NOS Preamp Tubes VS NOS Power Tubes...

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by jumpnblues, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. jumpnblues

    jumpnblues Member

    Jan 1, 2007
    ...Is it as advantageous to buy NOS preamp tubes as it is NOS power tubes? I'm a big believer in buying NOS power tubes not only because of their inherent superb tone but because of their longevity, which today's "boutique tubes" cannot match.
    However, most preamp tubes tend to last much longer than power tubes. With that in mind, is it as critical (from a longevity standpoint) to use NOS preamp tubes? I know they'll probably outlast the "boutique" preamp tubes but if the "boutique" tubes last several years of steady use, I'm not sure if it's advantageous to sink $70.-$150. into a single preamp tube? I ask this as I'm sitting here about to order some rather expensive NOS preamp tubes, but started wondering if it's any longer necessary to spend comparatively much higher amounts of money on NOS preamp tubes to obtain both great tone and longevity? What do you think?

  2. gldtp99

    gldtp99 Member

    Dec 23, 2005
    IMO more is gained, tonewise, if NOS pre tubes vs new prod pre tubes are used ----more so than NOS vs New prod power tubes in most cases, in most amps, etc.
    Having said that, my personal fav amps use Old Prod pre and output tubes.
    This is generalizing but real Mullard, Amperex, RCA, etc. preamp tubes when used in the preamp are "first-in-the-chain" and contribute a huge amount to the overall tone/feel of the amp, in most cases.
    But there are always exceptions: tonight i had a player over demo'ing amps and he played a Hiwatt DR504 clone (Heyboers, Mojo Dijons, Mullard xf3 EL34's, premium Old Prod pre tubes--- Real Mullard in V1---- amp holds it's own, at least, against real Hylight Hiwatt DR504's) and then he played a Fender 6G7-A clone (Normal channel only-- no Harmonic Vib--- circuit altered for increased Clean Headroom) i recently built (Bogen CHB50 iron, Mallory 150's and some NOS Ceramic Discs, and Sovtek 6L6WXT+, new Tung-Sol 12ax7 in V1 and an EH 12ax7 in the PI).
    Allowing for the different circuits and EL34 vs 6L6 the lo-budget 6G7-A clone wasn't all that far off in tone quality with these New Prod tubes vs the Hiwatt clone that cost 3X as much to build and is running a tube set that is worth much more $$$$---- but i did tweak the 6G7-A circuit for this particular tube set (and for a specific player)--- The New Prod Russian tubes sound very good in this application.
    You don't say what kind of amp you're buying $$$$$ pre tubes for or what kind of amp tone you prefer but in most cases Hi-Quality NOS pre tubes make a noticible, positive difference in many amps---- and i read that they're supposed to last longer but i've never seen any proof of that.....................gldtp99
  3. GearHeadFred

    GearHeadFred Member

    May 4, 2007
    San Diego, California
    Just my opinion based on only my experience.... and I know this is counter to what many people say.. but I cannot discern any difference between new JJ 6L6s and NOS 6L6s in my BFSR clone.. I can, however, hear slight variation in tone and feel in several of the other preamp positions, specifically V2 (first gain stage), V3 (reverb driver), and V6 (PI). I've spent my money on the preamp tubes (which may last my musical lifetime) and just get a new set of JJ output tubes every year or two.

    Your mileage, as always, may vary!
  4. Structo

    Structo Member

    Apr 10, 2007
    I'm kind of the same way.
    Maybe my old ears can't discern the difference anymore but I have tried quite a few different brands of new power tubes and hear a subtle difference usually how the bass sounds or a lack of or pronounced brightness.

    But in the preamp section I have tried a few NOS tubes, mind you they were cheaper ones like Sylvanias and RFT's and liked what they had to offer tone wise, but I'd hate
    to get on the NOS bandwagon and not be able to find that exact tube again to recapture the tone I liked.

    I had a pair of Sylvanias that I liked and had them in V1 and V2 on my D'Lite44 and the clean channel sounds very good, much like a bassman in it's tone.
    The OD channel was so so and I think that is because that spot likes a gainier tube.
    About a week ago I started getting some muted crackling in the OD channel so that Sylvania was giving up the ghost.
    I replaced it with a Chinese Ruby 12AX7 that I had bought earlier and it really opened up that channel. Nice overdrive and very quiet.

    Face it, one of these days in the not so distant future, there will not be anymore NOS tubes. Perhaps used old stock will be around but the new ones will get used up.

    I think right now it would be more important to find a new tube that satisfies you with tone, reliability and price, so that when it is time to retube you know what to get.
  5. sidneymg

    sidneymg Member

    Jul 13, 2008
    Excellent point Structo, I agree 100%.
  6. bunuel

    bunuel Member

    Dec 6, 2006
    lemony fresh
    I know from exp. that NOS pre amp tubes makea bigger difference than NOS power tubes, but that said, I can DEFINITELY hear the dif. in most of my amps with NOS tubes & they DEFINITELY last much longer.

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