NOS EL84s in dimed amp -- worth it?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by bscepter, Jan 8, 2006.


  1. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    From what I understand, Vox-type amps run their power tubes hotter than other amps and have a much shorter life.

    My question is, is it worth it to run NOS EL84s in a Vox AC30-type amp that is cranked all the time. I was looking at the Polam/Telam EL84s that Tube Tramp sells for about $100 a quad. Now I know that's pocket change compared with Telefunkens, Mullards, Brimars, etc., but it's still twice or more what a quad of EIs or JJs will run.

    Do you guys think the change in tone is worth the money? And how often would one typically have to change power tubes in an amp running this hot, assuming weekly 2-hour practices and twice-monthly gigs?

    Thanks in advance for your sage advice...
     
  2. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

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    NOS tubes last a lot longer than some current production tubes. That being said, I ran JJ EL84's in my Reinhardt Titan for a long time. I usually played the Titan absolutely floored, with no Ill affects. I didn't replace the tubes, at all for a long time, and I didn't hear any signs of aging after 6 months or so.

    Another Forumite here "Waylon" has a Reinhardt 18 watt combo with NOS EL84 tubes that have never been changed to my knowledge. He plays the fool out of that amp too.:JAM
     
  3. pirateflynn

    pirateflynn Supporting Member

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    I do it.

    Philips in my Alessandro English, GEs in my Matchless Hot Rod HC 30 and Mullards in my Blockhead Firstborn.

    They simply sound better.
     
  4. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    At the moment, I've got a set of JJs in there and a set of EI Elite Golds as spares. I really like the sound of both, but prefer the JJs so far.

    However, as I've never heard NOS EL84s in my amp, I can't make a comparison. I'm just wondering if it's worth the money to take that chance.

    So -- say I bought a quartet of NOS Mullards. How long do you guys think they would last running with the amp running full up? A year? Six months?
     
  5. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Terry "Tube Tramp" told me that certain amps - like Voxes - run especially hot, and can sometimes tax NOS tubes more than usual because of the way the amps run. Especially EL84s. I would consult him about that issue to see which EL84 tubes he recommends for your Vox.
     
  6. BozoTone

    BozoTone Member

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    I think NOS are well worth it...again, much longer life and in my circuit, sound MUCH better than JJ's...the best sounding EL84 I have heard are GE's...mine were made in 1966 and I am not sure how many hours were on them when I put them in, and have run them pretty much dimed for the past year (this is with 320v on the plates)...I prefer them over the Mullard EL84s...I am switching to Polams myself...you may also want to consider a good rectifier tube if your amp has one...I am either going to get a Bell, or Mullard...if you decide against the cost of NOS, try some EH EL84's...much better than the JJ's and more robust.....
     
  7. Sharkey

    Sharkey Member

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    Bsceptor,
    Great question here as I was considering some experimentation with NOS
    tube for my Invader:AOK Does the Tube Tramp have a Website?
     
  8. BozoTone

    BozoTone Member

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    Terry (Tube Tramp) is at Tubetramp.com ...........
     
  9. Unburst

    Unburst Member

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    In a Vox it doesn't matter to the tubes how hard you run the amp, because it's "class A" (I know faux A) the tubes are passing as much current when idling as they do when cranked.
     
  10. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    Interesting -- I didn't know that. That's why I hang out on this board!
     
  11. Shea

    Shea Member

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    IMHO, no. I think JJ's sound great. I tried out a pair of old Telefunkens in an amp in which I had been running JJs, and I honestly did not hear any difference. Before I started using JJs, I used the much-maligned Sovtek EL84, and thought that sounded pretty good too. Lest anyone think I'm nuts, the amp that I put those Sovteks in got a really good response at the Clearwater ToneFest in 2001 or 2002. After that, I did my own comparison between Sovteks, EIs, EHs, and JJs, and settled on the JJs.

    NOS will probably last longer, but new production tubes are so much cheaper that you can change them twice a year and would probably still come out ahead financially.

    Of course, bscepter's own ears are going to have to be the final judge. This is just my .02.

    Shea
     
  12. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    I tried Amperex Bugle Boy EL84s, NOS Russian's, and Telams, and they were all significantly better than JJs in my Kingsley Deluxe 32 - an obvious difference in tonal quality. I like the Telams best. I'll never use current production tubes again in this amp. The NOS tubes are dramatically better.
     
  13. mmorse

    mmorse Member

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    I bought 10 Polams off the bay in anticipation of receiving a plexi clone I ordered. The amp came with JJ's. I played the amp with the JJ's and then switched to the Polams. All I can say is the Polams made a HUGE difference in the sound of the amp. It's Polams all the way for my clone.
     
  14. adelphi710

    adelphi710 Member

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    i have a set of telam polams for my hayseed, just waiting to go in. i'm trying to squeeze more midrange out of the amp (especially consider my celestion blues have less than 2 hours of playing time on them). do you guys have any good recommendations for rectifier tubes and 12ax7s? oh, i also need a good NOS EF86. thanks!
    alex
     
  15. bscepter

    bscepter Member

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    I found an NOS/NIB Telefunken EF86 on eBay for $25. It sounds really good. I've seen Mullards for a little more than that. And for 12AX7s, I'm actually using the New Sensor Tung Sol reissues, after trying out some NOS stuff (RCA and GE). I also have a Weber Copper Cap rectifier in there (a WZ34, I think), which mimics a tube rec without the reliability issues.
     
  16. Macaroni

    Macaroni Member

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    Mullard GZ34/5AR4, and you must try a NOS Tesla E83CC (or 2 or 3) for a 12AX7. KCA NOS Tubes has them for a good price - $38 each. A stunning tube by any measure.
     
  17. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Glad you like the NOS Teslas. In a dimed amp, they're WAY more articulate than JJs which seem to mush out rather quickly.

    Are they worth it? How much is tone worth to you?:dude
     
  18. Bloozcat

    Bloozcat Member

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    In reality, tubes like the Polam/Telam and Tesla/Roznov (non-JJ) aren't in the same price category as the well known older American and European NOS tubes. Yet these tubes represent an opportunity to get the tone and reliability of the expensive NOS's...but they won't be around long. I picked up two matched quads of the Polam/Telam's when they became available, because I've done enough should-have, could-have kicking myself in the rear over the years as I watched deals go by. NOS isn't forever. Grab what you can while you can. Down the road you'll only remember the tone and not the price, 'cause by that time what you paid will seem like a deal.

    Already the Polam/Telam's are becoming harder to find. I haven't seen any of the Russian Military 7189's lately (which was a bargain at $50.00 a quad) that I bought either.
     
  19. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Member

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    Harder to find as in long gone, none left. I have 5 quads and would be buying more if I could find them. Tube Tramp is out as is KCA is as well I believe. Other than the occasional few that pop up on ebay the supply seems to have dried out.

    Your point is well taken. There isn't a steady supply of these things, especially for a sleeper like the Polams. My guess is that if any more surface they won't be $100/ quad.
     
  20. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    The problem is, the answer, as usual, is "It depends."

    It depends on your specific amp and the specific tubes you're considering. There are no generic NOS tubes. There are a variety of brands and there mos def varieties of "NOS". And of course...it depends on the cost of the tubes.

    In my experience all these things matter. Back when I had some Matchless and Bad Cat amps...boy, the Matchless seemed to really sound better with some of the old stock EL84s (I prefered a set of GEs that I got from KCA)...but the very same tubes seemed noisy in my Bad Cat. I eventually sold my Bad Cat, Jorgenson and SC-30 and got an Aiken Tomcat. The GEs sound absolutely NO BETTER than some Teslas. I would never have paid the premium for the GEs if I was only using them in the Tomcat.

    And really, most of the difference that I've noted with NOS tubes are all on the "minor" side. There are no "night and day" differences IMO. Sometimes there's a bit more chime or a bit different breakup or whatever, but it's rarely, IMO, like "a whole different amp". I think a lot of us convince ourselves that that is the case because we'd look pretty foolish if we just spent beaucoup bux on something that just didin't matter that much.

    So, unfortunately, I think you need to just try things for yourself...and unfortunately, that probably means a bit of an investment...
     

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