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Any tube news?


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I was looking at 12 AX7's and wow! They are still high! I heard an american company was ging to start making them and also a chines plant was maybe going into the biz. Anyone around here know of any tube news?

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PS Vane I think is the latest Chinese company to join the fray; not sure if there was another that was coming? Western Electric was supposed to start making them again, but haven't seen them hit the market yet. 

Prices are still on the high side... but at least availability is starting to look better. 

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I looked at Sweetwater and the Psvane's are definitely cheaper but the reviews are not so great...

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15 minutes ago, rockabilly69 said:

Great article. 

However, no mention of how competitive their pricing will be compared to imports, especially for the most commonly used guitar amp tubes (12ax7, 6V6, 6L6, etc.)

 

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15 hours ago, bolero said:

I'm hoping Western Electric brings the goods!

Sick of substandard crappy new tubes.

Me too, I was using new Tung Sol 6v6 tubes in my little Champ and they lasted about 6 months. I was sure I had messed up modifying the amp. I checked the voltages and everything was good. I ordered a big coke bottle RCA from WW2 and it has been in The amp for years without any problems. Fortunately they are relatively cheap for NOS tubes since they are not robust enough for the voltages in a BF Deluxe and I only have to have one so no matching. 

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I'll share a little tip that I've been using lately for old stock tubes... Tube Depot is selling used "NOS" tubes at very reasonable prices. It's a bit random on what you'll get, but I've taken the gamble a few times now, and haven't lost a bet yet. Way more trustworthy source than the typical ebay or TGP peddler. 

12AX7 screenshot example, but I've gotten some great 6V6 and 6L6's too (got enough to hold me for a good long while now). 

 

 

 

TD Used Tubes.png

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  • 1 month later...

KBP's excellent point about his source for good value vintage old stock glass is a safe, full on entry point to the vintage tube rabbit warrens.  The GE longplate with military etch markings in one pic is a rather spectacular sounding blues tube IMHO.  I was getting them from flea bay for around 18-23 bucks plus shipping per unit 10-15 years ago.  Modern production glass at that time was in the 20-25 dollar range.  Quality was variable in my old GE's, but zero were unusable.

Now for one of mine...those longplate vintage old stock 12 ax's and other longplate 9 pin preamp tubes tend to be more microphonic than desirable.  Locate some one inch heatshrink tubing, any color but black.  Why?  Because you need to be able to mark with a ballpoint pen on the shrunk on wrap what the tube is inside so you don't forget!  The heatshrink not only protects the vacuum inside when the tube heats up, it also damps vibrations that cause microphonic behavior...better after 15 minutes of operation to heat up and soften the heat shrink layers.  Insert the tube into the socket, use a sharpie to mark how far up the sidewall from the base the top of the socket's tube shield mounting collar reaches.  Shrink a couple layers of heat shrink right over each other from that mark on up to the top of the sides.  I used a bic lighter while holding the bottle by the nipple or pins, was tricky, and the lighter did not last for many uses after that.  If the tube still fits inside the cover shield, great.  If not, also ok.  The only difference is inside the shield heat gets reflected back towards the glass from that shield over it.  This causes the heat shrink covering to become hotter and softer than when unshielded and more capable in vibration damping as a result.  A bit of extra heat shrink length on an unshielded tube provides both mass and extra length of that mass, also helps in microphonics reduction.   

The reason our glass bottle tubes become weaker over time is not so much because of so called cathode poisoning or the offgassing from cooling guts upon shutdown, its simply that heat from the hot guts of a THERMIONIC vacuum tube makes the tube's glass envelope more porous compared to that glass when cold, enough to suck air molecules through the glass into the vacuum inside.  When coolers are used on el34's, 6l6's 6v6's, 5881's, and 6bg6ga's in my amps, biased class AB or A, the tubes inside them just keep going and going like the energizer bunny compared to the naked glass units.  On a pair of matched true brand NOS Mullard el34's going for triple hundy and a half today that means something.  The unshielded heatshrink covered preamp tube still wins... it will have a vibration damper...especially if left a tad long going up past the tip top a bit,  and a heat sink thanks to the heat shrink, the double heat shrink wrap is a great heat sink, both things beneficial for increasing those old, great sounding  12 blah blah 7's tones lifespans considerably. 

Two other great ways to preserve life of preamp and ESPECIALLY power tubes is to pick up some Pearl Tube Coolers, they make them for most tube sizes, superb for cooling and also significant reduction but not elimination of microphonics as well.  In addition, cold war era tube coolers from IERC are also found on eBay.  T-12's for 6l6gc, T-11 fit vintage Tung Sol 5881's and other short bottle 6l6wgb, some IERC fit el84, some fit 12ax's.  Tube coolers absofrigginlutely work to lengthen tube life, I've used both types mentioned for quite a few years.  

Don't use the heat shrink on power tubes, ever!  Too hot!!!  

Edited by 212Mavguy
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Recently Elnumero and I got religion with the purchase of hearing aids.

I have half a dozen tube amps with NOS glass and had a hard time hearing the difference. I find the premium tubes will last longer and not be microphonic. 

I do have reservations on the link above but welcome discussion.

 

 

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Reservations?

Gosh, I do hate to be a Dougie Downer...The video is well meant but one thing REALLY, REALLY, REALLY sticks out.  The guy is a solid state maven and has applied those digital, solid state kinds of expectations to tube amps from his solid state rabbit hole experiences without taking the time to apply the same kind of academic and scientific rigor towards musical instrument tube amp architecture and parts.  The vintage amps that form the basis of his performing tones never had computers used in any of their designs...strike 1.  

He is likely a very talented performer, with a skill mix far greater than mine for sure, but whose hearing intelligence does not include huge pitch discrimination capabilities, he appears to not recognize or give examples of even and odd harmonic content in his playing examples.  His vid tones came from smacking strings in a grossly unmusical manner with lots of distortion, no sustaining, ever, with flat eq's like an untrained person might.  I actually think that he knows better but is playing this way to strengthen his personal agenda which is that very little difference exists... where in actuality these differences are greater than his way of disguising them.  Where are the cleans or the fence riding between clean and dirty relative to string touch/attack...single note work with varying attack intensity or examples of sustain behaviors, or any sustaining characteristics at all?  Strike 2! 

Nobody performs with flat EQ's through a tube amp or through a direct box into the console unless the tube amp actually is designed to be operated that way, so toss that part out as garbage pretending to be science.   That alone causes lack of credibility.  Strike 3!

His spaghetti amp IS a work of genius.  It's a reflection of his accumulated knowledge from his own rabbit warren.   Enviably, it's easy on the back, more compact than his tube amps, capable of a huge tone palette and not as likely to break on stage or during transport than any of the tube amps displayed.   However, everything about it goal wise is to simulate some sort of distortion that he actually learned about from the sounds of tube amps before building his solid state unit, which actually is not much considering he chose to buy modern production amps.  That alone shows his lack of tube amp circuit knowledge, build qualities available, and market savvy...that he has assets strong enough to buy an expensive swiss army knife do it all complicated printed circuit board production tube amp... (now say THAT ten times as fast as you can...!) instead of having one made or with a design epitomized for his actual playing and recording needs for similar or less money. 

That's likely why he dug his own hole in the first place, IMHO he never bought the right or could not find the right tube amp for his needs, and he was so hungry to get that need met that he was wiliing to dig for months creating his solid state amp personal rabbit hole.  I have a longtime totally ripping lead guitar player that I grew up with since elementary school who has done the same thing.  God bless 'em.  Been there, done that, digging for years instead of months, got my Go Fuchs Yourself shirt on the tube amp side personally. 

Dougie Downer does like the idea of one of the new SS modeling pedal boards, they are great sounding straight into the board!  However, when using a tube amp as a personal tone filter they really come into their own, IMHO, and for their tube amp prices they ought to create musical magic.

I guarantee that Brad Paisley as a performing and recording artist, for an example will have a totally different set of views than this guy and would be able to demonstrate tube amp behaviors far more effectively.    So could Joe Bonamassa.  So could Daniel Weldon.  I know that our community has others that could as well. 

Your mileage may vary... 

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The guy in the video posted two above is really causing a stir on the Gearpage with his does the wood mater video in contrast to PRS statements about the importance of wood. I think this video about where tone comes from is much like the other one. They make since from a modern sound stage point of view but in my world that is quite old school compared to his, tubes and wood are important. The feel I get from tubes is deeply seated in my love of playing and I’ll have to face the music so to speak when it comes to buying those little glass buggers. I have what I need right now but I’ve considered going on a buying spree for the future. I just need to calculate my projected life span with the tube’s life span to know how many I may need.
 

Of possible interest, the best sounding 6v6 tubes in my Tungsten Creamawheat are an unmatched pair, not just unmatched electronically but brand too. An RCA and a Sylvania, I bought them separately about a year apart. I find that interesting and it gives me hope there are great combos out there that do not require the super pricey black plate RCA’s or others. This weekend I used a pair of JJ 6l6 tubes and was very satisfied with the sound of those tubes too. 

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22 hours ago, zguitar71 said:

The guy in the video posted two above is really causing a stir on the Gearpage with his does the wood mater video in contrast to PRS statements about the importance of wood. I think this video about where tone comes from is much like the other one. They make since from a modern sound stage point of view but in my world that is quite old school compared to his, tubes and wood are important. The feel I get from tubes is deeply seated in my love of playing and I’ll have to face the music so to speak when it comes to buying those little glass buggers. I have what I need right now but I’ve considered going on a buying spree for the future. I just need to calculate my projected life span with the tube’s life span to know how many I may need.
 

Of possible interest, the best sounding 6v6 tubes in my Tungsten Creamawheat are an unmatched pair, not just unmatched electronically but brand too. An RCA and a Sylvania, I bought them separately about a year apart. I find that interesting and it gives me hope there are great combos out there that do not require the super pricey black plate RCA’s or others. This weekend I used a pair of JJ 6l6 tubes and was very satisfied with the sound of those tubes too. 

I saw the same stuff you did on YT.  I'm not impressed.  

Your mixing brands of 6v6's in a push pull power section is a good thing within a decent bias match because you get the sonic characteristics of each tube coming out the speaker.  Vintage 6v6 and 6f6 glass is a good, fairly inexpensive risk/reward rabbit hole to play in.  Buy the vintage glass you really want to own now, methodically, not just the bare minimum lifetime supply thang.  The JJ's are built for higher plate voltages than vintage 6v6.  Their formula works well.  

Edited by 212Mavguy
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