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How to handle vacuum tubes? I'm new to this.

P_Phrank

Member
Messages
120
I really know next to nothing. I know to be careful, I know not to handle with your bare hands, and I know that they sound neat-o but that's it. I googled the same question and didn't find what I was looking for.


How do I clean them if I touch them?
Besides the shock risk, what are the dangers?

Thanks!
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,202
You're over thinking this. There's nothing wrong with touching tubes, skin oil on tubes, etc. The halogen lamp rules do not apply.

The worst, though unlikely, thing that you could do with your hands (if you have toxic sweat as I do) is cause corrosion on the pins by touching them.

Aside from being careful with hot tubes and not dropping them, there's nothing to worry about.
 

Creamy

Member
Messages
541
Be aware that they may be hot, so allow amp to cool a little after powering off. When removing power tubes (typically the larger ones), hold and wiggle them loose from the black plastic base. When replacing tubes, be sure to align pins with correct holes in socket. Although most tubes will only fit in one orientation, occasionally a tube or socket will allow different orientations and that could be bad for the amp. If you have vintage tubes and want to preserve the ink/graphics on them, be aware that perspiration, oils, etc will affect the ink.
Buy the power tubes in matched sets. The preamp tubes don't matching. Usually, the first and/or 2nd preamp tubes (closest to guitar input of amp) need to be your best tubes and have the lowest floor noise.
You may have to pawn your car to afford the nicest tubes for your amp. Many sellers sell these vintage NOS tubes and also sell current production ones. On the cheap, I suggest starting with Just and avoid Electro Harmonix. There are other inexpensive current production tubes too, and only your ears will tell you what is truly good. If you are going to be experimenting with an array of tubes, get to know a tube vendor or two and have them suggest for you a variety of tubes. Some vendors also rate tubes for "headroom" from the same model line.
Lots of threads on tubes here too!
 

Gary Brennan

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,842
Hi Mike,

I've heard one should never insert or remove power tubes except by holding them by the base, to avoid breaking the bottle seal. Anything to this?

gb


You're over thinking this. There's nothing wrong with touching tubes, skin oil on tubes, etc. The halogen lamp rules do not apply.

The worst, though unlikely, thing that you could do with your hands (if you have toxic sweat as I do) is cause corrosion on the pins by touching them.

Aside from being careful with hot tubes and not dropping them, there's nothing to worry about.
 

kludge

The droid you're looking for
Messages
7,106
Hi Mike,

I've heard one should never insert or remove power tubes except by holding them by the base, to avoid breaking the bottle seal. Anything to this?

gb
I guess EL84 users are screwed then. :rotflmao

The base pins are soldered to the pins coming out of the glass. It probably doesn't hurt to pull by the bass instead of the glass, but I've NEVER seen the base remain in an amp while the glass came loose. And you're very, very unlikely to actually BREAK the glass unless you're being totally mental about it. Tube glass is thick and tough, much moreso than light bulbs.
 

PatrickE_FenderADV

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,461
I just did a power tube install today... used my hands without gloves or anything. No problems and WOW, what a difference the amp sounds awesome now!
 

412know1seeks

Member
Messages
6
Even the most expensive tubes aren't THAT much in terms of costs, but do you really notice the difference in terms of sound?
 

Yoda

Member
Messages
149
Even the most expensive tubes aren't THAT much in terms of costs, but do you really notice the difference in terms of sound?

Yes.

How much difference and whether that is worth the money or not is dependent on each person. Also some amps respond to differences in tubes more than others, so I may search high and low for various NOS tubes to try in my 1964 Bassman but when I had a Blues Junior the difference between new and NOS tubes was much harder to distinguish.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,202
Hi Mike,

I've heard one should never insert or remove power tubes except by holding them by the base, to avoid breaking the bottle seal. Anything to this?

gb
Insertion probably would never be a problem, removal would more likely (though not very likely) be a problem. Certainly can't hurt to use the base if the tube in question has one.
 




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