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Help me pick a new battery of tubes for my amp....

clay49

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,567
Hi guys,

This thread has risen from one I started yesterday in the Guitar forum, and it has led to the discovery that what I am looking for may just be in my tubes (or currently, NOT in my tubes) that I run in my amp, not my current pickups.

I have a Peters Dual Channel Polaris amp (which I really love)...50w, plexi style, 3 x 12ax7, 2 x EL34. It originally came with Tung-Sol tubes which I don't recall really being impressed with originally. Here's a current pic:



I've been using JJ's over the last few years (in the amps I have had) because I put some in a Marshall I had several years ago and it so radically improved the sound, that I have never thought of using any other tubes. But, right now, the amp just doesn't have the snap and crisp articulation that I am looking for. I did have a Bad Cat Hot Cat 30R a few years back, that came with stock Ruby tubes, but they were SHRILL and brittle...man, it would make your fillings shake loose!!!.

Anyway, I would love for you tube veterans to help me pick out just the right complement of preamp and power tubes to make this amp jump! The sound where I "dwell" with my Les Paul guitars is late 70's-early 80's crunch...think groups like Foreigner ("Juke Box Hero," "Double-Vision"), 38 Special ("Hold On Loosley"), Blackfoot ("Train, Train"), Molly Hatchet ("Flirtin' With Disaster"), etc.

Buddy Boy, from the last thread, suggested either Mullard, Telefunken or Amperex in the preamp section, and Mullard or Siemens in the EL34's....what say ye??? :dunno
 

andrekp

Member
Messages
5,635
Well you can spend the bucks on NOS tubes, that I'm sure someone else can guide you one, but have you ruled out the possibility that the snap your amp now lacks might be just because you need new tubes? I mean that's sort of the symptom...
 

clay49

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,567
I would surely hope they don't need changing...only been in there for maybe 4 months, only seen about 6 hours of actual play time...surely JJs are better than that :confused:...I can't afford to drop $100 every 4 months...
 

59Vampire

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
4,422
:confused:...I can't afford to drop $100 every 4 months...

:bowDING DING DING we got a winner. You my friend should be the poster boy for NOS! Lets see that would be 300 bucks a year on tubes.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with Mullard or AMperex Philips in the pre. You can easily find 3 Amps for under 150:Devil:nono

Then use the rest for some good power tubes. Its been awjile since I have been floatin on the EL35 boat, im a 84 type, but you can easily find a good used pair of Mullards for that. You should even be ablew to find a set of unused NOS Teslas. Not those BS JJs .

At the very least if you dont want to spend the cashish, a good Amperex or Mull in V1 and a set of Winged Cs in the power should satisfy you for probably under a bill.

The idea of NOS is pay out once. Last a long time if you take proper care.

Good luck
 

clay49

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,567
What about Mullard Reissues???...or should I just take the plunge and get NOS. I don't mind dropping the serious coin on good tubes if they last a good while. I just have never gone down this road before and I don't know really what I"m looking for...especially when sellers start talking about their meters and getting a reading of "1300/1250 with 1249 being new", etc.:facepalm....
 
Messages
3,042
I always like to walk the happy medium line. Get NOS premp tubes, since they last forever, and some decent, new production power tubes. You simply cannot beat b-code Mullard glass in the preamp for a Plexi circuit. For power tubes, I have had awesome tonal results with Groove Tube EL34-M tubes, if you want to go new production. For cheaper NOS tubes, find a set of RFT EL34's. I'm currently running RFT EL34's and NOS Mullards 12AX7's in my Metro JMP clone, and it's tone city.
 

MstrBones

Member
Messages
248
suggested either Mullard, Telefunken or Amperex in the preamp section, and Mullard or Siemens in the EL34's....what say ye??? :dunno
Just my two cents, but since the amp was designed around the modern Tung Sols, I'm not sure just how great it will be with vintage tubes. Most designers compensate for the newer tubes that are available at the time they design an amp.

Have you asked the folks at Peters what they might recommend? Just a thought.
 

Swarty

Member
Messages
1,130
Unless you are running the amp really loud the impact of the power tube selection is negligable as the power amp won't be pushed into clipping and aside from eq considerations clean is clean (providing it's biased right). By a large margin the most impact is going be provided by V1, the input tube as this is the tube that describes the guitar tone and then get's amplified again and again through each gain stage. You don't need NOS, used are fine... Get a variety and do some taste tests. FWIW, I've not had good experiences w/ JJ preamp tubes.
 

JamesPeters

Member
Messages
1,397
Just my two cents, but since the amp was designed around the modern Tung Sols, I'm not sure just how great it will be with vintage tubes. Most designers compensate for the newer tubes that are available at the time they design an amp.

Have you asked the folks at Peters what they might recommend? Just a thought.
The amp wasn't designed around the new Tung Sol tubes. As a matter of fact it had included Sovtek 12AX7WC, not Tung Sol reissues. That's what I'd used generally at the time, sometimes using EH 12AX7 (which is what I use now). The JJ EL34 in the amp were what happened to be in the amp, since Clay bought it used. I handled the amp as the go-between since the amp got an update as it was sold from one owner to the next, and I didn't see any reason to change the EL34 since it sounded fine to me. I do use EH EL34 at the moment.

Clay: In all honesty I think there's probably more to consider in how you set the amp than what tubes are used in it. I have no problems getting the sounds that you're after, and I'm not even going out of my way to use specific guitars or pickups. Maybe you'll want to try other speaker cabs at a dealer like GC or something, to see if that will help. Or try other guitars. If you're being very specific about certain sounds from certain artists' recordings, I'd advise against it. You're never going to nail any sound 100% even if you use their exact gear, since you're hearing a recording; it's not like hearing the amp in the room. You've been trying to get those sounds for a couple decades, and you've owned other amps which should've been reasonably capable of those sounds. This isn't EVH's sound or Clapton's sound you're after; these are pretty basic classic overdrive sounds that most "Marshally" amps can deliver when used with the right touch / speakers / guitars.
 

clay49

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,567
Thanks, James...I'm still tweaking, as always:p...

I have Scumback speakers now in my Avatar 2x12, and my guitars (all humbucker rigs) have a variety of hand-wound PUPs from Wolfetone Dr. Vintage, to Jon Moore PAFs, to BareKnuckle Rebel Yell, to Gibson '57 Classics...pretty happy with all those combinations...still messing around with the amp and tube possibilites...just getting input from others who've been down this road as well...and as for my playing touch and technique, it's pretty good after 35 years of playing and recording and performing...but always seeking to improve...:AOK
 

JamesPeters

Member
Messages
1,397
Thanks, James...I'm still tweaking, as always:p...

I have Scumback speakers now in my Avatar 2x12, and my guitars (all humbucker rigs) have a variety of hand-wound PUPs from Wolfetone Dr. Vintage, to Jon Moore PAFs, to BareKnuckle Rebel Yell, to Gibson '57 Classics...pretty happy with all those combinations...still messing around with the amp and tube possibilites...just getting input from others who've been down this road as well...and as for my playing touch and technique, it's pretty good after 35 years of playing and recording and performing...but always seeking to improve...:AOK
Remember what I told you by email before you got the amp, as you were considering buying it and told me how many amps you'd owned in the last 20 years while trying to achieve these sounds:

It's not about having pickups with 8K or less resistance, or greenbacks with certain date codes, or Les Pauls with certain features. And you may be among the most technically capable players on Earth but your playing articulation dictates your sound. You sound like you, just as I sound like me.

Someone was over here jamming with me and my roommate a week ago. My roommate owns a Hydra (among other amps) and his friend was using a guitar through the Halo channel with the gain turned up. After a while I grabbed the same guitar, didn't change any settings, and jammed with my roommate (who was on drums at the time). I sounded so different you'd have thought I switched amps or dialed it in totally differently. My roommate's friend could play the same songs, but he didn't get the sound I did. That's what I'm referring to.

Sorry if it seems I am preaching about this, but I see people chasing their tails all the time trying to get certain sounds, when they're their own biggest enemy since they don't realize how their playing is controlling the sound. These people go through amp after amp, tube set after tube set, pickup after pickup...it never seems to end. Meanwhile I can use their rigs and get great sounds from them. (Dave, if you're reading this, your JSX rig sounds excellent...stop screwing with it! :)) That's not to say if you're one of these people, you can't keep your current playing style and get the sounds you're after. But you'll have to think differently from how others do when they get those sounds, since you play differently. Maybe a Duncan JB instead of a PAF type pickup would be more your style. Or maybe you should at least try other guitars / speaker cabs at dealers to know for sure if you're on the right track or not. Don't use excuses to not try things with your setup, then end up spending hundreds of dollars on tubes hoping to change the basic sound of the amp when the guitar and speaker cab make far more difference (they do, no matter what anyone else will tell you :)).

I wouldn't have posted about this if I thought you were truly happy with the amp. I see you posting the same thing you told me before you bought the amp, how you're still trying to get those specific sounds. If you're not, and you're happy with the amp as it stands, please ignore my preaching. :) Otherwise please consider what I'm saying before spending any more money or blindly buying anything else to change the sound.

And: less tweaking, more playing! :D Words of wisdom someone told me when I was 18, and they still hold true. If a NOS tube is the "magic bullet" for your setup, I'll be truly shocked.
 

MstrBones

Member
Messages
248
The amp wasn't designed around the new Tung Sol tubes. As a matter of fact it had included Sovtek 12AX7WC, not Tung Sol reissues.
clay49 said - " It originally came with Tung-Sol tubes which I don't recall really being impressed with"

My apologies, I was going by what the OP said was in the amp before he swapped to JJ's.

Mea culpa!

However, I under the impression that modern amp designers work around what is available in new tube production. Is that a correct assumption?
 

JamesPeters

Member
Messages
1,397
clay49 said - " It originally came with Tung-Sol tubes which I don't recall really being impressed with"

My apologies, I was going by what the OP said was in the amp before he swapped to JJ's.

Mea culpa!

However, I under the impression that modern amp designers work around what is available in new tube production. Is that a correct assumption?
No apologies necessary, but thanks for being so polite! :)

I do work around what tubes are being currently produced, yes. That may not be the case for all amp designers / builders though, and I don't think there's anything wrong with using NOS tubes, but I'm just being realistic. It's unlikely that using NOS tubes in the amp will make it "a whole new amp", but also unlikely that using NOS tubes in the amp will make it sound worse (except in the case that someone prefers a certain tube that's not the NOS one they use in the amp).
 

ski_fast

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,269
+1 on the Groove Tube EL34M. I run a pair in my Emplexador and they sound great.

You need to get a collection of OLD 12AX7 tubes. Since you have a head you should be able to run long plates without a problem: RCA long blackplates or grayplates, Mullard longplates, GE longplates. Then you can try the shortplate RCA, Mullard, Amperex etc. The huge plate Sylvania has the highest emmisions of any tube made and works well in the phase inverter spot to send a wallop of a signal onto the power tubes. I usually always run a different brand in each position and this will give you a fuller tone. This has been proven by many afternoons of beer fueled testing. Harder to tell the nuances with a full band running. Some tubes have more mids, some have bigger bass, some have more top end, and some are evenly balanced. If you play clean and then run a lot of pedals for overdrive a 5751 will work great in V1. Running all the same tubes just runs all the same characteristics through the preamp. PM me and I can hook you up with some sweet old tubes... I will give you deal.
 
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