gloss or gloss)
Black fabric paint
Contact cleaner (or WD- 40)
1. 5” paint brush and auto
. 22 caliber rifle barrel brush
Automotive cleaning wipes
Solder iron and solder
Black tape and shrink tubing
General tools, including hammer