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View Full Version : Best 6L6's for harmonic richness, tone, depth? JJ, Ruby, SED , TAD, EH or ??


Groberts
05-13-2012, 08:40 PM
I just got a Louis Electric Buster amp that runs a pair of 6L6's rated around 27W's. Not sure if the amp is biased cold to keep the wattage down or not. Regardless, it has a 5AR4 rectifier. I am wondering what are the best new / current issue 6L6 brands? I have a lot more experience with 6V6 tubes and have some preferences in that regard.

The amp comes with a pair of JJ's or Ruby's. I like JJ's, but haven't ever loved them. They usually sound slightly hard and strident in the upper mids to me. But maybe 6L6's are different?

How would you rank the following:

JJ
EH
SED Winged "C"
Tung Sol Reissues 6L6STR
Ruby
TAD

I deliberately left Sovtek out since I usually find them the most harsh.

I did a search, but there is SOOOO much information out there. Decided to try a new post. Thanks!

harpinon
05-13-2012, 09:09 PM
TAD over here. I did find that I had to set the bias a TAD hotter to get them to sing.

ked
05-13-2012, 10:38 PM
TAD 6l6 wgc tubes are my favorites. The Winged =C= are also very nice tubes but over priced IMHO. I've also read good things about the Tungsol tubes.

Ken

mxvin
05-13-2012, 10:54 PM
winged Cs may be over priced to some but I have had the best luck with them in several old Fenders for the tone dynamics I was looking for. Also I have used Tung Sol reissues 5881 in place of 6l6GCs in a black face Super Reverb and Pro Reverb.
They sound really nice and smooth with a bit of an earlier breakup. Good stuff.

Groberts
05-14-2012, 01:52 AM
winged Cs may be over priced to some but I have had the best luck with them in several old Fenders for the tone dynamics I was looking for. Also I have used Tung Sol reissues 5881 in place of 6l6GCs in a black face Super Reverb and Pro Reverb.
They sound really nice and smooth with a bit of an earlier breakup. Good stuff.

Forgot about trying 5881's. That's a great idea too. I have Tung Sol 5881's in my '59 Bassman LTD. They sounded better in that amp than SED Winged C 6L6's.

A440
05-14-2012, 06:50 AM
I like the Winged C's and Tung-Sols.

jlagrassa
05-14-2012, 06:56 AM
I havent tried a lot of brands of 6L6 but do have 2 of the brnds you listed, I have some JJ 6L6GC and a pair of Winged C. Out of the 2 i prefer the JJ tubes the just sound better to my ears!

Groberts
05-14-2012, 08:36 AM
I havent tried a lot of brands of 6L6 but do have 2 of the brnds you listed, I have some JJ 6L6GC and a pair of Winged C. Out of the 2 i prefer the JJ tubes the just sound better to my ears!

Surprisingly to me, I've liked the JJ's better than the SED Winged C 6L6's as well. Might prefer Tung Sol's over JJ's, but it's kinda close.

guitarjazz
05-14-2012, 08:42 AM
I put the cheapest Sovtek tubes in the Dumble and it sounds fine.If one of them glows red when I put it in I trash it and try another.

ked
05-14-2012, 08:56 AM
If you're looking at 5881 tubes, the Tungsol is an excellent choice they sound very good but they broke up sooner in the amps I tried them in. You should also be aware they are rated at around 400 vdc on the plates.

Ken

Structo
05-14-2012, 09:09 AM
Be sure which 6L6 the Louis takes.

The 6L6GC which is the more modern one is higher wattage (30w) and can take a higher plate voltage.
The original 6L6 is a 19 watt tube.

Groberts
05-14-2012, 09:12 AM
Be sure which 6L6 the Louis takes.

The 6L6GC which is the more modern one is higher wattage (30w) and can take a higher plate voltage.
The original 6L6 is a 19 watt tube.

The Louis takes JJ's or Ruby's. He advertises the Louis Electric Buster comes with Ruby's. But I've also seen JJ's in them.

esoteric pete
05-14-2012, 09:15 AM
ive tried JJ's, the tung sol's, and the winged C's. didnt care for the winged C's at all, and the jj's and TS's are in different amps but i like both of them a lot. ie always used jj's in my carr rambler, they seem stouter than other 6l6's ive tried in that amp.

mjt335
05-14-2012, 09:18 AM
I've been using TAD's for a while and have liked them, but I'm getting ready to try my first set of TungSol's. I'll let you know how I like them when I get them going.

jboyjams
05-14-2012, 09:22 AM
Forgot about trying 5881's. That's a great idea too. I have Tung Sol 5881's in my '59 Bassman LTD. They sounded better in that amp than SED Winged C 6L6's.
I recently got an LTD and really like it.
After some experimentation, I have a couple Tung-Sol reissue 12ax7's in the preamp.
I did some research on 6L6 and also interested in your OP.
What changes did you find in the LTD when changing from the GT (Sovtec) 6L6 to the Tung-Sol 5881?

Groberts
05-14-2012, 09:48 AM
I recently got an LTD and really like it.
After some experimentation, I have a couple Tung-Sol reissue 12ax7's in the preamp.
I did some research on 6L6 and also interested in your OP.
What changes did you find in the LTD when changing from the GT (Sovtec) 6L6 to the Tung-Sol 5881?

The Tung Sol 5881's sound more three dimensional, and the amp breaks up a little earlier which is what I wanted. Its very loud to begin with. I wanted to get into some natural breakup at reasonable volumes. The Tung Sol 5881's sound dramatically better to my ears than than GT (Sovtek) 6L6's. (in THAT amp) Rebias is required to optimize it since it is fixed bias.

jboyjams
05-14-2012, 09:51 AM
The Tung Sol 5881's sound more three dimensional, and the amp breaks up a little earlier which is what I wanted. Its very loud to begin with. I wanted to get into some natural breakup at reasonable volumes. The Tung Sol 5881's sound dramatically better to my ears than than GT (Sovtek) 6L6's. (in THAT amp) Rebias is required to optimize it since it is fixed bias.
Thanks - sounds like we're in the same boat.

I'll have to give those a try (might have to adjust the trimpot by ear though..;))

gmann
05-15-2012, 04:33 AM
If you're looking at 5881 tubes, the Tungsol is an excellent choice they sound very good but they broke up sooner in the amps I tried them in. You should also be aware they are rated at around 400 vdc on the plates.

Ken

Are you talkin' NOS here?

Groberts
05-21-2012, 04:33 PM
I'm talkin any 6L6GC's. NOS as well as best current issue 6L6's that can be had without breaking the bank.

So yeah, What NOS 6L6GC's do you like?

Stratofreak
05-21-2012, 10:29 PM
@Groberts

I've got the same Hot Rod Deluxe w/the C12N. What are you running in the power section of yours? Mine has GT 5881's in white and I'm looking to try a 6L6 of some sort. I'm leaning toward the TAD 6L6GC-STR.

robertkoa
05-21-2012, 11:53 PM
Going in another direction - have any of you guys tried the JJ6V6 as substitutes for 6L6 to get more sag and warmth and drop the power down for certain things etc ?

And how successful was it ?

Groberts
05-21-2012, 11:56 PM
@Groberts

I've got the same Hot Rod Deluxe w/the C12N. What are you running in the power section of yours? Mine has GT 5881's in white and I'm looking to try a 6L6 of some sort. I'm leaning toward the TAD 6L6GC-STR.

Tried SED Winged C 6L6's and liked them. They sound worse in another amp that has Tung Sol 6L6's and I prefer the Tung Sol's.

Never met many GT's that I liked. my favorite 5881's are Tung Sol's (reissues or especially NOS which can usually be found for around $60/pr) I think 5881's are the way to go. They are more three dimensional and a little lower power than 6L6's. So you can get the Power tubes cooking a little easier. Hope that helps.

rhythmrocker
05-21-2012, 11:57 PM
Me? I would contact Doug - gives the best of recommendations.

Groberts
05-22-2012, 12:03 AM
Tonight I compared a set of brand new Sovtek 6L6WXT+ to a set of Tung Sol 6L6STR. in short, I never met a set of Sovtek Power tubes I liked and that remains true again. The Tung Sol's are dramatically sweeter sounding. Like not even in the same universe.

So for me the question is;

Tung Sol
TAD
JJ's
SED
Ruby

For some reason I remember being equally unimpressed with electroharmonix 6L6's. But maybe need to revisit that.

Hand of Doom
05-22-2012, 12:42 AM
RCA since you said NOS also. Can't be beat.

Groberts
05-22-2012, 12:44 AM
RCA since you said NOS also. Can't be beat.

Yeah. Believe you are correct. I have some RCA 6V6GT's in another amp. ....Holy grail tubes. LOVE them! Are the RCA 6L6GC Black plates just as nice as the 6V6GT's?

kirkham13
05-22-2012, 07:16 AM
I have the electroH dual 6L6's and they are great tubes (for the money). They make a great 12aY7, 12Au and 12at7 as well. Their 12ax7, well, maybe not so much. All great tubes considering the preamp tubes are sub $10 new and really overbuilt (glasswise) with no discernible microphonix. My amp came stock with all electroh, and I am moving to all NOS, and the change is not dramatic. Stock sound is excellent. I have moved to sylvania GAY's in the power, and looking for some tung sol 5881's as an alternative, also want to try some old GE or RCA tubes. The Sylvanias break up earlier and are maybe a little sweeter (hard to tell with all the preamp shuffling) but the electros were very dimensional, great extension highs and lows, lacking nothing but the odd personality of older tubes. I'm theinking the SED winged C's would be a decent new tube, as well as a few others depending on what you are seeking.

Groberts
06-08-2012, 01:27 AM
I just tried a set of SED Winged C 6L6GC's last night in my Tungsten Crema Wheat. You can run 6L6's in the amp even though it is optimized for 6V6's. Gotta say, WOW, I am VERY impressed with the SED Winged C 6L6GC's.

I am fairly certain I would most likely enjoy a good set of RCA Blackplates but for readily available tubes, the SED Winged C's have my attention! They are gonna be hard to beat by any other new manufactured tube.

DICKIE C
06-08-2012, 06:28 AM
I use Tung-sol re-issue 5881s for one of my amps. Used them for a couple of years now. They are very reliable, good sounding tubes. I also use tung-sol el-34s for my '76 Marshall 4-holer and well, it sounds exactly as you'd expect a '76 Marshall to sound. They also have been very reliable.

I like TADs for their nice, fat sound. I had a TAD kt66 tube fail on me, though, after about 4 hours of use in my Germino C45. I'll try them once more, as they have a pretty good rep normally but if I have reliability issues w/ them again, I'll go w/ a Tung-sol 6l6.

BTW, I too am looking at Louis Busters and Tungsten wheats. Right now the Buckwheat is at the top but I do like the way the Buster sounds! I've followed your threads on them.

kirkham13
06-08-2012, 06:33 AM
Just missed out on some short military type 5932's by a dollar on the bay. I have some phillips nos gc to try today which I will pass along if they dont work, next hopefully some sylvania and RCA gc's. Still have yet to try the 5881's.

madryan
06-08-2012, 10:38 AM
I've had the best luck and most consistency with SED =C= in most all tube type. They're just great tubes.

I'm guessing to pull 27w from a duet of 6L6's your amp isn't biased cold, he's just running the plate voltage fairly low and running the appropriate bias current to bias the tube. It's like power scaling but not adjustable. I do it when I build a Plexi clone but I don't run it "that" low if you catch me. Maybe 400v on the plates where my old early 70's superleads would be running almost 500v.

It's a great way to build an amp actually. Tubes should last forever.

Groberts
06-08-2012, 10:41 AM
I've had the best luck and most consistency with SED =C= in most all tube type. They're just great tubes.

I'm guessing to pull 27w from a duet of 6L6's your amp isn't biased cold, he's just running the plate voltage fairly low and running the appropriate bias current to bias the tube. It's like power scaling but not adjustable. I do it when I build a Plexi clone but I don't run it "that" low if you catch me. Maybe 400v on the plates where my old early 70's superleads would be running almost 500v.

It's a great way to build an amp actually. Tubes should last forever.

Not sure how he does it in regard to plate voltage. I did ask what the bias current should be and was told 37ma. I'm calling him today and will ask.

Groberts
02-24-2013, 10:21 PM
Resurraction. Time to re-tube and need to decide on 6L6's ...and also 12ax7's. Been using a bunch of ANOS tubes, but want to find some current manufacture tubes that work and sound great.

Classic09
02-25-2013, 01:39 AM
Of those I've tried the TAD 6L6GC-STR wa the stand out winner for me with its depth, overall tonality and harmonic content.

=C='s were bright and thin on the top end and whilst the JJ's are good TAD were better.

candid_x
02-25-2013, 01:50 AM
I believe JJ's are now distributed by Ruby, so they're probably the same tube, different branding.

I haven't tried the Tung Sol or TAD (heard there were reliability issues with TAD), but I love the TS 6V6. I loved the JJ's for bright Brit amp distortion, but to me they have a signature sound all their own. I prefer the Winged C SED 6L6 overall.