Anyone who has pushed a quarter‑inch plug into a socket has, at one time or another, heard the all‑too‑familiar crackling and signal break‑ups associated with a dirty or tarnished connection. Many of us have developed an automatic wrist‑twist action to try and help wipe away the grime, but this is not always successful.
So it often becomes necessary to clean quarter‑inch sockets on guitars, effects pedals, amps and so on, and there are several socket‑cleaning sprays for this purpose. Good though these contact‑cleaning solutions are, it’s not unusual to need some physical agitation in addition to the spray itself. Physical ‘burnishers’ — dummy plugs which act as mildly abrasive contact cleaners — are available, but most are intended for professional long‑form B‑type sockets rather than typical semi‑pro A‑types, and can do more harm than good if used in the wrong socket!
Thankfully, then, a new option has come onto the market. Developed by David Benham in Australia, and made in (and currently shipped direct from) China, Krackle Killers are sold in packets of five for the princely sum of $9.95. They’re made of a hard and stiff, but quite absorbent, plastic foam, shaped in the form of a dummy plug, complete with a quarter‑inch shaft and a slightly fatter body to serve as a handle.
Using the Krackle Killer simply involves applying a suitable contact cleaning solution onto the slightly absorbent shaft, and then inserting and removing the plug (without rotation) a few times into a dirty socket to clean its internal contacts. The foam material is slightly rough to the touch, so inherently acts as a very gentle abrasive to help remove stubborn deposits, and the material feels pretty robust. It would take an act of oafishness to snap one inside a socket, but it’s possible — so it would be wise to avoid applying any lateral force to the plug body, and rotating a Krackle Killer inside a socket could potentially also damage the contacts, so don’t do that either!
A single Krackle Killer can be used to clean several sockets, and since the foam is a light colour any rust or dirt removed from the socket is very obvious.
I found Krackle Killers very easy to use and very effective in cleaning the few sockets I have on vintage gear that are less than perfect. A single Krackle Killer can be used to clean several sockets, and since the foam is a light colour any rust or dirt removed from the socket is very obvious. Also, since the contact cleaner sits on the foam plug I found that I used a lot less than I would have when spraying cleaner blindly into a socket, and the wiping action during insertion and removal improves the cleaning efficacy considerably.
Of course, the Krackle Killer can’t help with dirty switching or normalling contacts in a socket (such as a console insert, for example, and it can’t help if the reasons for an intermittent connection is because the contact springs are bent out of shape. But for general routine cleaning I found the Krackle Killer to be ideal for the purpose, easy to use, and highly effective… and if you use them a few times a year they won’t break the bank, either.