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Thread: Tubes...

  1. #1
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    Tubes...

    I noticed something recently. I've noticed smaller stores and a decent amount of amp builders tend to stick with JJ. Not sure what PRS uses in their amps. Is it because of reliability or? I've never cared much for any JJ's except the KT-77. I'm EL-34 guy. I've always been partial to the mullard type tubes, pre and power. What is your preference?

  2. #2
    In my CAD HX/DA the preamp tubes are JJ, and the power tubes are Winged C EL34s.

    The amp sounds wonderful.

    The current Mullard branded tubes are made by Sovtek in Russia. But if you want to hear a nice tube shootout with EL34s, including NOS and many new ones, here ya go, this one was created by Rivera amps:



    I should add the mention that "NOS" means "New Old Stock," that is, unused tubes made by the original manufacturers, and not re-branded copies.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 12-16-2013 at 12:37 AM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    I'll check that vid out in the morning. I thought Winged C production had stopped?
    Last edited by vchizzle; 12-16-2013 at 01:42 AM.

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    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    I think JJ just strike a nice balance of good performance for low price. That's got to be really tempting for the builders since they buy so many of them and their customers can tweak the tone with a different brand later.

    Dang, that sucks about Winged C. Their 6L6's were the best! I haven't bought any since last year; just checked now and the prices are sky high.
    --Garrett--

  5. #5
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I will be watching this thread for opinions on this.
    Plank Owner

  6. #6
    Senior Member prscat33511's Avatar
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    Currently using JJ E34Ls in my VHT
    Schmokin'

    I too, like SED winged 6L6, and JJ6L6GC

    preamps are all JJ all the time
    Most bang for buck, and reliability

  7. #7
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    I have JJ E34L in my Friedman Naked head, I'm thinking of changing them out. I can't use the JJ pre's in any high gain amp I've owned. I've tried most of their pre's. We just don't get a long. I've tried some JJ EL34's as well and I didn't mind them as much as the pre's but still liked others better. I like the sound of the new production Mullards the best I think, The Chinese EL34 BSTR have been good to me as well. They seem to last quite awhile and have been reliable. I really do like the JJ KT-77's though.

    Funny thing about that video, Les, is that I like the opposite clips between rhythm and lead clips.

  8. #8
    The nice thing about tubes is that changing them is as easy as pie, so it's interesting to experiment. And, of course, as cool as that video is, it also shows the problem with A/B comparisons, in that by the time you're a few switches in, it becomes difficult to remember what you heard only seconds ago, and the differences are small enough to make things confusing.

    There's really no substitute for longer-term experiments, where you play things for a few days at a time, see how they're sitting with what you do, instead of making short term quick judgments.

    On a personal note, I've done a lot of tube swapping over the years, and have learned that if I like the sound of an amp stock, I often have better luck sticking with the original tube brands than I do switching them out, thereby changing a tone that I liked in the first place (which is why I bought the amp, duh!).

    Of course, if I can make an improvement, I'll go for that. So it never hurts to try different things, you can always go back.

    I also do think that in general, NOS tubes have are often a reliability improvement, if not necessarily a sonic improvement, though some really do sound better in certain amps.

    Quote Originally Posted by vchizzle View Post
    Funny thing about that video, Les, is that I like the opposite clips between rhythm and lead clips.
    Admittedly the differences are subtle, but I tend to agree with you. And that might also come down to the preamp tubes that weren't part of the test, or simply how the amp is designed.
    I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken...

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    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    Admittedly the differences are subtle.
    That was a fascinating video. Subtle is about the only word to describe it - I would bet if they did that same test mixed in with a drummer and bassist, you'd be hard pressed to hear any difference whatsoever.
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    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garrett View Post
    I think JJ just strike a nice balance of good performance for low price. That's got to be really tempting for the builders since they buy so many of them and their customers can tweak the tone with a different brand later.
    I agree. I've had good results with JJ both in reliability and tone, and they don't break the bank. However, I got to running my mouth in another thread recently about how I "hadn't had to change any tubes in my SE30 yet because the stock were JJ's," whaddya know, my V1 goes up in smoke a couple days later. But I usually have a couple spare JJ's on hand, no big deal. Then this thread comes along, next thing you know I'm scouring Boston for some new tubes to try. I'll admit that aside from JJ, I haven't experimented with many other brands, aside from a couple EH 12ax7's. I grabbed a couple of Tung Sol 12ax7's tonight, as well as a JJ 5751. Yes, it's another JJ, but it's supposed to be about the same gain factor as a 12at7, without the sucky tone that goes along with a 12at7 in a gain stage. So I'm gonna go have some play time tube swapping in my gain stages, and see what happens!
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

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  11. #11
    Happy Egads's Avatar
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    I've had decent luck with JJs, too. My understanding is that Mesa is rebranding quality-tested JJs for their amps. I have a BiValve, with is an awesome amp to experiment with tubes. It's a two preamp and two power amp, cathode biased single ended amp. You can run any preamp and any octal power amp tubes, with no need to bias the amp. You can also run one or two power amp tubes, and you can even mix types of power amp tubes. It's a great way to hear a bunch of different tubes. Aside from some NOS tubes for which I can't justify continuing to spend the money, Winged Cs, TAD, Tung Sols, and JJs all came out well. The differences between the NOS tubes and the others were not enough to justify the cost...for me.

    All that said, there have been some big differences between sets of each.

  12. #12
    Senior Member vchizzle's Avatar
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    Differences are usually subtle with output tubes, but it can change the way an amp "feels" IMO.

  13. #13
    Senior Member garrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vchizzle View Post
    Differences are usually subtle with output tubes, but it can change the way an amp "feels" IMO.
    I equate it to changing guitar strings. A new set of anything beats an old worn out set of anything else, but the long-term benefit is hardly noticeable.
    --Garrett--

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    Quote Originally Posted by vchizzle View Post
    I noticed something recently. I've noticed smaller stores and a decent amount of amp builders tend to stick with JJ. Not sure what PRS uses in their amps. Is it because of reliability or? I've never cared much for any JJ's except the KT-77. I'm EL-34 guy. I've always been partial to the mullard type tubes, pre and power. What is your preference?

    in my JSX i'm running JJ KT77's. the JJ 6L6's i had before sounded way too boomy and woofy on the bottom end. the KT77's have a nice tight percussive high gain sound as well as a nice bite on the crunch channel for classic rock and blues. since it had 6L6's when i bought it, i actually havent played it with EL34's. maybe one day.

    i'm using a long plate ECC 803S 12ax7 in V1. i'm using an ECC 832 12DW7 (12ax7/12au7 hybrid) in the gain spot to drop the gain and clean it up a lot. i'm using another long plate ECC 803S in the active EQ spot. In the PI spot i'm using a standard ECC83S 12ax7. the speakers are imminence texas heats.

    JJ preamp tubes are the only ones i could get any useable tone out of.

    Last edited by rumblebox; 12-18-2013 at 01:51 PM.
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  15. #15
    Prince of Paisley iahawk36's Avatar
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    The 6L6's in my Dallas are all TAD (Tube Amp Doctor) tubes. I'm not sure what is in my Original Sewell, but I'll check them tonight. I have no idea what they're currently using for their production amps.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    The nice thing about tubes is that changing them is as easy as pie, so it's interesting to experiment. And, of course, as cool as that video is, it also shows the problem with A/B comparisons, in that by the time you're a few switches in, it becomes difficult to remember what you heard only seconds ago, and the differences are small enough to make things confusing.

    There's really no substitute for longer-term experiments, where you play things for a few days at a time, see how they're sitting with what you do, instead of making short term quick judgments.
    An alternative approach is to record a piece of playing, and then reamp that through a reamping box, (I.e., send it out to the amp and back into the computer), then switch the tubes and repeat. I had a guest appearance on a podcast where I did just this in my home studio with my Hughes&Kettner Tubemeister 18 for anybody interested:
    http://theguitarpodcast.net/blog/201...tube-shootout/

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