pre amp tubes,,,,

speedemon

Member
Messages
2,622
Yes,

new production tubes to my ears sound like 3 things; Soviet (middle of the road), Chinese (bright,trebly and gainy) and JJ (gainy and lots of mids, be careful of sludge). I tested a bunch, the rolled them through my amp, the ones rated " higher" seemed to provide more gain, a better clean and overall feel.

I think if you can get one low priced NOS 12ax7 for V1 you will like the difference. My favorite for brit sounds is the black plate RCA type. V2 and 3 will make more subtle changes. In my Splawn I have RCA black in V1,2, a Sovtek in 3, and a JJ in 4. I hate the JJ in V1, but it just gave my amp the tiniest vibe I liked in 4. Start out slowly and build up (in the end, it's a big bad head game!)!

IMO If you are pretty homed in on what you would like the amp subtleties to be, pre-tube swaps will be a good idea; otherwise, save your money for getting the power tubes changed when it is time.

Have fun and good luck!
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,686
Thanks for the info.....so really the tone changer is the v1spot.now i am thinking of changing all the tubes.lol...big mike what would be your choice?maybe the tube guy has thought also.i see there are a few different ,ge pre amps.could i just change the v1?i was checking out blue strats site.mmmmm

Look at the descriptions for the RFT and JAN GE 12aX7WA. RFT, less bright and earlier breakup.
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,123
I encourage you to check out this preamp tube characteristic matrix. In my opinion, it's quite accurate and can help you make a decision.

http://thetubestore.com/12ax7review.html#goodtube

That being said, IMO, the best bang for the buck is the Sovtek 12AX7-LP

I'm not so sure about that tubestore.com chart. Preferred Series? What the hell is that? Certainly that chart caters to "Preferred Series?" I understand it's a Ruby 12AX7AC5 HG+ at a higher price- PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Not one of the four major, "TGP ordained" tube providers I spoke with had anything good to say about the Sovtek 12AX7 LPS- even as a (V3) phase inverter only! I'm not sure what to believe but I'm more inclined to trust guitar players who aren't selling tubes. Not one within this particular group of four TGP ordained providers had anything positive to say about the new production Mullard 12AX7, in fact, they all swayed me away from it...but Germino is using it?
 
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t.hendrix

Member
Messages
1,900
OK,,,,,,,black plates /gray plates,,,,,,,short/long?,,,,Nos tubes might not that bad price wise.
 

Stratman76

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,123
After much, painstaking research, I think I know this-

1) It probably makes sense to invest more in V1 ("more" will never exceed $65)
2) Low microphonics makes sense for high gain players (but probably isn't always a bad thing)
3) Balanced triodes in V3 in a Marshall circuit is completely unnecessary and could even be a negative.
4) I probably won't be buying JJ's
5) Quality EL34 tubes can be had at $40-45 a matched pair.

And I think it's come the point where I'm just going to have to try a few.
 

sswanson

Member
Messages
33
The JJ tubes are warmer (ECC83's). I don't have any experience with the long-plate 803's. I think they sound good in Marshalls, matter of fact, that's what I have in mine right now.

I also like the Chinese 12ax7's, I use them quite a bit. Like quite a few people have mentioned, it wouldn't be a bad idea to pick up a few single tubes just to try in the first position (tung sol, Mullard reissue, etc.). You could use JJ's or Chinese for the other two, they won't make as much of a difference.

I wouldn't pay for the gold pins myself.
 
Messages
502
personally, I'm a big fan of using 5751s instead of 12ax7s whenever it matters. there are some tube slots that just need a 12ax7 and it doesn't matter if they're microphonic or just lifeless or whatever. but for the preamp tubes associated with your inputs for each channel and for the phaser inverter tube, at times, I prefer the 5751s. You can get them pretty reasonably here - http://thetubestore.com/sylvania5751.html

They tame the gain of the amp a bit, and allow you to feed more signal into it, giving you a more spongey, compressed, defined tone. It's pretty subtle, but it works. Unless you're just looking to be louder and brasher or if you play metal of any kind, where they wouldn't be a better choice.
 

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
... Spend a little bit of dough and try a sylvania or ge in V1
It's not a huge Nos expense but you'll get a lot of bang for the buck in that position.

Solid advice, based on my own experiences. I used Sylvanias extensively when I played Marshalls and when they could be purchased off the shelf-great sounding tubes. The GE is excellent in the Marshall circuits as well. Even a strong used "pull" would last for years.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,686
And I think it's come the point where I'm just going to have to try a few.

Absolutely correct. The only thing consistent about subjectivity is that there's no consensus on tone. Even when there's 99% agreement (which actually NEVER happens) there's no guarantee that you're not in the 1%.

Get a variety of preamp tubes trying them all in the most important (V1 or V2 depending on the amp and channel) socket and put the ones you like least in the less critical sockets or in another amp where you might prefer a different tube in V1.
 

jboyjams

Member
Messages
2,301
Look at the descriptions for the RFT and JAN GE 12aX7WA. RFT, less bright and earlier breakup.
I ordered a NOS RFT 12ax7 and looking forward to trying it out - I'm not expecting a miracle, but hoping it could help tame the volume somewhat on the Super 100JH or 1987x.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,686
I ordered a NOS RFT 12ax7 and looking forward to trying it out - I'm not expecting a miracle, but hoping it could help tame the volume somewhat on the Super 100JH or 1987x.


Thanks. It should lower the volume where the amp starts breaking up, slightly.
 

Silent Sound

Member
Messages
6,232
I like the Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH for higher gain amps like Marshall's. It's the only new production tube I like, but it's still not as nice as one of the old tubes. I've got a bunch of JJ ECC803s' lying around that I don't use; just keep them for backup. Actually, they might sound good in my Bugera V-22, but that's at my practice space, and its just a practice amp, so I'm not too concerned about its tone. The JJ's aren't bad, but they aren't great either. Some people like the Chinese tubes in high gain amps, but not me. Stay away from "gold pins" as they're not really any different, other than cost. Also stay away from Ruby, Groove Tubes, or other rebranded tubes. Why pay more because someone else put their name on it? Doesn't make sense to me. I've got some Ruby's that came with a preamp and a Groove Tube that I don't know how I got, and I've tried them in all kinds of circuits for years and never once found a suitable application for them.

But I agree with using getting an old tube for V1, or any tube that's in the gain stage of the circuit. GE, Sylvania, and JAN Philips can be great values, and there's no reason to spend on NOS, when a good tested pulled tube can work wonders and still be had at a reasonable cost. However beware, I've bought a couple of pulled tubes that were microphonic, so get them from a reputable dealer with a good return policy. As for the other tubes in the circuit, a nice new production tube should work fine. For phase inverters, reverb drivers, tremolo drivers, whatever, older tubes still sound best, but the difference isn't anywhere near as noticeable. Just make sure the tube isn't microphonic or noisy.

Power tubes, however, I would strongly recommend NOS or a good tested pulled set. They just tend to last so much longer and sound so much better than new production. They're actually cheaper in the long run!
 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,511
Actually Ruby is good. They stringently test the stuff that comes in from China and rematch it. They're going to weed out the failure rates and mismatches you might get going from a normal retailer.

But to each their own, that's why I use the suppliers I do...never had a mismatch or tube issue since.
 

Lost_Cause

Member
Messages
2,025
Vintage Guitar Mag did a great 12AX7 shootout using a class 5 amp which only has 1 preamp tube so that the differences could be more easily discerned. They did it blind also so that subjectivity would not be an issue. I will see if I can find it and scan it and post it.

Here is a shootout with a plexi on Plexi Palace that might help the OP some: http://www.vintageamps.com/plexiboard/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=74829&start=0
 
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madryan

Member
Messages
573
Vintage Guitar Mag did a great 12AX7 shootout using a class 5 amp which only has 1 preamp tube so that the differences could be more easily discerned. They did it blind also so that subjectivity would not be an issue.

Here is a shootout with a plexi on Plexi Palace that might help the OP some: http://www.vintageamps.com/plexiboard/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=74829&start=0

That's still only helpful if you have that particular circuit or even that particular amp.

Tubes respond differently in different amps. Plus tubes are all different from tube to tube within brands and models.

The only way to shop for tubes is to buy a bunch and try them yourself.
 

Lost_Cause

Member
Messages
2,025
The shootout was not 100% definitive and they say that plus personal taste differs obviously. It is just like asking a group of different people what they like. I like pizza with or music with.... At least this give a broad spectrum of tubes and what they (amp pros) think of each tube IN THAT AMP and in general.
 

Lost_Cause

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2,025
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jcs

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Messages
8,093
How you mix & match tubes in any push/pull circuit will vary more than running one 12ax7 in a single ended amp.

Keep in mind how some preamp tubes respond to effects pedals are part of the equation as well....its just something you need to try yourself to understand fully.
 




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