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What are good brands for Old Stock or NOS EL84's?

blueswah

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
577
Been searching and reading but it still seemed best to ask.

What are good brands for Old Stock or NOS EL84's?

And what sort of tone(s) would one brand deliver versus another.
 

stump

Member
Messages
1,264
GE, RCA, Mullard, Polam, Telam, Telefunken, RFT- any of the old stuff is great IMO. These are the brands that I've tried but giving descriptions is really dependent upon the amp, guitar, preamp tubes, etc. They can be very pricey and finding matched pairs or quads can be tough. Check with KCA NOS Tubes, Doug's Tubes for availability and pricing. Ebay is a crap shoot.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,398
I have some Amperex from old Hammond amps that break up really smooth, the American mades from the same sources seem a bit generic to me. I have some Valvo's that seem to be a bit mid strong (which I like a lot in some amps).

A lot of EL84 amps seem to drive the power tubes really hard, and in those cases the differences are much more subtle.
 
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DT7

Member
Messages
2,794
Depends what you want. RCA blackplates smoke, if you want to rock out. If you want jangle, go Valvo.
 

friend33

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,928
I have some Amperex from old Hammond amps that break up really smooth, the American mades from the same sources seem a bit generic to me. I have some Tesla's that seem to be a bit mid strong (which I like a lot in some amps).

A lot of EL84 amps seem to drive the power tubes really hard, and in those cases the differences are much more subtle.
My experience as well - Dutch Amperex are my faves in my Goodsell.
 
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mcdes

Member of no importance
Messages
7,549
Depends on the amp too....

I use NOS mullards, but I liked the telefunken best, but my vox just seems to run too hot for them.
 

bunuel

Member
Messages
1,027
GE, RCA, Mullard, Polam, Telam, Telefunken, RFT- any of the old stuff is great IMO. These are the brands that I've tried but giving descriptions is really dependent upon the amp, guitar, preamp tubes, etc. They can be very pricey and finding matched pairs or quads can be tough. Check with KCA NOS Tubes, Doug's Tubes for availability and pricing. Ebay is a crap shoot.
Those are all great brands, but I'd certainly add Sylvanias (perhaps my fave) & philips/amperex. Most of the old stock tubes not only sound better to my ears, in my amps, but will last much longer.

that said, as much as I like vintage tubes, the JJ EL84 that I've tried sound really good, seem to last pretty well, & are dirt cheap. But maybe I've been lucky...

While others will disagree, but I no longer think that closely matched El84s is that important. After a very esteemed, older musician pointed out that most of the really good recordings of EL84 powered amps from yesteryear were made before anyone thought of tube matching (and hence were likely made with amps with unmatched tubes), I've experimented with slightly unmatched tubes--I really don't hear a big dif. between tightly matched & unmatched EL84s unless the mismatch is really gross.

That said, too, I've found that grossly mismatched EL84 (& 6973) produce some very harmonically interesting results. Sometimes, better than matched tubes (at least for me), including a lot of sag, complex harmonics, & very interesting (to me) amp distortion.

But I never assume that what I like is a prescription for others.

Enjoy the ride!
 

pch64

Member
Messages
84
What about Tungsrams (made in Hungary) with the two round holes on the plates? First time I saw those tubes I thought they were used as they usually have a lot of metallisation on the glass. I've seen a lot of them rebranded but have not tried them yet.
 

blueswah

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
577
Thanks for the great feedback.
The amp is an AC15 clone of sorts (Winfiield Cylcone).
I tend to play a guitar with 1960 PAF type humbuckers (Manlius-Fat Dianes).
The speaker is variable right now as I explore this amp and what speaker/ cab will go best with it.
The music style and tones I like is all over the place. But lets call it rock and blues for now.
 

Wayne Alexander

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,456
For what you describe you want, I'd suggest trying Mullards or Polam/Telam, or RFT, if you can find them, the EIs from the 80s & 90s.
 

mcdes

Member of no importance
Messages
7,549
To be honest, I've never intentially used a matched set!

I just put in and try find a sequence I like....... I guess my tube guy supplies a similar bunch?

Those are all great brands, but I'd certainly add Sylvanias (perhaps my fave) & philips/amperex. Most of the old stock tubes not only sound better to my ears, in my amps, but will last much longer.

that said, as much as I like vintage tubes, the JJ EL84 that I've tried sound really good, seem to last pretty well, & are dirt cheap. But maybe I've been lucky...

While others will disagree, but I no longer think that closely matched El84s is that important. After a very esteemed, older musician pointed out that most of the really good recordings of EL84 powered amps from yesteryear were made before anyone thought of tube matching (and hence were likely made with amps with unmatched tubes), I've experimented with slightly unmatched tubes--I really don't hear a big dif. between tightly matched & unmatched EL84s unless the mismatch is really gross.

That said, too, I've found that grossly mismatched EL84 (& 6973) produce some very harmonically interesting results. Sometimes, better than matched tubes (at least for me), including a lot of sag, complex harmonics, & very interesting (to me) amp distortion.

But I never assume that what I like is a prescription for others.

Enjoy the ride!
 

Timbre Wolf

Hyperspatial Gravity Surfer
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,178
My Favorite overall chimey/clear: '50s Sittard Philips (square-getter) EL84 - not really available

My favorite chimey/clear at a more reasonable price/availability: Tungsram EL84

My favorite fatter/thicker: black-plate Sylvania 6BQ5

FWIW: I prefer Tungsram to genuine Mullard, Telefunken, '60s Heerlen/Amperex, Valvo. Of those last 3, I like the Valvo best; I don't know why '60s Mullard and Amperex/Miniwatt got such an inflated reputation. RCA black-plate 6BQ5 = YES!

OP: None of those opinions matter if they take you in a tonal direction you don't want. Tip: state exactly what you want out of these tubes for more meaningful answers.

- Thom
 
Messages
979
Saratovs...russian made....sound amazing and take a beating...I just got one of my amps back from 3 tours and was shocked to see the same tubes in it.i plugged it in and surprisingly they still sounded really good. We're talking about an amp that's run on 10 every time it is powered up. I will be ordering a few more quads for sure
 

KissTone

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,886
Tubemonger.com usually has some interesting choices in stock. But prices can get pretty high for some of them.
 

blueswah

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
577
yeah Tubemonger has decent descriptions on the tonal aspect of tubes too but doesn't seem to have any tonal descriptions for the EL84's.
 

Blue Strat

Member
Messages
30,192
yeah Tubemonger has decent descriptions on the tonal aspect of tubes too but doesn't seem to have any tonal descriptions for the EL84's.
Except that people rarely agree on what the tonal "adjectives" mean or on the descriptions themselves.
 

blueswah

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
577
Well I'll take some rarely agreed upon tonal adjectives and descriptions over having nothing.

Then sort through what people have said and come to some idea of what to try based on all the aforementioned....

There are so many variables to "tone" it's always kind of crap shoot.
One mans "bright" could be another mans "dark"....
 




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