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Tubes for a Matchless Chieftain

jwilliams

Member
Messages
412
Picked up my first Matchless yesterday - a '96 Chieftain 1x12. Sounds glorious.

I'm curious what all tubes you guys have experience with in these amps. I've got SED Winged C's in there now. While I've got no complaints, I'm just wondering if there's something even better out there for these amps that I'm missing.

Thanks!
 
Messages
2,068
Congrats, I know you were trying to trade forever. I had a Chieftain and enjoyed it. Don't over think it if it sounds good, just play the heck out of it until it needs new tubes than maybe consider alternatives. Don't get sucked into the never ending quest of "can I make it a tiny bit better"
 

jwilliams

Member
Messages
412
Congrats, I know you were trying to trade forever. I had a Chieftain and enjoyed it. Don't over think it if it sounds good, just play the heck out of it until it needs new tubes than maybe consider alternatives. Don't get sucked into the never ending quest of "can I make it a tiny bit better"
Thanks for the input! Couldn't agree more about not getting sucked into the tone quest. I'm really just curious if there are some 34's out there that are must haves for the Chieftain.
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,354
SED's are tough and stand up to Matchless and Bad Cat punishment
for a very reasonable price.

If you have funds for backups, you might talk to Mike @ KCA about
some Siemens EL34's.
 

dsimms

Member
Messages
310
I've been using the SED "winged c" tubes in my Bad Cat (Hot Cat 30) and want to replace them with the same. What's a reasonable price on a pair these days?

I've had great luck with the Chinese Tung Sol 12AX7 preamp tubes.
 

clothwiring

Member
Messages
6,820
When I had my Chieftain from the same year (2x12 combo), after the power tubes and rectifier tube blew (over time), I just tossed JJs in those spots. I pulled the preamp tubes one time and they were a mis-mosh of tubes, I put them back where they were and never thought about them again.
 

teleking36

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,984
Winged Cs sound fantastic in the Chieftain. I just wore out my Winged C pair in mine after over a year of constant use (talking 200 hours easy) on stage. They actually still sounded good, but the tube bases and some of the internals started to rattle and I couldn't deal with it much longer. Chieftains are known to ruin EL34s so I'm in agreement that buying very expensive NOS EL34s is not a good idea for this amp.

I'm running a Mullard 12AX7 in V1 with great results.

The thing about Matchless amps - and the Chieftain in particular - is that they really don't need a lot of that extra TGP "fluff" to sound amazing. Just plug in and go. This amp can truly deliver in many different ways. Just as I type this it's making me apprehensive about the thought of selling mine (reasons unrelated to performance/tone). It's THAT good of an amp.
 

clothwiring

Member
Messages
6,820
Chieftains are known to ruin EL34s so I'm in agreement that buying very expensive NOS EL34s is not a good idea for this amp.
...they really don't need a lot of that extra TGP "fluff" to sound amazing. Just plug in and go. This amp can truly deliver in many different ways. Just as I type this it's making me apprehensive about the thought of selling mine (reasons unrelated to performance/tone). It's THAT good of an amp.
I agree with these sentiments as well. I used to do a country rock band. I had a Tele > Catlinbread SCP > Chieftain. The SCP was only for solos or a tad more dirt, it was off 90% of the time. The amp killed.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,217
SED's are tough and stand up to Matchless and Bad Cat punishment
for a very reasonable price.

If you have funds for backups, you might talk to Mike @ KCA about
some Siemens EL34's.
Yep, a lot of Bad Cat guys have appreciated the step up to Siemens EL34s.
 

jwilliams

Member
Messages
412
At the suggestion of Doug from Doug's Tubes, I'm thinking of trying a Tung-Sol 12AX7 in V1, Penta Labs 12AX7's in V2 thru V4 and a Sovtek LP in V5.

Anyone tried that combo (or something similar)?

He also suggested the Ruby BHT's for the power section. I found this strange as the general consensus seems to be that the SED's are considerably "better". Thoughts?
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,217
At the suggestion of Doug from Doug's Tubes, I'm thinking of trying a Tung-Sol 12AX7 in V1, Penta Labs 12AX7's in V2 thru V4 and a Sovtek LP in V5.

Anyone tried that combo (or something similar)?

He also suggested the Ruby BHT's for the power section. I found this strange as the general consensus seems to be that the SED's are considerably "better". Thoughts?
Those amps TORTURE the power tubes. If you're not going NOS, go with SED Winged C's.
 

Guinness Lad

Senior Member
Messages
15,853
At the suggestion of Doug from Doug's Tubes, I'm thinking of trying a Tung-Sol 12AX7 in V1, Penta Labs 12AX7's in V2 thru V4 and a Sovtek LP in V5.

Anyone tried that combo (or something similar)?

He also suggested the Ruby BHT's for the power section. I found this strange as the general consensus seems to be that the SED's are considerably "better". Thoughts?
Tungsol tubes are too bright for that amp. This is what I normally did -

V1 - Sovtek LPS
V2 - JJ or something else
V3 and V4 - reverb circuit, usually a general sovtek 12ax7wa, don't know why but it sounded good there.
V5 - phase inverter Sovtek LPS
 

ssyrjamaki

Member
Messages
51
JJs el34's in mine when I bought it. Still in there, runs fine, sounds great, no complaints...

Great sounding amp!
 

Doug's Tubes

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,656
We've had a '96 Chieftain for 8 years now.....what do we know. We used Ei EL34's for as long as we had them around, the Ruby BHT's handle high voltage nicely, and as long as you can get a set that idles properly with the Chieftains cathode bias you'll be fine.
 

jwilliams

Member
Messages
412
We've had a '96 Chieftain for 8 years now.....what do we know. We used Ei EL34's for as long as we had them around, the Ruby BHT's handle high voltage nicely, and as long as you can get a set that idles properly with the Chieftains cathode bias you'll be fine.
Well, my post definitely wasn't meant to be condescending. I was just trying to get a detailed opinion from some people who have experience with this amp/tube combination.
 

Void_pointer

Member
Messages
194
Congrats! I’ve had a chieftain for 3 years now. By far my favorite amp I’ve owned. For power tubes the stock JJs are cheap and a good choice for the amp IMO. I switched things up about 6 months ago and got some EHX EL34s. Much less headroom than the JJs which is good or bad depending on what you want. I’m enjoying them but will probably go back to the JJs next time.
 






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