Blackheart Retube

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Gearaddict, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. Gearaddict

    Gearaddict Member

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    I just got a fun little Blackheart 5 watt head. Great little amp and loud!

    EVERYONE has told me to replace the stock Chinese tubes, which I did post-haste. The amp had no hiss or buzz with the stock tubes, and now has a horrible white noise hiss. I put in a very expensive preamp 12ax7, private selection BS or some such thing from one of those tube store or depots off the net. Ya, I fell for the hype. It was like 65.00 or some such ridiculous price and supposedly "tested". Made in Canada? Well, its a pos in my opinion.

    I also put in a JJ el84 power tube. The amp sounds better, but only by a thin margin and it hisses worse than a snarling woman on pms. What to do?

    Love this little amp. Any suggestions for a good preamp tube from normal tube supplies. I'm not looking for NOS or any other BS.
     
  2. Gearaddict

    Gearaddict Member

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    Did some more analyzing. It is partially a bad cable I used with a pedal. Still baffles me though. All the talk around here about tubes and all the bad raps for Chinese tubes, I'm more than disappointed in my retube effort. I have had two new amps in the past two weeks fitted with Chinese tubes, an ac15 and now this Blackheart with "no label" Chinese tubes. Both amps are dead quiet with no hum buzz or hiss with the Chinese tubes. I'm leaving the vox alone. This retube was not encouraging.
     
  3. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    It doesn't matter what you buy. You can get a bad tube no matter what brand or where it's made, and tone is subjective. For every 99 people who love something there's always someone who hates it...and the consensus is never nearly that strong.

    So, be realistic about your expectations.

    Normally, power tubes (EL84) don't hiss. Preamp tubes do. Have you tried that JJ El84 (which is not a great tube, but most people are happy with them) with a different preamp tube than the Canadian one?
     
  4. Gearaddict

    Gearaddict Member

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    I have a box of preamps to try and will do so this week. Ruby, tungsols, eh's and others. I know JJEL84 are nothing special but they seem to be consistant. Part of my issue is that I have never witnessed that aha moment with doing a tube swap unless of course a tube was bad or microphonic.

    I thought this amp would be great for experimenting with preamps. So far, I'm not impressed by a 53 dollar preamp tube with gold pins.

    If I were to choose just one 12ax7, what is the most musical choice, and quiet?
     
  5. gldtp99

    gldtp99 Member

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    If this is the tube you're talking about, it's made in China----
    http://thetubestore.com/northern-electric-12ax7.html

    It is made by a different factory than the usual Chinese 12ax7's we're used to.
    Some amps respond to different preamp tubes in different ways than other amps---- There's no 'for sure' way to know what any particular preamp tube is going to sound like in any amp, except to plug it in and play the amp.
    This is why i will try many different types of preamp tubes in amp builds, in different combinations---sometimes i'm suprised by what tubes sound best in any amp--- i don't have EVERY 12ax7/ECC83 tube ever made but i do have a wide range of old production and many new production examples to try out.
    Trying one different tube (that sounds like it may be defective---if so, send it back for refund/replacement) doesn't give a very large body of info to work with.
    If you lived near me you could come to my workshop and we'd try out @25 or more different 12ax7-type tubes and you'd be able to see if they make much of a difference in your amp---then you'd be much better able to make an informed decision on what 12ax7 you want in your amp.
    For example: If you found out that you really like an RCA 12ax7a (70's short gray plates)-- then you'd know what to order from KCA (there are other tube vendors but KCA is straight-up and highly recommended)--and you'd know what to expect from the tube when it arrived. I'm not trying to sell preamp tubes here--i'm not a tube vendor--- but i could help some people make better decisions on what preamp tube swapping will or won't accomplish in their amps--- by plugging in many different 12ax7 tubes and cranking up the amp and having them play it.
    Or--- you found that the Tung Sol RI 12ax7 sounded "almost as good" as some expensive 12ax7's and you felt it was a better value for you---then you'd again be making an informed decision instead of relying on someone else's opinion online or a written product description at some tube vendor's website........................gldtp99
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2012
  6. Gearaddict

    Gearaddict Member

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    Thanks for the advice! Yes, it was a Northern Electric tube. I thought it was made in Canada......of all places? Now you say China? And I know what you mean about some tubes sounding better in certain amps. I guess with this experience I've learned a valuable lesson in that $$$$ does not equate to what is most suitable and sounding best for each amp. For instance, I had a Reverend Kingsnake amp for a while and it really loved EH power and preamp tubes.

    I've been tempted to try an RCA 12AX7 for a long time. I have a friend in the amp business and I may pay him a visit. He has hundreds of tubes and might be a good source, instead of me going it alone on a search for good preamp tubes.

    Question......why did the USA stop making tubes? They are still widely used in medical equipment and other applications. Oh, stupid me, that's right, we don't build or make anything anymore.
     
  7. Keyser Soze

    Keyser Soze Member

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    Given plant costs (real estate, licensing, etc.), environmental concerns, and labor costs, are any audio tubes still made in North America?
     
  8. ffoont

    ffoont Member

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    I replaced the original 12ax7s in my 15w Blackheart with JJs a couple of years ago. Sounds fine, no problems. Still running the original EL84s.
     

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