Why a Peavey Bandit 112

I love building DIY effect pedals and the internet has tought me that TransTube Bandits are a good and affordable platform for pedals.

TLDR;

TransTube Bandits are great but like many other Amps they might start to have some minor issues at age. This offers some great deals for DIY repairmen.
Reflow/solder all pots and jacks and you're probably fine already. While doing that look for any visibly damaged parts or solder joints throghout the PCB and check all connectors.
Consider cleaning the pots with something like Kontakt 61 before you reassemble everything.
Do not use Ballistol or WD40 for Pots, they resinify over time!
Don't use any chemical cleaner on really old pots! It might dissolve the resistive coating and with that kill the pot for all time!

The Full Story

Because of their reputation these things have stepped up their resell-value quite a bit (in Germany about 250-300€ in working condition). That makes buying a broken one for self-repair possibly good deal.
I love good deals just as much as I love fixing stuff.

So I started looking on ebay months ago but haven't found what I was looking for.
With the best candiates, the seller wouldn't agree to pack and send it but require me to pick it up (and drive 1000 km) and while I fully understand that (packing an 12" Amp is kinda tricky if you don't do it regularly), it wasn't an option for me.

Two weeks ago though...

a silver stripe transtube series Bandit appeared, broken, "crackling while playing" AND the seller offered to send it for a more than reasonable price.

Fortunately the amp worked fine when first plugged in but quickly started "fading away" after playing for a few seconds. I turned some pots and things worked again so my first thought was "maybe it's a dirty/broken pot".
The guitar was still audible but hardly.
I quickly discovered that slighty pressing the front panel would help for a moment or at least change the sound.
At this points it was all signs on cold solder joint(s).

I disassembled the Amp, and took out the PCB making some photos of all the connections. I might not remember correctly when reassembling it all otherwise.
I'm not good at remembering stuff like that at all.
Looking at all the pots, there were some clearly broken/cold solder joints on some of the heavy-duty bracket legs.

I decided to go the full way without looking any further and reflow all Pot and Jack joints adding some fresh solder.
So I turned my soldering iron temperature down to 280°C (for lead-free stuff I'm usually well above 300°) and started wielding it like an obvious full on amateur!
The Amp is quite old (late 90s) and was - I guess - built using leaded solder, so this was an refreshingly easy task.
Yes I do hate handling lead free solder! It a nightmare to handle for hobbyists like me
Because some pots seemed to cause minor crackling noises all pots were given some "Kontakt 61" love.
I really recommend not to use Ballistol or WD40 for Pots, they resinify over time!
And: NEVER use any chemical cleaner on really old potentiometers! It might dissolve the resistive coating and with that kill the pot once and for all!

It was finally time to...

  • Reassemble it all (using the photos I made before)...
  • Plug in my guitar...
  • Turn on the amp...
  • and... SMILE

It's fixed and works great again. Kontakt 61 fixed the scratchy pots, too!

But the footswitch was missing...

so using some spare pedal parts I had lying around it quickly built one myself using a 1590B style enclosure, two Stompswitches, a stero jack and two indicator LEDs with 4.7kOhm LCRs (led current limiting resistors).

You can use a standard stero cable with the following pinout:

  • Tip - FX Loop On/Off
  • Ring - Channel Switch
  • Sleeve - Ground (as always ;))

The tip/ring voltage is at about 16V with the Bandit and the LEDs will light up in "Clean Channel" and "FX Loop Off" states which are the "open switch" states.

I think this Bandit was a great deal for about 125 bucks (including the footswitch parts and stereo cable).
I gave it some cleaning, reglued some loose tolex ends at the bottom and now it's shiny, sprinkly and overall nice!

I love it...

The Bandit's clean channel is VERY clean, too clean for my taste.
BUT: I love my DIY Timmy in front of both channels.
Paul Cochranes Timmy is a superb overdrive and imo very well worth buying an original unit.
I have it set with volume on unity and the gain quite low (~9 o'clock) so the clean channel get's some slight grit and the gain channel get's some additional body.
I also really like the analog reverb (a reverb-tank with springs'n'stuff, ya know).