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How long did your EL34s last?

Rick Lee

Member
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11,180
I have Valve Art EL34s in my 100w '69 Plexi clone build. I run that amp hard at gigs and band practice, feels like I could fry an egg on that upper vent mesh. I kind of want to go to a different brand, maybe some NOS =C='s. But what kind of service life can I expect? 70-100 hours of band volume use? More, less?
 

Rick Lee

Member
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11,180
Attenuated?

Not that attenuation makes a difference to tube life (flat out is flat out), just wondering because that must be f'ing loud.
I have an internal variac knob on the amp, but usually have it pretty far up because I use a pedal that sounds best when the amp is very clean.
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
5,587
It's really hard to say. A lot of it will depend on the plate voltage the amp is feeding those tubes. Also, you say they are generating a lot of heat. That'll shorten their life. They may need to be vented better, or kept cooler with a fan to extend their life. That variac may also effect the tube life, especially if the variac effects the heater voltage. Then there's also the inevitable variation between one tube to another. Sometimes you get a well made tube, and sometimes you get a dud. We can say on average that certain tubes last longer than others, but to say how long any given tube should last is a lot more difficult to do with any certainty. Though with most amps, I think somewhere between 50-100 hours could be expected. If I was getting less than 50, I would probably take a look at the amp to make sure everything is working properly. If I got more than 100, I'd probably start paying closer attention to signs of tube wear.

EDIT: Should have said 500-1,000 hours. Posted too early in the morning.
 
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BelgPJ

Member
Messages
600
I've had =C='s in my Matchless Independence for 3 years, which runs with master at full tilt attenuated for studio use. Must be +200 hrs so far, and they still sound great. Runs really hot :eek::eek::eek: .. by design

If you can find good ones, may be worth the dime, but I have found TAD EL34B's a perfect alternative in my Carol Ann's
 
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Rick Lee

Member
Messages
11,180
Much, much more than 50-100 hours. Thousands of hours.
For power tubes?! I know preamp tubes can go for decades, but didn't think power tubes had anything like that kind of life. I was told 60-70 hours for the 6L6s in my EVH 5153 Stealth. Though I think I have that much on them (=C='s) and there's no sign of wear.

I'm really happy with the sound of this Marshall clone. But I've read some pretty poor reviews of Valve Art's reliability. And I'd like to carry a spare set of the same tubes to gigs, so I could swap them out in an emergency without rebiasing. If I know they'll last a real long time, I don't mind springing for =C='s.
 

hogy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,834
For power tubes?! I know preamp tubes can go for decades, but didn't think power tubes had anything like that kind of life. I was told 60-70 hours for the 6L6s in my EVH 5153 Stealth. Though I think I have that much on them (=C='s) and there's no sign of wear.

I'm really happy with the sound of this Marshall clone. But I've read some pretty poor reviews of Valve Art's reliability. And I'd like to carry a spare set of the same tubes to gigs, so I could swap them out in an emergency without rebiasing. If I know they'll last a real long time, I don't mind springing for =C='s.

I had a set of Sovtek EL84s go 20,000 hours in a tube HiFi (400V plate voltage) that runs the shop radio all day, every day.

Now, granted, that doesn't get moved, so there is no mechanical stress on the tubes and no vibration like in a guitar amp. But I do have Fenders that still run their original 1960s RCA 6L6s, and they do get played regularly.

Think about what tubes were used for back in the day. School PAs, for example. Those amps were always on and nobody changed tubes every four days. HiFis, same thing.

People change tubes way too often.
 

Rick Lee

Member
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11,180
Ok, I'll stick with what I have for a while. This head was biased by my amp tech, who's the best. I have since bought a bias probe from EuroTubes and retubed my SLO myself, which worked out fine. I like to tinker, but I'm satisfied the Marshall clone should be good for a while. I have started bringing a backup '79 JMP 2204 to gigs anyway.
 

Meriphew

Member
Messages
8,081
I have an old MusicMan Sixty Five Reverb head that still has the original el34 tubes from the '70's in it. I'm not the original owner, but I knew the guy who owned it before me. That's some pretty good tube life there.
 

Rick Lee

Member
Messages
11,180
You guys with these super long tube life stories, I'm assuming these are old school tubes, which are supposedly light years better than the new production stuff. No?
 

CallEOD

Senior Member
Messages
2,104
You guys with these super long tube life stories, I'm assuming these are old school tubes, which are supposedly light years better than the new production stuff. No?
Nope, CP Russian tubes, i get 5 year out of a quad then usually retube for the hell of it and keep the old for spares with have plenty of life. I always bias a medium bias point for longest tube life.
 

EADGBE

Senior Member
Messages
12,338
Wing C last a long time. But I think it's not as easy as it once was to get some good ones. Besides I don't think they're the best sounding EL34s. I think JJ EL34s sound the best. And their longevity is pretty good too. Just try to buy them from a good vendor.
 

EADGBE

Senior Member
Messages
12,338
I have an old MusicMan Sixty Five Reverb head that still has the original el34 tubes from the '70's in it. I'm not the original owner, but I knew the guy who owned it before me. That's some pretty good tube life there.
What brand are the EL34s?
 

woof*

Member
Messages
8,777
I have Tesla's in my Superbass and they have been there for at least 8 years....100's of gigs, even more rehearsals..and still as strong as the day they went in.
 






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