Marshall JCM 800 2204 ? The Tubes to Use

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by frankguitar, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. frankguitar

    frankguitar Supporting Member

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    Hi! Fellow Gear Page People, I want your opinions and comments on which Tubes (Power & Pre -Amp ) you prefer. I just borrowed My friends '84 Marshall JCM 800 2204 Mk. 2 50 watt Master head.(I hope I said that right lol!)

    Anyway it has 6550 power tubes in it.I think they sound pretty good .I play Strats 99.9% of the time. Just wondering anyones thoughts on how the 6650's compare to EL34's
    Let the Comments and Opinions Begin! And Thanks in advance!

    Great Tone Always,
    Frank Guitar :aok
     
  2. chrisrocksusa

    chrisrocksusa Member

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  3. Steve Ouimette

    Steve Ouimette Member

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    I like both. Many prefer EL34's for their compression and distortion characteristics. They also feel a bit easier than 6550's which tend to excel in higher headroom situations. In Marshall's I prefer 34's though. 6550's work great and have a tighter bottom end but are harder sounding. The amp mod guys of the 80's seemed to prefer 6550's from what I've seen probably because they were boosting the front end of the amp and wanted cleaner power on the output. I know Lee Jackson did that a lot on the ones I've seen.

    Classic Marshall tone will always (at least for metal panels and beyond) be EL34's. 6550's were used in the 70's and 80's a lot when importing to America. 34's are a classic British sound though.
     
  4. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I believe a lot of my favorite artists and recordings used 6550 power tubes. My Marshalls have EL34s. I'd like to try the 6550 someday for their distortion characteristics. Just a guess, EL34s are more late 60s and early 70s sounding. While 6550s are more 80s hard rock sounding.
     
  5. Rex Nomad

    Rex Nomad Member

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    I have a few 2203s and switched them all to EL34s after trying, 6550s, 6l6 and 5881s. The 6550s sounded a bit stiff to me - except for one set of original GE 6550s which were pretty good - but they don't make those anymore.

    Lately I'm preferring the Chinese EL34 sold by Ruby - which have a 6 month warranty. I like the Tung Sol reissue EL34 too. I tried the New Sensor Mullard reissue and they were great. So, I ordered a second set. That second set didn't sound anything like the first set - flat-dead-yuk. So, I'm scared to throw money at those again.

    For preamp in v1, I finally got around to trying the reissue Mullard (New Sensor) 12ax7 and think it is really great in this circuit. I'm surprised at how much I like it. I did not care for the reissue Tung Sols in this amp. Prior to that I had been using either RFT or Tungsram. Both are nice in in v1. But if the new Mullards can last a while, I'm sticking with them. In fact, I like these new Mullards so much that I've ordered more despite my previous New Sensor experience.

    I think it's a bit of a crap shoot with new production tubes - good luck.
     
  6. stratotastic

    stratotastic Supporting Member

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    How much you are driving the power section will dictate how much difference you hear between tubes. I've run both KT88s and EL34s in my 4104 (2x12 combo version of the 2204), but I am never able to get the master above about 1 at a gig, and at that level, there ain't much difference. But if you're playing arenas, lots of outdoor gigs, or recording where you can really crank it up, then I'd go EL34s.
     
  7. frankguitar

    frankguitar Supporting Member

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    Thanks to All of You for Your Comments, Opinions and Information. The Marshall sound is foreign to me. I have played Fenders (Super Reverbs, Bassmans, etc.) All my life. I've always been a Big fan of the "Marshall Sound" Especially> Jimi Hendrix.
     
  8. BadAssBill

    BadAssBill southofnash.com Silver Supporting Member

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    I usually tell people I like the 6550's because they are different. I typically tell folks they are a great growl...with just a titch of 80's tone. I've had folks tell me the 6550's are inferior, not nearly as good as EL34's, etc....without ever even listening to the amp.
     
  9. schwa

    schwa Member

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    It hasn't been mentioned, but I just wanted to pipe in. If you decide you want to try some EL-34's in your friend's amp, I think you need to re-bias at least, possibly make a small circuit change or two. (at least that's what I have heard on the internet).

    I don't think it's as simple as slapping some new (different type) tubes in there.
     
  10. Timmo

    Timmo Member

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    Had 6550's in a 2204 for for months.
    Changed to EL 34's and WHOA!

    EL34's for sure..........:aok
     
  11. sanrico

    sanrico Member

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    El34's all the way. I just had two 2204's sitting side by side with 34's in one and 6550's in the other. The 34's loaded amp sounded somehow warmer to me.
     
  12. cestjoel

    cestjoel Member

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    ^ you're right about this. Minor mod.




    +1 for el34

    Also, you gotta throw in some RFT's in the pre amp section. Sounds awesome!
     
  13. stratotastic

    stratotastic Supporting Member

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    But you do realize that individual Marshalls sound different from each other anyways, tubes aside...
     
  14. frankguitar

    frankguitar Supporting Member

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    Yes! stratotastic, I do realize that no two amps are the same . I'm just trying to get some info from you guys as to what you've experienced with your amps.
    Thanks to You and all the rest!
     
  15. talpa

    talpa Member

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    had 6550s in my new '82 4104 for about a decade, then flipped it to Sovtek EL34Gs (crap tube but magic for these early JCMs imo). i've even pulled removed Mullards for the Sovteks..that JCM grindy klang factor is there. i do use vintage preamp tubes. the last great production Marshalls. very loud
     

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