N.O.S tubes v JJ Tubes you decide ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Rock Fella, Oct 5, 2005.


  1. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

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    Ill start by saying I honestly belive new old stock tubes are a complete waste of money, I simply do not see the need to pay what folks are charging for NOS units when there are superb modern day units at a fraction of the cost.

    Im hugely supportive of the JJ brand of modern tubes .

    In my Hellcat I bought high gain ECC83 preamp tubes and they positively blaze and have been 100% reliable, in my 5150 mk1 head I have a matched quad of JJ 6L6 power tubes, those tubes are simply awesome to behold, the tubes that were in it when I bought it, Sovtek 6L6 WXT plus 6L6 simply do not plumb the depths the JJ`s do and the JJ souinds a league above.

    With such happening tones, Id not even consider going NOS , they may be as good , but I remain a doubting thomas in thinking they wont sound perceivibly better and at a lot more than the JJ`s cost.

    I read peoples tube queries and getting answers all the time advising they spend cash on NOS when my mind is saying go JJ , you will not be disappointed and you will save yourself money.

    My failure to acknowledge what some hold dear in NOS tubes may be treasonous to some , but I simply dont get it, I think JJ tubes are a match for anything out there and NOS included.

    What would be your thoughts, would you splash out on NOS or would you go for the likes of JJ , the NOS users, can you hear something modern day units dont give ? Alternatively are there players like me who dont dig the NOS thing at all and consider them paying out cash needlessly, Ive used JJ tubes for years and have also owned NOS mullard ecc83s, bought at a horrendous cost and certainly didnt offer anything like what id read folks gushing about them.....didnt last long at all in fact :mad:

    lets talk about this.

    jimmy
     
  2. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I've heard NOS tubes that get the job done and sound killer doing it, but my wallet and my ears have a disconnect :) I like the JJ tubes as well, and Ei even, and that's what I get. I sometimes have to go through a few to find the best sounding ones, but even then the cost doesn't add up to what NOS stuff goes for, and I feel like I'm still getting 98% of the tone. I'm certainly getting 100% of the tone **I** want!

    --chiba
     
  3. sinasl1

    sinasl1 Member

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    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?s=&threadid=70684&highlight=12ax7+comparison

    there's my 12axx7 comparison clip thread... I've got a small stash of NOS and I did quite a bit of tinkering/listening... I think that some NOS tubes are still good value (Seimens/RFT EL34's, RFT 12ax7) and it's a good idea to have a mullard 12ax7 or two around, even if they are spendy...

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?s=&threadid=92742&highlight=output+tube+comparison

    link to some output tube comparison clips... once again, you be the judge... I liked the NOS tubes better than the new production, allthough I thought the JJ E34L was really great too, I could live with those any day.
     
  4. Erik

    Erik Member

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    It really depends on the amp. My Road King didn't sound that great with JJ's...made the amp too dark. (I didn't care for the EH12ax7's in it either...not enough of that "umph"...the 9th Generation Chinese 12ax7's were/are perfect...never tried NOS in the Mesa...) I slapped a quad of the SED 6L6's in that amp and holy crap!!!!

    I also have a Marshall JCM800...the JJ's sound GREAT in that amp, as do the Chinese 9th gen 12ax7's. I just ordered some of the new JJ ECC803's for the Marshall and can't wait to hear how they sound. I have some NOS Siemens EL34's that I just put in the Marshall and it is puuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrfect. I got the Siemens from Mike at KCA NOS tubes...very good price.
     
  5. hawkeye17

    hawkeye17 Member

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    I went thru a ton of tubes on my Orange R30(mullards, rca, brimar, etc) and settled on Chinese 9th Gen 12ax7a's in v1, v3 and a JJ ECC803 in V2. You do notice the difference between tubes but I don't think the tones generated by NOS tubes are worth the money..at least not for higher gain applications. I'm holding onto my NOS tubes for an eventual clean amp(Fender, Allen, etc) where I think they'll have more impact on the tone. Just my opinion anyway.
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    While I have not heard every type of old-production tube and every type of new-production tube, or tried them in every amp, what I can say is this...

    In every single case where I have compared any old-production tube (even simply old and used, as long as it tests good) to any new-production tube, in any amp whatever, I have never found one single instance where the new-production tubes sounded better. Not one. Sometimes it's harder to tell than others, but usually you can.

    The old ones win every time for clarity, depth, detail, complexity, richness, sparkle, punch - which may be subjective, depending on what type of tone you're looking for; and in the case of output tubes all that plus actual measurable output power - which is not subjective.

    I've also had a near-zero failure rate in my amps (one power tube and a handful of preamps in twenty years) and in most customer's ones with old-production, against significant failure rates with new-production.

    Absolutely no contest IMO, and I don't think any NOS tubes except the most-hyped brands (Telefunken and possibly some Mullards) are at all overpriced. In fact, I'm even considering stocking up on them while they're still relatively cheap... until now I've been more than happy to use tested old tubes.

    Just my opinion.
     
  7. Roodboy

    Roodboy Supporting Member

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    I'm with Mr. Phillips. Every amp I have purchased in the last two years has had its preamp tubes replaced with RFT/Tungsram/Mullards (I'm a Marshall guy), and it has made a tremendous improvement in tone.
    I have also used Tesla (not JJ) EL84's and Siemens EL34's which were a major upgrade over JJel84's and JJE34L's.
     
  8. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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    So let me get this straight.

    You formed an opinion on something you have never tried?

    Much as I hate to agree with guys who are ignoring me I have had the same expereince as John Phillips.

    Try them.
    Buy used, start small and cheap.
     
  9. granite

    granite Member

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    The first thing I did when I got my Aiken Tomcat was to pull the JJs and replace them when NOS Mullards. What a difference.....in a negative way. The Mullards sounded like crap. The volume was greatly reduced, like throwing a blanket over the amp and the microphonics were unbearable. JJs sounded brillant in the Tomcat. The icing on the cake was that I couldn't resell the Mullards anywhere near to the price I paid. I took a big hit $. I learned my lesson, NOS does not always mean better. It depends on the amp. I doubt I will go the NOS route again with any future amp. It's a crap shoot.
     
  10. spikeRI

    spikeRI Member

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    while I've had plenty of NOS that really didn't seem worth the $$$ and agree brands like JJ can get you there......but, once you have experienced the RIGHT tube with the RIGHT amp, you'll forget what they cost. It can be a long search because even good testing NOS ones sometimes can be dogs, even among same brands.
    I will say this tho, if you are happy with a $8 tube and it gets the sound you want to hear............why spend $100 or more to get that last 1 or 2 %?
     
  11. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

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    did you actually read the initial post ?

    "Ive used JJ tubes for years and have also owned NOS mullard ecc83s, bought at a horrendous cost and certainly didnt offer anything like what id read folks gushing about them.....didnt last long at all in fact "

    :rolleyes:
     
  12. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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    How many did you try?
    What were you expectations?

    I have heard some mullards that were great and some that were so so. A lot of it depends on the circuit and the player.

    When I try it I use my rig and have a friend swap tubes, do it blind and see what you like.

    I think part of the problem is people have expectations set way too high, it is not astounding but it is there. My analogy is it is like giving the amp an enema. It just clears things up. I tend to like Tele 12AX7's, a lot of people do not, again it depends on the circuit and the player AND can be a combination of tubes.

    If you are in the NJ area drop me a PM and you (or anyone who wants) can come down and try it out. Between Greg and myself we have amassed a small arsenal of NOS goodies.

    It is not going to be as earth shattering as swapping speakers, that is more dramatic.
    I would not form an opinion based on one bad expereince though.
     
  13. Erik

    Erik Member

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    ...and a good analogy it is!!!

    True, it does depend a lot on the amp. I don't know if it applies to preamp tubes as much, but I've found NOS poweramp tubes last a LOT longer than current production tubes.
     
  14. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    That's just total nonsense! Maybe YOU paid too much and didn't get good ones, but there are lots of fantastic old tubes available for reasonable prices. And to say that modern production tubes are 'superb' is also ridiculous - they don't even come close.

    I had new JJs and compared them to a variety of NOS tubes, and there was NO COMPARISON at all. Anyone with ears that are working would have to agree - it's as plain as day.

    That being said, you still have to find the right tubes for each amp, and try the various positions. I ended up with a mix of Telefunken, Amperex, RCA (or GE) and Mullard for the preamp positions.

    I agree whole heartedly with everything John P said.

    I'll never use modern production tubes again.
     
  15. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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    I'm going to have to back up this up.

    I have purchased some NOS stuff. Yes, they did sound better. Did I think that they sounded $200 better? No.

    Most NOS devotee's spend a mint trying to find that "right tube" for that amp. I know that I can get fantastic tones with production stuff NOW. Maybe it is "magic" when that happens, I'm not willing to spend major cash for something that may *never* happen.
     
  16. guitarman_1

    guitarman_1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Ill step in and throw in my 2 cents. Tubes have to be used in the right circuits to be apreciated. Marshalls like Mullards, it accentuated the mids, and gooses the gain in the pre amp. Telefunkens will not work in dark amps, as they are too fat sounding and a little rolled off on the top end compared to amperex and mullards. Vox amps sound best with amperex and brimars, it suits the voicing best. Mullards are great here too, but give more gain/less chime than the Amperex. For ultimate chime use Amperex. I have spent 20 years collecting tubes, and to say that a JJ or Sovtek,Ei, Groove tubes copies, etc sounds close is just not possible or accurate . All new tubes are lifeless and dull next to real deal. Yes, you can get a bum NOS tube, just like all vintage guitars are not great just because they are old. You have to have the right tube, but once you do, The differences are easily heard. High gain amps do like the chinese tubes, they have a lot of top end which cuts the mix when its all distorted. Old tubes are like a fine wine or cigar.
    You have to educate your pallete to discern the differences, but once you know the differences in taste or tones in this case. New wont do.

    Sorry for the long winded post.

    O
     
  17. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

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    ok guys, ask yourself this question


    average audience member is asked this question by 2 diferent guitarists , one is playing an amp with as mint NOS tubes as one can find the other is using an amp with modern day JJ `s

    is the joe punter likely to say how he enjoyed the harmonic richness and overtones of what surely must be vintage tubes or is he likely to say both tones were cool ?

    so do gtr players buy NOS tubes for self gratification , yeah man ive got these mint NOS mullards in my marshall factor, we all know majority of joe audience couldnt tell a marshall plexi from a Line 6 , so is the guitarist the only one getting the true kick outta those tubes he paid through the nose for ? i admit if you want to RECORD tones to die for , you may well have a reserve of those special tubes that make your amp perform at 100%, Ive no issue with this at all . But the average gigging joe schmo , playing at volumes so loud his audience dont know nor care what he is playing through, are pricey NOS tubes worth what he will have paid out ?

    I still will opt for the JJ`s , they deliver what I need and like , but lets talk about this maturely , is it self gratification or apart from recording purposes, tell me where the worth in the expense of NOS tubes is ?

    jimmy
     
  18. stratovarius

    stratovarius Supporting Member

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    That's pretty close to my experience as well. On the other hand, modern manufacturers design their gain structure and voicing around tubes that are currently available. I have amps that sound killer with JJ's.
     
  19. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Music is ALL about self satisfaction. If you're not doing it for yourself first, then why do it at all? All artists are on a quest of self expression. That's why we have so much fun trying different guitars, amps, speakers, pedals, cables, strings, & tubes. It's all part of crafting our individual signature sounds and techniques.

    The more your gear is in sync with your own personal requirements and ideas, the better you'll play. Gear that works for YOU, is inspiring and it stimulates you to play more and better. Everyone knows that.

    Who gives a **** what Joe Punter thinks? I certainly don't - never have, never will. This has NOTHING to do with the audience and what they do or do not perceive. I play first for myself and if others appreciate it, then that's just icing on the cake. If I'm not satisfied, then it's not right, regardless what the audience thinks.

    And, on a practical side, NOS tubes will last way longer than current production tubes, so that has to be factored into the cost equation as well. And you don't have to spend a fortune. I remember one GP member posted a few months ago that he spent something like $120 each for 4 NOS Mullard ECC83s. Unbelievably over priced - that was nuts. Most of my NOS preamp tubes were between $20 - $60 each. So should I pay $12 for a JJ ECC803S or $25-$50 for a NOS XXX that sounds much better and lasts twice as long?

    It has nothing to do with status or self gratification. It has to do with sonic excellence and achieving one's signature tones.
     
  20. Igneous

    Igneous Supporting Member

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    I agree, its a nostalgic, selfish thing, but my mullards certainly make a difference to me when recording too.

    Easier to mix too.

    Plus they light up and look so damn cool with those sheilds!!

    BTW- I have plenty of JJ's that have **** the bed for no reason what-so-ever waaayyy before some of my my sloppy used mullards go.

    they go in my hmmm... maybe this preamp tube pile:

    jj's(although, so far im really liking the 803s's), ei's, gtax7m's,eh,sovtek(same thing),chinese...

    If you like the jj's do it. Its all good fun. thats whats important.

    I buy Tide instead of stop and shop brand -its not as itchy:)
     

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