Multi-meter advice...

Guitarchaeologist

Master Spuddler
Silver Member
I am looking to get a new multimeter (for basic amp work) and am curious about features that you all find important.

Some I've already considered: (feel free to tell why they are or are not useful)
- audible continuity test (which my current meter lacks)
- alligator clip leads (separate leads)
- hands free ? (I saw this on Amazon- is it practical?)
- a case (seems important to me)
- built in stand (?useful ?)
- long pen-style probes
- auto-ranging
- ???
 
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Deafsoundguy

CERTIFIED HACK
Silver Member
Mar 6, 2020
1,912
Area 51
Yeah don’t get a crappy one, I bought some Chinese crap brand that looked good but all three broke within 6 months. Total garbage. Get a Fluke or something made in America or Japan. 🇺🇲

Also, get one that has auto turn-off. You absolutely will forget to turn it off and kill the batteries of one that doesn’t have that feature.
 

Leofender

Plink... Need a restring!!
Silver Member
Aug 28, 2021
2,433
Australia
Whatever you end up getting, make sure it has a standard banana plug, that way you can buy an extra set of probes. Simply cut the probes of and replace with Alligator Clips. It's amasing how useful it is this way!
Audible continuity is present on all the brand's I've seen.
I've had cheap and pricey ones, they all seem the same to me... Up to you!
 

Caedarn

Strat-Talker
Feb 13, 2021
431
New England
I got this one…Astro AI TRMS6000 and it works well. I bought a case and extra probes separately.

EDIT….This is the model I got, but Amazon lists a newer version being available. I don’t know how they compare.

71Nzpqxm44L._SL1500_.jpg
 
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Jimbo99

Senior Stratmaster
Jun 5, 2021
2,632
Palm Coast, FL
Probably the best 15 minutes in a video to save the headache of any mistake(s). Me, I'm not ever going to build my own lab like this guy did. So I'll just stick with a basic multimeter that handles guitar electronics measurement for repair. It would be nice to get a multimeter that is appropriate that would measure Henries for the pickups. LCR Multimeter.

 

joebtone

Senior Stratmaster
Silver Member
Jan 26, 2022
2,172
Northwest US
I am looking to get a new multimeter (for basic amp work) and am curious about features that you all find important.

Some I've already considered: (feel free to tell why they are or are not useful)
- audible continuity test (which my current meter lacks)
- alligator clip leads (separate leads)
- hands free ? (I saw this on Amazon- is it practical?)
- a case (seems important to me)
- built in stand (?useful ?)
- long pen-style probes
- auto-ranging
- ???
Audible continuity is no good for me because I am deaf at that frequency that alarm usually beeps at in those.
Most people will find it handy.

Good small alligator clips are nice for when your measuring deadly 400 plus volt plate voltages in your amp.

Hands free? Is that the alligator clips?
I’m talking about the ones with the little hook deals in them.

It’s all dangerous in amps.
 

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dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
7,031
Murfreesboro, TN
Most of what you do is ohms and volts, which will work with even the cheapest meters.

Audible continuity testing is faster, so if you are checking 30 connections at a time it is definitely worth having. But make sure you can turn the noise off, because it can be irritating.

For amp work, you NEED at least one alligator clip, because you should be only reaching in there with one hand. It doesn't necessarily have to come with the meter.

It's probably important to be able to measure capacitance. This feature is not found on the cheapest meters.
 

Guitarchaeologist

Master Spuddler
Silver Member
Probably the best 15 minutes in a video to save the headache of any mistake(s). Me, I'm not ever going to build my own lab like this guy did. So I'll just stick with a basic multimeter that handles guitar electronics measurement for repair. It would be nice to get a multimeter that is appropriate that would measure Henries for the pickups. LCR Multimeter.


Well, thanks for that. Just when I get a little confidence to undertake my basic amp work, someone (YOU this time!) comes along and shows me how much I do not know, and still need to learn.
Seriously, thanks for the link.
I doubt I'm gong to be dropping $200+ on a multi-meter for amp work since I would only use it once in a blue-moon.
 

jvin248

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 10, 2014
5,647
Michigan
...I doubt I'm gong to be dropping $200+ on a multi-meter for amp work since I would only use it once in a blue-moon.

And .... ding ding ding ... that is always the tradeoff.

The $7 Harbor Freight meters do ok for most intermittent jobs. No fancy buzzers but just prop them where you can see them. If the leads break (they do) then just spend another $7 on another meter which is cheaper than new leads ... and convert the old one with a 1/4in plug on the leads to put in your car for checking out used craigslist guitars before handing over cash. I've caught a lot of sketchy guitar wiring problems that way.

+1 important to use the 'one hand rule' with amps: only reach inside to measure or do things with one hand. If something happens using two hands the current runs from arm to arm across your heart.

.
 

Straddled

Strat-O-Master
Mar 7, 2022
783
Evergreen State
So many new meters are junk, it's very sad.

I bought my first one of these when I started my technology program back in 1988. They were made in Everett WA, and the instructor said you could drop it from a building or run it over with a car and it would be fine.

The ones they make in China now are junk before they're dropped or run over, they're just defective, at least compared to the old ones.

I still recommend this meter above all others for home and shop use.

P1020691.JPG
 
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Straddled

Strat-O-Master
Mar 7, 2022
783
Evergreen State
The $7 Harbor Freight meters do ok for most intermittent jobs.

Modern day mentality, buy junk from our enemies, insert ridiculous reason here.

Zero pride of ownership in tools is a serious personality flaw.

I went to yard sale last summer (TOOLS! it said) and it was a whole wall of Harbor Fright Tools, Harbor Fright everything, compressor, wretched quality air hoses.

To me, everything in that garage wasn't even worth the gas to take it all to the dump.

Like Snap On used to say: Buy quality, cry only once.
 

Axis29

Strat-O-Master
Mar 9, 2007
968
Beaumont. California
I'm a big Fluke fan. I have one of the 77 versions. It replaced a 77 series I had owned for almost 30 years. It doesn't get used every day, far fomr it, actually. Although, there have been times when I have used it all day every day for a week at a time (even though I'm a cabinet maker by trade).

I do own several meters, including a couple of cheap ones.... The cheap ones work okay, and they will probably last forever, since I don't use them that often... But, I trust the Fluke a lot more. Plus, it feels nicer.

I bought my most recent Fluke off eBay a couple of years ago. I think I spent less than a hundred bucks (it had a replaced display). That's a deal in my book.

The cheap Harbor Freight meters will work. And, they will probably do everything you need.

Of your list of features, the only one I absolutely require is the audible continuity bit. I probably use this feature more than any other!

My Fluke has a stand in the case... I rarely use it. It does have a nice nylon zip up case which has room for extra probes and stuff (I bought an assortment of leads off Amazon). It has some auto-ranging features, I think. But, I'm so used to flipping between ranges I don't even think about it.

I will say, purchasing a pack of assorted leads was a good move. I'll see if I can dig up the set I bought... Again, not expensive, but in the end it gives me a lot of options.
 

Jimbo99

Senior Stratmaster
Jun 5, 2021
2,632
Palm Coast, FL
Well, thanks for that. Just when I get a little confidence to undertake my basic amp work, someone (YOU this time!) comes along and shows me how much I do not know, and still need to learn.
Seriously, thanks for the link.
I doubt I'm gong to be dropping $200+ on a multi-meter for amp work since I would only use it once in a blue-moon.
Sorry to be that guy. The electrician's multimeters are good for limited testing scenarios when one suspects the electronics are in decent or new condition for working order. When one starts to trouble shoot blindly on something that came to them decades old & dead to the world, having the full set of elctronics testing devices for calibrated accuracy is really the only way to be 100% certain with a thorough testing. The Oscilloscope, that's not cheap either, would have to learn how to operate that too. It's probably why I stick with testing 9V Duracells for voltage, pickups for KOhms, speakers for impedance and maybe wall-warts for DC V & mAs. For what I use a multimeter for, a Chinese one is as good as any Fluke for that. What if the Fluke & a Chinese multimeter aren't exactly the same reading for KOhms or DV Volts, even mAs ? Is the Fluke calibrated better or did the person making the Chinese multimeter actually do a better job calibrating it ? My gut feel is you go with the Fluke's measure, but quite often when the measure is within manufacturing tolerances, the difference(s) may be negligible and close enough to get your own personal QC stamp of approved acceptance.

I think as long as you've got tubes that are closely & virtually identically matched with the originals, biasing should still be relatively on with new tubes. Unless there is something else going on inside the amp, it should swap without a bias. The tubes are virtually identical. But the thing there, other electronic parts have their wear issues which might have burned out the tubes prematurely. That's the tube amp challenge anyone takes for not having the professional take that risk for a fee. I like self biasing amps in that regard, but what if what self biases the tubes has a intermittent problem or is on the cusp of not working anymore itself ? That has to be tested too, to ensure it operates as designed & intended periodically.
 

Straddled

Strat-O-Master
Mar 7, 2022
783
Evergreen State
The $10 meters haven't worked out so well for neighbors who have them. Fluke 77 is a very good meter, it's more or less the same as my 23, which has "Touch Hold" and a Diode Beep.
 

StratoMutt

Dr. Stratster
Mar 15, 2019
11,957
SE Pennsylvania
Don’t buy cheap, buy quality once and forget about it

I like made in the USA and bought a Fluke 88V automotive multi meter. Has all of the functions a standard meter has plus several for working under the hood.

It has never seen an engine bay… oh well. It does need additional accessories for all the automotive stuff.

Edit: just looked what the 88V is selling for - $400 and up! eek.gif

Bought mine well over 10 years ago for just over $200.
 
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Caddy

Strat-O-Master
Aug 30, 2016
840
Indiana
I have had my Fluke 87V true rms meter for about 20 years now. Also have a bunch of accessories for it, various leads, an AC/DC current clamp that can be clamped loosely around wiring and can read the amps being drawn through the insulation on the wires up to 600V and up to 400 amps, also can read temperatures with a thin three foot wire that can be inserted into duct work etc. to read temps. Also have the carrying case for it. It can read capacitance and test diodes and has a low pass filter option.

The meter alone goes for over $500, but it was furnished to me during my working career where it saw a lot of use.
 


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