Can someone educate me on 12ax7 tubes

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by reggieband, Jul 3, 2008.

  1. reggieband

    reggieband Member

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    I'm looking to upgrade the 12AX7 tube on my Fender Super Champ XD as I hear the stock one shipped with it isn't very good. When I look into suppliers I see several different kinds:


    • Sovtek 12AX7 EH
    • Sovtek 12AX7 WA
    • Sovtek 12AX7 WB
    • Mesa Booge 12AX7/SPAX7A
    • Groove Tubes 12AX7C
    • Groove Tubes 12AX7R2
    • Groove Tubes 12AX7R3
    I play with a EJ Strat. I like round smooth glassy/chimey tones when I am playing clean on the neck/middle PU as my major consideration. Secondary is cutting treble for highly distorted/overdriven sounds on the bridge PU.

    Can someone explain the diferences between the tubes and help recommend or narrow down the field?

    Cheers in advance!
     
  2. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    See reply above
     
  3. reggieband

    reggieband Member

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    Cheers for the info and links.

    I am not really set on those particular tubes as a set. They were just the first ones to pop-up when I searched for 12ax7 tubes at some UK online shops. I was surprised there were so many variations and they usually don't have a description so I can't tell the difference.

    I don't mind searching for some good ones since I am in no rush. NOS tubes look good but again I wouldn't know what I was buying and I don't know of a UK dealer.

    Thanks for the breakdown though and the links to sites with more information.
     
  4. stratocaster

    stratocaster Member

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    FWIW i wouldn't use any of those tubes that you've listed, sovtek, including the EH branded version are very harsh sounding, you'd get better tone from cardboard, most of the others are variants of sovtek, i'd personally go for a JJ or a Nos valve.

    http://www.watfordvalves.com/product_detail.asp?id=694

    Watford valves are UK based, if they're good enough for AC/DC, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Joe Satriani and Oasis they should have something to suit your needs.
     
  5. reggieband

    reggieband Member

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    On ebay I see:
    12AX7 ECC83 S JJ TESLA
    for a decent price - is this better than the sovtek EH?
    Also they have cryogencially treated ones? What is that about?

    There is also:
    TJ Fullmusic 12AX7 ECC83
    for about $70! that seems pretty high for a tube ...

    Then there is:
    12AX7 ECC83 Electro Harmonix GOLD
    for about the same price as the Tesla

    And there are some RCA, NEC and Mullard vintage tubes. Mullard seems to have some respect in the searching I have done (they are pretty expensive) but I don't think these are NOS - they look to be used or untested which makes me a little wary ...

    I wish I had the need for a few of these but what I really want to do is buy one that is good but not a huge amount of money. Maybe the Tesla is a good buy? Or should I stick with the Sovtek EH?
     
  6. jcat

    jcat Member

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    Tomorrow never knows
  7. stratocaster

    stratocaster Member

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    See my original post.
     
  8. mark norwine

    mark norwine Member

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    Can someone educate me on 12ax7 tubes

    Yes.....

    For current production, buy JJ.

    For NOS, call Mike K.
     
  9. reggieband

    reggieband Member

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    Cheers for the links gents - Watford Valves has the tubes I've been considering for a cheaper price than anywhere else I've seen (even ebay).

    jcat - that site is amazing - even better than I was expecting. I learned quite a lot about tubes from their advice.

    I think Tesla JJ is the way to go given prices for NOS are so high.
     
  10. stratocaster

    stratocaster Member

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    Watford valve DON'T include VAT in their prices! so don't forget to add on the dreaded 17.5%.
     
  11. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    The preamp tubes I've had the best luck with for tone and longevity are JJ's and Electroharmonix. Some sovteks are ok,others are pure crap.The LPS is ok,the regular cheapy is junk.
    The best I've ever used is NOS GE.Tone and the right amount of gain.JAN Phillips is great too.
    It's been hit and miss sometimes just because of questionably quality control these days,but I've had the best luck with those brands.
     
  12. JimmyR

    JimmyR Member

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    I agree. Also Mark Norwine nailed it - JJ for new tubes and all else NOS try Mike at KCA. I use a local guy here in Australia for some tasty NOS and believe me if you can get some good NOS you will notice the difference!

    I recently got a "RI" Tungsol (just another Sovtek brand) to try and it sounds ok.
     
  13. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Careful! I started out wanting an education on 12AX7's and realised that first hand tone testing was the only way with such a subjective thing.This is the end result-1300+ pre amp tubes! :eek: Love old glass. Bob


    [​IMG]
     
  14. groovy daddy

    groovy daddy Member

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    Yes, I started collecting tubes by accident sort of- now I have boxes full also, new and old. I think JJ's are the most consistent new tubes.
     
  15. Scott Auld

    Scott Auld Staff Member

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    I'm very pleased with the JJ's I got from Eurotubes.
     

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