What a difference one tube makes

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Brazen, Nov 18, 2016.

  1. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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    My Vox VT40+ sound pretty darn good as it was but I was used to NOS tubes in my tube amps and the difference they make. I found how my Vox sounded with an RCA 5751 I have in my box-o-tubes but with a loss of gain. The cleans and the Fxes were dripping with cream with that tube so I gotta get a vintage 12ax7 with the gain and the cream.

    I emailed a tube vendor because he has some good tubes with good prices for a suggestion for my amp. He sent me a link to a British Mullard branded as an RCA for $40 after he slashed the prices from $80 because he's got a good stock of them now. I ordered it.

    I got the tube today and it exactly what he said it is. It is so sweet that it's unreal and this amp sounded better than my tube amps. Vox really has the technology with the Valvetronix system that works.

    The cleans are creamy and the heavy metal are like gravy. Just one tube. :cool:
     
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  2. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Yep, NOS tubes make a HUGE difference. HUGE.
     
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  3. Humble Texan Fan

    Humble Texan Fan Member

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    Yeah, the quality of valves is of the essence for tone. A huge positive with a Vox like yours is it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to re-valve with NOS or the cream of current prod, which couldn't be had for scraps either.
     
  4. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    The following is just MHO. My tribute to tubes.

    I have a Dirty Shirley which is "designed around modern tubes", a jj and some good new stock Chinese. Loved it tons, but it wasn't perfect by my obsessive standards. I was listening to plexi and Metroplex demos, wishing it could do those things equally well too. Unrealistic and foolish goals, right?

    When I put 3 NOS ax7 tubes in it, the primary (admittedly perfectionistic) complaint I always had about the amp was mostly fixed! And I think if I get a certain NOS tube that I believe would fit, I think even further improvement could be made. (Because now I have a better idea what the tubes sound like)

    When I play my guitar, I can honestly hear the separate influence of each NOS tube with every note I play. No different than if you had two pedals activated, you would hear both quite obviously.

    To me it's the central voice of the amp in some ways. I know people say circuit matters more, and in some ways it does. But as far as the voice of the amp, tubes are huge, to me.

    Another thing, v1 wasn't the only slot that made a difference.

    Here's what happened. I lacked ideal midrange character, though the mids were pleasant enough. The amp is slightly scooped compared to a plexi.

    So I put a Mullard short plate in v1, from the late 60s. Amazing difference in the mids, as reputed! But now the rest of the amp sounder smaller with the stock Chinese tubes and Mullard in v1. The mid improvement reduced overall size.

    Well, I had some RCA longplates that sounded huge and 3D (as well as smooth, yet lots of highs), like a classical orchestra effect. The total exact opposite of the Mullard, but in a good way. But they were too trebly in v1, even though beautiful in their own way, say, for playing huge shimmering chords that sounded "choral" and orchestral. Just not quite rock and roll enough.

    So, I put the RCAs in v2-3, and voila!

    Now I had midrange character, plus size, shimmer, and 3 dimensionality from the RCAs. That gave me a complete sound. It took all 3 NOS tubes to do the job, or at least two. With just the Mullard I had to crank the amp to get size into the sound, now I was getting 3D size at bedroom volumes!

    It was like having a new amp. The Shirley was always great, but I was looking to take it in more of a vintage direction, to have that character, plexi tones etc. Mission accomplished!

    If I look at tubes as similar to pedals, I think the tubes were a better deal, as making the base sound better is worth a number of pedals, right?
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2016
  5. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    Did you retube your Friedman as well?
     
  6. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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    When I had my Blackheart half stack (see avatar) I tubed it with the vintage tubes. The preamp has Westinghouse 12ax7s, one an RCA black plate and the other a Raytheon black plate. I had the RCA in V1 and the Raytheon in v2 and it had a gritty sound. Very pleasant but not great for cleans so I switched them around. It did the trick, smooth and creamy. The power amp has the matched set of Sylvania (Baldwin Organ) 6bq5s (el84). I played on it for years before I sold the rig.
     
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  7. deeval

    deeval Supporting Member

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    I emailed a tube vendor because he has some good tubes with good prices for a suggestion for my amp. He sent me a link to a British Mullard branded as an RCA for $40 after he slashed the prices from $80 because he's got a good stock of them now. I ordered it.

    Tell us where you got that good deal on the 12Ax7 tubes please? What is the tube dealers name?
     
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  8. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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  9. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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    It says Gt. Britain on it. Let me pull it out and I'll snap pics of it.

    BRB
     
  10. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    Print on the tube often means nothing. You have to look INSIDE the glass and know what to look for.
     
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  11. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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  12. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Not yet. It's on my list of things to do soon. It sounds phenomenal with the stock tubes. I can only imagine what NOS will do for it.
     
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  13. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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    By the way, I went to your site about the RFT tubes and from what I read I got a good tube right? My Vox really jams with it.

    Also the white box it came in is marked 58/52
     
  14. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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  15. sickboy79

    sickboy79 Member

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    Great stuff. I'm gonna have to remember these suggestions for my Dirty Shirley for sure. I'm a big fan of both Mullard and RCA tubes. In fact, I think I like the RCA Blackplate 12AX7 even more than the coveted Mullards.
     
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  16. Brazen

    Brazen Member

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    I just remembered, the bottom of the glass has an U and a backward 13 on it.

    Mean anything?
     
  17. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

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    Although the Mullard had the specific character I needed, as far as generic sound, the RCAs actually seemed better. Huge! And these were just grey plates, which seem underrated. But I needed both for this amp. The breakup on the RCAs was incredibly smooth too, which fits the slight natural compression of the Shirley. Seriously good tubes.
     
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  18. Yamariv

    Yamariv Member

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    Mike knows his Sh**, he's right that it's an RFT tube. They are easy to tell apart by their strowing star Mica shape.

    That's awesome for you that it sounds great in your amp but at $40 that tube is overpriced as it's not a Mullard. RFT's are known for great early break up from my research and sound great in gainy amps but it's definitely not a Mullard....
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  19. Yellosteve

    Yellosteve Supporting Member

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    I tell you I just got 7 rca 12ax7's from a guitar shop that was moving. They had a box of tubes 8 rca 8 Phillips 8 Raytheon plus some oddballs. I paid 2$ a piece for the lot. On a whim I put 7 rca 12 ax7 which look like they are from the 60's in there and wham!! My Bogner shiva sounds better than I ever thought it could. Quiet amazing breakup full rich bright chimey on and on and on. Unreal. I could never afford to try expensive boutique USA tubes. But it's as if I've been missing out. i could sell them and probably buy another guitar but I'm not going to. Ha. Really blown away.
     

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