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Replacement Tubes - Guitar Amp Grade (?)

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I'm looking to buy some power tubes and found a site that caters to musicians but has really good prices.

The particular tube I'm looking at is tested/ranked as 'Soft, Medium or Hard' and described as follows:

Soft, medium, and hard style descriptions refer to break up modes
of the tube for an overdriven guitar signal. Soft-rated tubes break up
slow and have the highest amount of headroom, while hard-rated tubes
break up easier and have the least headroom, yielding a heavier, harder
distortion. Medium-rated tubes fall in between.

It seems like 'Soft' would be preferable for the reproduction of music, no? I don't have a tube tester and don't know how this rating system compares to what those of you that do are looking for in a tube's measurements. Are new non NOS tubes all the same given the brand/model or are there grades for different applications?

Thx.

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I was at a music shop the other day and when I mentioned that tubes were expensive, even though many guitar amps have them, I was told that they sell guitar amp tubes for $20 a pair. 12AX7 and 6V6 tubes are popular, plus they have a few other types.

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That's what I'm finding, but remember I'm not talking NOS here. My gear requires other tubes as well, I just have to look back at my notes (I'm away from home at the moment) to verify what other tubes I need and specifically which ones have the most affect on the sound.

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I currently use Vintage RCA black plate 12AX7's in my Fender and Mesa Boogie.

Amperex Bugle Boy's are my favorite though.

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contact Brent Jesse at

www.audiotubes.com

BRENT JESSEE RECORDING & SUPPLY, INC.

1566 West Algonquin Road #111

Hoffman Estates, IL 60192

Phone 847-496-4546

if anyone can help he can and he is very nice guy!

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Duuuuuuuuuuuuude! Power tubes for what? Guitar? Vintage amp? Set? Chinese Knockoff?

The overwhelming majority of tubes produced today are for guitars amps, not audio. Hard, soft etc. are marketing gimmicks geared towards guitar guys looking at tone. These descriptions have Zero applicability for audio, and probably not much more for musicians.

That said, many have tube rolled various modern tubes into various audio stuff and can better advise you if you are willing to provide the basic minimum info.

So get off your lazy butt and get with the program![:D]

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Brent is not going to hoodwink you into buying something you don't need

i've talked to him for hours just to get educated about tube differences, etc., and was never pressured once into buying something

Brent is a honest, informative guy that sells tubes

if he thinks modern tubes are best for you he will tell you straight up

i prefer asking actual experts over those who claim to be

good luck

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Guitars use power tubes :)

Reminds me of James Taylor's 'One Man Band' show where he quipped how the electric guitar is much improved over its steam powered predecessor (chuckle).

As per usual, Thebester is correct. I was trying to be vague with just enough details for a specific reason, but looking back I was a little too vague.

I'm looking to roll tubes in the monoblock amps that make up my 2ch system. My basic question is, does it matter if a tube, say an EL34, comes from a place like Audiotubes.com (Brent Jesse) or a musician supply site? The grading system I referenced above has no meaning to me so I was wondering if someone here spoke Musician and could translate. Or, are all NEW production tubes from a given manufacturer all the same quality no matter who the retailer is? Guitar amps don't have special requirements over audio amps - you tube roll in both to discover the best sound, right?

All this just reminds me that I need to acquire some type of basic tube tester and understand the process of testing/matching tubes and the numbers behind it all.

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Gettin late and Rickie Lee Jones is talking to me on the stereo, so I'll keep it short. Quality and sound varies greatly. Marketing. Bad. Good. Tube tester won't help you with new tube and only half the time with old.

Will expand, expound upon, tomorrow.

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I agree with this statement about tube testers...my point is that who is gonna give you an expert discertation on understanding the various types of tubes...someone in a forum like me or someone who's been doing it for over 30 years. If I had a Ferrari that was having problems I'd go to a expert on Ferrari's, wouldn't you? Believe me I get no kickback on this, I'm just trying to give you advice you'll be glad you took. All it takes is a 5 minute call to a worldwide guru on tubes who is guaranteed to steer you straight without ANY pressure to buy. Thats the kind of guy he is. I've bought tubes as a studio musician from more sources than I can remember and this is the only source who takes as much time as it takes for you to understand what is best for your application whether modern or vintage and if modern he'll tell you where to get the best buy. Don't be alarmed if you go to his website and look at his prices as these are just his high end stuff. He's got millions of tubes and just because you don't see it doesn't mean he doesn't have it. Take the challenge and I won't even be upset when you don't thank me...lol Brent rocks!!!

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well up until now when I got into this audio play back stuff, I just bought what was cheap for my Ampeg bass amp as long as they matched with in the channels. And I reconize the brand names around here with some power amps so I could believe that for the most part they would be all right, in your power amp. But sounds like that all can change now what I am learning about tubes from readings of thebes.

duder

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My basic question is, does it matter if a tube, say an EL34, comes from a place like Audiotubes.com (Brent Jesse) or a
musician supply site?


no, if it is the same brand and time of production.

The grading system I referenced above has no meaning to me so I was wondering if someone here spoke Musician and could
translate.


Tubes may differ in their operating points, in their amount of remaining air molecules, in their choice/geometry/design of
materials considering plate and cathode. All has an certain impact on the character or quality of sound. At the
end of the day, one dealer i.e. for guitar amp tubes may buy a big # of stock from different manufactures plus some NOS plus
some used tubes. If he is clever he will just not "sell" tubes, he will earn some more money if he can offer a pre selection.
And with this preselection he can dial in those mentioned marks plus some others, like optical impression, looks of
carton, image of brand etc. Then he must find categories we can understand as consumers, like cold vs. warm, early break up vs. clean etc. There are tibe brands now in the market which arose from those work of selection. I.e. Grooce Tubes is such a case, they never produced only one single tube by themselves.

Summarizing, it´s a all in all heavy stuff to get a step of knowlede in, like to become experienced with wines.

As the other guys on this place here recommend, take advice from experienced and competend dealers.

Another story is, if you want to enhance your own kowledge. If so, do it separately from your current needs for tubes. It will take long time and is based on much personal experience.

In my view the market place is like a jungle. I had one personal experience when I needed new tubes for old Quad II amps. Originally they came with KT66 from Genalex. This tubes are famous for long duration and best sound in their applications. Today they are very expensive as NOS. This also know some clever marketing guys.

Therefore a new KT66 Genalex appeared last year in the market. Very cool stuff I thought at the beginning and was happy to get a pair for a reasonable price. Then I looked at the web and found numbers of serious warnings against this tube. They have NOTHING to do with the quality of the originals. They are made by order, somewhere in Russia, and then sticked with labels and naming from the glory past days. The company who has discovered this possibility to make easy and fast money is called New Sensor, or so. They make the same trick with labeling old Tung Sol brand, Golden Lion and may be some others. They just bought the trade and brand rights. The quality is not much worse or better than former Sovtec gear, which was the predecessor brand made in the same Russian factories.

Only a phone call with a competend dealer helped me to take the right decission: The new KT66 from JJ, Slowakia, which is the former Tesla brand and loction of production. That tube is not named after the original but very steep built like the original, with same materials, same geometry, a lot of research and stripping down some more NOS Genalex etc. I never would have found it without the experts help.

Regarding your question how to compare musicians criteria with hifi criteria, read between the lines i.e. if you go i.e. to angela.com (just for your entertainment) you may find some nice descriptions about tubes brand character. But be aware, they like to sell stuff, there is no open critics against anything they sell. In generall, my view is that Musicians gear dealers tend to describe very subjectivly, and hifi dealers tend to overprice some good tube gear.

Musicians shops will deliver what you need for your hifi, but the criteria are different. To get the right overdrive on the guitar an early point of nice distortion is helpful. For your hifi this could mean, that the sound gets anemic.

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Tubes are looking for two things. A place to plug in and a working voltage. Charactoristics beyond that are similar. I know you guys will argue over the sound but in general terms of electronic requirements...

You must have the same plug config for the replacement tube to go into the socket. There are only several sizes. Pentode is popular.

The bias voltage must be in the working range of the tube. If it runs too cold (low voltage) you won't utilize proper headroom and it will clip early. If it runs too hot the tube wears out prematurely or just pops a grid wire. For 2 channel audio (Hi Fi) a nice low watt tube amp with low cost tubes and a Klipsch speaker is a great value combo.

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I'm no tube expert (although I did play a doctor who stayed at a Holiday Inn on TV), but I would guess that the tube prone to more guitar distortion would be the worst choice for your hifi application. So, are EL-34s what you're looking for? They don't seem as expensive as they were a few years ago (NOS). Original TungSol 6550s, on the other hand, still are on their journey through the roof...

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you got that right about the TS 6550s.....i can't believe the prices for them on Ebay the last few months, they have increased dramatically, if you can find a GOOD set...they are getting harder and harder to find... i know a guy that has over 100 NIB NOS 6550 Black Plates , he only wants $400 per tube!!! incredible!! fortunately I bought 20 6550 Black Plates when the market was low.... i should be set for life unless i live to 100...

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Oh believe me, no disrespect for Brent or his fans... just that

I'm sure he's not around on a holiday weekend and I was just lookin'

for some quick feedback (HA!... 'feedback'...)

Gotta' say I'm a little surprised about the tube tester comments.

I was feelin' particularly manly one day many years back and

purchased a Fluke multi meter. Fancy thing, does all kindza' stuff.

Me?... I use it as a battery tester. Now, if I buy new

batteries, I know what to expect. It's those layabout batteries

you're never quite sure about. Bust out the Fluke,

bada-bing-bada-boom, I know if I can use 'em or toss 'em. And hey, if

I ever get an Electrical Engineering degree some day it's one less

tool to buy.

I was thinking along the same lines regarding the tube tester.

I'm new to tubes but imagine their demise is a slow one if not

abused, so the listener is mostly unaware until one goes dark or

super nova. If measurements are known when a tube is new, every six

months or year a quick check would result in new measurements that

could establish a benchmark for replacement if right away a

sonic comparison is made with a new set of tubes. There is also

the ability to match tubes that benefit sonically from the process.

KT88, your comments about the New Sensor company worry me some as

I've pretty much resolved myself to buying new production tubes vs.

NOS simply due to cost. I understand that most if not all original

tube manufacturers are gone and their equipment with them but is it

really THAT hard to produce a new tube in this day and age that is

the sonic match of NOS? I've heard tell that modern man could not

replicate the Great Pyramids of Egypt without using technology that

didn't exist then (first one to mention aliens and Imma' smack you).

What are we?... Devolving?

So it would seem then that an EL34 from Brand X would be the same

no matter where you purchase it as long as it's in 'new' condition.

Matching is a whole nuther ball of twine. When I call Brent next

week one other question I'll ask is about the suffixes on some tubes

(12ax7, 12ax7wa, 12ax7eh, etc.) and what if any bearing they have or

if they are all interchangeable.

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KT88, your comments about the New Sensor company worry me some as
I've pretty much resolved myself to buying new production tubes vs.
NOS simply due to cost. I understand that most if not all original
tube manufacturers are gone and their equipment with them but is it
really THAT hard to produce a new tube in this day and age that is
the sonic match of NOS?

As far as I know, the New Sensor company also provides Electro Harmonix which has a good reputation, especially for 12AX7 etc. My specific experience with the KT66 led me to the JJ company. That means that it is good news and really convenient to know to have new production of high quality tubes . I never said someone has to buy overexpensive NOS tubes at all. Just be careful which of the new ones are worth it to go. In case of EL34 there are much offers. And TBH, it seems, that the EL34 is not to difficult to built, so we have a lot of options. And also, the EL34 is a very good sounding design as well as it´s smaller brother, the EL84 is also. Look for winged C or other brands, In this case the gear of New Sensorcompany should be right. A EL34 is not so critical as a KT66 is.

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From what I read rated life for power tubes is about 1000 hours and for small signal tubes 10,000 hours and up.

With the reasonable price and growing reliability and quality for modern production tubes tossing them every two or three years and trying the latest and greatest makes sense.

Don't forget a tube can fail in it's first 10 hours or 100 years from now. A tester is overkill if you just own a few tubes. That money could be spent on music and guys like me will be happy to test them for you if you want to send them along.

Even though the quitar tubes are primarily marketing, they probably do, do some testing of various lots and grossly line them up that way.

Me, I'd simply skip the guitar store. You can get quality power tubes at same or similiar prices through audio type dealers like Jesse, Vacuum Tube Valley and a dozen others.

Remember, preamp tubes makes the biggest difference in overall sound, and that's where you want to do your tube rolling. Power tube diferences are smaller and more nuanced. For example, my quad of old stock Mullards EL 34'ssound much better than the EH's and JJ's I tried in my Marantz 8b, but almost no discernible differnce is apparant when used in my restored Bogen MO100A monoblocks.

Finally there are numerous threads here and over at AK on the subject of current production EL 34's and variants. Plenty of useful observations on current production tubes.

So here's my question to you. What monoblock? What current brand of tubes. How many hours?

After all. I R the Thebes and I shouldn't have to ask twice.[:D]

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great feedback

i've heard good things about the penta labs kt88 sc tubes

i've used New Sensor Gold Lion KT 88 reissues and found them very pleasing. Granted I prefer original Tung Sol 6550 Black Plates but i swap them out once in a while with the aforementioned tubes so as to burn up my 6550 stash...i'm getting a quad of the penta labs as the builder of my VRD's recommends them...

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