Why do old tube amps smell like old tube amps?

fronobulax

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<veer>
Long, long ago I had a summer fellowship with the New York State Department of Health, Division of Laboratories and Research. PCBs were a concern and we were working on a quick and cheap(er) way to quantify how much PCB was present in human tissue. We used peanut oil as a substitute for human tissue. The process was to spike samples, run the measurement, compare the results and adjust the measurement technique to be faster or cheaper and repeat. There were a series of tests where the measured result was higher than expected. After eliminating technician error as a probable cause we finally tried unspiked peanut oil. Turns out the peanut oil was contaminated. We veered and established that the specific PCB present in the peanut oil was the result of animal metabolism and so 100% pure peanut oil (vegetable) as purchased in a grocery store contained some animal fat. We wrapped up our findings in a nice little package and presented it to the folks who investigated food contamination but the summer ended and I never heard what happened next.
</veer>
 

zulu

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I think I lost 80% of the smell from my T1 when it got new speakers, baffle and grill cloth. The chassis still has that tone smell, and the speakers have that "new speaker smell" - or had it for a time.
 

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GAD

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<veer>
Long, long ago I had a summer fellowship with the New York State Department of Health, Division of Laboratories and Research. PCBs were a concern and we were working on a quick and cheap(er) way to quantify how much PCB was present in human tissue. We used peanut oil as a substitute for human tissue. The process was to spike samples, run the measurement, compare the results and adjust the measurement technique to be faster or cheaper and repeat. There were a series of tests where the measured result was higher than expected. After eliminating technician error as a probable cause we finally tried unspiked peanut oil. Turns out the peanut oil was contaminated. We veered and established that the specific PCB present in the peanut oil was the result of animal metabolism and so 100% pure peanut oil (vegetable) as purchased in a grocery store contained some animal fat. We wrapped up our findings in a nice little package and presented it to the folks who investigated food contamination but the summer ended and I never heard what happened next.
</veer>
That reminds me of my daughter in high school. Her class got a grant and they used it to do DNA testing on sushi from the local super market. When the results came back one of them wasn’t salmon like the package indicated. It was human!

And that’s how a local high school class learned about sample contamination during collection. :)
 
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I'd wager it's permeated into the enclosure as well with older amps. If I stick my nose in the back of my early 40's and 56 amps, I can smell it. But not in my 2010 Marshall. I don't smell any of them when I walk into their room if they are turned off. But, if any of the above are warmed up and running, I can easily smell it from 5 ft away.
 

Opsimath

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That reminds me of my daughter in high school. Her class got a grant and they used it to do DNA testing on sushi from the local super market. When the results came back one of them wasn’t salmon like the package indicated. It was human!

And that’s how a local high school class learned about sample contamination during collection. :)
That scared me, till I read the last line.
 

Rambozo96

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The inside of every old Boss pedal I worked on smells like old lady perfume.
 

donnylang

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It’s not just tubes or amps. Tape recorders have it in spades, including solid state ones. My suitcase Ampex 602 from the mid-‘60s oozes the (pleasant) smell when in use. It is actually a tube deck, it’s also small and gets very warm. Lots of moving parts.
 

donnylang

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The inside of every old Boss pedal I worked on smells like old lady perfume.
Fun fact: Laura Nyro insisted the lyric sheet of her 1968 LP Eli & the 13th Confession be perfumed. I got an original copy, and it still has the pleasant smell, but it’s a bit musty now. It’s smells kind of like those little pink powder mirror things my grandma used to use.
 
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