EL-84 vs. 6L6

deadboy77

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I'm thinking about getting a '59 Bassman LTD but all the amps I've owned have been of the EL-84 type. What is the difference tonewise between EL-84 vs. 6L6. Since I'm used to EL-84's will I like 6L6's?
 

waxnsteel

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3,128
Typically, EL-84's have a looser low end, and low mids, and softer highs. At least that's what I hear in my Budda (which uses both ttypes of tubes and one preamp). Almost all my amps have been EL 84 or 6L6. They sound a little bit different, but it's more than just the tubes.

What EL 84 amps have you been using? What speakers? Keep in mind that 12's will probably sound different to you than the 10's in the Bassman you're looking at. I like the differences in amps. It gives me a good excuse to buy more of them.
 

Leonc

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I think most of us have a very hard time separating the power tube sound from the sound of the amp circuit. That being said...many 6L6 amps I've played were louder but less aggressive sounding. And when they did get aggressive sounding, the low-end didn't hold up that well...but is that the tube or the circuit? Hmm...I'm inclined to think it's more the entire circuit (including the speakers)... Most 6L6 amps I've played often had more body--certainly more low-end--than most EL48 amps I've played. They also sounded a bit less harmonically interesting/complex.
 

bscepter

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685
Having owned both, I found there was more difference in the 4 10" speakers (versus one or two 12"s) than the tubes. I prefer 12"s, I guess.

Bottom line, get your guitar, find a store that has one, and plug in and listen.
 

drbob1

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27,901
I'd say there's a pretty dramatic difference, in general, between those tubes:
El84s-sparkly highs, break up fairly early, lows are full but not punchy.
6L6s-a LOT more clean overhead, much harder hitting on the attack of the note, break up is a bit more abrupt and harsh (with 6L6Gs being the softest and going harder thru the line to 6550s). Bass is more authoritative. A good way to think of it might be the difference between the clean of an 18w Marshall vs Bluesbreaker vs JCM800 (6550s).
 

Reeek

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1,196
drbob1 said:
I'd say there's a pretty dramatic difference, in general, between those tubes:
El84s-sparkly highs, break up fairly early, lows are full but not punchy.
6L6s-a LOT more clean overhead, much harder hitting on the attack of the note, break up is a bit more abrupt and harsh (with 6L6Gs being the softest and going harder thru the line to 6550s). Bass is more authoritative. A good way to think of it might be the difference between the clean of an 18w Marshall vs Bluesbreaker vs JCM800 (6550s).
Agreed for the most part. The have much more punch and usually they sound thicker with more low end, circuit design notwithstanding.
 

JES1680

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No worries, if you don't like the 6L6s, throw a set of yellow jackets in there and you'll be really happy. :AOK
 

waxnsteel

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drbob1 said:
I'd say there's a pretty dramatic difference, in general, between those tubes:
El84s-sparkly highs, break up fairly early, lows are full but not punchy.
6L6s-a LOT more clean overhead, much harder hitting on the attack of the note, break up is a bit more abrupt and harsh (with 6L6Gs being the softest and going harder thru the line to 6550s). Bass is more authoritative. A good way to think of it might be the difference between the clean of an 18w Marshall vs Bluesbreaker vs JCM800 (6550s).
Before I bought the Budda, I'd probably have agreed about it being dramatic, afterward, I'd call it subtle. Coming through the same pre, both channels sound very similar. Thanks for the word about softer/harder tube types in the 6 family. I hadn't really thought aboput that. I may have to try a harder 6L6 type-tube in the budda to try and emphasize the difference some more. The intent of that amp appears not be to use different sounds of different tubes, so much as it was to have one power amp attenuated, and the other wide open so your rhythm tone isn't weaker than your lead tone, but the subtleties in tone difference are cool to me. Cab switching is cool, too.

I'll agree, though, that in general, the difference between EL 84 AMPS and 6L6 AMPS is very dramatic. And of course, ONE 6L6 is louder than ONE EL84 but, therefore 6L6 amps tend to be louder.

I've never played with yellow-jackets before, but I can't imagine throwing them in a twin would turn the sound to AC 30 (for a lot of reasons), but you would notice a difference.
 

Timbre Wolf

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Leonc said:
Most 6L6 amps I've played often had more body--certainly more low-end--than most EL48 amps I've played. They also sounded a bit less harmonically interesting/complex.
Well said, Leon! I have to agree wholeheartedly, especially since the emphasis on "most" implies that some amp circuits can surprise you by bucking this pattern. I have the feeling that if we were a group of electrical engineers, rather than musician/artists, we'd be discussing amp circuits more often than tubes.

- T
 

Leonc

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Absolutely right. That's because as guitarists, we've been trained by our peers to equate amp sound with power tube sound. Certainly different power tubes have their own sound/personality...but it's really the whole circuit that gives our beloved amps their personalities. The power tubes are undeniably involved, but I think they have less to do with it than many of us have come to believe.
 

Guinness Lad

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There is a difference in the tubes but I think it goes way beyond just descriptions. The only way to know for sure is to listen to an amp which gives you the ability to change out the power tubes, I think the THD amps can do this. Most of the time EL-84 and 6L6 circuits are totally different so just comparing one amp brand to another will not tell you the entire story. You need to find an amp builder who makes both El-84 amps and 6L6 amps to compare, hopefully there is sonic signature to all the amps they make, this could help to gain more insight to the differences in the tubes.
 
R

radvra

I have the Bassman, AC-30 and Mesa F-50, and by far my favorite is the AC-30 with GE NOS EL-84's. The Bassman reissue never sounded that great with 6L6 (brittle) so I changed the circuit to accept EL-34's and replaced the cheap Fender circuit board and components with a hand wired board (I have spent some $$ on this amp). The Mesa has 6L6's and the clean tones are great, but I think a class-A setup with Yellow Jackets might sound better. Boils down to what you like tone-wise and your music style. If you like EL-84 type tones, I wouldn't recommend the Bassman LTD unless you install the Yellow Jackets to accept EL-84's (go ahead and but a Peavey Classic to get the same result). I can think of better amp choices and setups if this is what you have in mind. Besides, buying the amp that sounds great in the store is going to be completely different when you gig with it and start spending money and changing the components. You might not like the end result. Do your homework, and get what you really like...but what do I know? I am gigging with a POD xt Live and 2 JBL EON's! Have fun!
 

Dave B

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deadboy77 said:
Right now I have a Vox AC30CC2 (2x12) and a Zinky Blue Velvet 25w combo (1x12).
I'd have to say that my BV25's overdrive channel really sounds like driven 6L6's and not EL84's, as it's pretty easy to get zingy RF lead tones. I've had a couple of Buddas, including a Dual Stage 30 like WaxnSteel, and the BV25 doesn't really approach the EL84 tones I got out either of my Buddas. Anyone else notice that with their BV25s?

I think Wax hit the nail on the head with his sonic descriptions and discrepancies between the two. In the case of the DS30, when you set both sets of tubes up to produce the same tones (whether clean or overdriven), there was a different feel to each 'channel'. Another interesting things was how they reacted differently (sometimes good, some not-so-good) to different overdrive pedals. If you're a pedal geek like moi, you'd probably like to put them through the amp first.
 
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drbob1 said:
I'd say there's a pretty dramatic difference, in general, between those tubes:
El84s-sparkly highs, break up fairly early, lows are full but not punchy.
6L6s-a LOT more clean overhead, much harder hitting on the attack of the note, break up is a bit more abrupt and harsh (with 6L6Gs being the softest and going harder thru the line to 6550s). Bass is more authoritative. A good way to think of it might be the difference between the clean of an 18w Marshall vs Bluesbreaker vs JCM800 (6550s).
The speakers, cabinet and amplifier voicing (beyond tube set) have a lot to do with this as well. Dr. Z amps have a HUGE low end. The Ghia is a very punchy amp, but it is voiced uniquely and has a different tone stack than other EL84 amps (tone control is like a wah pot that you set to "fit" the range and feel of your guitar)...
 

eugeneshin

Member
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1
my question is that I want to trade out my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe tubes from the 6L6 to an EL84... basically turn it into a Bad Cat Cub 2 for the most part since I can't seem to find any online... is this possible or will it be more cost effective to just get the Bad cat Cub 2 instead of modding my current amp (the Hot Rod Dx)...
 

riffmeister

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16,607
my question is that I want to trade out my Fender Hot Rod Deluxe tubes from the 6L6 to an EL84... basically turn it into a Bad Cat Cub 2 for the most part since I can't seem to find any online... is this possible or will it be more cost effective to just get the Bad cat Cub 2 instead of modding my current amp (the Hot Rod Dx)...
There are 6L6 to EL84 converters called "Yellowjackets". Modding the amp would be a major undertaking, Yellowjackets can be popepd in and out easily.
 




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