What's the difference in tone between 6L6 and 6V6 tubes?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Animal Mother, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. wgs1230

    wgs1230 Fully Intonatable Silver Supporting Member

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    I would be interested in hearing from anyone who's actually gigging a HRD with 6V6s which wasn't modded for lower B+.
     
  2. rhythmrocker

    rhythmrocker 1966 Battle of the Bands Supporting Member

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  3. vibrostrat43

    vibrostrat43 Supporting Member

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    I have yet to try them in a single-ended amp that really shows their tonal character well, but I have tried a few brands of both types through the same amp and this has been my observation.

    Generally, 6L6GC's have a tighter bottom end, a nice but somewhat scooped midrange, and a brighter high end, and don't seem to compress much when driven hard. 6V6's on the other hand are a little looser on the bottom end, have somewhat more mids with a more vocal character than other tubes (imo), but also not as midrange heavy as EL34's, and they have a sweet high end that is somewhat smoother than the 6L6, but not as mellow as an EL34, and they also have a fair amount of compression when pushed.

    I can stereotype it even more, 6l6's are better for crunch, 6v6's are better for creaminess, 6l6's have more tendency to scream when pushed really hard, 6v6's have more tendency to sing when pushed really hard.

    6v6's are the little brother to the 6l6, but kinda want to be like their cool older cousin the el34. They have a more singing, but less bottom end tonality than either, and are personally my favorite tubes in case you couldn't tell. 6l6's do have a BIGGER sound though, and it's one of the things that the 6v6's I've tried seem to lack...they have all the frequencies in the right amount and places, but even at the same volume as 6l6's seem to lack that big bottle sound, and I feel the same way about el84's.
     
  4. sideman

    sideman Member

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    GuitarDave and vibrostat - good posts!
     
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  5. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Obviously a lot of these observations are very general and in most cases I would guess refer to the 6V6GT and the 6L6GC. At the birth of the 6L6 it didn't put out that much more power than the 6V6GT and was therefore more similar in tone. Then obviously there are a number of different takes on 6L6GCs, from the laid back RCAs to the forward GEs, but in fairness you could say most observations are here are true. GuitarDave is very correct when he states none of these are scooped but having more or less mid emphasis.
     
  6. mike361

    mike361 Member

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    I have run 6v6 jj tubes in my 50 watt mts amp. They can handle to higher voltage. I did rebias the amp but did not change the speaker impedance. I actually only ran it this way for a couple of days and decided I liked bigger bottle tubes. El34's for me, at least in that amp. My HRDX sounds great with 6l6's though.
     
  7. robertkoa

    robertkoa Member

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    Many claim the JJ6V6s will easily handle the higher plate voltages and current- but you'd really want to double check obviously .....

    I wonder if these would really light up a Mesa 5-50 at lower volumes - or it would be a subtle difference........? ( I don't own one but curious).
     
  8. monkmiles

    monkmiles Supporting Member

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    I had an Egnater Rebel 20 for a while. I found a distinct difference between its EL84 vs 6V6 power tubes. I'm not saying there was earth shattering differences, but it was really cool to compare the two and hear the differences. To me, the 6V6 sounded cleaner, while the EL84 sounded thicker. Having previously only played through EL84 amps (at the time), that maybe lended to me hearing more difference when I dialed in just the 6V6.

    I would agree and expect there to be less difference between 6V6 and 6L6 tonally. I have one amp of each but it'd be nice to compare them in the same amp like the Egnater could.
     
  9. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Yes, same goes with EL34s and 6L6s, but these being larger differences are magnified as well. Response peaks aside beam tetrodes generally sound glassier and more polished than pentodes.
     
  10. Waxhead

    Waxhead Member

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    I think the Rebels are a good example to use for comparing EL84/6V6 cause they share similar circiutry and the same cab.
    I owned/gigged a Rebel 20 for 12 months before upgrading to the R30.
    Differences in the Rebels are -
    EL84's break up earlier, are more noisy, more gritty, more jangle.
    6V6's - smoother, more mids, more glassy, more clean headroom.

    I prefer the 6V6 side myself as they're closer to the 6L6 I like best but the best tone on the Rebels imo is with both tube types fully engaged with the mix dial at 12 oclock.
    The full mixture of both tubes is great and this is whats so special about the Rebels imo :)
     
  11. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    Trying to sit out of this pointless discussion :p

    There really is no sensible generalization one can make for 6V6 vs. 6L6 - depends on the particular tube make, and the circuit in which they reside. My opinion... time is better spent actually playing guitar.

    Thanks for thinking of me, though.
    :beer
    - Thom

    p.s. got to play a genuine '58 Fender Pro (5E5A) today :drool Nothing else matters as much after that experience.
     
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  12. CoffmanLabs

    CoffmanLabs Member

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    Hello all--I'm new to forum and read the 6L6/6V6 post. Although this subject might have been beat to death I thought that it might be of interest to offer a little different perspective. I'm mostly a violinist and only a guitar hack, but the discussions reminded me of the search for the perfect sounding violin strings back when I used to perform.

    Currently I design top end audio equipment (coffmanlabs.com) and only make guitar amps for myself and friends. From the design perspective I look very closely at the way tubes perform, and the points about the circuit being the most important part of the sound are certainly correct.

    However, there are some fundamental differences in the manner in which 6V6 vs 6L6 distort before breakup. This resulted in the comments about creamy/clear/harsh etc. Depending on the bias and screen voltage a tube may show more 5th harmonic than 3rd during early distortion. Or if there are two pairs of tubes, the 5th harmonic may be canceled and the 3rd would be the primary distortion. And so on.

    I love the sound of the electric guitar and plan on really spending some time playing with designs for tuning the distortion curve when I have the time.

    One question for the forum users: Has anyone ever played a guitar amp that used a 6W6GT or 6DG6GT tube? These are very similar to the 6V6, but have a vastly extended distortion zone in comparison to pretty much any other power tube I've tested. It seems like it could make a very interesting guitar amp.

    Cheers and apologies if this is not of interest to this forum.

    Damon
     
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  13. bluesjuke

    bluesjuke Disrespected Elder

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    Welcome to TGP Damon!

    Those tubes do sound interesting and of course we will discuss these things all day & night long.
     
  14. Tone_Boss

    Tone_Boss Member

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    What if you did the opposite and put a 6l6 in a 6v6 amp ? Like a 6l6 in a Champ ?
     
  15. Mystix

    Mystix Silver Supporting Member

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    I have not played any amp with these tubes and the description of a vastly extended distortion zone begs the question-

    are these tubes readily available? If not - it might answer why no one is building them...

    Interesting question though - even though I mostly play clean - the distortion possibility - sounds intriguing.
     
  16. Guitar Dave T

    Guitar Dave T Member

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    I see lots of interest to this forum.

    I don't have an answer for you, but can't wait to hear from the smart guys who do.
     
  17. fusionbear

    fusionbear exquirentibus veritatem Gold Supporting Member

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    I like 6V6's, especially a quad of them....

    Just a different flavor...





     
  18. candid_x

    candid_x Supporting Member

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    I was about to post the same as you. Pretty much summed it up for me.
     
  19. JRguitarguy

    JRguitarguy Senior Member

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    6v6 sounds smaller and to my ears is closer to being almost mini-EL34 like even more so than actual EL84s :) depends what voltages really 6v6 really start sounding a lot more pissed off in a circuit that pushes them in that 400-430v B+ range problem is, that a lot 6v6 don't like those voltages at all unfortunately or won't last etc, but certain ones will the GTAs will handle that no problems and certain GTs will too xD
     
  20. JRguitarguy

    JRguitarguy Senior Member

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    Vissuex 6v6, brimar 6v6,pope/amperex 6v6, RCA grey glass....In that order :)
     

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