Tubes for Budda SuperDrive 30 II

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Shmerls, May 28, 2003.

  1. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    I've read a number of threads at PRS on "HELP What tubes for my amp!" but don't know enough to extrapolate as to what might be good/best for my application. Can I ask you all, yet again, which might be great for me to try?

    My Budda SD 30 II came new with:

    One (1) - 5U4 Rectifier - no manufacturer marking anywhere. On the top semi-translucent plate inside the tube, I can see written in pencil: 8772

    Three (3) - JJ ECC 83S

    Four (4) - EL84 - no name, but with "Made in Russia"

    Budda tells me Sovtek.

    The first EL84 on the right is microphonic and should be replaced. I've only had the amp 6 months, so the amp hasn't gotten a lot of use. I haven't been playing it a lot, just a couple times rehearsals a week.

    Thanks,
    Steven
     
  2. gitarzilla

    gitarzilla Member

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    I'd recommend getting a new quad of matched JJs, tossing the one bad Sovtek EL84 and keep the rest for spares as long as they are not noisy. THen see if the amp sounds better. The rectifier is probably OK (unless it's Chinese, in which case it's worth the $10 to replace it with a Sovtek), and I wouldn't bother with the preamp tubes either unless there's a noisy one or the amp still doesn't sound good after changing out the EL84s or if you want to experiment with tailoring the sound of the amp via trying different preamp tubes. The EL84 tubes in those kinds of amps get run pretty hard, and current production EL84s are not particularly long-lived, so it's a good idea to keep some spares around.
     
  3. BUDDADRIVE

    BUDDADRIVE Guest

    I use JJ's in my PTP SD30 as well. I get them from Bob at Eurotubes.com (best prices I have found so far) and I get a hardness rating of around 38 because I like a tight bottom end (hey who doesn't :). It was night and day when I pulled the stock Sovteks out and put JJ's in.

    That amp is cathode biased to run very hot. Keep spare tubes with you. A fan won't hurt either.

    I also got an RCA NOS rectifier from Bob to tighten up the bass (small bottle). Worked great. Nothing wrong with the massive Sovtek one though as it has a nice bottom end sag if that's your game. If yours is Chinese, replace now.

    I love Scott and Jeff at Budda, but I bought an SD80 with Chinese 5881's that had just been put in at the factory during servicing. I slapped JJ's in there and the amp came alive.

    Peace
     
  4. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    Thanks guys, great info.

    1) On a rectifier with no markings is it possible to tell if it's Chinese? I can post a picture if that helps.

    2) Buddadrive, I'm hearing from you a new parameter that I didn't even know existed: "hardness rating"

    Also, as I understand it, the SD II's, which is what I have, have a tighter bottom than the PTPs. I've actually heard that a lot and my bottom end is fine, so to speak :)

    So, I'm assuming that a hardness rating of 38 for you, might be bad for me. Do you have thoughts on this perhaps including a rating suggestion?

    Many thanks.
     
  5. BUDDADRIVE

    BUDDADRIVE Guest

    >>"On a rectifier with no markings is it possible to tell if it's Chinese? I can post a picture if that helps."

    well, probably a pic would help some of the guru's on the board tell. Try checking the glass again, I have found faint markings on the glass of tubes that I thought didn't have anything on them.

    >>"...hardness rating"

    tubes are not all exactly the same. If you buy a "matched" set then certain things meet specified ratings. One of those is how early the tube will break up. A harder tube will not distort as eary. Groove Tubes and others to a 1 to 10 system, Eurotubes actually measures something and uses that. It's more exact.

    >>"the SD II's, which is what I have, have a tighter bottom than the PTPs"

    Haven't heard that, but they may have changed the design slightly when they geared for PCB. If you call Bob, he'll give you lots of good advice.

    I'm sure you would not set your amp up the same as mine. I am a low end freak, most of my other amps have KT-88's for their headroom. I also crank the amp very high most of the time and that and the fact that the amp pushes the tubes so hard is why I use harder ones.
     
  6. gitarzilla

    gitarzilla Member

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    If the rectifier has a brown base, it's quite possibly Chinese. Otherwise it's probably Sovtek, and sometimes the writing can be very faint. WIth the GZ34/5AR4 rectifier, for a while, Sovtek stopped making htem, so the only ones around were either Chinese (not to bash the Chinese stuff because some of their preamp tubes are great, but the rectifiers and 6L6s that came out of that plant were terrible) or NOS, Sovtek now makes all 3 popular rectifiers now: 5Y3, 5U4 and the 5AR4/GZ34. You may want to contact Budda to see if you can run a 5AR4/GZ34 in there. You might dig the added responsiveness, tighter low end and increase in headroom.

    As far as the "hardness rating," it sounds to me like a rating/measurement of "38" might refer to the amount of current draw in ma at a particular bias and plate voltage. From what I've recently found out, even 38 is still pretty soft. To really get things tight, you need to get up ~45 - 50+ ma. Keep in mind, I'm just speculating. You may want to check with eurotubes to be sure. THe JJs are a nice tube -- sound good in my Alessandro English, and the Eis work really well in my Top Hat Club Royale, but I don't like them vice versa. I'm in the process of rounding up some NOS EL84s for my English. I'll have to see if they're worth the extra $$.
     
  7. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    gitarzilla

    Thx for your info. I will check with Budda and let y'all know what I find out.

    The Rectifier has a blood brown base. Here are some pix I just took:

    http://www.sasnet.com/other/rectifier/

    Let me know what you find out about the NOS?

    Thanks again,
    Steven
     
  8. gitarzilla

    gitarzilla Member

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    I can't tell for sure, but it's definitely not an American or WEstern European rectifier. Looks like a Chinese rectifier. A lot of octal Chinese tubes have those brown bases. Even in the pictures, it looks kind of flimsy. It would be worth the few extra $$ to get a Sovtek or NOS. Some say the rectifier doesn't affect the sound and that it either works or it doesn't. I beg to differ. I have a custom built 4X6V6 amp that came with a Chinese rectifier because at the time that was the only current prod GZ34 available. When Sovtek started producing them again, the amp tech who built the amp contacted me to swap in the Sovtek, and it made a big difference. Significantly better sustain, detail and clarity. Not to mention the reliabilty issues... That isn't to say, a rectifier is going to make the dramatic difference in tone that different power or preamp tubes will, and you probably won't hear much difference going from brand to brand of similar quality, but I think there's an audible difference between the lower quality Chinese rectifiers and the Sovteks or NOS. My amp guy is definitely an engineer first, and he'd be the first to say that there is no difference if there wasn't. Once again, if you can find a nice NOS GE or Phillips or RCA for a good price, that would be your best bet, but the Sovtek rectifiers are really quite good. We'll have to see how they hold up over time. As always, your mileage may vary.
     
  9. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    This just in from Jeff at Budda:

    ----- Quote -----
    "You shouldn't use a 5AR4 in place of the 5U4. It supplies too much voltage
    to the output tubes and could cause premature failure. The amp is pretty
    much maxed out with the 5U4.

    As far as your rectifier tube, I'm pretty sure it's Russian.

    Regarding output tubes, You'll have to see what they do for you as a player.
    Not sure about NOS, but I believe I was told that the JJ's are a little
    brighter in our amps. The amp is cathode (self) biasing so feel free to
    experiment. That's the fun of tubes!"

    ----- End Quote -----

    Well... the "pretty sure it's Russian" doesn't nail it, so... I'll go seek out a new one and make certain. It'll be interesting to hear the diff in the output tubes.

    Thanks to everyone for your input.
    Regards,
    Steven
     
  10. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    Just ordered from Bob at Eurotube. Buddadrive, I told him I learned of him here, but didn't know your name. I'm getting matched JJ EL84 at 35 rating, and a NOS GE 5U4. Can't wait!

    Tanks,
    S
     
  11. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Steven, FWIW, I'm pretty much in agreement with the other guys here on the JJs. They seem to be consistently pretty good and have a decent amount of EL84 jangle. I've been really disappointed by the NOS tubes I've bought by and large. They're quite unpredictable for the most part and usualy cost 5 to 10 times as much!!!

    I'm not denying that you can't stumble on something that is more to your liking from time to time. But there have been so many cases in which someone told me, "You've just got to try a _____ !!!!" and when I did, I really honestly couldn't say it was significantly better than the newish tube that I was replacing. Yes there have been a few cases where I did find something that sounded better but, it's just too damn expensive/unpredictable.

    No wonder guys like Doug Roccaforte and Fred Taccone have been saying for years that there's no point in buying NOS. I think the rest of us suffer from a case of "the Emperor's new clothes" a bit more than we'd care to admit...
     
  12. gitarzilla

    gitarzilla Member

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    I think part of the thing with NOS tubes is that a lot of the current prod tubes are coming up to speed in terms of tone, but still have a ways to go in terms of reliability and longevity. I run both NOS and current prod tubes in different amps, and in some cases (6V6s in particular), NOS is really the only reliable way to go. However, for my EL34 amps, the current EHs and JJs sound great and are pretty rugged. I don't expect them to last like a Mullard, but they're not run as hard as many of these cathode biased, class A EL84 amps are today. I'm starting to think that NOS might be the way to go with those, too, mostly for reliablity.
     
  13. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    Well, luckily I've already got JJ preamps and ordered JJ 84s. But JJ doesn't make a 5u4 and Bob recommend NOS GE on that one.

    Jeff at Budda recommends Sovteck which he says is what I have.

    Thots?

    Steven

    PS.. Leon, you back on the trampolene?
     
  14. BUDDADRIVE

    BUDDADRIVE Guest

    try both the Sov and GE and see what you like best :)
     
  15. gitarzilla

    gitarzilla Member

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    Depends on how much the GE is. If it's only $5 - $10 more, definitely. Gregg Levy at Hi Test has RCA 5U4GBs for $15. That's a steal.
     
  16. Shmerls

    Shmerls Guest

    The NOS GE 54U was $25. Luckily I only need one :) Plus the GAS spirit releaved me of buying a Cornish SoftSustain 2 the other day, so I'm UP $600! :D
     
  17. vintage66

    vintage66 Member

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    Bumping old thread-my 5u4 in my SD30 rattles so what current one should I replace it with. Does Sovtek still make one? Didn't see one on eBay. Might try a tube tamer.
    Currently a Ruby Tubes GC in there but I see on Budda's site they put an Electro Harmonix there. The only EH I find is a GB which has straight sides. Is that what comes in them? Will I notice a difference? The Ruby is a coke bottle type.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016

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