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To what degree do preamp tubes truly wear out?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Whoopysnorp, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. Whoopysnorp

    Whoopysnorp Member

    Sep 23, 2005
    Sometimes it's obvious when a preamp tube goes bad (it becomes noisy, microphonic, etc). It's not as obvious to me when (or if) a preamp tube has simply lost its tone without having any other specific problems develop. I say 'if' because I was reading the manual for the Mesa Studio .22 I just got, and the manual recommends never replacing the preamp tubes unless a specific problem develops or the user wants to experiment with the sound. Now, this is an old manual--it's the old typewritten style, and the amp design dates from 1985, so some realities as far as tubes go are bound to have changed since then. However, I've only ever noticed the tiniest of changes when replacing one set of current-production preamp tubes of unknown age in an amp with another new set of current-production tubes. Am I wasting money by doing this as a matter of course? I just ordered a retube for my Studio .22, and I'd feel pretty silly if I dropped a bunch of cash on preamp tubes when only the power tube change is going to have a large effect. Plus, I have a whole bag full of various 12AX7s pulled from various amps, and I'd like to know if it's just as well to use them.
  2. Echoes

    Echoes Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    they never wear out...the ol' 'replace them' myth is a communist plot to sell more tubes made in the eastern block.
  3. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Pembroke pines-Santiago-Greenville
    or a capitalistic plot to do the same
  4. Andre357

    Andre357 Member

    Jan 10, 2007

    I've had amp builders tell me that you should never have to change preamp tubes unless one goes bad, or you want a different sound ( some preamp tubes will give you more or less gain for instance )

    If you like the sound of your amp, your good ( power amp tubes are a different story, they wear )....
  5. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    Sterling, VA (not far from Washington DC)
    They wear out so gradually you generally don't notice. You don't want to have to pack up in the middle of a gig if a preamp tube dies, right?

    Have backups. Swap them in periodically and see if you notice a difference. If so, you know what to do.

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