5881 vs 6L6.....the difference is?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Thrillz-08, Jun 14, 2008.

  1. Thrillz-08

    Thrillz-08 Member

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    What is the difference between 6L6 power tubes and 5881 power tubes? And to take it another step further what is the difference between EL34 power tubes and EL84 power tubes? Somebody help me lol
     
  2. jumpnblues

    jumpnblues Member

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    I'll bite on the first question...as a general rule and tonally speaking, 5881s tend to be a slightly higher gain tube and break up a little more easily. There are exceptions with different manufacture but as a general rule I believe the above to be an accurate statement. But the fact remains that 5881s and 6L6s are fundamentally one and the same.


    Tom
     
  3. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    The only answers to these questions are generalities. If you do a bit of searching on the pages, you will find this is a common question with a lot of different answers.

    I assume you are asking about the difference between 6L6GC's and 5881's. Few people use the old style metal 6L6. 5881 and 6L6GC's are both in the same family. 5881's are more like the 6L6GB, meaning they break up a little earlier. 6L6GC's have a bit more power output capabilities. How they both sound tonally really depends on the amp, and what brand tube.

    EL34's are actually a slightly different type of tube, but are essentially interchangeable with 6L6 family tubes (with appropriate circuit modifications). EL84's are a nine pin power tube that isn't interchangeable with any of the other tubes mentioned.

    They are all pentodes, and they all are used as output tubes in a lot of tube amplifiers. I know that isn't very specific, but it is about the best I can do. Search the forums, and you will find a lot more opinions.
     
  4. killer blues

    killer blues Member

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    5881's dissapate 23 watts and 6L6GC's dissapate 30 watts. That is the difference.
     
  5. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    The posts above are in many ways correct. The real deal 5881 or 6L6WGB as it is known has to be explained in context of its origin in the 6L6 family as a military grade 6L6GB. There are many GC valves sold with the 5881 screenprint of which the Sovtek is perhaps the most frequent one. These Sovteks are surplus Russian valves of unknown origin, or so I'm told.

    Earlier straight bottle 6L6 types are soft (wheezing distortion that increases gradually with the effort) and dark sounding and reflect perhaps the sound of Fender Tweed type amps, as a rough generalisation. Comparing one of these to the General Electric 6L6 they're like night and day; they're strong and stay clear all of their headroom untill they break up aggressively.
     
  6. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    The EL-34 vs 84 is another deal, as they are based on the same operation principle but the 34 being a high power valve and the 84 a low power valve. This is in many ways the case with the 6L6 and the 6V6 valves as well.

    The EL-84 and 6V6 are popular in cheaper and/ or low power amps and sound very vintage by comparison - nails the blues sound. Pushed into distortion there's less grit here than in the case with their bigger brothers.
     
  7. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    That's a generalization which is sure to give a false impression.

    You'll get different tonal responses from Russian 5881s, US Tung Sol 5881s, Russian Tung Sol 5881s, Sylvania 5881s and Philips 5881s.

    You'll also get tonal differences between the multitude of different brands of 6L6s, 6L6GA, 6L6GB, 6L6WGB, 6L6GCs.

    So it's impossible to make a valid generalization of tonal difference between "5881s and 6L6".

    Spec differences can be found by Googling "5881 data" and "6L6 data".
     
  8. Thrillz-08

    Thrillz-08 Member

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    Thank you so much guys! My rig consists of a 212 stereo Genz-Benz G-Flex cab, A Carvin TS-100 tube power amps (hence the questions about the difference in tone in power tubes) A Blue Tube preamp for my clean tones and ranchy blues tones and an ADA MP-1 for my super low gain tones and my high gain big huge Mesa-ish distortion tones, a Boss GT-8 controlling everything, and 2 Tradition guitars, MTP-375 and the MTP-450. The reason for asking these question is......6L6's give you a much better clean tone than El-34's, likewise El-34's are a better power tube for distortion tones. SO.....my quest for the perfect compromise in which power tubes I put in my Carvin begins lol so if there are any other suggestion please feel free to help me out in any way possible :) Thanks guys!!!!!
     
  9. TweeDLX

    TweeDLX Member

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    One deciding factor about using 5881's or 6L6GC's would be the plate voltage of your amp. The following came from "The Tubestore" website (referring to Tung-Sol RI 5881's): "The Tungsol 5881 is a 23 watt tube and is rated for a maximum plate voltage of 400Vdc. The many amplifiers that have higher plate voltage but use a tube rectifier can use the Tungsol 5881 tubes without issue. A prime example is the ’59 Bassman LTD. However it is also critical to rebias the amp heeding the 5881’s 23W rating. This will provide a vintage tone and less clean headroom. Leaving the bias set to a 6L6GC setting and/or using the Tungsol 5881 in a high voltage amp with a solid-state rectifier, will likely cause problems and are not covered by warranty." Something to think about...

    Mike
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2008
  10. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    ...unless you're talking about Russian "5881s" which handle high plate voltage.

    You've got to be specific when talking about this stuff or whatever information you provide is either useless or can be misleading.
     
  11. TweeDLX

    TweeDLX Member

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    Some of those Russian 5881's aren't real 5881's are they? I'm thinking of the Sovteks, that are more like a 6L6GC. Which takes us back to your (Mike K's) post about reading the tube data sheets. Makes sense to me.

    Mike P [​IMG]
     
  12. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    That's true. But since 99.99999% of the people in the world are unaware that these tubes are not what they pretend to be, it's very important to make the distinction.;)
     
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  13. Adwex

    Adwex Member

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    I read somewhere that a 5881 is just a rugged 6L6, originally made for the military.
     
  14. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Sorta, though specifying WHICH 6L6 is critical to the discussion.
     
  15. killer blues

    killer blues Member

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    The spec sheet for the REAL Tung-Sol 5881 only specs the plate voltage based on applications where the amp is biased class AB and no screen resistors are being used. With a well filtered screen supply and 1K resistors on the screens, these tubes will handle 500VDC all day long.
     
  16. 2x6L6

    2x6L6 Silver Supporting Member

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    So... needing to re-tube my '62 Bassman 6G6B which calls for a 5881. Is my best choice to use a 6L6GC?
     
  17. jcs

    jcs Member

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    The common Russian 5881 is actually between a real 5881 and 6L6GC in terms of output but will handle very high plate volts as mentioned.

    Be VERY careful with Brownface Fenders.....some have very high plate volts (Bassman, Bandmaster etc) in which case a Russian 5881 is a good choice or 6L6GC.
     
  18. jamesrsmith

    jamesrsmith Supporting Member

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    so if i put 5581s in my allen brown sugar cathode biased amp, instead of, say jj 6L6s, the only difference would be earlier breakup?
     
  19. RussB

    RussB low rent hobbyist Silver Supporting Member

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    Yes, IMHO
     
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  20. mike patrick

    mike patrick Supporting Member

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    you guys seem to be very knowledgable about the goings on in a tube amp I must tellyou guys i'm a tone junkie that being said,I have a hamiltone Austin od and I think its a little hard edged clean and dirty its also loud ,and seems to want to that way in order to get that tone to come through so I was thinking of putting in a 5751 in v1 and v2 I don't what is in v3 it has tungsol 5881 short bottles in the power section I haven't owned it a month yet so I can't vouch for the tubes but i'm trying to soften it up a bit or maybe make it spongier would be a better term any suggestions would be much appreciated thanks mike
     

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