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  1. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    So Im looking at various NOS 12AX7 pre amp tubes and it seems that all the prized stuff is made in countries other thasn the USA.Seems you can get RCA,GE, Sylvania 12ax7 tubes NOS NIB relatively cheaply. On the other hand NOS Telefunkens,Mullards ect seem to be WAY more expensive and sought after. Just wondering if there are any highly prized American 12AX7 NOS tubes?
     
  2. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    a few points

    1. why does this matter?
    2. blackplate RCA 6V6s and 6L6s are among the most, if not THE most prized tubes of their type for guitar amps.
    3. In my personal opinion, Sylvania and GE power tubes are okay, but nothing special as compared to other NOS tubes.
    4. There are plenty of prized American NOS tubes, but for certain types and applications the european tubes are (arguably) much better. Mullard (great britain) makes my favorite 12AX7 for fender amps, for example, and Telefunken (w. germany) made great tubes for hi fi audio.
    5. Sometimes it has to do with "history" of the amp design as far as what our ears want to hear. Lots of people like Mullards/british tubes in Marshalls as those were british amps that had those tubes to begin with, so the amp was designed and tested probably with them and "that" sound from the classic recordings is usually that particular tube. Same thing for the RCAs in Fender amps where they were OEM.
     
  3. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    !) Not sure why it really matters just curious.All the 12AX7's that were suggested to trywere from other countries(Tesla,RFT,Telefunken...)
    2) Im really thinking about pre amp tubes and unfortunately forgot to state that and edited my original post to reflect that.
    3) See # 2
    4) Again was thinking about pre amp tubes as you noted -Telefunken and Mullard
     
  4. jezzzz2003

    jezzzz2003 Member

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    I also agree.
    I know of someone who exclusively plays a Fender Blues Jnr and has bought NOS tubes off ebay and now swears his amp sounds heaps better.
    I dont believe him I just think he's trying to justify his spending efforts to somehow think it was all worth it.
    Tubes that originally came with the amp are usually the best tubes to stick to sound wise because thats what the amp was designed for.
    NOS is for old and new old amps.
    They may last longer in your blues junior but I would prefer to stick to current production because you never know if the tube you are buying is any good or has been used in the past. they're expensive too....
     
  5. joel

    joel Member

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    American 12ax7's that I like:

    RCA
    GE
    TungSol
     
  6. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I completely disagree with everything in this post... sorry.

    I've put old-stock tubes in my new Mesas and they sound better, period. Not even a small difference, a huge night-and-day difference. I've never come across one single amp of any age where I've compared any old-stock tube to any new-production one and thought the new tube sounded better... not one.

    It's completely irrelevant what the amp was 'designed around'. The only thing that matters is what sounds good to you - the amp designer may have different tastes. In any case, if you design an amp to sound good around bad tubes, why will it not simply sound better with good ones? IMO it's not so much that the old-stock tubes enhance the tone, as that the new-production ones strangle it... not quite the same thing. Old-stock tubes sound more detailed, transparent, fuller and richer to me than new, which sound slightly fuzzy, flat and indistinct. It's not an EQ thing (there are fairly wide differences in both), it's more to do with clarity.

    Old-stock tubes last many times longer than new production - so much so that it doesn't really matter if they've been used, as long as they test strong. Even a used old-stock tube will outperform and outlast a new-production one, starting from now, let alone from when it was new. FWIW, I don't buy NOS tubes, I buy used old-stock tubes. The failure rate is far smaller than with new tubes, they sound better and they're mostly cheaper.

    Old-stock tubes are not expensive in the long term, except for certain (IMO) over-hyped brands. Yes, Mullards and Telefunkens are good, but IMO they're not several times better than RCAs and RFTs for example. The big difference is between any of the old-stock types and the new-production. Most old-stock types are still actually cheaper than new-production if you factor in the life expectancy. Since they fail less and sound better as well, to me it's no contest.

    If your favorite tube type happens to be one of the more plentiful, non-hyped varieties, that's great! My favorite preamp tubes for my Mesas are GEs and RCAs, and for power tubes Sylvanias and GEs. I do like Mullard EL34s in Marshalls, but Siemens are very good too at a lot less money, and I like RFT preamps best in them, even over Mullards.

    But choose with your own ears, not what someone else tells you you should be using for whatever reason - whether it's someone on the internet, the guy that designed the amp (or the company which sells it, not necessarily the same thing), or someone trying to sell you hyped old tubes for more money than some unhyped brand which might have even been made in the same factory occasionally ;).


    Just my opinion.
     
  7. bryan k

    bryan k Member

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    i did the whole NOS taste test not to long ago. The RCA and NOS tung-sol are no way comparable to todays production tubes. I found that these 2 tubes wre very bright, upfront, edgy, and had a good amount of gain. other than that, alot of tubes sound the same.

    to me a NOS RFT ecc83 sounds identical to a JJ ecc83-S
    to me a JJ803 sounds like a NOS ecc83 (made in holland)
    the GE tube is just very general, balanced, and didnt seem to do much as far as adding any color or tone.

    but the NOS tung-sol........now thats a tube! it rips!
     
  8. slider313

    slider313 Silver Supporting Member

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    USA made 12ax7's come in many different "flavors". A GE 12ax7 long grey plate red logo sounds completly different than a Ge 12ax7wa short grey plate green logo and different from a GE 12ax7 short grey plate white logo. All in all they are great tubes if they are NOS and tested for microphonics and noise. Same with RCA's or any brand. there are different versions of this tube. All tubes are subject to defective properties at different gain levels.You just have to find some good ones.I happen to like the GE red logo long grey plate 12ax7. IMO nos 12ax7's sound so much better in vintage amps than ANY current production stuff and better in some newer production amps also especially the reissue style amps. Get yourself a few and compare.
     
  9. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    OK so now this thread has gone into old stock VS new production as well as imported old stock vs domestic old stock. Ive heard the claim that oldstock last much longer. If this is true -why?
     
  10. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    So I just picked these up. For 25$ a piece NOS NIB I figured I couldnt go too wrong.What do you make of them?Damn its a small picture aarrrggghhh!

    [​IMG]
     
  11. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Because they were made better, simple as that.

    Broadly speaking... the old European and US tubes were made to close tolerances and with rigorous inspection at every stage. They were tested to find the bad ones. The current production types are made much more crudely - look carefully at the inner structures of a lot of them and compare with old stock and you'll see the difference (some of the Chinese ones are really shocking). They're then tested to find the good ones. Certainly some of the badly-made tubes will pass the testing, but that isn't the same as a well-made tube. Yes, that is a generalization, but if you look at the tube structures it's not that much of one.

    Back when the old-stock tubes were made, one of the main customers for tubes was the military, and the factories had been producing high-quality tubes for them and other demanding applications for decades... audio was just a small fraction of the final usage. Quality was the original priority, then cost. The new factories are producing tubes only for guitar amps and a very small number of hi-fi buyers... much smaller market, and quality is much less critical.
     
  12. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    rockon1-- those are not the long plate versions. They will be a very nice, general tube, very transparent to my ear. Probably won't make you flip out but definitely much better than the new production tubes out there.

    OF COURSE all of this depends on the amp you are using... I'm using my 65 Deluxe as a reference since that's a pretty standard thing and it's what I know best.

    As far as your original question... yes when talking only about preamp tubes that changes everything.

    Lots of times the real high-end stuff just came from europe... it's sort of like asking "why do people pay so much for mercedes benz (telefunken) and rolls royce (mullard) compared to an old chevy? (G.E.)"

    More rigorous engineering went into these older tubes, especially (arguably) the european ones, and more care was put into their manufacture.

    Frankly, old stock tubes were just made better than they are now... with more attention to detail etc.
     
  13. Reeek

    Reeek Member

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    It's all about the tolerances in the mfg process and today's tubes simply don't have that part down yet whether they can't or don't want to. Today's inflation begats cost cutting measures too and profits prevail more than quality. At least that ratio has shiftwed to a degree from the good old days.

    Consistent tolerances make for more tubes that have the sound of that mfg. out of a given batch. Yes, tubes from the same batch and mfg will vary in what they yield in tone and output but my money is on the fact that more vintage tubes passed the test versus today's tubes in a given batch.

    Consistently tight tolerances makes for tubes that perform better and last longer. Even if you can't always "hear" the differences in the tolerances between yesterday's tube and today's tubes, the scope will bear it out.

    Personally, I believe I can hear the difference so nobody burst my bubble! :moon

    It's my money and my money goes on vintage tubes whenever it's feasible. In fact, I take used but tested good vintage tubes over unused new production without blinking an eye.

    :D
     
  14. slider313

    slider313 Silver Supporting Member

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  15. BozoTone

    BozoTone Member

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    Going back to original question, I think the "black plate" era of domestic tubes are killer...AX7's, EL84's as well as the 6's are some of the best ever produced anywhere at any time, and I am a huge fan of Blackburn Mullards and Heerlen Amperex's...my favorite EL84 is a black plate.....
    On the newer stuff, nothing touches the longivity, build quality and sonic nuances of old glass whether it be NOS or a good "pull".....
    BT
     
  16. twangbanger

    twangbanger Supporting Member

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    I like the rca blackplate 12AX7's for country and blues stuff. Have a couple of mullard 12AX7's really like one of them and the other one is dull. Came across some baldwin organ pulls that are marked baldwin but are a dead ringer for the rca blackplates and they sound the best! Just keep buying they and trying them till you come across a winner.
    Rob
     
  17. jezzzz2003

    jezzzz2003 Member

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    I value your opinion.
    After all thats what this page is all about.
    Different strokes for different folks.
    Thanks for your reply.
     
  18. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    I recently aquired a VHT Pitbull 30 that sounded fairly horrible in the overdrive channel with the stock JJ 12AX7's...I replaced just the V2 slot withan old RCA black plate, and this amp sounds as good as my Cornford Hellcat/ I could buy 5 VHT's for 1 Cornford!!!:BITCH :BITCH :BITCH
     
  19. pepeteus

    pepeteus Member

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    What comes to the quality and the quantities of tubes made in the "golden era" of tubes...Here's my opinion. I don't have any facts or statistics and I'm sure that nobody has at least here.

    The amount of tubes made in the past times was huge compared to the amount of tubes made today. And while the quality and constrution of the old tubes was certainly better than today's tubes there still were a lot of bad ones too. It would interesting to know the relative reject rate of the tubes that were manufactured in the past and compare that to today's numbers. Does anyone have any facts about this??

    Back then people bought tubes for their radios and televisions like they bought glow bulbs for their lamps. Not all tubes lasted like those that have survived to our days in radios and guitar amps. A tube was a commodity. There were a lot of bad ones back then too. I've had a few NOS tubes that have become microphonic in a very short time.

    I use both new and NOS (or UOS, Used Old Stock) tubes. Soundwise the new are not necessarily worse, just different. Of course there's some magic in NOS tubes and they certainly have some qualities in tone that the current production lacks. But a part of it must be psychology. That is just human. ;)
     
  20. EADGBE

    EADGBE Member

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    I like everything but Chinese tubes.
     

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