What do you do with old, still working tubes?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by StompBoxBlues, Jan 21, 2008.


  1. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Just retubing a few amps, and got to wondering...many of the tubes are still working, was wondering what you all do with non-problem tubes?

    Keep them as spares in a box (if so, do you label them?)?

    Clean them? If so, what do you use. I'm thinking about that they can develop dust film that can cause small arcing right near the pins...can you use alcohol or something on them? And clean the pins?

    Or just toss 'em out?
     
  2. Blue Strat

    Blue Strat Member

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    You should always have backups if only to use as a troubleshooting tool if the amp acts up. If your used tubes are still "good", they're ideal for this purpose. The best way to find a bad tube is to replace it with a good tube.
     
  3. Sean French

    Sean French Supporting Member

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    Power tubes get tossed and I keep the pre's.
    A bad power tube can cause damage to an amp.
    A bad pre won't hurt but,will just sound like crap.lol
     
  4. slider313

    slider313 Silver Supporting Member

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    Used power tubes usually go in the trash. I save preamp tubes as long as they're not overly microphonic.
     
  5. PRNDL

    PRNDL Member

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    That depends on the condition and age of the tubes, and how often and hard they were used.

    Were you putting in new tubes because the amp wasn't sounding good, or was it a maintenance thing (it's time for new tubes)?

    Some old tubes can last virtually forever, especially if not abused. Also, a few amps sound better with old tubes, but most sound fantastic with a new set.
     
  6. OrangeAD30TC

    OrangeAD30TC The venerable H.W. Gold Supporting Member

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    Just curious as I also through tubes in the trash but isnt that illegal. Arent we supposed to be recycling them. Dont they contain waste that isnt supposed to be placed in land fills. Sort of like how you cant put a computer screen in the city dump. You have to bring it to a recycling center.
     
  7. Gas-man

    Gas-man Unrepentant Massaganist

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    Do like a lot of people: sell them as NOS.
     
  8. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Excellent advice about the power tubes possibly causing damage.
    I think that is the way to go.

    I'm wondering still about cleaning the preamp tube bases and pins, if it is something worthwhile to do.

    The tubes of course are ones not suspected of microphonic or bad, etc.
     
  9. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    Sometimes, there is nothing wrong with the power tubes except the tone. I immediately replaced the stock Fender/GT 6V6s in my DRRI for Tung Sol Reissues. The stock tubes may have an hour of use on them. I'll keep them for backup.
     
  10. rockindog

    rockindog Member

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    In an ideal world, you might try recycling used vacuum tubes, but I'm not aware of any recyclers that take them. They do contain very small amounts of potentially hazardous materials (metals), but if they are not broken, there is little risk of releases. I don't think the EPA regulates small quantities of used, intact vacuum tubes, so disposal in the trash is most likely not illegal. Back to CRTs...an intact CRT monitor or TV is not considered hazardous waste unless the tube is broken. The CRT contains significant amounts of lead and the EPA classifies broken CRTs as hazardous waste, but not the intact CRTs. Many old TVs and computer monitors are still finding their way to municipal landfills or incinerators last time I checked. Why don't you just put your old tubes in a box and store them. You never know what utility they will have in the future. Just my $0.02.
     
  11. Rosewood

    Rosewood Member

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    I don't know why but I have boxes full of old tubes, I just can't through them out.
     
  12. TYY

    TYY Member

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    If it's still working, why did you replace it? If you mean still passes audio, but sounds like crap, then it isn't "working" in my book and gets tossed. If it still sounds decent, but maybe a bit weak I'll try it in some other amps or sell it "used" on ebay.
     
  13. dorianadams

    dorianadams Member

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    :roll
    Yes some dealers on e-bay seem to think that NOS stands for Noisy Old Sh**!! :D
     
  14. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    Overhere the old tubes are either ebay or plinking targets.
    .22's love them!
     
  15. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    As I understand it, though I haven't directly experienced it, it isn't just a question of "if it works"...I could be wrong but several places mention two things:

    1) that tubes can degrade slightly over time. That "if you hear your amp is sounding "dull", or less "sparkly" etc, then it might be time for a retube".
    They may be working, but as you mention...at what point do they stop "sounding decent"? You don't wait til they sound like pure crap, so there is SOME place in there where it is a good idea to change out tubes. It might not sound bad enough to hear, and since it is gradual...it might be when you start thinking "man...I used to think this amp was fantastic...but now..maybe I grew out of it?" maybe it is tube-change time.

    and more importantly

    2) when tubes GO bad they can cause damage depending on how the amp is designed, etc. So to avoid that (though there may be a small chance the new tube, as I just experienced, is not right).
     

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