Vox Preamp Tubes, Nos And Otherwise

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by feet, May 18, 2015.

  1. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    so what are we liking these days? been using current tung sol 12ax7s in v2 and v3 and a random nos 12ax7 cheapie in v1 in my ac14hw1x and i've been pretty pleased. since i had my heart set on some fancy el84s to replace the current mullards, i was wondering if i should look into nos glass for the preamp as well, or just let it ride. the rectifier is an nos ei? of some kind, by the by.

    again, the tung sol/mullard combo is pretty sweet. but as ever, i wonder. and tinker. and since we're talking v2/v3 here, i'm willing to cheap out if it isn't worth the cost. but if there is a magical tube out there, i'm listening. :) i generally run it fairly clean to breakup and use pedals for overdrive, but i try lots of stuff, even plugging straight in and messing with guitar knobs.

    and since we are here, after v1, which is the most important tube, in terms of affecting tone?
     
  2. s360guitarist

    s360guitarist Silver Supporting Member

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    For a basic 12ax7, Mike @ KCA recommended the Svetlana. JJ's I assume would also work on the cheap, but good, tube side of things...
     
  3. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    These days, I am really liking the Telefunken in V1. It compresses in a great way in cleaner circuits.
     
  4. Coldacre

    Coldacre Supporting Member

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    Blackburn Mullard in V1 is the mojo & magick that you desire. I'd argue that putting NOS EL84's is far less important to your tone than using NOS 12AX7's. tone is in the pre-amp section.

    GE's are great for rounding out V2 & V3.
     
  5. bulbasaur_85

    bulbasaur_85 Member

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    Be sure to check out Bugle Boy 12ax7's. Been very happy with mine.
     
  6. duaneflowers

    duaneflowers Member

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    JJ EL84 Power Tubes and Tungsol 12AX7 Preamp Tubes sound perfect with the Creamback in my AC-15...
     
  7. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    ON Lord Valve's recommendation I put TungSol 12AX7s in the AC30 I used to have at the church, and 6P14P power tubes (Soviet era Russian EL84s) and the amp STILL sounds good nearly a decade later! Of course, a nice Amperex or Mullard in V1 would probably make it even better...
     
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  8. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    nice to see i'm not the only tung sol in the preamp guy out there. i had gotten the tung sol/mullard combo as a hot tip from a builder and i just went with it. i haven't tried any non el84 tubes, or fancy tubes or soviet tubes or whatever yet. i tried some el84m tubes and didn't notice much one way or the other. didn't seem to be worth the upcharge, and i'm told gold pins are a waste, as well. i've generally used modern production tubes, and haven't paid more than $30-40 for those random nos grab bag tubes. so i have some sticker shock to get over with some of these recommendations.

    i did a little testing with an unmarked nos 12ax7 and an nos ge 12ay7 and the vox didn't seem to care for it. or maybe i'm just used to the tung sols, but the amp got a little darker and buzzy with those in the v2 spot.

    can you compare/contrast the two? i gather jjs make things darker, from what i'm reading.

    there are several different kinds, and they are all north of $100, if they are even extant or in stock, so might have to pass. but which is the one to look for and why?

    at $160 a pop, i'm pretty sure i'm going to pass, but it couldn't hurt to know: what's the magic? i mean, if i only need one... i've paid more for pedals.

    i wouldn't call $75 a bargain, but it looks like one next to some of those other tubes. what does it sound like, and is just one in the v1 enough?
     
  9. bulbasaur_85

    bulbasaur_85 Member

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    I've gotten good deals on eBay! V1 certainly plays a big role in the tone and I would start there.
     
  10. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    Tungsram 12ax7 for v1 is also a superb choice, a little bit different voice to it but many can gel with its tone in a Vox preamp. A little overpowering in v1, move it to v2 and put a JJ ecc803 in v1.

    As much as I dis' on the dull lifeless sounding JJ ecc83, the JJ ecc803 can be a great choice in Vox amps. They really might be a good choice for the way you describe your use of the amp.
     
  11. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    been afraid to go down that route since i don't know who to trust there, but if they last forever...

    tungsram i've heard a lot about in the power amp, but not the pre. interesting. i'll price those out, too.

    and i think jay is the other major ecc803 advocate here. at least they are cheap, current and extant. maybe something fancy in v1 and these in v2 and v3?
     
  12. playthecray

    playthecray Member

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    Anyone using a 5751 in V1 of their AC15HW? I have a matched pair of Tungrams EL-84s that I am anxious to install. I would also like to replace the preamp tubes as well, but honestly the amp sounds great with the stock Ruby tubes.
     
  13. bulbasaur_85

    bulbasaur_85 Member

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    Yeah I hear you on that. It can be sketchy, but just be sure to make sure you look at the feedback and only deal with sellers with 100% positive feedback ratings. Should be pretty safe in that regards.

     
  14. Wagster

    Wagster Member

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    You want a brighter more complex tube in V1 ala an Amperex Philips Holland. You want warmer tubes in V2 and the P.I. ala a Mullard. I learned this tip from Gregg Levy and Ken Fisher.
     
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  15. Coldacre

    Coldacre Supporting Member

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    no need to spend $160 on NOS, hit Mike up at KCA for ANOS - $75. they test 'as new' and you get just as much mileage out of them. I can vouch for that. I've been using them for the last 5 years and I've only changed the Mullard once. (heaps of gigs and band rehearsals during that time)

    as for differences in tone - the Mullard removed a lot of the harsher transients that were apparent with other tubes (both old and newer production). that spikey, trebley, top end that you hear at very loud volumes completely disappeared. it smoothed things out quite a lot. it also gives for a more 'vintage' tone, for lack of a better word. one chord and it was like - yep, that's the Beatles tone right there. previous to that I was using some Gold Lion 12AX7's and man are they a big fat sounding tube with a tonne of top end sparkle. they also broke up earlier. with the amp cranked to 8, I was getting AC/DC / Kiss crunch in spades. I wasn't getting as pleasant cleans though. a tad glassy & harsh. the Mullard is the ultimate 'clean' sounding tube for a Vox circuit.
     
  16. DaveKS

    DaveKS Member

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    It all about learning your tubes and learning to look for tell tale signs. My #1, if they seem to have lots of tubes at to good to be true prices, your probably buying every low grade cast off and pull they can find. I leave those sellers alone for the most part.

    My latest score, 4 like new testing Canadian Philips (Amperex) for $14.90 a tube. All tested out like new and super quiet, specs of yellow paint on tips indicate extra screening.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There's good stuff out there to find but you have to be diligent, educate your self and be patient.
    NIB, $15 a tube. Best 12ay7 ever made to my ears.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Gretsch&Vox

    Gretsch&Vox Member

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    See my signature block; I like them better than NOS.
     
  18. feet

    feet Supporting Member

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    yeah, but i've even bought tubes from reputable sellers and shops and had them go wild or microphonic or whatever. i guess its a little dice roll-y either way.

    but what do those guys know? :) you referring to current mullards or nos?

    i planned to order from him, yes.

    lot of work, man. i'm kinda set and forget that way. i want it to be over with so i can play guitars and not tubes. its good stuff to know, though. a little homework won't kill me, though i'm tired of all the clicking and reading and swapping instead of just playing.
     
  19. Wagster

    Wagster Member

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    I'm referring to NOS.
     
  20. Tonesmiths

    Tonesmiths Member

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    I have turned on literally hundreds of AC15/30 owners to PM tubes and every one of them has been completely blown away by how much the overall sound of their amp improved.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2015

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