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How To Keep Amplifiers From Overheating

As with any electrical product, keeping your amp immune from overheating will extend its lifespan and help to prevent any unwanted issues. So, let’s look at some steps you can go through to keep your amp running at room temperature.

To keep it from overheating, one must vacuum it, check the connection with the speakers, keep it in cool conditions while playing, and check your fuses and valves.

Guitarists and bassists have many things in common. The passion for music is a common trait between these three, alongside the neverending fear of their amps overheating - especially tube amps. This is also a common problem among musicians who use old or cheap amplifiers. 

How Do I Know My Amp Is Overheating?

Typically, our amps get hot as we play during a session. We may even feel some warmth in the external case of our device. But how hot is too hot? 

In practical ways:

  • if your amplifier is too hot to touch, that’s a clear signal that it’s overheating. 
  • If you have not handled your amplifier, but it keeps shutting off, it might be your amp telling you that it’s overheating

In technical terms, your amp is overheating when it reaches a temperature above 160°F (71.1°C)

Naturally, it’s easier to notice this by touching it or checking if it keeps shutting down, and if this happens, you should turn it off, cool it off, and take it to a technician that could help you out with your problem.

The Consequences of an Overheated Amplifier

The excess heat within an amp will reduce its reliability and lifespan. An overheating amp is sentenced to the end of its days if you don’t take action. But the question is, what is happening inside my amp?

The damages caused by overheating are molten cables and fried components (such as capacitors and repeated blown fuses). These damaged components will rapidly start malfunctioning and end up creating a completely useless amp. That doesn’t sound good, right? 

If you wait long enough, the damage on some components eventually will destroy some of the irreplaceable pieces of the amp. It’s important to notice when your amp is overheating, so you can take action and save your amplifier and some of your money. 

Before this, you can take some tiny actions to help your amp avoid overheating. It’s essential to take care of our gear to last long enough and be reliable. Here are the tips that will help you take care of your amplifier!

Take Care of Cleaning and Maintenance to Keep Amplifiers From Overheating

Like any other device, amplifiers must be cleaned. We often see musicians from past decades breaking and tearing apart their gear. Nowadays, things have changed. 

Guitarists and bassists shouldn’t look away when it comes to cleaning their amps, at least not in this economy. Here we give you some advice on how to maintain your amp.

First of all, you should clear any noticeable build-up of dust or debris blocking fans. You should also clean the insides of an open-back amplifier as large amounts of dust may also interfere on the inside.

Don’t use water or even blow the dust away with your mouth. The saliva from your breath may damage the electrical components through unwanted moisture. 

Instead, use a vacuum cleaner or a specialized electrical cleaning tool that blasts air in a small area.

If you rock a tube amp, take it to a specialized technician every once in a while. These are very delicate pieces of gear, and you could break the tubes, or even worse, harm yourself. 

If you feel brave enough, put on some gloves and grab a piece of cloth. Very delicately, you must wipe away the dust sticking to the tube.

Make Sure The Amp is Matched Properly To The Speakers

Naturally, every guitar or bassist player would want to add more power to their sound. Still, it’s essential to match the speakers’ load demand to the amplifiers as closely as possible. A mismatched load demand could damage your amplifier by overheating it, blowing components, or damaging the speaker.

If you match both devices, your amplifier will be able to safely deliver a high power level into low impedance loads (4-ohm or 8-ohm speaker). If you want to know more about this topic, check out this video:




Before buying anything, inform yourself about the electrical aspects of your current gear, and check if they match the elements of the cabinet speaker cab you want to buy. 

Airflow and Ventilation

Imagine a hot summer day, there’s no AC at home, and there’s barely any airflow, it sounds uncomfortable, right? That’s basically what happens to your amplifier when it has no proper conditioning and it stays on for extended periods. The difference is that your amp can’t eat a popsicle and feel refreshed. 

You must keep your amp in low ambient temps. Lots of external heat can make your amp start overheating, resulting in damage to the internal components. 

Follow these tips so you can keep the temperature of your amp low!

Airflow Around the Amplifier

The best way to keep amps cool is to avoid putting them in enclosed areas where there is a lack of airflow. You'll notice that many amplifier manufacturers will include several ventilation holes around the back or sides of the unit. 

This is because amplifiers give off considerable heat when running at high volumes, so if you're going to stack them in racks or cabinets, be sure you leave enough space for warm air to escape from inside the cabinet. 

Some home recording studio owners choose to use a mesh-covered rack sleeve over their gear racks. This prevents dust buildup and reduces cooling times for all their studio electronics. 

Amplifiers need room. It's important not to place them in closed racks or other enclosed spaces, or the heat will build up and cause the amplifier to overheat. You should leave plenty of space between your amplifier and whatever else is on either side (walls, furniture, etc.) because that helps with air circulation too.

Create More Airflow with a Fan

If your amp appears to be overheating, you may be inclined to place a fan close by to blow hot air away from the equipment. Not only does this help the temperature levels cool down, but it also helps keep performance at an optimal level.

Fans can protect your equipment against damage or problems that might result due to overheating.  

Pedestal fans are an effective tool for cooling purposes, and they are just one of them. Another way of improving the airflow, and the most recommended, is to buy a fan designed for amplifiers.

You’ve probably not seen one before, but they are more common than you think! Most of the elite guitarists and bassists have one. Remember that it’s all about taking care of our gear. 

Learn More

If you found this article useful feel free to browse our blog for plenty more guitar tips. Or, check out our guide of the best online lessons to help you become a master of guitar.

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Hi, I'm Duncan, the owner, creator, and head writer for InciteMusic.com 
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