Tung Sol 5881 Reissue


Why try them? They are just plot-against-moose-and-squirrel Sovtek rebranded by New Sensor.
(They appear to have no shame as they are also mis-appling the Mullard name to Reflektor Faktory examples.)

These people have no shame...



rockon 1 - interesting! THis DOES look like a 5881.

The picture NR sent me looked like a plain Sovtek!
Completely different animal!

Hope to see one soon so I'll know what's what...



nos 6l6's ..... http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5831335318&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&rd=1


There's a thread in Amps & Cabs with reviews of this tube.

Experiences here compared to NOS Tung Sol 5881:
- Damned expensive, but still cheaper than NOS
- Sound a bit tubby in a brownface Fender (too dark)
- Sound okay in a blackface Fender, tho' again a bit dark
- Sound GREAT in tweeds (particularly cathode-biased tweeds). Smoother onset of distortion than NOS.
- In general tonally very close to the originals.

The original Tung Sol 5881 had many features specifically addressing reliability and durability - some that I'd assume had little impact on tone. No idea if these "extra" features were included in the Russian design.

Lord Valve

Active Member
It's a great tube. Some will say it's "dark," but that's a matter of
taste. It sounds so much like the original TS 5881 you'd have a
really hard time telling them apart; I was talking to Mark Baier
(Victoria Amplifier Company) the other day, and we both agree
on this. It's tight as a drum; it uses a better suspension system
than the old one did. (18 contact points vs. 12.)

There'll be plenty of wankers screeching about how New Sensor
is "ripping off" the old brand name, but that's hogwash - they
*own* the brand name, they can put it on a washing machine or
a bicycle tire if they want to. NS/Reflektor did a *great* job on
this tube, and I wouldn't give a dead rat's butt if it said
Studebaker on the glass instead of Tung-Sol. It's what's *inside*
the bottle that matters, not what's screened on the glass. I
seem to recall that when the Reflektor/Tung-Sol 12AX7 first came
out, a whole raft of online "experts" started screaming bloody
murder about how it was a piece of crap - without even listening
to it first. In case no-one has noticed, these idiots have now
(mostly) shut their faces. Look for the same thing to occur with
the new 5881.

There's nothing "recycled" about this tube; new micas were
designed and new tooling was purchased to make them with.
The mica dies are the most expensive part of making a tube; they
cost in excess of 20 grand each, and they wear out. (Mica is
*stone* - it's hard on cutting surfaces.) It makes sense to
recycle whatever *can* be recycled; if this tube had used the
same size plate as a 6L6, they probably would have used a 6L6
plate design for which the tooling already exists. Any of the
EL34s from New Sensor/Reflektor will bear this out; they *all*
have the same plates, which leads some of the "eyeball" experts
to spout nonsense about them all being the same. It's the stuff
*inside* the plates (which you can't see) that makes the
difference - things like grid pitch and spacing, grid wire diameter,
cathode temperature and coating compound, etc. As long as the
plate can operate at ~1100 degrees Kelvin without warping, it
could be a tuna fish can. I've seen some crud on the Net about
how the Tung-Sol 12AX7 is just a re-labled 12AX7EH - with a
higher price - due to the fact that those two tubes use the same
plates; no-one seems to be able to explain why they *sound* so
much different, though. Clue: the stuff you *can't* see is the
important stuff.

At any rate, the new TS 5881 is a kickass item if you are looking
for that particular sound; it's *unbeatable* in Fender Tweeds.
It'll sink or swim on its sonic merits and its reliability, regardless
of what's printed on the glass. Looks like a swimmer to me. ;-)


Hey Willie!

Wondered how long it would take you to find this place...

Does that mean I have to quit talking smack about ya' now? :D


The Gear Page Rocks. Todd Shock, Lord Valve, and Mike Kropotkin in successive posts. I love this place.


"It'll sink or swim on its sonic merits and its reliability,..."

Fair enough, let's throw them in the Ocean Of Tube Amps and see what the future holds!!

(I'll bet against it as I have zero faith in EH...)

As Mike says, real tubes are only $10 more...



Oh wow,


Hey valvie. Mike over at KCA musta been
hounding you to join?

Ya know, this is a moderated and non-political
board/forum/place, kinda nice actually.

Enjoy, there are a lot of very good folks here.

Blue Strat

Originally posted by TheAmpNerd

Hey valvie. Mike over at KCA musta been
hounding you to join?

Hound my arch competitor to join:eek: : ? No way! :mad:

Just kidding, welcome Willie! :dude


Senior Member
I've been itching to try them. Can they be used in place of 6L6GC's? Peavey Valveking fixed bias amp is where they will go. Have no idea of the plate voltage on this amp. Want to try the TAD's and the SED 6L6GC's too though so who knows how long it will take me to afford all those tubes. Got JJ 6L6GC's in the amp now and they sound mighty fine.


Hi Folks,
I have my old 62 bassman at a amp tech's at the moment trying to revive it after being dormat since the mid 70's. The original tube schematic calls for 5881's and 7025s. He called yesterday and not surprisingly told me the tubes and filter caps are shot and recommended Sovtek replacements for all the tubes. This amp will be used mostly for bass around the house or some not too loud jam sessions and occasionally for clean guitar sounds (too loud for raunchy guitar for my old ears). I have read some of the old threads here about the various 5881 options but am not familier enough with amps in general to know how it will affect my application so I would value your opinions.


The Sovtek 5881 isn't really a 5881. It's a tube developed to drive servos in MiG jets that happens to work in a circuit designed for 6L6GC. They are extremely durable which is likely the reason you see them as OEM tubes in many Fender and Marshall. Just a side-effect that they (in my opinion) sound like poo.

Your Bassman ought to do well with the reissue Tung Sol 5881, or perhaps better with any number of current production 6L6GC (The "TAD" short and tall from Shuguang, Svetlana, etc.). If money's no object, a set of NOS RCA or GE 6L6GC would sound great too.

As for the 7025 side of it, there's a world of tubes to choose from (any 12AX7 will do). A quick search through the forum for 'favorite' and '12AX7' ought to keep you reading for a while.

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