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View Full Version : OK tube experts: 6V6 vs 6L6 vs EL34


grego7
12-30-2006, 07:08 PM
Keeping many of the other variables the same, what would each of these power tube sections bring to the table tonally? I used the search function, but couldn't get a nice simple answer.

Anybody give me some help?

Thanks.

jimlp
12-30-2006, 08:02 PM
Keeping many of the other variables the same, what would each of these power tube sections bring to the table tonally? I used the search function, but couldn't get a nice simple answer.

Anybody give me some help?

Thanks.

I run a 6v6 amp at the moment and the biggest difference from my experience is that the 6v6 start to compress a lot sooner under gain than the other 2 tubes, really no surprise with a lower output tube. To me the 6v6 sounds like a smaller version of the 6L6 with less of everything but the same balance of everything. I think the breakup is smoother with the 6L6's and the cleans are also more chimey. I only have 6v6 experience with my amp, in a Fender they may have different attributes. take what I say with a grain of salt.

davess23
12-30-2006, 09:16 PM
The differences among power tubes are discussed in some detail in Dave Hunter's "The Guitar Amp Handbook."

grego7
12-30-2006, 10:36 PM
The differences among power tubes are discussed in some detail in Dave Hunter's "The Guitar Amp Handbook."

I'll check that out. Thanks for the reference.

Macaroni
12-30-2006, 10:56 PM
On my Kingsley Deluxe 32C I use a pair of EL84s plus a pair of either 6V6, 6L6, 5881, 7581A, or EL34.

It's very interesting to hear the differences between the various tubes in the same amp. I've got the best NOS versions of each of them. The 6V6s are definitely the least powerful and the most tonally reserved, in the general 6L6 tonal zone. The 6L6s are round, warm, clear, glassy in a smooth way, punchy. The EL34s are even more glassy and detailed upper mids, rich, intense.

bluesjuke
12-31-2006, 06:21 AM
I run a 6v6 amp at the moment and the biggest difference from my experience is that the 6v6 start to compress a lot sooner under gain than the other 2 tubes, really no surprise with a lower output tube. To me the 6v6 sounds like a smaller version of the 6L6 with less of everything but the same balance of everything. I think the breakup is smoother with the 6L6's and the cleans are also more chimey. I only have 6v6 experience with my amp, in a Fender they may have different attributes. take what I say with a grain of salt.


I find the same betwwen my Victoria Tweed Deluxe & my Fender Bassbreakers (6V6 & 6L6 respectively).
The Deluxe breaks up sooner & in a lot of ways is like the Bassbreakers baby brother in that a lot of charactoristics are in common.
Enough different to fully enjoy & appreciate both.

dbeeman
12-31-2006, 09:58 PM
6v6 has a more midrange focus with softer hi and low end than the others

6l6 has a chime and clarity caused by the "kink" IN its response

el34 does not have the chime or spank of the 6l6 but has an upper mid roundness that gives a good crunch when driven

IMHO YMMV

Free
12-31-2006, 10:48 PM
6v6 has a more midrange focus with softer hi and low end than the others

6l6 has a chime and clarity caused by the "kink" IN its response

el34 does not have the chime or spank of the 6l6 but has an upper mid roundness that gives a good crunch when driven

IMHO YMMV

I'm not neccessarily an "expert", but I think dbeeman's simple description nails it. I might add that what I love about JJ Tesla's new 6V6S tubes is that a bit of that 6L6 chime and edge is added - less compression than a regular 6V6.

bluesjuke
12-31-2006, 10:57 PM
I'm not neccessarily an "expert", but I think dbeeman's simple description nails it. I might add that what I love about JJ Tesla's new 6V6S tubes is that a bit of that 6L6 chime and edge is added - less compression than a regular 6V6.


I thought dbeeman's description was pretty thorough myself.

Those new JJ's you mentioned have sparked my interest.
I'll have to check them out.
What

igloo0213
12-31-2006, 11:01 PM
I think dbeeman did a pretty good job of explaining the characteristics of it.

From my perception and amp, 6L6's tend to have a bigger bottom end than EL34's, and seem better on the chugging side of things. EL34's due to their upper midrange response, will tend to cut through the mix better, and may be preferred by a lead player, or a player who prefers that midrangey sound. EL34's are also part of that oh-so-famous Marshall crunch that many seek.

I personally prefer 6L6's as I love the heavier bottom end that they provide, as well as the extra headroom, being able to provide 30 watts each, as opposed to 25 of each of the 34's, and around 10 of the 6V6. If I want power amp distortion, I turn to my small 20w amp with some EL84's. Trying a set of Electro-Harmonix EL34's in my homebuilt amp, they just didn't have the punch of the 6L6's. 6L6's are also better known for a glassier clean sound, as has been mentioned before. I also prefer to bias my tubes a bit on the hot side, as it slightly increases the harmonic content of the tubes. But typically, if you are running at low volumes, you won't notice the difference, as the power stage is not being pushed hard enough.

Just some insight from my own preferences, if they mean anything.

bluesjuke
12-31-2006, 11:19 PM
I'm not neccessarily an "expert", but I think dbeeman's simple description nails it. I might add that what I love about JJ Tesla's new 6V6S tubes is that a bit of that 6L6 chime and edge is added - less compression than a regular 6V6.


I thought dbeeman's description was pretty thorough myself.

Those new JJ's you mentioned have sparked my interest.
I'll have to check them out.
What are you using them in?

Free
01-01-2007, 12:35 PM
I thought dbeeman's description was pretty thorough myself.

Those new JJ's you mentioned have sparked my interest.
I'll have to check them out.
What are you using them in?

Well they are similar in construction and voltage-handling to 6L6 and 7591 tubes and also carry similar tonal characteristics as a result. They are bigger bottle than most 6V6 tubes. Many an expert has confirmed this. Here is a review I wrote from a thread that was really extensive but was deleted by admin - I hate when these threads get deleted:



"The main thing we were speculating is if these tubes would work as effectively in cathode-bias design amps like my TopHat "Club Deluxe", as it's already been well-established that these tubes thrive in high-voltage fixed-bias contexts.

In a phrase: Bold midrange power

In a few paragraphs:

On this particular amp I was previously using '50s Sylvania NOS for 4 years now, which I thought were my favorite, with their great thick, clean, and high-fidelity tone. First, it should be noted that JJ Tesla 6V6S tubes are close in construction and capacities to 6L6 style tubes, with bigger bottles than most any 6V6. This 6L6 nature is also conveyed tonally, as my personal results indicated.

These tubes kicked my amp up several notches and in several dimensions! With 3 Mullard CV4004's in the preamp, the JJ 6V6S's added a more crisp, yet pleasant, high-midrange articulation and clarity that cuts through better, even when just arpeggiating chords with a soft touch. Also added was a slight overall volume increase, as well as, a little more gain even, which really surprised me. More bass and a bolder midrange presence was added that carries more effectively throughout the room. The tone does not dissipate as readily when off-axis or a good distance away – the amp is tonally stronger all-around. The overdrive articulation/clarity is improved to Marshall “Plexi” proportions, as the midrange is harder and edgier now. Gone are any tones too compressed and gained is a bold midrangey tone.

Those seeking to "tame" an amp or wanting nice compression and tweed-like tones with amps that can get a diversity of tones (e.g. the myriad cathode-bias boutique amps in the market) should consider other brands in this reviewer's opinion. These tubes are made to rock hard in Marshall style. So, that should be noted, as other tubes like Tung Sol (new) and the various NOS tubes facilitate "tweed" tone better.

-Free"

bluesjuke
01-01-2007, 09:09 PM
Thanks Free!

Blue Strat
01-01-2007, 09:30 PM
6l6 has a chime and clarity caused by the "kink" IN its response




So, you're saying that 6L6s are "kinky"? :roll

Free
01-01-2007, 09:39 PM
Thanks Free!

I'm happy to help, Bluesjuke. I also happen to have another review in my archive of the JJ Tesla new tubes. This one is from one of the big tube dealers on the net:

JJ 6V6S:

In addition to JJís other robust line of power tubes, the 6V6S is being produced, which is extremely good. While there is a market for the NOS tubes, you are no longer required to buy NOS in order to get really great results. For about six months I have been torture-testing JJ 6V6S tubes in guitar amplifiers. That not only includes using them but putting them in real life working situations. They have been subject to rough handling, over biasing and under biasing in amps with plate voltages ranging from 380 Ė 475 VDC. These tubes would not die, and the matching on them drifted less than only 2 mA over the life of the test. Thatís six months of continuous use and abuse.

How do they sound? Thatís probably the most important question and a very easy one to answerÖ These tubes sound great - period. They do clean with smooth clear high end, and produce big fat bass notes that are well defined and possess a piano-like tonal quality. Crank up the gain, and youíll get a nice crunch, not just mush, but a very controllable and musical distortion. A well tuned amp running the JJ 6V6S getting a good strong signal from your guitar can make your TS-808 obsolete. Just about any genre of music from Blues, Jazz to Classic Rock can be obtained. Tube construction is rock solid with thick glass, good internal supports, and nice clean alignment of the tube bottles. The test set was even accidentally dropped in their boxes but did not break. These outstanding tubes simply must be tried. And, itís highly recommended to go with these JJ 6V6S when playing live venues, because the JJís hard midrange cuts better, and it is louder tube overall.

van_wylde
01-02-2007, 02:46 AM
In my experience in using various tubes in my univalve i have found the 6l6 tubes to have a big bottom end and they love to be played clean as they have beautiful bell like characteristics.

I have found that the 6v6 are very much the same as a 6l6 but produce the sound at a much lower volume. The bottom end is also not as big with the 6v6 but the bell like sounds the amp produces with these tubes is amazing.

Lastly is the el34. I like to think of this tube as a very neutral sounding tube. It doesnt accentuate the highs neither does it accentuate the lows.

regards Brendon

candid_x
01-02-2007, 06:14 AM
Likes dbeeman's description.

Am "clearly" a 6L6 guy. They say earliest influences are what you go back to. For me, that meant playing my first elec. guitar through my dad's old 6L6 driven console record player. Hi-Fi all the way. I leave EL34's to my kid and his DSL.

teleking36
01-02-2007, 06:14 AM
i'm very happy to see this comparison, as I have a Divided by 13 JRT9/15 coming my way in a few weeks, and it'll be my first experience owning an amp with 6V6s. It'll be great to have the EL84s that I've grown to love, and to be able to switch to 6V6s just gets me all the more excited about it.

I did talk to someone briefly about possibly rebiasing the JRT for 6L6s, which apparently can be done with Fred's amp without a problem. But after reading the reviews of the JJs, I'm definitely going to get a pair of those and see how they work out.

candid_x
01-02-2007, 07:13 AM
i'm very happy to see this comparison, as I have a Divided by 13 JRT9/15 coming my way in a few weeks, and it'll be my first experience owning an amp with 6V6s. It'll be great to have the EL84s that I've grown to love, and to be able to switch to 6V6s just gets me all the more excited about it.

I did talk to someone briefly about possibly rebiasing the JRT for 6L6s, which apparently can be done with Fred's amp without a problem. But after reading the reviews of the JJs, I'm definitely going to get a pair of those and see how they work out.

Not saying this is so across the board, just my opinion, but amps under 40-50 watts seem to fare better with EL84's for output, or 6V6's if EL84's are too midrange-ish.

MLG8675
01-02-2007, 07:33 AM
Thanks for the great info, Free. I'm gonna get a JJ for my tweed champ!

teleking36
01-02-2007, 09:51 AM
Originally Posted by candid_x


Not saying this is so across the board, just my opinion, but amps under 40-50 watts seem to fare better with EL84's for output, or 6V6's if EL84's are too midrange-ish.

The JRT has 9 watts of output for the 6V6s and 15 for the EL84s. Both sides have their own flavor and they both sound amazing. It's a loud amp for its power rating.

Free
01-02-2007, 01:21 PM
Thanks for the great info, Free. I'm gonna get a JJ for my tweed champ!

Cool. That Champ will sound mean as hell, MLG ;)...