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My first experience with NOS tubes.

SirGilmour

Member
Messages
10,050
While I must admit this website sucked my into the boutique pedal world (for awhile), it never sucked me into the boutique guitar, amp(I wanted a BC waayyy before I knew about TGP), and NOS tube world.

Even after reading a lot of the praises of NOS tubes I still couldnt bring myself to spend $100+ on a single tube. That being said one of my preamp tubes went micro phonic on me last week and I got this wild hair to look for a TGP member that had a stockpile of NOS tubes(I had seen some threads in the past) and see if I could get a few for a good price. I came across a guy whose name I wont mention and he sold me a NOS RCA Blackplate and two other old USA tubes that tested as new for $70 shipped!

This is my first time ever changing tubes in any of my amps.

Now the review: I only spent about an hour playing so far.

I run my amp pretty bright and keep my strat tone knobs at about 6-7 so I can brighten a part up without going back to the amp. After installing the new tubes (preamp, tone stack,phase inverter) I immediately noticed my tone was a lot warmer at the same settings. Even with my tone rolled back to ten it was still warmer than before. Im not too good at describing tone nuances but I will say that the highs were a bit more controlled and blended with the rest of the mid/low frequencies in a nice way. The highs were never brittle per se but I would say they are less brittle/trebly now then they were before at the same setting. I really found my bridge pickup a lot sweeter sounding. I didnt play the new tubes with any pedals yet but the amp OD was great.

I still dont think I would ever spend $100+ on a single tube but I will say these NOS tubes sound great so far and better than the stock ones. Also I have read that the older tubes tend to last a lost longer so that is a bonus.

Sorry for the rambly long thread.
 

Britishampfan

Member
Messages
3,034
Nice tube! I like Blackplate RCA`s for some stuff I`ve got a bunch of them stockpiled, Very nice treble sound on these tubes and not fizzy, warm thick sound is accurate.

Enjoy them!
 

SirGilmour

Member
Messages
10,050
Nice tube! I like Blackplate RCA`s for some stuff I`ve got a bunch of them stockpiled, Very nice treble sound on these tubes and not fizzy, warm thick sound is accurate.

Enjoy them!
The treble is very nice. Not harsh in the least but still defined. I honestly went in expecting to not hear a difference but I was shocked to find out it was a pretty big difference.
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,208
Nice summary. "Sweeter" is a good word.
I liken it to the time I borrowed a 69 SF Deluxe Reverb from a friend for some studio work. I fell in love with it... So I bought a DRRI. What a difference!
I agree it is a tough nuisance to describe. Kind of like the difference between a new and a broken in speaker. Or like fresh acoustic strings vs ones that are one session old.

IME, the tube swap does not need to be vintage tubes, but just specific tubes. I bought some period correct NOS's for a '74 champ to replace some off the shelf EH's and got some satisfaction... But I replaced the stock tubes in my Night Train with some current production upgrades and was floored by the improvement.... Really only about 6% better tone, but tangible for sure.
So my conclusion is that the NoS is a bit of snake oil, but based in reality.
As long as we admit that we are hunting for tiny improvements, we can do it sanely. Having an unreal expectation that a boutique tube swap will blow the lid off is hopeless and will get us laughed at by band mates and spouses.
 

SkydogFan81

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,099
I explain it to people like this, "Would you pay $5 per gig for great tone? The old tubes last a long time so it adds up. They sound way better and are more reliable." Amperex are my favorite.
 

Britishampfan

Member
Messages
3,034
The treble is very nice. Not harsh in the least but still defined. I honestly went in expecting to not hear a difference but I was shocked to find out it was a pretty big difference.

There is a fairly big difference, sometimes my tube selection depends on what music I am playing, sometimes I just need that ratty bright sovtek grind it fits better other times I want the sweetness of NOS.

Some brands have more mids, some are darker, some are brighter and thinner sounding.

Some feel squishy and smoother some are stiffer and edgy/ buzzy

For my amps I like amperex and yugoslavian tubes- before the bombing they are some of my favorites.
 

mcdes

Member of no importance
Messages
7,545
I have telefunken and mullards in my amps, all NOS..... Never paid $100nzd for any of them, let alone USD. If you look around, you can find them at more agreeable rates.
 

Britishampfan

Member
Messages
3,034
I have telefunken and mullards in my amps, all NOS..... Never paid $100nzd for any of them, let alone USD. If you look around, you can find them at more agreeable rates.
Very true and I like to buy test good pulls from a reliable source for cheaper too.
 

SirGilmour

Member
Messages
10,050
So my conclusion is that the NoS is a bit of snake oil, but based in reality.
As long as we admit that we are hunting for tiny improvements, we can do it sanely. Having an unreal expectation that a boutique tube swap will blow the lid off is hopeless and will get us laughed at by band mates and spouses.
Ya thats why I went in not expecting to hear anything. I feel like some people that spend LOTS of money on old tubes feel they have to justify their purchase by convincing us(and them) that they changed the world or something. I am very pleased with the noticeable(not life changing) difference it made.


I explain it to people like this, "Would you pay $5 per gig for great tone? The old tubes last a long time so it adds up. They sound way better and are more reliable." Amperex are my favorite.
I have always preached "Its cheaper to buy the good stuff" because it last longer and in general you pay less over time. I hope thats the case with these.

There is a fairly big difference, sometimes my tube selection depends on what music I am playing, sometimes I just need that ratty bright sovtek grind it fits better other times I want the sweetness of NOS.

Some brands have more mids, some are darker, some are brighter and thinner sounding.

Some feel squishy and smoother some are stiffer and edgy/ buzzy

For my amps I like amperex and yugoslavian tubes- before the bombing they are some of my favorites.
Since this was my first tube swap I didnt know if the tonal change was the nature of the tube, the fact that its old, the plate length, the brand or what not. I like a warmer tone in general so I think I got the right tubes for me. Thanks for the info.
I have telefunken and mullards in my amps, all NOS..... Never paid $100nzd for any of them, let alone USD. If you look around, you can find them at more agreeable rates.
I didnt look really hard but it seemed the going rate for RCA Blackplates is aorund $130.
 

SirGilmour

Member
Messages
10,050
I forgot to mention that the guy I got them from has a really sweet tester and he wrote the test info on the boxes. Very nice guy.
 

Britishampfan

Member
Messages
3,034
Sir, I remember my first pre amp tube taste test, 60`s BF fender that sounded good, put some telefunkin input tubes in there. Wow zactly what I needed to hear.

And the clouds parted and the light turned bright. ha ha

Good luck to you sir.
 

trap

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,810
RCA Blackplates are great! soooo sweet! I find a harshness in all new tubes that the nos don't have. I still use new prod el34's, but I have to draw the line somewhere. Amperex and Mazda 12ax7's for me!
 

dbeeman

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,011
Some NOS are great in certain applications. But NOS does not automatically equal good or better than NEW.
 

geek-mo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,914
The treble is very nice. Not harsh in the least but still defined. I honestly went in expecting to not hear a difference but I was shocked to find out it was a pretty big difference.
I had the same experience with a pair of OS Mullard 12AX7s. They pretty much transformed my amp from good to great!
 

S. F. Sorrow

Member
Messages
8,421
Those old RCA long black plates are outstanding. Found some in an old ham radio collectors stash. Stellar. Thick and warm. I could go on.......
 




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