Anyone want to tell me about the EF86...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by zzmoore, Jun 15, 2008.

  1. zzmoore

    zzmoore Member

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    I understand how it differs from the AX7 in a physical sense. But how about in real terms? What are its' attributes, advantages, disadvantages, why does it not get used more often. If I am not mistaken, the Route 66 is the only amp we have that uses this pre, and I do not get to hear it very often. Anyway... what do you guys like about the EF86?
    Thank You
     
  2. Tonefish

    Tonefish Member

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    I thought they were made famous by the VOX ACs Normal channel
     
  3. markezgotez

    markezgotez Member

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    as far as i know, the ef86 has about twice the gain in it as a regular 12ax7 does... it seems that only very early vox's, and now all the new boutique vox clones had them... i heard that they were hard to make, and that they go microphonic very quickly, so they are not used that often....
     
  4. tga-3

    tga-3 Supporting Member

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    My Dr. Z Stingray has an EF-86. Vox like tones.
     
  5. shuie

    shuie Member

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    The Matchless DC30 (and clones) have an EF86 channel also. I preferred the normal non EF86 channel on mine. YMMV.
     
  6. guitarman_1

    guitarman_1 Silver Supporting Member

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    The ef 86 is a pentode tube were the 12ax7 is a triode design.They differ in tone and gain as stataed above. The 86 is fat and rich, but unless you have a good NOS tube and even then they are microphonic the new tubes are junk. They do sound killer in amps deigned around it.
     
  7. starjag

    starjag Member

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    Killer tubes. I had a Winfield Cyclone 15 watts. The circuit of the Cyclone has lots of headroom (for its wattage) and then breaks up quickly into a fat, rich overdriven tone. Most of the combos appear to have too much vibration for current production EF86 tubes, but the tubes appear to work fine in well-built heads.
     
  8. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Selmer, Watkins, Marshall, Vox, and a bunch of other british makers have used that tube back in the day. A few companies are trying to use them again, and running into the same problems they did back then. It is just a microphonic tube and guitar amps really pick up the noise.
     
  9. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    They're often more usable and resistant to microphonic issues in heads as opposed to combos.
     
  10. sixstringsteve

    sixstringsteve Member

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    i can't explain what it is that I like about them (I've had 4 amps with them). They have an extra something that i find appealing, but I could get by with a 12ax7 if I had to. I've used cheap ef86's, and haven't had any problems with them, as long as they're in a head and not a combo.
     
  11. mooreamps

    mooreamps Senior Member

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    What if believe we have solved the problem with the microphonics, and abated the pentode noise. That would make a better good amp, don't you think ?

    -g
     
  12. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    The tube problem is still there. It's not a circuit design issue, it is a physical issue with the design of the tube. Believing that the problem is solved doesn't really solve the problem. I have yet to see anyone's newly manufactured amp that runs an EF86 any differently than anyone else did 50 years ago.

    It has gotten so bad that some amp companies are actually putting disclaimers up about how those tubes are all microphonic and it is just what a consumer has to deal with if they want to use that amp.
     
  13. teleharmonium

    teleharmonium Member

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    What models of Watkins and Marshall amps used the EF86 ? In either case it would be news to me.
     
  14. Kiwi

    Kiwi Silver Supporting Member

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    A number of modern amps use an EF86 in their pre-amp circuits. Dr Z's Rt 66 and Stingray amps; Matchless Clubman and the C-30 series; the Vox AC30 Heritage series. Probably several others.

    They use modern production EF86 tubes. I own four of the five amps named above, and the modern tubes have been fine in the years I've owned them.

    I don't assume that new EF86s are automatically junk, though I'd sure have a backup or two. I'd take care to buy new ones through a dealer that tests them. The most recent EF86 that went microphonic on me was an older Telefunken ... go figure. The Svetlanas that came stock with these amps are holding up fine.

    The Svets sound a little crisper in some amps than NOS Mullards and Telefunkens; the latter give you more mids and bit of vintagey vibe. Depends on what you want.

    The sound of the EF86 depends, I'm guessing, on what the circuit designer had in mind. For the Matchless C-30 series, it's a thick gain tone on Ch.2. The Rt 66 seems to take your signal and deliver it intact to the power tubes; it's hard to overload its EF86 even with pedals, compared to 12AX7s. Same thing with the Clubman. The Vox's EF86 channel is its own thing: I choose to run it as the gain/lead channel.

    =K
     
  15. mooreamps

    mooreamps Senior Member

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    I actually understand that ; and ; in the hands of a lesser engineer, I can see where that might be a problem. Besides, it's also a common layout problem that I can see, and, you've never seen any of my prints yet. . . . .

    -g
     
  16. datguytim

    datguytim Supporting Member

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    Funny - I've never had a problem with EF86s in my Clubman(s) & I (& everyone who hears me) think they sound amazing. FWIW - I only use NOS ones: Amperex Bugle Boy & Dario Mini-watts have NEVER failed me & get the richest sounds I've ever had. I've heard that they can be finicky & microphonic. Never been the case with me. Thank you, o mighty vaccuum tube Gods!!
     
  17. rburkard

    rburkard Gold Supporting Member

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    High gain paired with relativley low compression is what makes EF86 tube preamp designs so desirable. Great dynamics and clean up nicely by rolling down the guitar volume.
    Rene
     
  18. sixstringsteve

    sixstringsteve Member

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    That's exactly what I like about them, well said. It's like turning off a compressor when you play, and they do clean up very nicely. They also do the edge of breakup thing really well.
     
  19. sixstringsteve

    sixstringsteve Member

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    Has anyone played an amp with an ef86 preamp, and 6v6's in the power section? I'm having my creme brulee modded to accept 6v6's (in addition to el84's). I'll report back once it's done... I'm really curious how it'll work out.
     
  20. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Thanks for reminding me that I want to convert the normal channel of one of my Deluxe Reverbs into an EF86 channel!
     

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