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Retubing My Marshall - What NOS Tubes Work For You

Yoda

Member
Messages
234
I’m using Svetlana EL34s and Sylvania 12AX7s and sometimes JJ long plate ECC803S (the only JJ tube that sounds good).

Maybe it’s easier for the 50 watt people but my Marshall is 100 watts so it’s a very expensive proposition to find a matched quad of NOS or ANOS EL34s. So Svetlanas seem to be one of the best current production tubes and I’m happy with the way they sound. And of course the Sylvanias are my all-time favorite NOS brand so I have thier 12AX7s in most of my amps including said Marshall.
 
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big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,616
Hey Mike, you got any KT88 powered beasts? What do you favor (as in KT88)?
Not at the moment but I’ve used them.
Tungsol by new sensor were good
Winged C better but bad as nos now.
 

sickboy79

Member
Messages
13,412
RFT/Siemens EL34s are hands down my favorite EL34 of all time and sound amazing in Marshalls. For 12AX7 alternatives to Brimar and Mullards, I really like GE and Sylvania in Marshalls. Tungsram is another great option, as are Mazda.
 

bluesbreaker59

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,739
Ok. While I don't use a ton of gain, I've always found that NOS tubes outlast current by at least 2:1. Tone is an individualistic thing.
You know I used to think that too. But experience from playing live has dictated otherwise for power tubes for me.

Example: Victoria Bassman, bought a nice set of GE 6L6GC, had the amp biased up by a professional and used it, within 6 months and a total of maybe 15 gigs that year (2-3 hours each) generally turned up to 7, the tubes were shot. They got that mushy, flabby bass, weak response, early distortion. I’ve had many nice NOS 6v6’s go bad from use in my Louis Electric Columbia (Princeton Reverb).

I’ve never owned Mullard power tubes of any kind. I have had wonderful luck with Tung Sol 5881’s and RCA 6V6 VT107’s. I’ve never burned up a single one. GE 6V6’s sound great but have been hit and miss for me regarding longevity.

I truly feel most of the great NOS tubes dried up and currently we’re just sifting through the ashes.
 

Yoda

Member
Messages
234
Yeah it really sucks not having a tube tester because I pick up many tubes from surplus stores and there’s no telling what shape they’re really in other than cosmetically.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,663
You know I used to think that too. But experience from playing live has dictated otherwise for power tubes for me.

Example: Victoria Bassman, bought a nice set of GE 6L6GC, had the amp biased up by a professional and used it, within 6 months and a total of maybe 15 gigs that year (2-3 hours each) generally turned up to 7, the tubes were shot. They got that mushy, flabby bass, weak response, early distortion. I’ve had many nice NOS 6v6’s go bad from use in my Louis Electric Columbia (Princeton Reverb).

I’ve never owned Mullard power tubes of any kind. I have had wonderful luck with Tung Sol 5881’s and RCA 6V6 VT107’s. I’ve never burned up a single one. GE 6V6’s sound great but have been hit and miss for me regarding longevity.

I truly feel most of the great NOS tubes dried up and currently we’re just sifting through the ashes.
I'm beginning to go down that road myself, if for no other reason than the scarcity of NOS tubes. NOS - TRUE NOS - has tripled in cost recently and my tech, for one, tells me a lot of what he's buying ends up being junk. My tech does warranty repairs for over 30 brands so he sees a lot of tubes. As of yesterday he told me to stay away from JJ, Sino and Ruby as they are all prone to premature failure. Most techs are advising their clients to keep the NOS stuff for recording and use modern production for gigs and to anticipate changing tubes often. A sad reflection of the times.
 

JB6464

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,399
HI !

Aside from Mullard & Brimar - obvious choices - what are you rolling these days ? Any NOS U.S. tubes get " the tone ". I'm looking for '60's & '70's tone - no metal. Need EL 34's & 12ax7 ideas. THX!
NOS = Sylvania Fat Bottle 6CA7's
Newer Production = EH Fat Bottle 6CA7's
Both are great for that 60's & 70's rock tone .

Note : These are the true Fat Bottle 6CA7's which are totally interchangeable with the regular skinny EL34/6CA7 tubes most tube companies push out now days .
 

Weathered

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,664
I've found that I really like to mix something a bit brighter with an RFT to balance things out - in my 2204, I'm running a Tungsram CV4004 in V1, RFT in V2, and a slightly microphonic Ei in V3. My Plexi is running an i63 Mullard in V1, RFT in V2, and a Sovtek 12AX7 LPS in V3.

I also really like the long plate GEs, and they're quite a bit cheaper than lots of other NOS options. I've also got a couple of long plate RCAs (one grey, one black) that sound great, but I got lucky in getting both of them as part of a ANOS lot purchase where I paid less for the entire lot than I likely would have for just those two tubes.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
8,622
I've found that I really like to mix something a bit brighter with an RFT to balance things out - in my 2204, I'm running a Tungsram CV4004 in V1, RFT in V2, and a slightly microphonic Ei in V3. My Plexi is running an i63 Mullard in V1, RFT in V2, and a Sovtek 12AX7 LPS in V3.

I also really like the long plate GEs, and they're quite a bit cheaper than lots of other NOS options. I've also got a couple of long plate RCAs (one grey, one black) that sound great, but I got lucky in getting both of them as part of a ANOS lot purchase where I paid less for the entire lot than I likely would have for just those two tubes.
that's the spirit ! :aok
ask the amp what it would buy ... :D

no, seriously, it's a lot like cooking.
fine tuning may be lost on the audience, but it keeps the player happy.
and we are the poor souls who pay for all that crap anyway ... :dunno

lol,
Rhino
 

HeavyCream

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,921
Love these threads. Haha :D

V1- Tungsram, any long plate MC* Philip$, LBP Raytheon, LBP Sylvania, LGP GE circle vents

V2- any i6* Philips, Matsushita 45*, LBP or SGP Sylvania, LGP or LBP RCA, RFT

V3- LGP Tung-Sol, Valvo MC*, smooth plate Tele or Ei (Tele clone) for cleaner PI

I don’t have any NOS KT66’s or EL34’s so only preamp for me.

Obviously V1 has the most impact on tone, but the PI is the most picky imo. I’ve found I like tubes that breakup later and have smooth but complex breakup in my JTM45 PI.

RFT’s always come up in Marshall/tube threads. Imho, it’s kinda silly to put an RFT in V1 of a 4-hole Marshall. Because of the parallel input topology, V1 isn’t breaking up unless boosted, and RFT’s are kinda dark with less than average (for NOS) clarity. If you ever wanted to try something that breaks up very quick like RFT, but without being dark and with better clarity, look for a short plate Sylvania. It’s a different flavor than RFT though. Has some bark in the mids.

To me, there are so many great sounding old production tubes. Lots of them sound great in V1, but each one gives you a different “flavor”. The typical characteristics tube guys look for in a V1 tube are; low noise, high gain (not to be confused with distortion), and good clarity. After that it’s all about finding the tone/character you like with your specific rig. Of all the old glass I have, the only 12AX7’s I don’t care for in V1 of my JTM45 are RCA 12AX7A and Brimar ECC83 (not CV/mil type). Heerlen i6*’s are a little thin sounding in V1 imho, but still good. Love em in V2 though. There are a bunch of different GE’s. The short plates are just sort of underwhelming and some of the LGP types are too dark.
 
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gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,663
Love these threads. Haha :D

V1- Tungsram, any long plate MC* Philip$, LBP Raytheon, LBP Sylvania, LGP GE circle vents

V2- any i6* Philips, Matsushita 45*, LBP or SGP Sylvania, LGP or LBP RCA, RFT

V3- LGP Tung-Sol, Valvo MC*, smooth plate Tele or Ei (Tele clone) for cleaner PI

I don’t have any NOS KT66’s or EL34’s so only preamp for me.

Obviously V1 has the most impact on tone, but the PI is the most picky imo. I’ve found I like tubes that breakup later and have smooth but complex breakup in my JTM45 PI.

RFT’s always come up in Marshall/tube threads. Imho, it’s kinda silly to put an RFT in V1 of a 4-hole Marshall. Because of the parallel input topology, V1 isn’t breaking up unless boosted, and RFT’s are kinda dark with less than average (for NOS) clarity. If you ever wanted to try something that breaks up very quick like RFT, but without being dark and with better clarity, look for a short plate Sylvania. It’s a different flavor than RFT though. Has some bark in the mids.

To me, there are so many great sounding old production tubes. Lots of them sound great in V1, but each one gives you a different “flavor”. The typical characteristics tube guys look for in a V1 tube are; low noise, high gain (not to be confused with distortion), and good clarity. After that it’s all about finding the tone/character you like with your specific rig. Of all the old glass I have, the only 12AX7’s I don’t care for in V1 of my JTM45 are RCA 12AX7A and Brimar ECC83 (not CV/mil type). Heerlen i6*’s are a little thin sounding in V1 imho, but still good. Love em in V2 though. There are a bunch of different GE’s. The short plates are just sort of underwhelming and some of the LGP types are too dark.
Thanks for your input - gives me another way to look at my options, especially about an RFT in V1 which some seem to taut.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,663
You know I used to think that too. But experience from playing live has dictated otherwise for power tubes for me.

Example: Victoria Bassman, bought a nice set of GE 6L6GC, had the amp biased up by a professional and used it, within 6 months and a total of maybe 15 gigs that year (2-3 hours each) generally turned up to 7, the tubes were shot. They got that mushy, flabby bass, weak response, early distortion. I’ve had many nice NOS 6v6’s go bad from use in my Louis Electric Columbia (Princeton Reverb).

I’ve never owned Mullard power tubes of any kind. I have had wonderful luck with Tung Sol 5881’s and RCA 6V6 VT107’s. I’ve never burned up a single one. GE 6V6’s sound great but have been hit and miss for me regarding longevity.

I truly feel most of the great NOS tubes dried up and currently we’re just sifting through the ashes.
Thanks for this.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,663
I've found that I really like to mix something a bit brighter with an RFT to balance things out - in my 2204, I'm running a Tungsram CV4004 in V1, RFT in V2, and a slightly microphonic Ei in V3. My Plexi is running an i63 Mullard in V1, RFT in V2, and a Sovtek 12AX7 LPS in V3.

I also really like the long plate GEs, and they're quite a bit cheaper than lots of other NOS options. I've also got a couple of long plate RCAs (one grey, one black) that sound great, but I got lucky in getting both of them as part of a ANOS lot purchase where I paid less for the entire lot than I likely would have for just those two tubes.
Do RFT's really work best in V2 ?
 

Weathered

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,664
Do RFT's really work best in V2 ?
It ultimately depends a bit on the type of circuit. In a stock 4-hole Marshall, V1 isn't going to distort much at all so I tend to prefer more clarity there, and use the RFT to get some grind from the cathode follower. In a 2203/2204, the second gain stage is getting hit pretty hard so an RFT may work well in V1.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,663
It ultimately depends a bit on the type of circuit. In a stock 4-hole Marshall, V1 isn't going to distort much at all so I tend to prefer more clarity there, and use the RFT to get some grind from the cathode follower. In a 2203/2204, the second gain stage is getting hit pretty hard so an RFT may work well in V1.
I agree - the circuit is key. THX!
 






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