Repairing stuff…

Well, I’ve just finished putting my Zoom G9.2tt guitar effects processor back together after fixing it. That was kind of a long story, really. The Zoom G9.2tt appears to be built like a tank, but since nothing is perfect, it has some weaknesses. In this case it’s the small pushbuttons on the unit. They consist of three parts… There’s this translucent plastic thing that you push with your finger, which is clicked onto the PCB, over the actual microswitch and a led. This plastic thing ‘hinges’, so you can push it down onto the underlying microswitch. There aren’t any actual hinges, it’s just two thin parts of plastic so it can move around a bit. But after a while, fatigue sets in, and it breaks off. It doesn’t really help that the contact with the microswitch isn’t always perfect, and these microswitches are very vulnerable to dust and such, so you automatically push harder when the switch doesn’t respond, putting even more stress on the fragile hinge.

So I broke one of them quite a while ago. I had to take the entire unit apart to see if I could fix it. This was a hellish task, because the unit is built up from various PCBs which are partly on top of eachother and/or connected via brackets or other things. There are also quite a few cables connecting the different PCBs. Because you can only access the electronics from the bottom, the PCBs with the buttons are actually the furthest away, so you have to take the ENTIRE unit apart. A very time-consuming and stressful task. There are so many parts to maneuver out of the way, and it’s all very delicate…

Anyway, I just decided to go into it head-first, so I took it apart completely, and discovered how these plastic ‘hinge’ things worked. I switched the broken one with a button that wasn’t important, and I used some adhesive tape to put the broken part back together. Then I put the entire unit back together. Much to my surprise, it all worked again.

Having found out the hard way how delicate these buttons are, I tried to be as gentle as I could from then on. This worked fine for a few years, until eventually the inevitable happened: Another button failed. The nightmare of the previous fixing operation flashed before my eyes…

This time I wanted to do it differently. It was very hard to fix it with adhesive tape… so I wanted to get some proper replacement parts. My unit was JUST out of its 3-year warranty period (I have a very early model, serial number 749)… besides, I had ordered it from Germany at the time. So I figured I’d just contact the local distributor for spare parts. They responded that they could provide the spare parts, but they don’t deal directly with end-users. So I would have to place the order through one of their dealers.

Well, since there is only one dealer in my city, according to the Zoom distributor (Rock Palace), I figured I’d go there. I explained my problem to one of the salesmen, and left my email address. He said he had to look into it, and get back to me.

About a week later, I received an answer. He said it was very hard for them to get spare parts, and I’d have to try to contact the manufacturer myself. Well, that’s odd… That’s not at all what the distributor said… And basically that brings me back to the distributor then, as Zoom doesn’t have any direct contact info for service, they refer only to the local distributors on their site.

I figured I’d try with Music Store where I bought it. I no longer had any warranty, but well, I did buy the unit there, and they ARE a Zoom dealer, so perhaps they could help me. But I never received a reply from them…

Anyway, I got tired of waiting for them to answer, so I looked on the Zoom site again for some contact info… All I could find was a generic info email… So I just explained my problem, not really expecting much anymore. I was prepared to just buy a new Zoom G9.2tt at this point (or perhaps a Line6 Pod X3 Live this time around…), but well, it doesn’t hurt to try.

After a few days I got a mail, again from the distributor, but this time from a German person, so perhaps a different department. He said that they normally don’t deal directly with customers, and that a dealer could just order the parts with a simple phonecall. However, they were willing to make an exception for me. So they sent me some spare parts, which I received only a few days later. Free of charge!

And here we are today… I’ve just finished putting in a new microswitch and a new plastic thingie, and the unit works fine again. I hope it stays that way this time… Because it’s a LOT of work to fix these simple buttons… even if you know how to do it. I have to say though, kudos to Zoom for the excellent customer service. That’s a lot more than I can say for Rock Palace. This isn’t the first time Rock Palace didn’t want to help me, by the way… They are also an official dealer of Steinberg software. A while ago, there was this upgrade offer for Cubase LE. So I went there, with my original Cubase LE CD and serial number, and a printout from the website. They said they didn’t know about this offer, and would have to look it up, and contact me later (well, same story as with the Zoom stuff now). I didn’t hear anything from them… Sadly this also meant that the offer was over by the time I realized that Rock Palace wasn’t going to be any help, so I couldn’t go to another distributor either, and I just missed out on the offer altogether. Shame, because I really wanted a better version of Cubase. It’s just that I don’t use it often enough to warrant the full price. I don’t think there’ll be another offer, because I only have Cubase LE 1, and Cubase LE 4 has replaced it a while ago. New offers seem to include LE 4 only.

Oh well… that’s one less guitar-related problem. Now I need to get my amp fixed…

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22 Responses to Repairing stuff…

  1. Jeff AveryJ says:

    Hi,

    Stumbled on your post today. I picked up the G92.tt from a yard sale today for ten bucks…nice. No power supply but I had a 15 volt 1.4 amp from a Toshiba laptop. Fired it up but I’m getting nothing (no lights, nada). I tore the unit completely down looked for swelled caps, or anything else unusual, but everything looks fine. I do see what you mean though about the boards being stacked. I took it apart down to the small pots under the LCD. All the plastic covers you mentioned fell out…ugh ha ha. Got it all back together and you are right it’s a bit of work.

    I’m wondering, do you know if they have any type of repair service they offer or do you think I’ll have to work with a local vendor? Thanks for the article.

    Regards,

    jeff

  2. Paul Thompson says:

    Hi Scali,
    Hey, glad I found your info – really useful. Thanks.
    I just recently had the same issue with the buttons and plastic covers. My local supplier were about as useless as yours. I contacted Zoom and they quoted £65 + £4 per switch to do a repair.
    For £200 I can get the new G5.
    So after reading your info I decided to go at it myself. Screws, brackets and loose flying cables everywhere 😉
    I took photos at different stages of disassembley so hopefully I can get it back together.
    The push button switches aren’t that standard a type either. They are two pin (usually 4 pin). I eventually found some on ebay (50 for about £4 from Hong Kong). They should arrive in a few weeks. I’ve just asked Zoom if they can supply just the plastic hinged covers. Waiting for a reply on that….
    Then if I get the cables back in the right place it should be as good as new.

    Cheers,
    Paul.

    • Scali says:

      Well, to be honest, only a few weeks after I fixed these buttons, some other buttons started to get stuck. At that time I couldn’t be bothered to fix it yet again (I had already done some quick fixes by taping the broken plasic button thingies together so they would work again, before I got hold of the new ones). So I could either buy another G9.2tt, or try something different this time. So I got a Pod X3 Live instead. Which has plenty of issues as well, by the way (it’s quite noisy, and the SPDIF and USB suffer from random dropouts, sometimes hanging the audio on the PC, requiring a reboot). But at least the buttons keep working so far.

      • Paul Thompson says:

        I’ve never tried the Pod X3 Live. I guess that has similar spec to the G9.2tt – I will check it out.
        I was quite happy with the effects and sound from the G9.2tt – it’s just a shame about the poor quality switches/buttons. In fact when I asked Zoom about a repair of the faulty switch they advised that I change all the switches (20 at £4 a pop) at once due to the age. So I guess they know well about the issue. I may try changing all the switches at once myself with the new ones from Hong Kong (but still need the plastic bits from Zoom).
        If that works I should get another few years out of it. If it goes up in smoke when I switch it back on I guess I will try out the latest pedals like the Line 6 and Boss stuff. Zoom have discontinued the G9.2tt (and the G7.1t). Their latest pedal is the G5. I don’t think the G5 uses the same type of nuisance switches/buttons but maybe will give the same range of effects so will try that also.
        I suppose logically all of these pedals should give a similar quality of sound – just need to get used to the tweaking to your taste. Until I get this G9.2tt repair sorted I will use the effects in my Fender Mustang amp. That also sounds good but you can’t combine as many effects together and the pedal switches aren’t as good as the Zoom.

      • Scali says:

        The Pod doesn’t sound bad really… But it does have a bit of a ‘hissy’ character. An emphasis on high frequencies that sounds very artificial. Line6 is very secretive about the exact specs of their DSPs, but somehow I doubt it is 24/96 like the Zoom. The Zoom sound is higher quality in my experience. In an actual mix, the noise and slightly artificial high-end of the Line6 isn’t very noticeable though. The ampl models and effects themselves sound very good, as you’d expect from Line6, THE modeling company.

        As for the G5, it is an entirely new generation. The G9.2tt was built around their Zfx-3 chip (their first 24/96 one), where the G5 has a new Zfx-4 chip. Interestingly enough they’re back to 44.1 KHz though, instead of 96 KHz. But at the very least the G5 will sound different from a G9.2tt, and I guess it’s safe to assume that the Zfx-4 is more powerful than the Zfx-3, and that they improved the modeling algorithms, so it’s probably a better product altogether.
        I only wonder though: ‘G5’ is a rather low number, so I wonder if this is the top of the line, or if they are planning to introduce a more advanced model soon. My first impression, given the 4 effect footswitches and the single controller pedal, is that the G5 is more of a replacement for the G7.1ut than for the G9.2tt.

      • Paul Thompson says:

        I hadn’t noticed the reduced sampling on the G5 compared to the G9.2tt, and the G7.1ut was also 96kHz so if there is a more advanced G5 it will probably still be 44.1kHz. I remember now that was one of technical selling points when I bought the Zoom in the first place – the fast patch change ….and all round it seemed the best value for money at the time.
        With the G5 they’ve kept the Z- pedal and you can get an additional/optional expression pedal to get to a similar situation as with the G9 but I’m not sure if that pedal will have the same functions.
        It also seems that you can apply the tube gain parameter to the G5 pedal (which isn’t the case with the G9). More fancy screens and they added a looper and stuff. Maybe the new Zoom philosophy is more bells and whistles to get more sales but maintained the price by reducing the sampling and removing the second pedal….

  3. Paul Thompson says:

    Well the push button switches arrived from Hong Kong within two weeks. A bit of messing with Zoom with the covers (they sent the rotary switch knob part first time) but I eventually received two new plastic button covers – I put the whole thing back together – with only one screw left over! and it’s working perfectly again 🙂
    Long live the G9.

  4. Adrian says:

    Just had 75% dismounted my Zoom G9.2tt this morning to fix same issues as you described previously. That problem on my device (which serial number tells me that it is a little bit younger , 003629) wasn’t on the hinges, all of them foud them in good shape, but on the switches itselves. So I took a syringe with 2 ml. of isoprolylic alcohool and flood all of them a little bit (it is generally known that isopropylic alcohool doesn’t attack the PCB’s and is a very good cleaner also) and a pleasant surprise, COMP and ZNR switches came back to life. Also I have treated footswitch 1 for the same simptoms, and everything works fine now.
    The only sthange thing left is that G9 editor/librarian act completely random, freezes and refuses 80% from the cases to send or to receive the patches via MIDI interface. Reinstalled and nothing changes, still act randomly, but I think I can live with that

  5. Bruce says:

    Hello – My G9.2tt will not store my original programs. Maybe the backup battery needs changed.
    * Do you know which screws I need to remove to reveal the battery?
    * Is there a service manual that I could download?
    Thank you – brucelebovitz@gmail.com

  6. Trooper says:

    Hello mate. I got a g9.2tt from my cousins who live abroad, but with no power supply. I managed to find 15v ac power supply, but cant find the proper jack to plug it into the g9.2. Any tips?

  7. K Kayser says:

    I have had similar problems with the plastic buttons on my Zoom HD16 16 track recorder. If anyone has a lead on where to get the part, drop me a line at ks_kayser@yahoo.com. Also, I need a a/c adapter for a G9.2tt, if anyone knows where to get a suitable replacement, let me know….Please. Thanks.

  8. Rob says:

    Hi Scali,
    Hope your memory is good…..
    …..came across your site after spending all afternoon dismantling my Zoom G9 2tt because of the “sticky switch syndrome”….again !! (first time it was repaired under warranty, second time it was one of the ‘bank of 5′ footswitches so relatively easy to repair).
    This time it is 2 of the upper bank of 4 switches that have failed so I need to remove a circuit board that is well hidden; underneath a simple metal plate that is attached to another circuit board by means of 2 screws which appear to be glued in place.
    Can you remember if this is normal glue or maybe silicon to stop earthing or something??
    Both my effects pedal and me would be grateful of anything you can remember from when you repaired yours 🙂
    Regards, Rob

  9. Hilbert says:

    Hi guys i’ve read all the comments n what not. and wile i dont own a G9 i own a G5. remarkable pedal, my only grievance, is that some mystery object dropped on the first lcd screen and now its busted. Is there a way i could repair?

  10. Base Zero says:

    Hello, I donno if this is the right place to post my multifx problem. Well, I have a Zoom g9.2tt and has been using for a year now, bt all of a sudden it ran into problem.

    The unit switches on but there is no sound from the unit neither it reads the input signal. I have tried bypass yet no indication on the tuner also tried running audio from the Cubase s/w there is no sound at all. I have checked all the periphery connection, everythings fine. Could someone help me out cause I couldn’t figure what’s wrong with it.

    There is no proper shop who are familiar with repairing guitar processors nearby.

  11. Sunil Churkoo says:

    hi, I got a GU7.1UT which is now freeze please tell what to do.

  12. titanera says:

    Hi..im from indonesia,sorry if my english is a little bit lame..
    Please help me i have a G9.2tt and it’s won’t start suddenly
    When im try to turn it on,my G9.2 tt just turn on a display with yellow blank display. There’s nothing a graphic displayed on the LED like that thing used to be.
    I try to restarted it but nothing happen
    Please help me to figure it out
    Thank u very much

  13. f e says:

    After contacting Zoom North America and having no luck with John Molfetas in Customer Service in identifying part numbers for replacement parts associated with switches (his response: “Unfortunately, we do not have this information available”), it forces any aftermarket DIY repairers to fend for themselves. This specific unit is entirely too complicated to repair and operate once repaired, I’d look elsewhere even if it shows up on Craigslist for $50 USD, because at least one needed switch will fail while you own it.

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