New Production Tubes - What's the lifespan?

aT19er

Member
Messages
344
About a year and a half ago, when I first got my amp, I got it tubed up with new production stuff and have been hitting it hard ever since. Lately, though, it sounds like there's a blanket over my amp and it just doesn't sound right.

My first thought was to plug straight in to see if I needed a buffer to help, but no luck, same muffled mud tone. Even with a little bit of a boost in front my amp sounds muffled and flat.

I'm thinking it's time to change the tubes since I've heard new production tubes don't last nearly as long as NOS tubes. Leaning towards an anos mullard for V1 and having the rest as new production stuff, just don't know what to think of my tubes right now.

What should I look for when tubes lose their magic?
 

Rick360

Member
Messages
846
Howdy,

I'm a bit unclear here; are you asking about output tubes, preamp tubes or both? My cathode biased Dr.Z Carmen Ghia goes through EL84 output tubes faster than any of my old Fenders, fwiw. Generally speaking, good NOS preamp tubes should last for decades*.
My gigging days are over and I don't play that much anymore, so my Ghia goes through a matched pair of cheap Sovtek EL84s in about a year or so.

Good luck!

* Now in a Mesa Boogie type amp which is hard on it's preamps tubes, all bets are off.
 

dividedsky

Member
Messages
4,265
I've seen them last 10 years + or fail in a week, or less actually. A lot of them have issues from the start. But anyway, I don't know what to listen for really...I've only changed tubes if I didn't like the sound or if they crackle/hiss/squeal...but I've never really noticed a difference in sound from a tube after a long period of use. Tubes are not that cost prohibitive really and even NOS tubes aren't a bad deal as you can easily sell them if you don't like the sound and if you do they should last a long time.
 

mattmccloskey

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,714
Preamp tubes should be fine for many years, unless they simply go microphonic or get knocked and crap out.

Power tubes can definitely go south after a year and a half of heavy use, but usually you'll hear something really obvious- like crackling sounds, no headroom, etc.

I would first try checking the bias, then perhaps output tubes. Maybe even make sure the jacks are clean with some de-oxit.

I wouldn't rush to replacing all tubes, it's probably something more specific.
 

modernp

Member
Messages
2,043
I play all the time and my rule of thumb is power tubes every year preamp every two.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,183
What amp and tubes? Power tubes don't last as long, on average, as preamp tubes due to the heat they must endure. EL84 amps are notorious for wearing out their power tubes in 200 playing hours or less. 500 hours is more typical for other types of preamp tubes.

In the end, ANYTHING can fail or wear out at any time. This is the reason for having known good spares on hand always. Even couple of months swap them in and if the amp sounds better you know it's time to replace, at least some of, the tubes.
 

aT19er

Member
Messages
344
Rick, I'm looking at both my preamp tubes and my power tubes.

Mike, my amp is a Mesa Boogie SOB. I've asked before what tubes I should get for it and saw that you carry the power tubes that came stock with my amp, so I'm considering those for the power section. Would you recall what preamp tubes may have came stock with the amp as well?
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,183
Rick, I'm looking at both my preamp tubes and my power tubes.

Mike, my amp is a Mesa Boogie SOB. I've asked before what tubes I should get for it and saw that you carry the power tubes that came stock with my amp, so I'm considering those for the power section. Would you recall what preamp tubes may have came stock with the amp as well?
No idea. Mesa changes what tubes they use based on price and availability.

Often, they use their version of the Ruby HG+ tubes which would definitely be suitable.
 

aT19er

Member
Messages
344
I currently have new production Tung Sol's in place, what are the Ruby HG+ like in comparison?
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,183
I currently have new production Tung Sol's in place, what are the Ruby HG+ like in comparison?
I honestly haven't compared them, but they're well liked and popular.

I had to discontinue Tung Sol (reissue) 12aX7s for a very high failure rate. Manufacturers response was to ignore reality and not sell me any more:D

Makes me wonder if any of the other dealers are testing them.
 

bluesmann8

Senior Member
Messages
522
6L6GC Sylvania made
New Old Stock original box. These 1960s tubes will sound great in your Fender amp or home hi-fi! Sylvania labels along with some made for RCA, some OEM labels, some unlabeled. These have been amp tested in addition to testing for plate current and Gm. Probably the best price/performance tube of any NOS 6L6 tube you will find anywhere!MATCHED PAIRS JUST $99.00!
 

aT19er

Member
Messages
344
Great to hear the manufacturer is working on improving their product :D

But maybe it's just time for a tune-up.

Bluesmann, where's this sale at?
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,183
ABsolutely no hard and fast rule about tube life. It can be anywhere from a few days to a few years. That's pretty much the end of the story, honestly.
Averages, as stated, are somewhat useful. About 90% of the tested ones tend to last the average amount of hours. The other 10% could go longer or shorter.
 




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